Monday, March 26, 2007

Sorry guys. This is the post-paella paunch. After eating so much damn food last night (thank you JHB & Josie) this is all we could do. Fondue and melon/proscuitto and paella and chocolate cake/ice cream. And wine. And wine. And port. And Kahlua.

For all the craziness that this band and their massage therapist girlfriends go through, we still know how to kick back, eat some good food and be friends. Such a simple thing. Funny how easy it is to forget.

Now, I am off, finally, to Mexico.
See ya . . .suckers.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We watched The Confederate States of America last night. It wasn't great, but it had its moments. It felt like it couldn't quite decide how outrageous it wanted to be, at times feeling way too dry and at others way too silly. I think maybe it was also a bit too real, as if with a few simple arguments (or maybe none at all)a whole host of people might jump at the chance at owning a few slaves.

This picture is of the Coon Chicken Inn that existed here in Portland from 1930 to 1950. Read more about it here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

In my mind, this is what was happening last night.

In reality, what was happening was this: Sean and I hung out for hours in the ER waiting for him to get a shot of antibiotics for an infection in his leg. The people I saw were mostly cute blonde girls behind the desk and chubby motherly nurses. There wasn't a single male doctor in scrubs, swarthy or not, in the whole damn place.

It was remarkably calm and remarkably uncomfortable. Why would a waiting room purposely have chairs you couldn't lie down across? Some airports do this too and it drives me nuts. What purpose does my discomfort serve in these venues? It's inexplicable. When we left at 4:30 AM there was a family with a sick kid trying to sleep in their seats that had been there for at least three hours. The guy that had been there for four and a half hours got nothing but a nod of thanks for his patience from the cute receptionist. Bummer.

The one bit of excitement was a hooker that was brought in who couldn't stop saying fuckin' and was spewing feathers from the coat the paramedics cut. She was livid. "I can't help it if you fuckin' shop at Ross," she said. "This is a fuckin' expensive french coat and you fucked it up!" Now, if I can't have George Clooney swinging me onto a gurney, then at least give me an irate hooker or two, right?

Friday, March 23, 2007

This, I believe, is the Stinky Ass Tree. Some call it the Cum Tree, but my friend says that's an insult to cum. So we'll call it the stinky ass, or butthole tree. That's an insult to buttholes, but they're used to it. These things can ruin a nice spring walk. There's one down the street from me that I have to hold my breath past. Why, oh why, would nature do this? And yet, I have to say, these nasty trees are in perfect harmony with my cranky mood.

I always come home cranky from the workshop I'm facilitating. I think last night I finally became the overwhelmed first year teacher sitting with her head on her desk while the rest of the class threw spit balls and talked shit. I try and reign them in but the off-topic, everyone-blathering-at-once nature of the group is largely uncontrollable. I feel badly for those trying to politely, and calmly get something out of it. I feel badly for me.

Good news is, next week in my absence, it will be in the hands of a professional, one of the directors at Write Around Portland who is wonderful and sweet and experienced with unruliness. I hope they give her all they've got and that she comes back at them with the perfect spell to keep them focused and calm. I will know when I get back whether it's just me or if I've simply been dealt a rough hand.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How very vernal.

Even the magnolias couldn't coax the grump and grind from my head today. Even the new silver paint on my toes left me indifferent. Sean came home from a few days away complaining of the same kind of sourness. I've never been so impervious to the powers of spring. Luckily, it feels like an ugly but temporary spell.

Last night's Frontline report on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Iraq vets left me sunk in that kind of vague weariness that comes with watching a lot of televised war. In the civil war they called this kind of trauma "Nostalgia" and then, of course, there was "battle fatigue." Such sweet words. As if the soldier was simply falling asleep on the chaise in a dreamy haze.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I think I said a few weeks ago that going on vacation was kind of funny for me since I work so few hours and love being a homebody. Well, I've changed my tune lately. I keep the above image, this view in my mind on a regular basis now as I manuever through the minor chaos of my days. It's nothing, really, compared to what most people have to juggle, but it's too much for me.

