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Monday, November 30, 2009

Just a Lower Case t

I hated my name when I was growing up. It's too weighted for a kid to have, and the teasing started as soon as I entered kindergarten. How kids this young were already familiar enough with Shakespeare to make fun of me still confuses me.

I talked to my parents about the teasing, and they had someone white out my t so that I wasn't harassed every time a substitute teacher took attendance.

I tried to reclaim my name several times before I finally did. I was always accused of being pretentious and having invented my name in an effort to reinvent myself, when all I wanted to do was use my given name.

I have known many people who successfully changed their names to names that had nothing to do with their original name. Often, these names were far more pretentious than mine, but people just went along with the change.

I finally stopped caring and made the switch, though I would never make old friends call me Juliet, though it is s a much better name.

I would, however, really appreciate it if people would stop asking me "wherefore art thou?" It's Juliet who says it to Romeo, not him to her, and I've already heard it a thousand times.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Politically Incorrect

I grew up in a really politically active family.

I was brought to nuclear protests as a child without any idea of what we were protesting. When my parents' friends climbed fences to trespass onto nuclear power plants and were arrested, I thought I would be, too, and this may be the origin of a comparatively politically inactive life.

My sister and brother went onto to get degrees in politics, but I preferred a more escapist degree, opting to study literature at a hideously expensive tiny school.

I admit that I have gone through long periods of not reading the paper. It made me less stressed and angry. I get frustrated by all the canvassers outside of the library who forget they try to get me the sign the same petitions multiple times a day. Once, when I told a man I didn't want to sign his petition, he told me I had issues and yelled at me as I ran down the block. I have no problem admitting I went on to write the organization he was canvassing for an email about the experience and was pleased to observe that particular organization does not canvas near the library anymore.

I am tired of the fur protesters by the library, and don't understand why they aren't tired of chanting the same thing day after day. Plus, I'm annoyed that I'm afraid to wear my new fur coat to work, but I don't want to risk having blood thrown it.

It is older than me, and I feel like That Girl in it. If you also have a fur coat or anything else similarly politically incorrect that you really love, but you are afraid to wear in public, let me know. I will have a party and we can all look fabulous in a safe environment.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guilty

I was such a huge fan of my cat Ray, possibly the greatest cat whoever lived.

I never meant to get a new cat so soon after he died, but I found Pete in the parking lot of the last library I worked in, and he needed a home. He upgraded his life, moving to Irvington, then to our new house in SE, where he explored the great outdoors once again.

I think he likes men better than women, because he doesn't seem to pay much attention other than when I am in bed. He prefers J., and sometimes I'm jealous. I think he knew I wasn't over Ray.

Recently, he's been sick, and when I am not angry at him for peeing outisde of his litterbox, I am feeling guilty for my distance. I hope this is past us soon, and that it's not too late to be a better mom.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Old and Boring?

Do I really have so little going on in my life that I can't think of anything to write about anymore, or am I just lazy?

I turned 40 a couple of weeks ago, only it didn't seem like I did.

I have never identified as an adult, which is probably why I really love being a children's librarian. But also, it didn't seem like I did, because I spent my birthday at a wedding. It feels like I got off the hook from having a birthday this year, which is actually great, because I wasn't wild about turning 40 anyway.

It blows my mind that I was 15 when my parents turned 40. I remember their fortieth birthdays so clearly, and my dad's in particular. I remember the card my grandma sent him, in which she stated: "And son, 40 isn't that old."

Worse was his birthday party, and the belly dancer his staff hired as a surprise present for him. I was horrified to watch her shake her whole body just a couple of inches away from my father and spent the rest of the evening hiding in the basement with my guinea pigs.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Fightin' Words

I can’t believe it, but I bought a treadmill. I am tired of using the rain, the cold, and the heat as an excuse not to run.

J. says I am a typical Northwesterner and complain about the weather unless it is between 68 and 78 degrees. He is right about my sensitivity to weather, but I don’t know if that makes me a typical Northwesterner. There are so few of us, it’s hard to say.

It is a safe bet that most of the people who dress like they are camping originally came from far away places. I am guessing that most of the vegetarians did too.

I haven’t been tent camping in over ten years. I own two fur coats. Take that!

I’ll hide my treadmill in the basement. I’ll never wear running shoes with stockings to work. My plaid will stay where it's always been, on Catholic school girl skirts.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Too Late?

J. and I had another great idea about a children's book written for adults, a board book entitled Mommy and Daddy Used to Have Fun . I won't give away the content, in case we decide, against all odds, to follow up on.

I was really excited about the book, certain we could make a ton of money, until I read that yet again, someone had already beaten me to another great idea. I'm really pissed at Tom Robbins for writing B is for Beer, wondering if I will ever have a unique idea.

Is our book still worth persuing?

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not Yours To Give Away

Last week, I loaned a good chunk of my antique hat collection, several vintage purses and multiple scarves people had given me to a youth librarian at another branch doing a dress up program.

I sent them through the library's delivery system in a library crate very clearly labeled.

Today I was informed that these items had been donated to Goodwill.

Please, try to let people take care of these things themselves. I do donate to Goodwill, but not my relatives' antiques.

I hate this week.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Niche

Sometimes when I go out for Vietnamese or Chinese food, I get really jealous of the people whose native cuisine it is that are eating there.

I want whatever they are eating. I am not always certain it is the same thing that is listed in the English section of the menu.

Unemployment is now at 12% in Oregon, and I have a great idea for a job. How about serving as a cultural and culinary liaison to those of us that don't know what we are ordering? A person could take a group of people out to dinner and order for them. In exchange, they'd get paid, eat a free meal, and maybe make some new friends.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Ouch

Last Sunday, I ran 6.6 miles for a total of 27.7 miles that week.

I was feeling great, and went out for a bike ride.

On the way home, a dog appeared out of nowhere. Riding a bike with only footbreaks, I hit the breaks hard, and crashed into a tree to avoid hitting the dog.

It's been a difficult week. I have a black eye, scabbed shoulder and no skin on the knuckles of my left hand. Going to work has been tricky, and "I hit a tree" seems like a cover up for bad thing that didn't happen.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oudated?

I fully admit I am a lazy blogger.

I don't always have a lot to say and am often lacking the discipline or time to record my thoughts. I had more to blog about when I was depressed, lonely, and had just moved to Portland. I am not sure anyone ever read anything I posted, but it felt good to just get those thoughts out there.

Since then, many new mechanisms for sharing thoughts and feelings have been created. I briefly dabled in Myspace, to stay connected with my Seattle running group, but tired of the unsolicited emails from people I didn't know. I cauciously joined Facebook, and have to admit I wouldn't be involved with J. without it. We had met each other half a year earlier, had a fight about my tomato idea , and that was it. I made him my Facebook friend several months later, and the rest is history.

Twitter annoys me. Maybe one day I will do a take back, but for now, I just don't really see the point. I'm online too much anyway, wasting hours, and feeling shame for updating my Facebook status too frequently. Now that J. is in library school, I have more time on my hands than I'm used to and should probably be writing and blogging more often. It's a little more substantial than saying where you happen to be at a particular time, and I don't care if the format is aging.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Full Circle

Three and a half years ago, I took the train from Seattle to Portland to interview for a youth librarian job.

I was nervous and stressed about the interview, getting over a cold, and feeling really badly about leaving my mother, who had broken her arm right at the shoulder the night before and wasn't able to take care of herself.

It was pouring when I got into Portland and I waited in the rain for a long time to catch a 14 to a friend's house. I had an enormous backpack with me I tried desperately to keep dry so that I wouldn't ruin my interview clothes and storytime supplies. I jumped on a bus, noticed a lot people weren’t paying, and thought maybe you paid when you got off the bus. That's the way it is in Seattle; if you are heading downtown, you pay as you enter and if you get on downtown, you pay as you leave.

The bus was packed. I was confused when a bunch of people in yellow jackets got on and asked to look at people's transfers. I asked the guy I was sitting next to what was going on, and he explained they were fare inspectors. Since I hadn't paid a fare, I felt a little panicked. When I explained my situation to my neighbor he apologized to me on behalf of the city of Portland.

I thought the inspector might understand when I explained I was from Seattle and showed them my I.D.. She told me to get off the bus. I was mortified.

Outside, I explained there hadn't been signage as I boarded the bus explaining the system, reiterated I was from out of town and also explained the whole paying as you leave system in Seattle. The fare inspector was aggressive, told me I should have asked the bus driver and also told me that I'd lied. She said she'd ridden the bus in Seattle, and that you paid as you entered. She wrote out a pink warning slip to me, told me to never do it again, and that the next bus would be arriving in 25 minutes.

I cried while I waited in the rain for the next bus and as soon as I got to my friends house, I called Tri Met to complain about the lack of signage, rudeness of fare inspectors, and encouraged her to call Metro Transit in Seattle verify the whole pay as you leave dispute.

I had a bunch of librarian friends do a mock interview for me that night, and told them about my bus ride. None of them had ever encountered fare inspectors, and I wondered why I did the only time I'd ridden the bus in Portland in years.

