I love Portland a heck of a lot. As such, I try really hard to be a good Portlander. Using some highly scientific analysis (counting the number of tattooed folk in the wait line outside Pine State Biscuits on a Saturday morning) I have determined that Portland has the highest ratio of tattooed people per capita. And since I have not gotten a bona fide tattoo in nearly 17 years, I figured I was GREATLY overdue. So I called up my pal @camikaos, who is something of an expert on the local tattoo talent, for an artist recommendation. She sent me to Jesse at BlackBird Tattoo on Killingsworth.
Now, I’m not one to get just any tattoo. My tattoos must have meaning. Notice how I bolded that. Because it’s important. So after much deliberation, I got a sun on one arm and a moon on the other. The sun goes on the right arm, the positive side, the action side. The moon goes on the left, the negative side, the side of restraint. These are somewhat Kabbalistic attributes. Therefore, the words, in Hebrew, the language of Kabbalah: tshuka, passion, on the sun. Izun, balance, on the moon.
The final product:
Two of the most important things to have in your life. Without passion, life is empty. Without balance, life is chaos.
There’s this girl named Jessica. She cooks me homemade lunches once a week, and delivers it to me on her bike. It comes in a cute little homemade lunch bag, in repurposed glass containers with actual silverware and a soft cotton napkin. She tucks sweet little thoughts on a piece of paper in my lunch.
No, she’s not my new girlfriend. She runs a little business called Yummy Box Lunches by Jessica.
I’d post her info, but…I might get jealous. I mean, there’s only so much room in her little bike trailer, right?
Here’s my lunch from last week. Try not to drool on the screen, ok?
I’m in Boston, tweeps. Hello Harvard Square. Hello Newbury Street. Hello stomping grounds of my misspent youth.
Whenever I’m in town, I always find myself remembering all the crazy shit I did when I lived just an hour, exactly, from this place.
What? What’s that you say? You want me to regale you with crazy tales of my crazy exploits in crazy Beantown, Boston Mass, birthplace of the nation? Just a hop skip and a jump from Lynn, Lynn, city of sin?
Well. Have yourself a seat, little buckaroo, and I’ll dangle a couple tasty morsels of high school chicanery in your general di-rection.
Like the time I was waiting in Harvard Square for my best friend Kim. I was fresh out of my first month and a half at Syracuse, on my way home for Thanksgiving break. I was mohawked. I was purple haired. I was disillusioned youth-ed. I was so punk rock. I was going to hang out in Boston with my friend Kim for a day before heading home. I was 100% rebel. I was also going to Syracuse University on partial scholarship as an aerospace engineering major.
Right. So in retrospect, I suppose the Boston street kid task force didn’t pick up on the whole engineering student vibe. I tried telling them I really didn’t need any clean needles or a place to stay, thanks. But the sandwich wasn’t half bad.
Then there was the time I totally ditched work the summer before I left for college and Kim and I headed down to Boston for a night on the town with some other friend of hers. We went to a goth club and were gothy. We emo’d all night long. I met a boy named Derrick who I fancied. He was very pale and full of angst. WINNER! I pined over him for a week or two, despite never seeing him again. I remember walking back to my car, about 2 miles away. Kim and our other friend were fast walkers, and sorta left me behind. Drunk, you know. So, I was walking down Comm(onwealth) Ave, at about 3am, essentially by myself. I had my knife out, in my hand. Ready. Because I was not alone…and it was dark…and not well lit…and not a good part of town. Plus, there’s the whole I’m-a-total-badass thing.
I also discovered Clannad that weekend. Still, my favorite Irish band EVAR. Maire Brennan is the shit. Makes her sister Enya sound like a walrus needing an epinephrine shot. (Total exaggeration there, in case you were wondering. Enya is fab. Just, her sister is More Fab.)