And now I will rant:
I hate having more than a couple things on my plate each day. I hate leaving things up in the air. I hate having my weekend in the middle of the week. I hate having the voices of my workshop participants arguing in my head for days on end.

boo hoo. poor me.

This is one of many reasons why I can't have kids. How could I handle the daily chaos? It's one of the reasons I have so few close friends. How could I maintain a busy social schedule? And it is the reason that I will never work in a big group situation again with such a varied and unstable portion of the population. None of it's for me, I'm afraid. Good to know.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I don't know what this sign says or what it's for. It stands next to a house that doesn't seem to be a business of any sort. I'm tempted to drag Sean down there with his Chinese dictionary and have him translate it, though there is part of me that likes the weird mystery of it. It's probably an herbalist or acupuncturist or something routine like that, but it's fun to pretend it's something more magical or sinister.

It makes me think about taking down my own sign–the obvious one with my name and business hung in the front window–and building a stranger, more elaborate one that sits in my front yard, confusing everyone who passes.

Friday, March 16, 2007

After getting at least some of the bejesus scared out of me watching The Descent my friend went home and I settled in to some nice comforting programming on PBS. On a Best of Nature retrospective they were showing a story about a poor old New Orleans man searching for his cat left behind after Katrina. The man started crying about his lost cat which made me start crying. This was followed by the story of Shirley and Jenny, two abused circus elephants reuinted in a sanctuary after decades of being apart. I'd heard about this story, but it was still crazy to watch the black man who cared for Shirley in the zoo lead her to the sanctuary and start crying about being the person to finally free her. 'Free at last," he said. "Free at last." Of course, by the time the elephants were nuzzling each other, twisting the bars of the divider between them to get at each other I was all tear-soaked too.

I don't cry often but when I do it's almost always over something sweet and corny I've seen on tv, as if crying over anything greater would be too much to bear. There was a time in my early twenties when the stress was running HIGH and my only access to anything sweet and corny was the hour of Days of Our Lives I allowed myself while I ate lunch before returning to the self-imposed prison I'll call My First Business. I'd never watched soaps as a teen, but for those few horrible months I lived vicariously through Bo and Hope. This is all to say that I remember distinctly and with a little bit of shame how I would sit alone in my living room and cry over the melodramatic tragedies of those people. I guess it's a sign of my age that now it's kitty cats and elephants that get me weepy.

Funny, to be so drowned on such a glorious day.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Taylor St. is always the first tunnel of trees to turn pink. The arrival of this gauntlet of blossoms is an event I look forward to throughout the winter. I almost never go down this street except for the week or so that the plum trees (I think) are in bloom. The air here is barely sweet and incredibly delicious. I can't imagine I'm the only one who strolls this path this time of year, stopping every few feet to breath as much spring into my blood as possible.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Since I met him, Sean has told me horror stories of cord wood from his childhood. Apparently his folks thought it would be a good idea to have a wood-burning stove as their main (or only?) source of heat in the far reaches of Maine. That meant that much of Sean's free time was spent cutting and stacking loads and loads of wood. Today, he got to revisit his childhood nightmare and conquer it with vigour and a little bit of pride as we stacked a stash of logs for ourselves. The rest is up for the grabbing, lugging and hauling . . .building blocks for someone elses horror.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Love my new red sneaks. Wish I felt as laid back as this picture suggests. Things have been crazy lately. Lots of work, not enough writing, too much stress over how to make my workshop participants behave and also get the most out of the experience. Isn't that what teachers have to do every damn day? Praise be to those brave folks. Me? I think I've developed a nervous stomach over the whole thing. Silly, I know. Wait until they see my kick-ass red shoes. The sight alone will whip them into shape, right?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Here's proof that I don't kill every plant I own. Euphorbia and Rosemary. Nice couple.

After I finished work, I went out into the day and smelled the first girlish breath of spring, button candied and barely warm. This is the stuff that makes me swoon. The stuff that brings a bit of bliss. I want to eat the thumbprint-sized flowers growing in the grass, dropping each tiny white petal onto my tongue like a sweet mint. I want cherry blossom air pumped straight into my lungs.