I was shocked when I got a call nine months later to offer me a job. Since then, signage had been created to explain fareless square, and I'd like to think my call to Tri Met might have played a role in that decision.

I have taken the bus many times since I've moved here. Portland is getting smaller and smaller to me. The other day I ran into a friend on the bus, and she mentioned a mutual acquaintance. The women sitting next to me interrupted us to tell us that was her daughter in law. I was glad we had only said positive things.

Today marks the first day I've ridden a bus invaded by fare inspectors. I felt grateful to have a bus pass, and even more glad that I've been here long enough to not be new anymore.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Suprise!

I haven't been at work much lately. The snow, holidays and vacation time I took gave me more time off than I've had in two years.

I noticed it was snowing again last night and I had a little fantasy of being snowed in again through my weekend. I was disappointed to wake up to clear streets, and went in to work less than motivated.

I decided to start out by tackling my exploding mail box. I was curious about the soft puffy inner office mail package, and delighted to find a skirt in it, courtesy of a friend at another library branch. What a great way to start the day. I don't even have to leave work to get more clothes! I will send her one back, and encourage others to do the same.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Heart Does the Tango

Sometimes I get depressed by all of the things I can't do.

I blame a lot of these things on being monocular, mainly not driving. Everyone is always quick to point out all of the near-blind, 90 year old people they know who drive. I say: is that a good thing?

Whether or not I might be able to drive if I put my mind to it, which I honestly believe I can't and shouldn't do, I am undeniably uncoordinated.

Besides not driving, I also can't snap.

Although I am flexible, I definitely have two left feet when it comes to dancing. It always made me sad when I was younger and had a new ballet teacher who would see me at the barre, put me in the front row on the floor, and then demote me to the third row by the next class.

I wanted to swing dance before the trend came, and then went, and I love the tango. A few years ago, I met a tango teacher who told me he could teach anyone to tango. I don't know if his ego or mine was more bruised by my inability to learn the most basic steps
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Forgotten

I pride myself on my memory, but it is now clear to me it is not as good as it used to be, or that I am being a little more honest about its capacity.

Maybe the problem is that it doesn't extend to places that I've literally moved beyond.


I am troubled by all of the college pictures of me that friends have recently sent; I have no memory of posing for them.

I am more troubled by my eyebrows in these pictures. It took me a long time to realize they were bushy, and then when I did I went overboard. I got a more than a little addicted to plucking them in the mid '90's. All pictures during the time I was doing this reveal that I constantly looked shocked or surprised. Why didn't anyone tell me?

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Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm In Total Control

I am pretty excited about staying home for Thanksgiving this year, especially because it is our first, both in the new house, and with each other.

I normally get together with my extended family. Maybe it's because we're related that we always did it potluck style. I thought that was how it was done.

J. strongly disagrees with me on this one, believing that when you have people over, they shouldn't have to bring anything.

Making the whole dinner is going to be a lot more work and cost a lot more money. I think it has some perks, though, like designing the whole dinner to your own tastes.

I like most food, even brussel sprouts, but traditional Thanksgiving dinners feature a couple of things I am not crazy about...things that aren't awful, but I would be perfectly happy to never eat again: sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Maybe I haven't had them prepared the right way. I know for a fact I've had a limited experience with pumpkin pie. Several years ago, my Grandmother made a little spiral bound cookbook entitled "Grandma's Favorite Recipes" that she gave to everyone for Christmas. It includes a recipe for Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie that she took right off of a can of packed pumpkin. I do have to say her pie crusts are exceptional, though I prefer a different filling.

Sweet potatoes just don't have any personality, and I hate the Thanksgiving version with melted marshmallows on top.

Needless to say, I won't be including pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes at my dinner. I hope people aren't as attached to them as I am to mashed potatoes. The first Thanksgiving I spent away from home my freshman year of college was with a family who didn't include them as part of their Thanksgiving dinner, and I called my mom in tears.

Our guests are a lot older than I was then. I don't think sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie will be missed because I'm making a couple of great extra things to make our vegetarian friends happy. And how could a pumpkin pie possibly trump a cranberry mousse?

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another Confession

Shhh...don't tell anyone, but despite being a librarian, I am not a fan of library culture.

I think this started way back in library school, which I hated. I don't know if I could ever like someone who liked it.

I judged my classmates (several of whom later became my friends) as geeks. I am a lot of things, and I am not proud of some of them, but I am not a geek. This was confirmed when I took an online test that classified people into geeks, dorks and nerds. I came up nerd, which I was proud of given the options. I still don't think I am that nerdy other than my addiction to being online.

I maybe shouldn't have said so many shitty things about library school and it's ridiculous information transfer cycles and focus on learning styles. I think I developed bad karma.

I am getting my payback now that J. is in library school. I never wanted to talk about all those theories and models again. Actually, I never wanted to in the first place.
I can't believe I am becoming reacquainted with Bates, Belkin, Dervin Hensley, Kulhthau, berrypicking, the ASK theory, and sensemaking. At least J. hates library school as much as I did and we make fun of these people and concepts.

We read an article the other night about cross-cultural communication proposing if an information professional speaks the same language as the person with information need, the user is more likely to get his/her needs met.

How about: if you have a mouth, you are more likely to speak. If you have ears through which you can hear, you are more likely to listen.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Sweet

When I was a kid, my mom made her own bread, mayonnaise and yogurt. My family didn’t eat processed food, any vegetables that weren’t from our own garden, and we definitely weren’t allowed to eat dessert, other than on our birthdays or holidays. Maybe it’s because I didn’t eat much sugar growing up that I eat almost none now, although my sister claims it was the lack of sugar that created her sweet tooth.

I haven’t had a birthday cake in maybe fifteen years. Sometimes I enjoy ice cream, but I almost always have to throw the cartons I buy out before they are empty because I realize they are a year old. I enjoy making desert, though, and sometimes give pies and cakes away that I never even taste.

Maybe it’s because I know I can eat sugar if I want to that I don’t eat much. When I was a kid, and had little control over what I ate, I liked candy as much as any other kid. One Halloween when I was about twelve, I came up with a plan to make my candy last all year long.

I sped trick-or-treated, targeting specific blocks and houses that I remembered to be particularly lucrative. I came home with more candy than I’d ever gathered before, and then began sorting it by type. I then divided the candy into twelve equal piles, and put them in wax paper bags. In retrospect, I wonder if this Halloween pre-dated zip lock bags or if my parents were just being cheap. I labeled each bag for each month of the year, then put them in our extra freezer in the basement, where I thought they would be safe from my family. When I went down to check on my candy a month later, most of it was gone, and I’m not sure if was my siblings or parents who took it.

I’m also not sure why I had more self-discipline as a kid than I do now. I wonder where it went, and if I will ever get it back.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too Bad

One of these days I will stop thinking of the books I will write, and actually do it.

My latest idea is probably impossible, and it's too bad, because I think it's pretty good.

I have to credit it to my subconscious. I dreamed I wrote a book called Mom's a Bitch, narrated from a father's point of view as he explains to his children their mother's recent departure. While I don't this is marketable, maybe it would appeal to an adult audience. I would have to write under a psydenom, though...somehow I don't think the fact that it was written by a youth librarian would make me very popular.

I hope that one day soon, I will get a more realistic idea.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Humbling

Yesterday J. and I made a pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch. I appreciated his willingness to go out of town to get one, if Sauvie Island counts as that, because I know he thinks the pumpkins you can get at Safeway are pretty much the same. I think the ones we chose were far superior to the homogeneous grocery store variety pumpkins.




It was such a nice day I wanted to drive around the island. I discovered that despite the pastoral benefits of living out there, I really prefer our house. The houses on the island are boxy little affairs with perfect lawns and I felt strongly they were inhabited by republicans.

The house boats along the river were much cooler. The idea of being able to move a house is appealing to me. If you didn't like your neighbors or just wanted a change of scene, you could just have your house pulled somewhere else.

I like the idea of living on the water and had a fantasy of buying an old shabby chic tugboat. I imagined we could paint it a nice bright color, have lots of pots of geraniums and mums, and a rickety table with a checked table cloth on it. I imagined cooking rustic Italian food, drinking wine and looking up at the stars.

J. thought we could take our tugboat to Seattle for weekends and I asked him if it was possible, because somehow between basic 5th grade geography and now, I had forgotten that rivers led to the ocean, and it happened on the same month that I finally realized why Apple calls their computers MacIntoshes.

I am glad J. remembers these things, and if he can navigate our imaginary tugboat to Seattle, I will go. To be honest, though, my fantasy of a boat had nothing to do with a destination. I just wanted to be out on a river enjoying the moment.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Resurrection: I'm back, judging and using run-on sentences

Sorry blog.

It's not just you I've been ignoring.

The combination of moving and changing jobs has been pretty overwhelming and I have been flakier than I've ever been in my life.

Recently, though, it has been suggested to me that I am too content to write. I have also been accused of using The Angry Librarian to say bad things about Seattle.

Since I disagree with both these things, I will make an effort to start writing more regularly.

