At Large in Ballard: Ballard tweeter

By Peggy Sturdivant

At our last holiday dinner before my mother-in-law’s death two years ago she surprised us by saying she might like to twit.

“You mean ‘tweet’?” her youngest son asked.

“Yes,” she replied, “If I was a tweeter…”

We don’t recall what she would have tweeted because we all started laughing and deciding what her Twitter handle should be. How did she even know about Twitter? She had 1000’s of undeleted messages in her email account and couldn’t change her password. It wasn’t until I saw a TV screen at the health club that I realized there are now almost continuous Twitter feeds during programs. So perhaps I was the one out of step with the information age.

Still that lovely phrase stayed with me, “If I was a tweeter.” I came across it in one of my notebooks the other day. I’d written it down soon after that Christmas dinner, not realizing I wouldn’t be able to forget it.

I won’t assume that some of my longtime print readers don’t know about Twitter. (After all I’m the one who doesn’t even have cable). I don’t fully understand Twitter, but can share that messages cannot exceed 140 characters.

I do “Tweet” occasionally, as #BallardatLarge. Even though I don’t understand the hash tag part. Usually I’m just posting a link to my column on-line or calling attention to another 140 character or less message that I’ve read (and re-Tweeting). Like a subscription to a newspaper you can opt to “follow” someone or something. I follow the Seattle Police Department North Precinct, for better and usually worse. No need to tip the carrier.

I suspect “Tweeting” is partly a way of sharing what used to be shared at the office. Have you noticed how many people work with their laptops in coffee shops now? They are the visible face of the workers, writers, job-seekers who aren’t in the “break room” with others. I think it’s human nature to want to share what we observe and overhear. Many of us want an audience, even if they’re invisible.

Most Tweets remind me of “string too short to be saved” except though even less useful, in the form of words or a photo. Don’t know what to do with them, can’t quite throw them away.

I collect these bits all the time, especially walking through Ballard. I overheard a woman on a cellphone near Ballard Commons Park asking, “But what was the felony?”

I save lines like that, thinking they will have some later use. The other day I went through two older notebooks, which I filled when doing column interviews and for my own writing. I found so many quotes that fall in the “can’t quite throw away” category. So if I was a Tweeter here they are, untethered quotes from my notebooks, like clues to a mystery that won’t be solved:

She’s that psycho that wrote the book.
When it ends I’ll still be fishing.
No children, I have a boy who’s 59, that’s enough.
When I was nine years old I saw the Hindenburg.
When we die, they’ll say ‘no spare parts.’
Tendering is a big fish taxi.
I didn’t know I could do readings over the phone. I don’t even know any other psychics.
Sometime you can’t bake it on a stone.
We’ve got the density. Bring me some parks.
Smart growth is an oxymoron.
We’ll be in the shade the rest of our lives.
I usually only hear from readers when I make a mistake.
I’m a man of belligerent tones.
Parliament in Norway can’t be more difficult than Olympia.
Affordable housing in Seattle is a myth.
Little guys in Spandex.

Lucky you’re not married off to some creepy guy.
I developed a taste for Aquavit.
I lost the memory bank that my husband took with him when he died.
A couple of menfolk didn’t make it.
A target is just an estimate.
There have been unintended consequences.
My kids asked, have you picked out your hymns and done your obituary?

It made me a little dizzy trying to remember the context and picture who said these things. Were they speaking to me directly? Was I taking notes at a meeting? Can I discard them now?

Of course there are quotes I want to keep; I save ones that are like reusable gift bows.

“You’re as beautiful as the Safeway ‘S.’”

Last, my own observation dating back to an event with “Deadliest Catch’s” Sig and Edgar Hansen. “You know you’re in Ballard when the book-signing has an open bar.”

Contact Peggy

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