Spring's fleeting nature is half its allure but every time it arrives I want to slow things down to five-year old time. I want an hour to seem enormous, a day to stretch the limits of my understanding. A week. . .impossible.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Looking at pictures of the Mexican village I'll be in 19 days from now can help take the edge off, but so can pictures of Portland from a few days ago. Spring blooms are busting out all over the place, thank god.

I don't believe in astrology, but there are days like today and yesterday when everything feels off, not just for me but for Sean and everyone else I come in contact with. Someone today will shout "Mercury Retrograde" at me the way they do whenever things get a little twitchy. Or maybe it will be something about the Year of the Pig. Who knows. It does feel like bigger forces are at work. A collective, exhausted shrug of the shoulders. I can't quite make the leap to believe it's my Libran destiny to be in this mood. So maybe I'll blame it on the weather and go back to looking at pretty pink blossoms.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

This is the Dixie Mattress Company. I have lived in this neighborhood for over thirteen years and it has always been there with its weird junk sitting behind its dusty windows. I've only seen people inside there once in all those years and that was a few weeks ago. The door was open and there were two people sitting in the dimly lit chaos of the shop on folding chairs not doing anything that looked related to making a mattress. Apparently, there was some chatter about this place on blogs about town and The Oregonian ran this article, which is the first bit of real info about the business I'd ever read.

Personally, I find the shop ugly and its Union Jack flags offensive but I also love that it's still there. It's a weird and largely inexplicable local business. It is my theory that it is one of the last remaining elements that keep this section of Belmont from being entirely overthrown by painful hipness. That, and the shootings. Sean confirmed that there was not only one, but two shootings behind Belmont's, the corner bar. One was after a Tree Frog's show (Sean's old band). The bartender was killed. The other was after a hip-hop show and while remaining unconfirmed, ended live music at this bar. That was all a decade or so ago. Sadly, the convenience store has now taken up the slack in gun violence along the street. I joke about it being the Dixie Mattress Company's fault, but really, I'd be sad if I walked by one day and found a high-priced t-shirt shop had replaced the dusty relics and stained mattresses.

Monday, March 05, 2007

This is the Belmont Market, once known as the 365. One of the clerks here was shot yesterday. He's in critical condition. I guess when you need the money, you need the money and if it happens to be 3:45 on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, then so be it. You pull out your gun and rob a store. And if the robbery goes wrong you shoot and dash away in your not-so-low-profile orange sports car. Fuck.

I know this shit goes on all the time, but it's weird when it happens on a corner that I pass by almost daily. There must have been tons of hipsters hanging out at Stumptown across the street. It's such a neighborhood-y area that this kind of violence feels particularly violating. Though, it seems as if there have been a few shootings in this neighborhood since I moved here. Didn't someone get shot behind the bar across the street many years ago? I'm not sure. I blame it all, everything, on The Dixie Mattress Company which is still "open" down the block. More on that tomorrow. Damn . . .

Friday, March 02, 2007

My client was just telling me about her friend's new house. The yard had a few rose bushes in it, but other than that, the whole thing was covered in half a foot of rocks. This reminded me of my old rental, the cake house, where the landlady randomly came in one day, pulled out a dormant vegetable bed and put down a 5' x 5' square of concrete, the world's tiniest and ugliest patio. The things people do. . .

With the tree gone, I now have a clear view of the weirdness that is the trio of fences between me and my neighbor. 1. Picket fence bolted to some posts sunk in a low concrete wall. 2. Wind tattered bamboo fencing smashed in the middle (this is the most inexplicable layer) and 3. The relatively normal though not particularly beautiful fence of my neighbor.

I can't wait to pull out all this crap and plant some of this:

Thursday, March 01, 2007

sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry

They look like giant vertebrae knocked loose across my yard, these peices of killed tree. The delays in getting the rest of it cut down have made it only slightly easier to finally see it go, only because the skeleton that was left for over a week simply sat there like a torture victim stripped of all dignity. I'm not exactly sad, but I am extremely sorry.

Of course, now I can start asking all my friends if they need some of my wood–– hiLARious . . .