And just to show the overly-sensitive Seattle people that that I don't think Portland is perfect, I will start by listing things I don't like about Portland.


1. Lines/waiting

The way people stand patiently in line here drives me crazy. The number of times I have had to leave a coffee shop without coffee or I would have been late to work is ridiculous. And it would be completely avoidable, if baristas didn't insist on having long conversations and trying to make a personal connection with each customer. I far preferred the fast-paced rude baristas in Seattle who would pretend they didn't know what size and type of coffee I wanted, despite the fact that I had been going to the same place and ordering the same thing ever day for years.

I am also astounded by the fact that people will wait up to two hours before they are even seated at certain restaurants. Don't they have anything else to do with their time? Whatever ever happened to being able to make a reservation? This is overlapping into my pet peeves about service.

2. Service

Portland has hands down the worst service I have ever experienced in my life. Many times I have arrived at a restaurant and been told there is only room at the bar when it is clear there are ten+ tables available. Servers in many places have acted like they are doing their customers a favor to simply do their jobs. Sometimes when I have been served something that is cold or is entirely different from what I ordered, I will eat it anyway, since the level of hostility or superiority I received from my server was so high just when I was ordering that I am afraid of what would happen to my food if I sent it back. The one time I did do that, at the despised Bread and Ink Cafe, getting my corrected dinner took almost 45 minutes and the friend I was eating with was done by the time I finally received what I had ordered.

3. Drivers

I know, I know, I don't drive. But it doesn't mean that I can't tell when other people aren't good drivers, and I have a special disdain for bus drivers who fall into this category.

I am also amazed by the short term memories of so many Portland drivers. Last Friday it rained more heavily than it has since last spring and I was astounded by the traffic and the fact that in four months, people had forgotten how to drive in the rain.


4. Lack of decent Indian food

I didn't really like Indian food until I was in my mid twenties. I attribute this to my mother being overly zealous with curry in the kitchen when I was growing up. My mom is a great cook, but I was either too young to appreciate her efforts, or more likely, she was prioritizing the nutritional aspect of dinner above the taste. Or maybe she was just experimenting. What I do know was that I didn't have a real interest in Indian food until about 1995 and then I wanted to eat all the time. Seattle really does have great Indian food, and it's also really cheap. The Indian food that I have in Portland can't hold a candle to it, and with the exception of the food cart by my work, is also more expensive.

If I wasn't tired and my eyes didn't hurt, I could come up with some more things I didn't like about Portland. Maybe another day...it has just occurred to me that I forgot to mention the abundance of hippies and the trend of shared tables in resteraunts. But maybe not...I am not so content that I've stopped being judgemental, but I am really happy here.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Running Behind

I am running late on most things in my life lately, and especially the time to write or reflect on them.

I still can’t believe that I again have a new job, just when I had finally learned how to do the old one, and after only being at my last library a year and a half.

I already miss Rockwood. Somehow I doubt I’ll ever have another job where I can play Charlie’s Angels at work again.

If I’d had more than a few days to think about the job, I don’t know if I would have made the same decision. But I have been in overdrive mode for so long now that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Switching jobs made me realize that it was time to bring Ray home. He’s been sitting on my desk in a little tin since June. I never meant to bring him to work. When I went to pick up his ashes at Dove Lewis, they had lost them. I still feel badly about my interaction with the receptionist that day. It wasn’t her fault someone had lost Ray. But finding out no one knew where the ashes of my 16 year old cat that I’d just spent five thousand dollars on and who died anyway didn’t put in a very rational state. I let the receptionist know exactly what I thought and felt about the situation.

When Ray was located a few hours later, she called to let me know they would Fed Ex him overnight to wherever I wanted and I thought it would be easier to just have him sent to work. I kept forgetting to bring him home. I think I just didn’t want him there, I didn’t want to deal with my own feelings, and then I felt guilty when I impulsively brought home the cat that had moved into the parking lot of the library. At first I thought I was just fostering him. I wish I’d named him a little more thoughtfully, but I didn’t think I was keeping him, I needed something to call him, and Pete came to mind, after all the Peter Pans I have ever dated. Since I think I’m done doing that now, Pete will be my last one.

I loved Ray’s intensity, but lately, I am really appreciating Pete’s lighter approach to life and especially his fondness for rubber bands. I have had more than enough drama in my life these past three years and I am ready to relax.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wonderful

I never received love notes from strangers until I moved to Portland. Today I was given my third.

I was having cup of coffee at a little place in a strip mall in Gresham, and a man I'd noticed the week before came up, silently lay an envelope down on my table, and went back to his own table.

I felt a little self-concious opening the envelope; I was aware the people at the next table me were enjoying the drama. The card had a picture of a cat looking out a window on it, and inside, said only "I think you are wonderful." I packed up my stuff as quickly as possible, and headed off to the library.

I feel both relieved and a little sad that this Saturday was my last in Gresham. The class I've been co-teaching out there for the past two months ended today. I'll never go to the depressing coffee shop in the strip mall again and I won't have to have an uncomfortable conversation with my admirer explaining my disinterest. But I do feel a little badly for the guy who will probably think I'm avoiding the place because of him.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good luck!

Found inside a book in the bookdrop:

Things I Want to Do Before I’m 30

1. Run a half marathon
2. Wear a bikini on the beach and feel confident
3. Write a novel
4. Write a screenplay
5. Reduce my waste as much as possible:
alternate sources of power
compost pile
energy saving patches
hybrid or converted diesel

I wonder how old this list maker is…it kind of seems like a lot to take on. Maybe I’m just lazy, but if it was me, I’d maybe just focus on one or two of these things.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lucky

I have amazing luck in Portland. Even when bad things happen, I am still lucky. The other day I accidentally left my debit card in an ATM machine. I didn't realize it until the next day, when I tried to pay for the coffee I'd ordered, and discovered I had no cash or debit card. Before I had a chance to figure out how was going to get my coffee, the barista told me it was on her at the exact same time the woman behind me in line insisted on paying for it. The argued for a minute, and I felt like I was being bid on. The woman behind me won; she'd recently had the same thing happen to her, and person behind her in line had paid for her coffee. She felt like it was her turn. I got my coffee, went to work and when my coworker asked me if I wanted to go out to lunch I said sure, if she paid, since I had no money. We had a nice lunch, and then I borrowed some money from J. to tied me over until my new debit card arrived.

The whole situation made me think about how cool people could be, and what an opposite perspective I'd had towards people in Seattle. My expectations for other people and myself were low, and my experiences reflected this, which is probably why I've only spent two days in Seattle since I moved to Portland. I don't really think about my old life at all, other than when I go to the dreaded but convenient Safeway and type in my old phone number. I have been using a Safeway club card based on a phone number I haven't had in three and a half years. The card was under B.'s name, not mine, and every time I use the card and the cashier says "Thank you, Mrs. Bigley" I am pulled momentarily into a past that has so little in common with my present it doesn't seem like I could still be the same person.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Retail Therapy

I’ve been having difficulty buying shoes lately. Last month I was told by both Nordstrom’s and Macy’s that they carried very few pairs of shoes in my size. My feet are small, but not abnormally small. I felt like that was a discriminating policy, and I told them so.

I have specifically looking for boots lately…it’s been cold, and I wanted to insulate my legs. The few pairs of boots I have found that don’t have giant fuck me heals that fit my feet don’t fit my legs, and I had pretty much given up hope.

I have felt kind of rich these past few days, thanks to a Christmas check and my kicker check. What was especially great about the kicker is that I had no idea it existed until it arrived. I thought, my God I love Oregon, then later found out it’s not annual thing. But oh well…I got it this year, and I decided to go shopping.

On Monday I was running early to meet up with a friend for a shopping adventure, and wandered into a consignment store, where I found a great dress. While I was waiting in line to buy it, I saw the exact pair of boots I imagined in my mind. I sat down on a chair to try them on, and I noticed the salesperson staring at me. She asked me if the boots fit and I told her I didn’t know yet. She told me that they were Prada boots that had originally been $600. They didn’t fit the originally owner right, had never been worn, and were $90. The salesperson told me she would hate me if they fit, and that every woman who had come into the store for the past month had tried them on, with no success. Other women in the store gathered around me see if they fit, and I felt like Cinderella when I put my foot into them. Bless Prada for having my feet and legs in mind when they made my boots. Forget the dress! I wore the boots out of the store, and within five minutes, three people had asked me about them.

I met up with my friend, and we headed of to The Dig. Maybe it’s because I’m so vocal about bad experiences with stores and restaurants that I feel obligated to balance out the negative with the positive.

Yesterday was my first visit to The Dig, and I would be their personal spokesperson. Pretty much everything there is $3-$4, and every fourth item you buy is free. I have never had the experience of finding so many great things so easily, and having almost all of them fit perfectly. It’s like they went to Goodwill, bought all the great stuff, and then lowered the prices. Plus, the people that run the stores are really friendly, but give you space. I had a nice conversation with an employee, and she brought me back to see the warehouse. I left with twelve skirts, eight shirts, and three coats for $65.

