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Location: PDX, United States

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


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.


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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Sunday, October 08, 2006


I have just built my first successful fire.

It took about an hour to get it going. I didn't have the right ingredients; I had logs, but almost no kindling, and no newspaper. I was really frustrated, almost ready to out and get a fake log. I felt too old to be learning a skill I should have acquired as a girl scout. I was irritated with myself for having always let other people build fires while I sat back and relaxed.

I was dangerously close to feeling sorry for myself when a light bulb went off and I got the bright idea to burn those file folders I never use but always buy when I'm trying to get organized. The fire is now roaring, and I am enormously pleased with myself.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

I Don't Understand

Lately, it seems like the couples-who-share-an-email-address movement is on the rise.

To me, this is worse than taking your husband's last name. I know many women who have chosen to take their husband's name. None of them have the same reason, and all of the reasons are good; they range from wanting to get away from the last name Smith, to never having known their father and not feeling an attachment to their last name at all, to just liking their husband's last name better than theirs. While I would never change my last name, I can respect a woman's decision to do so.

I find it harder to understand shared email addresses. What sorts of thought processes do couples go through when they make the decision to share an address? What's the motivation? Email is free and anyone can get an address. What does sharing an email address mean? That couples who do have nothing to hide from each other?

I really like most of my friends partners, but that doesn't mean I want to write an email to them as a couple. I usually want to write my primary friend in the couple, and I find it difficult to be as candid as I'd like to when I know someone other than the intended recipient can read whatever message I've written.