And of course there was the day I skipped school and Kim and I and a couple others (Kim was quite the bad influence on me, wasn’t she? Wish I could find her 😛 ) We hung out on Newbury street generally being nuisances and having just a grand time being Not At School. Being Not At School makes everything more fun. It’s like…cinnamon. With cherries on top, and a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Now I’m here to visit my new nephew. See my baby brother as a father for the first time. Meet my sister-in-law’s parents, who are visiting from Brazil. That makes them my inlaws, right? Right? Because I kinda like them. Can I keep ’em? I foresee a trip to Brazil in my future. Who knows, maybe I won’t come back.
Just look at everything that started in this little colonial town.
I am deeply, madly in love with this moment, with this place, with the people in it and the hope they create.
I know this is my true home. I know, because a simple sunbreak, standing on MLK Blvd, makes my heart swell with joy and love for a place, for a name on a map. A name that is more than the sum of its letters, much like the place is more than the sum of its residents.
Giddy! (yeah I know, I used that word again. It’s a rare occurrence, really.)
In fact, if you could hear the chatter inside my head, it would sound something like this:
“omg omg omg omg omg omg omg yay!!!”
Pretty much that’s it.
So. I guess you’re wondering why I’m all hyped up, happy, bouncing off stuff and…stuff. Are you? Really?
Ok. I’ll tell you.
Maybe you should sit down first. I’ll wait.
I’m one of the newest writer/bloggers for OurPDX.net.
Allow me to give you a moment to just let that sink in.
I KNOW HUH!!!! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!!!!
Pretty damn, my friends. Pretty damn.
No worries about my slacking off on blogging here though. OurPDX.net is all about Portland, so my PDX-type posts will be drifting over in that direction, but there’s oh so much more stuff I blog about than that. I’ll let you know when I post over there, so you can hop over there and check it out too. No worries!
In fact, check out my VERY FIRST POST, about how our own dear Mayor Sam forgot about bikes for the storm response survey they did last month. Unbelievable, but true.
My fellow bloggers have truly been outdoing themselves lately. So I thought I’d just give a shout out to some great stuff they’ve been writing lately. Hey, Valentine’s Day is coming, right? What better way to spread some blogger on blogger love then to …ahem…expose each other 😉
The Recovering Straight Girl has some food for thought on the idea that being gay is a choice. I must say, I agree…whether or not it’s a choice, I wouldn’t want to be any other way.
Seems my love affair with PDX is rubbing off on people. @jarvitron aka zenboy wrote this blog post about how much he loves Portland, too. We should have a PDX love-in or something.
As far as work-type blogs go, one of my favorites is Web Worker Daily. Although they tend to cater to gig workers, there’s still lots of great info. And now, I have a go-to article to send all my friends to when I find myself at a loss to explain the coolness of Twitter, complete with some of its drawbacks.
And not the least, @cecivirtue posted some AMAZING phone pix of the opening night party of Coraline. They had the actual sets on display at the party! Wow. Cherry blossoms done with spray painted popcorn? Very, very cool. Makes me miss my old movie construction days, when I built breakaway doors, installed fake plastic Japanese roof tiles, and got to play with gas torches to distress wood beams. Ahh, movie magic.
Spread the blog love, and take a peek at some of my favorite bloggers. Or check my new blogroll over there on the right. Yeah over there. Under my recent flickr pictures. Read their stuff, and comment often. They and I will appreciate it!
I love this town called Portland a heckuva lot. So, in honour of the upcoming 18th anniversary of my arrival in this great town, I thought I’d toss out a list of five things I love about Portland. I know, the usual list number is 10. However, I tend to espouse, at great length, about things I like, so in the interest of keeping this to a nice, blogworthy length, I opted for half the items, but all the love. So here it is…5 things I love about the city formerly known as Stumptown.