I felt even higher than I do when I run (which, incidentally, I have been doing a lot lately. Why did I ever stop? It makes me feel like a super hero, and I want to run a half marathon in the spring). It’s been awhile since I’ve felt like that shopping, and it reminded me that I’ve come a long ways from the period of my life where I was struggling to climb up the cliffs of insanity, and shopping was one of the few things I found any happiness in.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Hush

I’ve been sick a lot this fall. I got another cold at the beginning of the week, but I thought that it was the 24 hour variety. Maybe there isn’t a 24 hour cold, maybe that is only the flu or another virus. Anyway, I went back into work yesterday, mostly because I was having my storytime evaluated, something I’d been putting off for about six months.


I did a great job on my storytime, and was feeling really good until about 3, when my voice started to go. I kind of liked my fading voice. I sounded really sexy, like a ‘40’s movie star.

I went to bed early, and woke up around four to the sound of a crash. I looked out my window and watched a bunch of drunken cyclists try to determine if their friend who had crashed into a car was okay. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to test my voice. A decidedly unsexy squeak came out, and then nothing.

What will I do now that I can’t talk? How long will it last?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Comfort Zone

I've been eating a lot of really great food lately. The idea of turning 38 doesn't thrill me, and I've been trying to soften the blow by stretching out my birthday as long as possible. I've already had three birthday dinners, and two of them have been at places I've already been to before.

I was really happy with what I ordered at both of these places the first time I ate there there, and despite wanting to explore the menus further, I was afraid of not liking something else as much as what I'd liked before, and ordered the same thing

This reminded me of a game I made up awhile ago that I have yet to pilot. It would be best to play it with at least four people. Everyone would go to a restaurant, and all parties would write their names down on slips of paper, and indicate if they were vegetarians or had any food allergies. The names would be put into a hat and everyone would draw a name. When the server came by to take orders, everyone would order for the person who's name they had drawn, without sharing the name of the person they were ordering for with the group.

I like this game not only because it forces people out of their comfort zones, but also because it could be played on a variety of levels. There is the option to be a little obnoxious and order something sketchy for someone else, or to order what you think is the best thing on the menu.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

The End

I think it was my uncomfortable conversation with Mr. 3:36 that contributed to my nightmare the other night. I dreamed a clown wearing a tie dye shirt asked me out, and I said okay even though there are few things I dislike more than hippies or clowns.

I hate the borrowed ideology of contemporary hippies. And I'll admit it, I think the aesthetic is appalling. Don't even get me started on clowns, and the way they pick on audience members, pushing their comfort zones. Mimes are even worse.

I'm so glad the hippie clown was only a dream. I was really disappointed with myself for being so passive in my dream, and prepared when Mr. 3:36 called back. I knew he would. I made an exception to my renaming rule, and entered him into my phone as DON'T ANSWER so I could be warned when he called. He left a message about how I said I'd call him with my schedule and hadn't, and if I didn't want to see him, that was fine, but at least I could be civilized and let him know.

I thought civilized was an interesting choice of words, given that he had hung up on me. I have tried to be direct, I have tried to have an open mind, but the fact is, Mr. 3:36 is a serious alcoholic. I'm not sure he remembers a lot of the things he says and does, which is why it's not worth it to me to remind him that his own behavior towards me has been anything but civilized. I'm done.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

He's Back!

I have made an effort for the past year to stop renaming people in my cell phone. Now I delete them, and that is just would I did to Mr. Calls At 3:36 a.m. last spring. I wish I'd left him in my phone, so that I could be warned that after a six month hiatus, he was calling again. I wouldn't have answered. I have never been interested in or involved with Mr. 3:36. Why does it feel like we've now broken up twice?

Mr. 3:36 told me again that it was his phone that had called me in the middle of the night, not him, that he'd been in Europe all summer and now was back. He said he was being nice and calling me despite my having been out of touch, and implied I didn't deserve it.

Confrontation isn't a real strength of mine, and for awhile, I thought I maybe had been too uptight, and that avoiding him hadn't been a nice thing to do. I told him I'd left my calender at work, but that I would call back when I could look at my schedule and we could make a plan. I guess this rubbed him the wrong way. He said he had a life, too, that maybe we could get together in February of 2008 and hung up on me. I'm sure if he ever calls again, he will say we got disconnected.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Speak, Memory

I remember exactly where I was the moment I learned that Santa Claus wasn’t real. My third grade class had just finished P.E., and we were lined up on the stairs leaving the gym, waiting for our teacher to pick us up. Some ass who had probably just learned the news himself decided to share it with the entire class. I went on to make the usual connections, and discarded my belief in elves, reindeer, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Years later, I became the librarian at the same school, and every time I used the stairs to the gym, I remembered how shattered I felt

When I was 21, flying home from Denmark, I was seated next to a woman from Sweden about my age. We drank a lot of champagne, and she made an off hand remark about reindeer. I thought she was joking, and called her on it. She assured me she wasn’t, and when I got home, I announced to my whole family that reindeer were actually real.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Conscious

When I was four, my family moved from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Regrettably, it has since become a suburb; even ten years ago it was impossible to get a salad for under $10 in one of the numerous restaurants that have sprung up in the town of Winslow.

In the mid ’70’s, Winslow was a tiny town with one traffic light. I loved the Scotch Broom Parade that went down the main street every year, and was really excited the year I got to be part of it, riding in the back of a truck filled with hay and throwing candy at the crowd. There was a little diner my family used to go to occasionally, The Lemon Tree, and I wanted to be a waitress there when I grew up.

The only other restaurant I remember was The Island House. My parents would go there for their anniversary, and it was on one of those anniversary dinners they got the call from my babysitter informing them that I had stuck a peanut up my nose and couldn’t get it out.

The Island House saved buckets of leftovers for our pigs, who always had the same names: Sausage, Bacon, Ham and a name I can’t remember. We got four pigs every year. They were cute when they were young and ran all over the garden, which took up an acre of the property. When they got older, and the garden no longer needed rotatilled, we moved them in to a much smaller pen. Retrospectively, this seems unfair; while they were small they had a ton of room to run around, and when they became bigger, we stuck them in a really confined space.

I didn’t think about this at all at the time. By the time they had been moved to the smaller pen, I hated them. They were much bigger than me, made a lot of noise, and were really intimidating.

I remember the slaughtering days as really exciting. We got to stay home from school and invite a friend over to watch. I have no memories of ever knowing I was eating our own pigs. It was something that if my parents talked about all, they did it when they were alone.

We moved back to Seattle when I was nine and our pigs, chickens, rabbits and horses were replaced by a series of Springer Spaniels, all of whom were named Sam.

I’ve dabbled with becoming a vegetarian for a month or week or day at a time off and on occasionally as adult, but I always come back to meat. I don’t eat a ton of it but sometimes I really love a medium rare steak and there is nothing like the combined smell of bacon and coffee in the morning.

When I was in Vietnam last winter, I had a couple of experiences that made me again question my animal consumption. The first was seeing the baskets of live puppies and rabbits for sale as dinner in the markets in Hanoi. From Hanoi, we headed out to Halong Bay to stay on an island for a couple of nights, and I began to seriously envy my vegetarian brother and mother. We weren’t able to order food, it was all served family style and we were divided into carnivore and vegetarian groups. Each lunch and dinner for the meat eating crowd included whole grilled frogs. Maybe if it had just been the legs it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I just couldn’t do it, and longed for the greasy vegetarian alternatives being served at the next table.

As soon as I returned to Portland, I dismissed my brief flirtation with becoming a vegetarian. I didn’t even think about it until a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Tillamook and visited a couple of cheese factories that won't stop haunting me and makes me question the orgin of everything that I eat.

The first was the Blue Heron, which I have recently learned is the state bird of Oregon. The Blue Heron has a petting farm of goats and visitors don’t actually go into the cheese factory, just a little store full of seasonal decorations, a deli, and a cheese tasting counter. I really enjoyed their smoked brie.

I headed to the Tillamook Cheese Factory next. I walked into the factory in a great mood that took a nose dive as soon as I started the tour. I was horrified that the workers were entirely visible to the public, that the glass wall that allowed us to observe the cheese making and packaging process put the people who worked in the factory on display, as if they were in a zoo. I was incredibly saddened to be confronted of the full reality that goes into cheese making. It requires the factory workers to spend the whole day on their feet doing monotonous tasks like placing blocks of cheese into slicing machines. I was so depressed by the time I left the factory that I couldn’t even eat the ice cream cone I bought on the way out.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Restructuring

Last week my one of my aunts was in town. A couple versions of my life ago, we lived on different floors of the same crumbly old Victorian house and knew each others lives inside out. Now catching up takes a really long time and we were both struck by all the change in both of our lives since the last time we'd talked.

We talked about life change in general, and decided that ideally, everyone should have a social worker an and editor. In this new world, it would be determined at some age which role you would take on. My aunt is clearly the social worker type and I am an editor. I don't mean editor in the traditional sense, but in helping others navigate what they should and shouldn't say and do. I am constantly amazed by the shitty things people say to each other without thinking about how they sound. Some things are better left unsaid and hard news can be shared in thoughtful ways.

My new society could change all this. Groups of individuals and their editors and social workers would be matched; each individual in each triad would be part of another triad. For example, I might be one person's editor, but I would have my own editor and social worker in another group, and those editors and social workers would also have their own editors and social workers. All the conjoined triads would form a giant sphere.

Imagine the amazing people we could all become and how much smoother the world would run.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Volume

I can be really loud when I want to be. I developed this skill as a kid; having three siblings forced me to learn to project if I wanted to be heard. Working with large groups of kids makes me practice this skill all of the time. My coworkers are amazed that such a loud voice can come out of my body. I reserve my loudness for the workplace and am on the quieter side in my personal life.

I became really sensitive to noise when I lived with B., who somehow was loud even when he wasn't saying anything at all. I knew the mood he was in by the way he would close the door when he came home. A certain kind of slam would ensure that he would head straight to his office to blast music that I hated, like Melt Banana, Mr. Bungle,and No Means No. When he was in an exceptionally angry mood, he would scream "JOY!"

When I moved out, I lived in almost complete silence. I couldn't really play any music, since almost all the cds had been B.'s. I didn't even have a couch for five months.I spent a lot of time crouched on the floor in front of the heater, holding my own body, trying to get my mind around what I'd just done.

Ironically, during this time, I lived above the most noise sensitive people I've ever encountered. They complained to my landlord about the noise I made multiple times, referencing nights I wasn't even home, saying they could even hear what television show I was watching. I didn't have a television. I became paranoid about even walking around in my apartment. I was overjoyed when they finally moved out. I wondered a little about where they moved to and a shitty part of me that knew they'd never have a quieter neighbor than me hoped their new neighbors were really loud and not as easily intimated by them as I was.

I still live pretty quietly. I know how noise travels in my building, and part of my dislike of the neighbors in apartment four is their noise level. They speak at almost a shouting level. I am constantly overhearing phrases like "DO YOU WANT ANOTHER BURRITO?" spoken so loudly and delivered with such intensity that if I didn't speak English and just heard the sounds, I would think they were fighting.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Inside The Lighthouse




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Monday, August 27, 2007

Permanent

Someone gave me a temporary tattoo last weekend, a book with wings with the phrase "Read or Die" written underneath it. I put it on my left bicep, and I've been feeling kind of badass. I'll miss it when it's gone, and I go back to being the only person it Portland without a tattoo.

Despite my lack of tattoos, I have managed to put my mark on a couple of people these past few months, and I didn't even do it on purpose. I was working on the reference desk, and wrote down a couple of titles of books for a patron. My shift ended, and I went back to my desk to take a break. A few minutes later, a coworker came back to tell me that the patron I had been helping needed to see me. I went out to find her, and she told me she was about to get a line of a poem tattooed on her arm. She really liked my handwriting, and wondered if I would write down the line of the poem so that the person doing her tattoo could copy my handwriting. I was so surprised that I don't remember what the line was, or even who the poet was.

Only a few weeks later, I was again working on the reference desk when a patron came up and asked me if I knew who Wimpy from Popeye was. I told him yes, and he asked me to find some pictures of him. I did a basic Google image search and showed him the results. The patron asked me to pick my favorite, and I wish I'd been a little more choosy, and taken his request more seriously. Instead, I choose arbitrarily and then he asked print out the image so that he could take with him to have it tattooed on his bicep later in the day.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Magic Number

I'm intimidated by math, but I have a secret fondness for numbers and patterns.

In 1992, when I moved back to Seattle, I fell in love with my phone number. It took me a full month to realize why, that it was a palindrome: 860-6068

When I moved to a different neighborhood 7 years later, I tried to take my phone number with me. At the time, phone companies didn't provide this type of service. The woman working with me was really understanding of my desire to keep a palindrome number, and did her best to find me a new one. There wasn't one available, but she did find one with a nice rhythm, 721-3121. I wrote her supervisor a letter about the excellent customer service she provided.

Last August, when I was trying desperately to find an apartment in Portland and first saw my building, I took it as a good omen that the number of the building was 1111. A. drove Ray and I down to Portland a coupe of weeks later to get us settled in, and was really excited I was living in apartment #3. She told me it was her favorite number.

I can't believe that next week is my one year anniversary in Portland. It seems both longer and shorter, and I feel like I still have so far to go in terms of acclimating and restructuring my life, and even fully claiming the space in my own apartment. I still need to paint two more rooms.

Before my parents left for Italy last month, they asked me if I wanted them to pick up anything special for me while they were there. I asked for something for my apartment, hoping whatever they picked up would motivate me to put a little more thought and energy into my place.

My mother called the other night to let me know she and my father were back in Seattle, and that they had picked up a hand painted tile with the number four on it in Assisi. When I asked them why the number four, she told me it was for the door to my apartment. Since she is coming down to visit in a few days and will deliver the tile in person, there was no way I could shield her from the fact I live in apartment number three. She felt badly.

I have have no idea what I will do with the number four tile. If liked my neighbor who lives in number four better, maybe I'd give it to her. But I don't, and besides, it was chosen specifically with me in mind. Maybe I should just hang it up in a prominent place in my living room so that people will notice it and wonder about its significance. It will make a good story.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vacation

The only vacation I took this summmer was one from writing, but apparently a patron in the library was much more active than me.

Found by a computer, on a large yellow post it note:


Gone out of country
Beaten someone up
Gotten beat up
Killed a animal
Swam in ocean
Broke the law


Did these events happen in the sequence they were listed in?

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Out Of It

I am not an organized person but I am punctual. I have a built clock that doesn’t allow me to be late even if I try, no matter how scattered I am or late I have been up.

The clock on my stove is the only one set in my house. I’ve been using my cell phone as my alarm clock ever since I moved to Portland. Sometimes when the phone starts beeping in the middle of the night to tell me it needs recharged and I’m not thinking clearly enough to just plug it in, I will get up and set the timer on my stove.

I accidentally left my cell phone in my coworker’s car the other night. I decided to take advantage of the fact I couldn’t get in touch with anyone, and to have a nice night by myself. I made some really good pasta, read a book in its entirety, took a bath, and went to bed before ten. I found one of my crappy spare alarm clocks, and set it really early, so that I could get up and go running before work. I felt a little proud of myself for not just taking the easy the easy route, and using the timer on the stove.

I woke up the next morning before my alarm went off. I had a couple cups of coffee and went for a great run. As I was running, I noticed a couple of garage sales. I was amazed by how early people were setting up. As soon as I got back home and took a shower, I went out to check out the sales. I was delighted to find a puppet theater and dinosaur, pig, koala bear, rabbit, and turtle puppets for under ten dollars. I planned to take them into work and set up the theater on the round table of the children’s section in the library. On my way home from the sale, I ran into the guy who is working on K. and M.’s house while they are in France this summer. I asked if I could come in and see what he’d done so far, and we had kind of a nice visit.

I was really pleased with my morning, and told myself I should start every day with enough time to have little adventures before work. I went out to wait on my front steps for my coworker to pick me up. She’s normally as punctual as me, so I was surprised when she didn’t show up. I figured she must be sick and wasn’t able to get a hold of me because I didn’t have my phone. I decided to just take the MAX in. I stopped to get a cup of coffee and noticed that it was a full hour later than I thought it was.

I was shocked, decided to forgo the coffee and went running to the MAX stop. I borrowed a stranger’s cell phone to call my library. The staff was in a panic, but I didn’t get the full story until I arrived at work. Apparently my coworker who was going to pick me up came by while I was out one of my early morning excursions. The front door to my building was open, so she went into the building and banged on my door for a long time. When she got to work, she told my coworkers what had happened. They started to panic, thinking I’d been abducted. One of them had my cell phone, and began contacting people that they thought might know my whereabouts. They asked one of them to go over to my apartment and look for me. They were on the verge of calling the police and my supervisor by the time they received my call from the borrowed cell phone.

I felt really embarrassed, and just off all day. It’s not like me to loose track of time. I wonder what is happening to me.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bad Timing

To the cat that harasses me every time I leave the library:

I’m sorry if my initial interactions with you were misleading. You looked friendly, and I was a little lonely. It had been a couple of months since I pet a cat.

I’m sure you’re really great, other than you don’t listen to me when I tell you my heart is broken and that I can’t be your mom. I’m just not over Ray.

Sorry bud.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Found

On a table in the library, on a small purple piece of scrap paper:

King Christian
KAIZOKU
I feel like shit
I am shiny
RESURRECTED
I need some rum
Give me a PONY

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Monday, June 04, 2007

While I Was Sleeping

Despite an ongoing struggle to get a good night's sleep, I often fall asleep in social situations. I can't count the number of times I've had people over for dinner, fallen asleep and woken up a few hours later to find them gone.

I am also skilled in sleeping through concerts. Back in high school, I fell asleep at a Butthole Surfers show and woke up maybe 20 minutes later to find them playing the same chord. More regrettably, I fell asleep when Nivana played my friend's birthday party back in the late 80's. I only woke up once they were done playing, when a friend of mine was taking my shoes off so that I might sleep more comforably.