What?? What did you say? Rain, are you serious? This, from the girl who lists as one of her most traumatic childhood experiences being caught in a NYC deluge? Yep. It was an epiphany level experience when I realized I actually kinda like the rain now. Let me clarify: I like Portland rain. Not torrential downpour, soaked to the bone southeastern US rain, no way. But the misty, pervasive showers, the gentle sprinkles, they cleanse the air and don’t make me feel like I’m about to drown, which is how I felt during the above mentioned deluge. Granted, I’m a bit taller now, so my fear of drowning by puddle is somewhat reduced, but still. Also, the myth (Yes! Myth!) that Portland gets oodles and buckets of rain keeps people away, because we all know that once they get here, they never wanna leave. Like me.
Deep in the stacks @Powells
Ok I know what you’re all saying. Yawn. Of course Powell’s is on the list, EVERYBODY puts Powell’s on their list, can’t you be original? From my perspective though, I keenly feel the humongous slap upside the head that Powell’s is to other major book sellers (::cough:: Barnes & Noble) Some of my favorite things in New York when I lived there were Blimpie for the subs, catching a Mets game at Shea Stadium (insert heartbreaking sob here), and going to Barnes & Noble. B&N seemed like a reader’s mecca to my young, book-loving soul. Plus, it was in New York, so how could anything else possibly measure up? Now picture me walking into Powell’s the first time. No lie, I swear I could hear a choir of angels. And I remember thinking, clear as if it was yesterday: “Barnes & Noble, you SUCK ASS.” Thankfully, my appreciation of Blimpie subs faded long before that. My Mets fandom however…I’m sad to say is still alive and in mourning.
Jessie @ the Sandy River
Portland is not the number one dog-friendly city in the country. I find this extremely hard to fathom, as does my dog. She has a tendency to get quite squeaky in the car when we pass by locations of particular canine interest that she likes. Therefore, she tends to maintain a fairly constant level of squeekiness as I drive around Portland. Between our usual hangout at the dog park at Mt Tabor, the constant dog cookies the mailman brings, the occasional splashdown in the uber dog-friendly section of the Sandy River, the thrice-yearly baths at Lucky Lab Dog Washes (Dogtoberfest, Multnomah Dog Days, Tails & Ales)…the list goes on and on.
(Err, correction, Jessie says that the Lucky Lab dog baths are NOT on her list of faves. But they have beer! I insisted. And live music! And free doggy samples! She just glares at me.)
There is nearly always some dog-related event going on around town. Not to mention all the dog parks scattered throughout the metro area (Mt. Tabor is our fave!) So what if they’re not exactly welcome on public transportation, like they are in Chicago or whatever. Or Austin Texas. Really?? Austin Texas?? Portland dogs are loved, and everyone knows it. Screw the rest of the ‘we love dogs’ cities…if I were a dog, I’d want to live in Portland.
#2 Nature vs City.
Nature in the city, how I love thee…let me count the ways! I love how Portland has so seemlessly blended the need for expansion with a very green sense of the need for parks, and greenspaces, and community gardens, and, well, nature within the city limits. I mean, just consider some of the bigger natural spaces within the city:
That’s the short list. It doesn’t include the hundreds of city parks and recreation spaces scattered all over. I’ve never lived anywhere in this city where I wasn’t within a few blocks of a park, and all super nice (at least during the day…). Having such a plethora of natural spaces, I think, creates oases of calm for a city’s residents; a place to recharge, to introspect, to run and play and love and think. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Portland is so progressive, sustainable-conscious and green: There is evidence of nature’s power everywhere you look. Nature is perpetuating itself in Portland.
Some of my friends
I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I’ve lived here in Portland longer than anywhere else. I remember coming to a realization once, long ago, while living in Syracuse NY (aka the armpit of NY state. Trust me). I realized that no matter where you go, where you lay your hat down at night, that the place you live really makes very little difference in your life, when you boil it down. The place is not you, and you are not the place you live in. It can have its effects, true, but they tend to be minor; the thoughts you have and the life you live and the problems you face are universal. I was convinced that that was a statement of truth. Not anymore. There is something about Portland, something about the particular combination of sun and sky and rain and mountain and ocean and desert that make up Portland and the Pacific NW that surrounds it, that make it truly a unique place. And it attracts truly unique people. Never in my life have I encountered so consistently such caring, thoughtful…good people. I have had good friends while living outside of Portland. But never so many, who are so dear to me, and who I would honestly entrust with my life and those things I treasure the most. I love this place, and all the people in it, whether I know you or not, because you make Portland what it is. I will be happy to die here, someday. Um. Someday not too soon, that is. Dammit where is that salt…anyone have any wood I can knock?!?