I once slept through a Primus show. In own defense I will say that I never wanted to go in the first place. It's boy noise; to me, they just sound like a bunch of guys masterbating to the tune of their own egos. My boyfriend at the time was a huge fan of theirs and kept telling me I would change my mind about them if I saw them live. He bought me a ticket without even asking me if I wanted to go. We had several beers before the show, and that kind of sealed the deal. I felt the church nod coming almost as soon as they were on stage. I slept through the entire show, missing the drummer set his own drum kit on fire.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Once In A Blue Moon

Unexplainable strange things have been happening. I dreamed I was at a musical, the live premiere of a new Joss Whedon series. I usually don’t like musicals, but this one was great, full of good music and really smart writing.

I was rudely awakened from this dream when a Christian radio station suddenly turned itself on. I have never set the alarm on my Bose, and even if I had set it, that wouldn’t be a station I would choose.

I was annoyed to be wide awake in the middle of the night, a little creeped out, and irritated with myself for becoming increasingly superstitious until I realized that I had composed all the music and written the script of my dream musical. I felt like a genius and went back to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, my legs itched. I looked down to discover over 20 fleas feasting on me. I never had fleas when I had pets, and now seems like an odd time to get them. They are aggressive little guys who are a lot more into me than I am into them. I set off some bombs this morning, and I hope they are dead by the time I get home from work.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Home

Today I discovered that my St. Anthony medal is no longer around my neck. I haven't taken it off in almost two years...the last time I did, terrible things happened. I like to think I am not supersticious, but I am. Where did it go, and how does this relate to Ray's death? How could a chain get off my neck, without my knowledge? Do I need a new one?

All I know is that I am ready to go home, and I am really looking forward to the weekend. I thought I would wait a year before I went back to Seattle, and try to get my mind around being somewhere else. My brother's empty cabin outside of Centralia made it really easy to meet my friends halfway, and they have been really great about coming here.

But the idea of avoiding going home for a full year seems ridiculous now. I am ready to eat good Indian food, I misss the ocean, and I really want to be around people that I have known longer than 9 months.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Adieu

How do I say goodbye the greatest cat who ever lived? He had more character in one paw than most people do.

Ray was doing so great until about a week ago, when one of his fangs became so loose it was difficult for him to eat. I made an appointment to have it pulled, but he took an abrupt turn for the worse before then, and it was just clear that it was time to go. I had him checked out before I did something I didn't think I could ever do, and put him to sleep. The vet thought that had fractured his jaw yet again, and the only thing that could be done was to was to apmutate half of it. I just couldn't do that to him.

Merci to the folks at Dove Lewis, who went way above and beyond what they needed to do, both in terms of the care they gave Ray, and the support they gave me.

I stayed with Ray throughout the procedure, and he went out purring, which was very much his style.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Smile!

Very few things annoy me more than when people, and particularly strangers, come up and tell me to smile. This happens to me at work several times a week.

I am rarely in a bad mood when this occurs, I just happen to be concentrating, because, well, I am at work, and I guess I don’t concentrate and smile at the same time. But if I was in a bad mood, having somebody come up and command me to smile would not make me feel any better. I’d probably want to hit them.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Not Worth It

Yesterday I decided to be proactive, that rather than just vent about people without manners, I would actually be direct and tell people when they did something that bothered me.

I decided to start with Mr. Calls-At-3:36 a.m. He's called about 5 times since the night he did that, and I haven't answered my phone. I probably should have called him to tell him what was bugging me, but I took the indirect email approach, and told him it was never okay to call me then, especially on a work night, and that he had made me uncomfortable.

Here is his response, sent 15 minutes later:

If my phone called you at that time in the morning, it must have been a mistake, since the only people I call at that time are in Europe or the East coast.



I guess his phone is a lot smarter than mine. Mine doesn't have a special feature that allows it to act independently, it requires that I make calls myself.

Even if the call was a mistake, which I don't buy for a minute, I'm assuming the person living on the East coast who he had intended to call would be pissed to get a call at 6:36 in the morning. I would be.

The next time I try to practice my boundary setting skills, I'll make sure the person who I do so with is a worthy candidate.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Multi Tasking

Sometimes I think it's taking me longer to grow up than other people. I have been running behind ever since I was in middle school and was still playing with my dollhouse.

I had a nice victorian house and took a lot of pride in aquiring really elegant furniture for it. At some point, I decided I needed some more room, took advantage of my mother's new interest in cabinet making, and asked her to enlarge my dollhouse. She made a simple wooden box the orginal house could sit on. It didn't have any windows, just a wall dividing the two rooms.

I was obsessed with Anne Frank's diary at the time, and my mind took flight. I started playing holocaust with my dollhouse. I got a new set of dolls, moved a bunch of furniture downstairs, and the new rooms became a hidden basement that housed a Jewish family in hiding. I was really focussed on this story for a month or so, but ultimatly became frusterated that I had to focuss either on the family upstairs or the downstairs family. I wanted to advance both plot lines simultaniously.

I put my dollhouse in storage, and gave all the furniture to a younger neighbor.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mind Your Manners

Lately I feel like a lot of people need reminded that not everything is all about them. Sorry to disappoint you, folks. You may be superheroes in your own minds, but to me, you are just people who could use a trip to etiquette school.

I am especially riled up in terms of telephones. I have the usual rants about cell phones in public places and I love telling patrons in my library to get off their phones. But what I am more upset about lately is that people are calling me at really inappropriate times. I got a call on Thursday at 3:36 in the morning. Call me provencial, but I try to be in bed by then. It is hard enough for me to get a good sleep anyway. If I am awake, I am probably trying desperately to get back to sleep, or doing something way more fun than talking on the phone to a drunk person would be.

Today my phone rang at 8 a.m.. Since I only got one day off last week, I have a three-day weekend. My plan was to sleep in as late as possible. Even though I hadn’t shared my plan with anyone, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that calling anyone at eight on a weekend is not a good idea. Better to error on the side of caution.

I answered the phone, figuring I might as well since I was now awake. It was my landlord, who I have previously referred to as my fairy godmother. Apparently she thought that because she was awake, the rest of us should be, too. She wanted to confirm that she and her husband would come over at four to fix one of my windows. Thanks, fairy godmother! You have been demoted for the time being.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Give Me A Little Credit

I hate my memory. It tortures me far better than anyone else ever could, constantly replaying situations and conversations, often word for word, that I would rather forget. I can usually remember what I was wearing and what I ate during these situations.

Many of my friends have come to rely on my memory and will call when they need me to remember something they have forgotten. Sometimes it is a shared experience, but usually it’s just something that was going on in their life that I observed or they told me about that I filed away.

When M. was visiting me the other week, we talked about her ex-boyfriend of 20 years. We said a lot of bad things, but she also told me about the time he loaned her a thousand dollars to buy a van before she even learned how to drive.

I was stunned. It was me that loaned her the money. I could have gotten proof, gone back and found it in one of the journals I wrote in 1988, but M. knew my memory well enough to believe me.

We had an interesting talk about why she thought it was her ex who loaned her the money. Did she want to believe that in the spring of their romance, he had done a cool thing? We decided it must have been because he later told her that he did it. Did he himself believe it by then? Maybe. He’s always been good at believing his own lies.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Pin Up Girl

I didn’t need to wait for the end of the month for my luck to change. Today I found out I got paid a day early, I received my tax return, and most importantly, I won a bathing suit! And from one of my favorite places in Portland, Poppi Swim and Sport, specializing in retro inspired custom made bathing suits. I have already bought two suits from them. They make me feel like a pin up girl. I have brought several of my friends to Poppi, and they have spent so money there that I was beginning to feel like I should get a commission for their purchases.

Not only does winning the suit mark an end to a crappy month, but it's the first thing I've won in almost 20 years. When I was in the third grade, I won a hermit crab that I think might have been dead by the time I took him home. I never observed him move or eat anything.

I am so pleased things are looking up. I choose to take this as a sign of more good things to come.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mine

The other day one of my co-workers was talking about her will.

I don't have one, mostly because I don't really have a lot to give away. I should find a good home for my shoe collection, but I don't know anyone else who can fit into my shoes.

I do think it's a good idea to have a living will, and I thought about having a living will party while the Terri Schiavo situation was getting so much publicity. No one I knew had a living will, and I thought having a party to make them would make the process a little bit less of a downer. I imagined we could all be each other's witnesses.

I have put more thought into my funeral than I have into my will. I think I would like to have it catered. Not a sit down formal dinner or anything, but some nice rustic Italian food. I would definitely like some tomato salads. Here is one of my favorites.

Sicilian Tomato Salad

8-10 tomatoes
1 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup cold water
1-2 cups dry ricotta (ricotta salada)
fresh oregano, basil
salt, fresh ground pepper

Cut the tomatoes into wedges into a flat dish. Add oil, vinegar, water, oregano, and basil (2 to 1 oregano to basil), salt, pepper to taste. Garlic powder optional.

Sprinkle coarse grated ricotta salada throughout. Gently fold and mix, adjust ingredients to preference. When balance has been established, sprinkle hearty layer of ricotta over top, covering salad. Chill at least 1/2 an hour. Serve with warm, crusty Italian or French Bread.

That's a friend's old family recipe...here's my two cents: the garlic is important, I don’t view it as optional. And use the real stuff, not powder.

This salad is really soupy, that’s the point. Serve it in bowls and use the bread to soak things up. I think it tastes best if it’s been getting to know itself for at least 2 hours before serving it.

Anyway, thinking about tomato salads made me realize that if the ones at my funeral are going to be any good, I will need to die in the peak of tomato season.

I was telling some friends about this last night, joking about how when I get really old and my health is fading, I will grow my funeral tomatoes. My friends thought this was a great idea, that it ought to be a short story or on This American Life, and one of them said he would write it. I told him, no, that it was my idea and sick fantasy. If anyone is going to write about it, it should be me.

I thought that was the way things worked, that people get first dibs on their own ideas. If it's not the case, I need to get out of the habit of telling other people about the latest crazy thing rattling around in my head.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

I Already Have Character

I am ready for this month to be over. As if Ray's health issues weren't enough to deal with, my own came up. Last week Ray and I were both on antibiotics and spent the week convalescing on the couch. I am now thankfully off mine, and am really appreciating being able to drink wine again.

My laptop has been having health issues, too, and the really expensive trip to the Mac doctor still hasn't corrected the problem I encounter when I type...letters are inserted back into words I've already typed a few sentences back. I am already the queen of typos, I am sure I could win some sort of "Librarian Who Makes the Most Typos" contest. The two best typos I have ever made are "the last upper" and "paradigm shit", which probably wasn't really a typo so much as a reflection of the way I felt about the term after an excessive focus on them my first semester of library school.

Dealing with the bills Ray, my laptop and I have acrewed this past month has put me in a much tighter financial position that I am used to dealing with, especially because I have a tendency to treat bad weeks with retail therapy, and I didn't want to deny myself that treat just because I am broke. On Friday I bought another beautiful party dress that I now need an occasion to wear, and yesterday I bought a Minnie Mouse like red and white polka dot bathing suit.

I literally can't afford to have another bad week any time soon. I've had enough, and I am past the point where I think they are making me a stronger or wiser person. I already have character.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

5 Out Of A Couple Hundred Pictures





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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Some Things I Love

abundance * accessories * antique shoes * baths * camping * crumbling beauty * dairy products * exaggerating * eating outside * family stories that probably aren’t true * garage sales * going barefoot * going out to breakfast * kissing * ladies’ night * naps * pedicures* playing dress up * pretentious French movies * projects * reading out loud * summer vacation * talking to strangers * wine

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Cats & Dogs

The past few weeks have been crazy ones, colored almost entirely by animal body parts.

On the home front, the saga of Ray’s jaw continues. He somehow managed to remove the plate screwed into his jaw. I almost had a heart attack, both because I knew there wasn’t anything else the vet could do for him that wasn’t experimental and painful, and because of the amount of money I’d spent on the operation he so quickly undid.

I took him back to the vet to have them remove the pins poking out of his gums, and now we are seeing what happens. He is delighted to be free of the plate, and now that I don’t have to worry about him bumping it on anything, he has free reign of my apartment again. He has a good appetite and seems happy, other than when I give him his antibiotics. It gets harder to give them to him every day, and he spits them out on my clothes, the furniture, the floor and his fur. The nice ruff under his neck was getting gross, and I gave him a little sponge bath last night after I’d had a couple of beers to try to correct this. He seemed a little stuffy this morning and I’ve been worried that I’ve made him sick. I would never forgive myself if he died of a cold I’d given him.

I think he is on the mend, though, and I’ve wondered if his near death experience has changed him. Yesterday while I was in the shower, he changed the radio station from NPR to a Christian station.

Meanwhile, my work life has centered around dog scrotums. I’m not a big fan of scrotums in general. I don’t hate them, but I kind of like to pretend they don’t exist. The controversy over the use of the word scrotum (in reference to a dog, of all things) in this year’s Newbery winner has put me in the position of having to defend an author’s right to use a word I don’t even like.

I have received hundreds of emails over the controversy this word is stirring up. Family members have mailed me newspaper articles. I wish they would stop.

Maybe I’m just tired from dealing with the cat, but I’m just not as riled up about this situation as other people. I’m ready for life to get back to normal, and to think about other things.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Holding Pattern

Last Friday, my cat Ray somehow managed to fracture his jaw in two places while I was at work. When I came home, he was drooling, and I noticed blood on his paws. I brought him to the Vet ER and have been on an emotional roller coaster since then. Thank god my mom was already planning on visiting. While Ray had surgery, we painted my kitchen.



What was supposed to be straightforward surgery was complicated by extensive gum damage, and the four pins in his mouth are moving. I was already now four thousand dollars in debt, and additional treatments the vets suggested were experimental. My mom came back to Portland just a day after she left to help me figure out what to do. We visited Ray, who despite a slipping jaw and a plate on his mouth,was in good spirits. We brought him home, and turned my office into a giant cat cage, moving out all of the furniture that might tempt him to leap.

While I went back to work the next day, my mother spent the day painting my furniture and playing Ray lullabyes. I was suspicious when she told me how much he enjoyed them, but now that I have witnessed first hand the effect on him, I am a believer.

I came home from work yesterday, and for the first time in over two years, there was someone home. Mom had made a fire and was in the middle of making dinner. My apartment felt like a home, and I am starting to think that there may be some benefits to the schedule that Ray's care has now put me on. I will need to be home a lot more, and I think it will be a good way to more fully settle in to my apartment and new life here.

Meanwhile, I have a new found empathy for parents of babies. I was up four times last night with Ray. Having slept all day, he was unhappy about being shut in my office. It felt like a luxury to be annoyed with him, when I didn't even think he'd be alive two days ago.

Keep your fingers crossed for my 16 year old cat. I have such admiration for his resiliency, and I think if any cat can make it through this, he can.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Victim

I have been captured hostage by my own hormones, they have taken the reasonable part of me away and left a dangerous woman who looks exactly like me in my place. The small part of me that remains and knows it is only pms that is making me hate everything and everyone today is really hoping this doesn't last longer than a day.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Adolescent

I have recently discovered my inner middle school self is alive and well. As soon as I arrived in Vietnam, I noticed signs with words like phuc, dic, and hung on them. It didn't take long before my brother confessed he'd been noticing the same thing. We began making a list of words.

Sometimes we were frustrated they weren't in the right order, and wanted to rearrange them, but we found some fun combinations like hung lo, hung phat, tu phat, bich sin, long phuc, thinh phat, song long and cat tok, which means hairdresser.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Resolutions



Happy New Year from Vietnam.

I'm hopeful 2007 will be slightly less eventful than last year. I hope to start running again in the next couple of weeks. I hope to finally paint my apartment. I will strive to not promote or contribute to an overinflated male ego. I'd like to stop overthinking, but I think I might just be wired that way.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gone

My stretch of good luck with Portland came to an abrupt halt on Sunday when I discovered my wallet had been stolen from work. The timing of this theft couldn't have been worse, because I'm leaving for Vietnam in a few days and now won't have access to my debit card while I'm over there.

I've been in a pretty crappy mood because of this and all the hours I spent on the phone cancelling every card that was in my wallet. Today I decided to cheer myself up, and look on the bright side of things. What a great excuse to buy a new wallet. I decided to get a purse to go along with it.

I'm now if a much better mood than I was earlier, but the whole experience has made me even more ready to get out of town. I want to warm up, I am in need of relaxation and pampering, but mostly, I just really want to see my mom.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Signage

Last week, I was out at a pub, writing in my journal. A gentleman approached me and asked me if I was writing about him.

Guys, just in case you're wondering, this pick up line will never, ever work and all it does it make the guy who says it look like a stupid, self-centered asshole. I have a tendency to ultimately put a lot of guys into this category, and a line like this really speeds up the process.

Just three days later, the same thing happened again, and this time it was worse. I again had my journal with me, and was trying to get some writing done. The gentleman at the next table wouldn't stop talking to me. He wanted to know what I was writing about, and specifically, if it was about him. I told him no and continued writing. Ten minutes later, he asked me again if I'd written about him yet and I again told him no. He asked me what he could do to change that, and I told him nothing, that I wasn't feeling very social. By his third interruption, I was getting angry and decided to be more direct and told him to stop talking to me. He asked me what he was supposed to do during the commercials of the football game he was watching. I told him I didn't know, but that I was sure he could find some way to entertain himself that didn't involved bothering me. At this point, a server came into the room and asked the guy if he needed anything. He complained that I wouldn't talk to him, and stormed out of the room.

I am getting frustrated by this type of thing. It's made me wonder if I am somehow giving off signals I'm not even conscious of that make men I am repulsed by feel the need to talk to me. I am certain that I am way more complicated than what these guys are looking for, and it's made me want to take some action.