Well there it is. 5 things I love about Portland. Love Portland too? Then get involved, and get out there and enjoy it!
There are a few constants in my conversational life:
I will get asked if my hair is naturally curly, and when I answer yes, the response will be various levels of envy which I do not understand in the least
If the fact comes up that I was born in New York, I will get asked how I came to be out on the left coast.
So here goes. Once and for all, for posterity’s sake…here is The Story.
The year is 1989 and I was living in Syracuse, NY, after a miserable bout of trying to go to college. I was working for the Syracuse University Parking and Transportation department, a job laden with possibilities, all of which end up with me being sub-poverty level. My friend, co-worker and roommate, Judy, her friend Al, and I were all hanging out outside our apartment one day around October, bemoaning our circumstances. We were all three of us obviously meant for much more than this, we decided. And we all knew that Syracuse is the armpit of NY State, so that is certainly no place for such gifted young artistes as ourselves.
What to do, what to do. We decided that Out West was the place for us. And wouldn’t you know, Judy’s parents lived in Vancouver Washington, just a hop over the river from the quaint little town of Portland, where we could certainly find some work. From there, it was just a few miles down the coast to San Francisco, and on to Los Angeles, where our gifts and talents would surely be appreciated.
That was the plan, in a nutshell. Judy would leave for her parents house and grease the wheels. I would go home, say my goodbyes, and meet her after Christmas in Vancouver. We’d stay with her parents until we could find a place in Portland; by then Al would have finished his schooling up and would come out by bus. From there, we’d continue to work until we had enough money to head down to San Fran or LA. What we did at that point I don’t think we really considered, but what the hell, it was a big city with big city life and big city prospects. And the streets would be lined with gold.
It was all going according to our plans….until Judy and Al started getting a little cozy in the one bedroom hovel we were sharing. I was completely repressing the issues of my sexuality, despite the fact that I had already dated the same sex once. I wrote it off to the probability that I was bisexual. But when my jealousy of Judy and Al’s growing relationship started to cramp their style, they kicked me out. Boy was that ugly. They wouldn’t let me take half of my stuff. That guy Al could be damn intimidating.
So, let’s analyze the situation. I had no job, no money, no friends or family and no place to stay in a strange town. Pretty bleak outlook, to say the least. So I hailed a cab back to the train station, the only other place in Portland I knew, where I could collect my thoughts and figure out my next steps. Of course I had no money to pay the cab driver, and to her credit she didn’t press charges or beat me up when I started crying over the fact that I couldn’t pay for the trip. (yeah I do that sometimes :P)
I called a friend of mine back in Syracuse. He happened to be going to college in West Virginia, being one of those few people I met who actually *live* in Syracuse. A wonderful man, he set me up with a job, a place to stay with him back in WV, and he wired me some cash for food. Since my train ticket was round trip, I talked the Amtrak people into letting me go to WV instead of back to Boston, and I figured things would work themselves out. I checked my luggage at the station so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. The only problem left was the train didn’t leave for about 3 days. I had to find a place to stay.
So I figured I’d hang out in the train station, maybe hide out in the bathroom and sleep there at night. That didn’t pan out, since I didn’t count on the security being as efficient as they were, so I faced sleeping outside. Yep, it happened, I slept in a parking lot. For maybe a few hours at least. I couldn’t handle that for very long, and I just started walking around. I ran into these obvious heroin junkies who were very nice to me, and informed me of the homeless shelter just around the corner. So without any delay I made a beeline for there, and got to sleep inside in a cot. Yay!