My co-worker K. has a little pink sign on a stick that says NO. She uses it during her storytimes with a particular book that repeats the word frequently. She holds up the sign to let the kids no when they can shout the word out along with her. I have been fantasizing about creating a similar sign for my personal use and taking it with me when I go out by myself. I could just hold it up whenever I see a disaster headed my way.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Shattered

This morning as I was sitting at the reference desk, I noticed that it is really time for me to change the display in the children’s section, not only because it’s been up for awhile, but also because the animals I made out of leaves don’t accurately reflect the season. It doesn’t feel like fall anymore.

I thought some paper snowflakes might look nice. I haven’t made them in years, so I decided to practice. I was in the middle of making a snowflake when a couple came up to me and asked me if I could help them find websites with videos of live crimes. When I asked for an example of what they were talking about, they described a video they had seen of a man being decapitated.

I am really tired of other people bursting the bubble I work so hard to create. I am disappointed with people in general.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Invisibility Cloaks

I had a really unsettling series of experiences during my last week in Seattle. My eyes had been bothering me all summer and I decided to give them a vacation from my contacts. This is always a disorienting experience for me because I don't see as well wearing glasses. They throw off my already iffy depth perception and it usually takes me at least four days to adjust to the different way of seeing.

I noticed as soon as I made the switch to glasses that people didn't look at me as often, and they definitely smiled at me less. I also attributed the crappy service I got in restaurants and bars to my glasses. I wondered if I would have had a different experience if I'd had a cuter pair of glasses. I'd still like to get some, but the experience rattled me enough to cut my eyes' vacation short. I switched back over to my contacts after only three days.

I shared this experience with M. the other night, and she'd had something similar happen. She was dating a guy who lived in another state. She'd just started a new job and they were being stingy about giving her days off. She really wanted to see her boyfriend and had already bought a plane ticket. She decided she would go visit him despite not being able to get the day off, and just call in sick to work.

Luckily for M., the day before her trip, she found out some of her coworkers would be on the same flight. She decided to disguise herself, reasoning that they didn't know her very well and probably wouldn't recognize a disguised version of her.

She chose a mom-in-tennis-shoes look, wore a wig, enormous sunglasses, and stuffed her clothes so that she looked twenty pounds heavier. She got on the plane, walked right past her coworkers without a hitch, found her seat, and reached up to put her bag in the storage compartment. As she did so, she accidentally bumped into a man in aisle, who visibly recoiled from her. She was angry and thought to herself, fuck you asshole, I'm actually really cute.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Letting Go

This morning I decided it was finally time to cut the umbilical cord and stop listening to Seattle NPR. I think it was kind of the last thing I was holding on to; it felt really comforting to have continuity in my life.

But enough is enough. I've been here two months now, and listening to Seattle traffic reports isn't benefitting my life.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two Tales Of A City

I am relieved to report that my homesickness was only a 24 hour bug. I have been too busy since then to do much reflecting, and I am behind in reporting my continuing adventures in Portland.

In an effort to correct this, I'll share two stories tonight.

Out Of The Dust


When I first looked at my apartment, I noticed a troubling smell. It was apparent that one of the previous tenants of my apartment had been a cat who had fallen out of the habit of using his litter box. I mentioned this concern to the owner of the building, and she told me she thought the smell was coming from the rug in the bedroom. She told me she would replace it, and even asked me what kind of rug I wanted in its place. I really like the new rug in the bedroom, but it didn't correct the odor, which was clearly coming from the wood floors in the rest of the apartment. I was a little devastated, because I was otherwise in love my apartment. It seemed like a cruel joke to have a beautiful apartment that smelled so toxic it made my eyes water.

I shared my concern with the owner of my building, and she hired an older southern couple from Olympia to perform a natural deodorizing ritual on my apartment. They started by spraying some kind of magic potion on the floors that bubbled to indicate areas of concentrated bacteria. They then sprinkled deodorizing crystals all over my entire apartment, including my own furniture and rugs. The only piece of furniture they left untouched was my bed. The final step was to fog my apartment. I was told to leave my apartment during this process. When I returned, all the windows were open and both of my fans blasting. I was instructed to leave the windows open and fans going, and keep the deodorizing crystals on the floor and furniture for five days.

I knew right away this would be a problem. Walking around barefoot hurt. The only place to relax was on my bed. By the second day, I decided it was time to clean up. I used the vacuum cleaner that belongs to my building. I guess the bag was pretty full...the stuff just wasn't vacuuming well. I had to go over and over the same areas, and I still wasn't making the kind of progress that I'd hoped. All of a sudden, the vacuum bag exploded. Since the fans were on, the contents of the vacuum distributed themselves over ever inch of my living and dining rooms, turning my apartment into my own personal dust bowl.Further inspection of the vacuum revealed not only had the bag exploded, but the force of it had broken the vacuum.

My apartment felt toxic. I decided to turn of my fans and go have a beer while I waited for the dust to settle. I went down the street, had a beer, and read for a while. I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I returned, there was a note on my table that said I love you. This piqued my curiosity, and I asked the couple sitting at a nearby table if that had seen anyone at my table. The told me a young woman with a long blonde ponytail sat down at the table briefly, then jumped up and left.

Of course the couple wanted to know why I wanted this information. I showed them the note, and we all decided to have another beer. It didn't take long before we realized we had moved to Portland the same week. M. and K. are most recently from Cannes. It turns out they're my neighbors, and now they are friends.

The Call Heard Round The World

I had a rushed morning the other week. I got up a little early, and this may have been the problem. I always run late when I do this. I made the mistake of trying to bring to much stuff with me to work on a rainy day. While I was struggling to juggle multiple bags and an umbrella, somehow my cell phone fell out of my pocket, and I didn't even notice until an hour or so later. Since I don't have a landline, this is a crisis situation for me.

I called my cell phone provider and found out someone had made outgoing calls using my phone. I suspended the line, ordered a new phone, and sent frantic emails to my friends requesting their numbers.

At about 11 that night, I received an email from my father, informing me someone had found my phone and called the number labeled mom and dad. Since my parents are currently living in Cambodia, the woman staying in their house spoke with the guy who found the phone, emailed the information to my parents, and they forwarded it to me. I gave the guy a call the next day and found out he lives three houses down the street from me. I stopped by that evening to pick up my phone and meet him and his dog.

What are you doing to me, Portland? I may turn into an optimist.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Overdue

For as far back as I can remember, I have cried with great frequency, often prompted by things and feelings that would not generate the same response from others.

I went the past six weeks without crying, which I am fairly sure is a record for me until I broke down this morning. I knew it was coming, that it was only a matter of time before the magnitude of relocating hit me. I am surprised it didn't happen earlier, but I've been really busy.

Today's meltdown was prompted by a trip that may have been a mistake. I spent the weekend with Seattle friends, and while I had a great time, I am now really homesick. I fought off the urge to cry with good success on two separate occasions yesterday, but I knew a tidal wave was coming.When it finally hit, it wasn't triggered by a bad thing at all. I actually cried because someone was nice. I would give today's cry an 8.5 out of 10. I was stunned by the sounds I made, and I shook for a good half an hour. Then I went out and got a hair cut.

I hope I am all cried out for at least awhile, and that the homesickness that I wasn't feeling until the weekend will dissipate soon.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

A Barstool Broke My Heart

A few months ago, I had a terrible day. The kids at my former workplace were out of control, lifting chairs above their heads and throwing them at eachother. There wasn't an administrator in the building to help me deal with the situation. I left work really upset. I got home, only to discover I'd left my keys at work. I was locked out of my apartment for a few hours. All I wanted to do was take a bath and cry. When I finally got into my building, I discovered that the bathtub had backed up and was filled with rusty water. I went out to get some draino and ran into a garage sale, where I found a vintage fur coat from the '30's for $5. It seemed like the perfect ending to a really bad day.

Today, things have happened in the reverse order. I woke up and was delighted to discover that I'd slept 12 hours. It was sunny, and I decided to go out for an adventure. I walked by Rerun, and found the exact type barstool I have been looking for $24. Everything else I've liked has been about $300. I asked if it would be okay to buy it and pick it up when I could get someone to haul it for me, and was assured that wasn't a problem. I paid for it, and continued on my nice day. I went out for great Italian food, bought myself some flowers, and went for about a five mile walk. I came home, and contacted K. to see if she could run me up the street to pick up the stool.

It wasn't out front when I arrived, but I assumed it was because they'd put it away once I bought it. Instead, it was gone because they'd sold it to someone else an hour or so later. They said someone must have taken the sold tag off, and that this had happened in the past.

What I want to know is if the same thing had happened in the past, why did it happen again? Is it that hard to remember you've already sold a piece of furniture? Or to move it into another room for an hour or so?

Laid back people of Portland, I love that you are friendly. I love if I go out by myself, you talk to me. I love that you say hello and ask me how I am doing where ever I go. This didn't happen in Seattle.

But when it comes to doing business, I wish you'd be a little more uptight and a lot more professional. I've had a crappy ending to a really good day.

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