Saturday, December 27, 2008

no more snow

my first white christmas. i now know why the eskimos had so many words for snow, because there are so many different kinds. walking in the snow last monday there were at least three layers my foot went through i trudged through the white mess that stopped transportation in its tracks. first there was the light, fluffy snow that was just falling. there a mold of inch thick frozen snow that kept the shape of the drifts in place. and under that a layer of thick, loose snow from the days previous. each step cracked and crunched leaving a huge crater in the drift. someone told me that this has been the most snow portland has seen in the history of weather record keeping, which means one hundred years. only some of the train lines were operational, and then the trains that would run would be late and crowded. and the buses were either blocked or late or crowded. and i just walked the four miles to work a few days because i couldn't deal with the transportation system any longer. but fortunately it warmed up a little yesterday and it started raining today and slowly, slowly, slowly all the snow is melting away. now you just have to watch for the icy quagmires of melting snow. there are puddles out there, locked in by the last of the snow, in which my entire foot up to the ankle would sink. and let's see if the river overflows. how many more months 'til summer?

i haven't done much the past few days. i worked six days last week, so now i'm resting. and watching the cats while helen and garrett are out of town. i love the cats. you know i do.

these are helen and garrett's cats.

this is thor

this one is butters.

vicious here.

the melting snow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


1968: just after the summer of love. yet according to this opinion poll from '68 republished today by the new york times, there was very little love for the modern world in the american people. some highlights: 81% think that law and order had broken down in the u. s.; 72% thought nixon a man of high integrity; 55% said scientific research is changing the world too fast; 49% felt more patriotic after the assassination of bobby kennedy; 31% felt that martin luther king, jr. had brought his assassination on himself. the top worries of 1968 in order: vietnam, civil rights, racial strife, crime (and juvenile delinquency), cost of living (inflation, etc). 2008: the economy, iraq/war, lack of money, health care, unemployment. 67% of the nation thought that black americans were asking for more than they were ready for, but 56% disagreed that blacks have less native intelligence than whites. i think a some of these statistics are kind of surprising. i think it's interesting that the top concerns of the years have changed so drastically. while the cost of living was mentioned in 1968, economic concerns have multiplied and narrowed in 2008. and civil rights issues, while not listed, might have become generalized. sometimes i've wondered if the past decades of the twentieth century have been as different from one another as we're led to believe outside of fashion decisions, but i think these polls do show a change in experience. the experiences my generation faces are completely different from those that my parents did, and while i can relate to some of the civil rights issues that plagues the nation during that era, i have not seen such a struggle affect the nation like it had. i think the wording about modern science reveals a huge change in our perception over the past years. i think science is another field that has been narrowed and specified. i no longer think we could poll for trust in science in general, but would rather need to be much more specific considering all the ways science and technology now affect our lives in a multiplicity of ways.

i wonder if polling toward the economy in different decades shows a trend of ever increasing multiplicity of categories or an oscillation. like i wonder if during the economic crisis in the late 80's and early 90's if specific questions and categories about the economy, breaking economic concerns down into money, housing, health care, inflation, etc, wouldn't become more generalized in the mid- to late 90's during the height of the .com wealth. i think now it will both imperative and interesting for the nation to watch as we prioritize our concerns over our own economy. will health care be pushed to the back burner under obama out of necessity? will green technology initiatives really be a structural part of obama's "recovery" plan?

i think it's a really great time to invest in green technology. and it looks like GM and Ford are beginning to look in the right direction. both these companies have plans for focusing on electric and hybrid cars. icheline maynard for the new york times notes that, "G.M. has pinned its future on the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in electric car due two years from now, and another small Chevrolet, the Cruze, aimed at many of the same customers who have bought Toyota Corollas the last 40 years," and "Ford, which did not seek federal assistance because its cash reserves are stronger, is adapting two European models, the Focus and the Fiesta, for the American market, and is about to introduce a hybrid-electric version of its Fusion, a family sedan." however, the third of the big three, chrysler, seems like be stymied: "Chrysler discontinued its only hybrid model earlier this fall. It is relying on Nissan of Japan to develop its small cars... Chrysler showed future models that included more new Jeeps, including an electric one, new pickups and muscle cars." so perhaps the big three, or at least two of the companies, will make it after all. although, i must say that it is predicted that if one of the three declares bankruptcy, the other two will probably be forced to followed considering how much the image of the three is tied to together especially now.

there is another american company that works with cars now that i'm especially interested in. the company does not actually produce cars; they're leaving that up to renault (and recently some japanese car companies i believe). better place is supplying the power. they are restructuring how cars get power and use power, much in the way that thomas friedman suggests in his book. these cars will be electric, and the batteries currently installed in the cars keep 100 miles to the charge. better place has designed new quick chargers and recharging will be a lot like a cell phone plan rather than just refueling when you need it, which helps regulate cost at different levels and regulates usages. i first read about this company about a year ago in good magazine when it was planning with israel to recreate an electric infrastructure in that country. now the company has extended plans to include denmark, australia, hawaii, and san francisco. it looks like i have yet another reason to eventually move nine hours south of portland.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

portland in white

"it's a marshmellow world in the winter..." you know that's my favorite song. and here in portland, it kind of is a marshmellow world; a brutally cold and mean winter wonderland. yet despite how horribly chilly it is, the snow does seem magical. i woke up this morning ready to walk to the store to buy some ingredients to make muffins. my coworker kevin was having a brunch today at his place in john's landing and so i was going to bring muffins with me. yet leaving the apartment i realize that the snow the weatherman has been predicting for days has finally arrive. i rush in and tell josh and booth. and unlike the snow i've seen when i was young, these flakes were coming down fast and furious. a frigid wind is blowing from the east sending snow everywhere. i decided to go out and find coffee and muffin mix, so i bundled up and headed out. i had to keep my eyes on the ground or the wind would blow the snow into them. my hands froze even through the gloves. and when i arrived at crema, the line for coffee was long. but there is a certain satisfaction to be found in the crunching of snow under your shoes, and the wind agitates the wind chimes all around the neighborhood so the streets are bright wind and filled with soft music.

when i finally got home, there was no time to make muffins if i was going to catch the bus down to john's landing, so i just walked out the door and over to the lloyd center to catch the train downtown. the snow wasn't bad downtown, the city being too close to the river to really get too cold, but that wind was brutal as i waited at the bus stop. after thirty minutes, when the bus should have arrived ten minutes before, i called trimet to figure out when my bus would finally arrive. "35 bus to macadam: next bus in... six-ty-seven minutes..." no, i decided there was no way i waiting an hour to take a bus anywhere and perhaps get stranded there when the bus stopped running because of the weather. so i ran across the street to stumptown, bought some coffee and headed home.

booth and i then decided to grab some brunch, so we headed around the corner to pambiche, the cuban restuarant, a delicious idea. i had almond french toast with fruit and cuban coffee while booth and i watched the cars and pedestrians walk through the 28th and glisan intersection. we watched a stranger help a van stuck in the slush and a mother pulling her children behind her on a sled. now we're at home trying to stay warm and dry and i'm trying to figure out how i'm going to get to work tomorrow. that 35 bus best not be an hour late tomorrow morning. i would kill myself. especially since booth just reported to me that says the temperature is 26 degrees but feels like 12. gross.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

on marriage and children at twenty-three

have i been responsible enough these past five years after graduating high school? probably not. and one of the reasons i moved to oregon was to put off big responsibility just a little longer. i didn't want to go to graduate school. i didn't want to find a career. i didn't want to settle down. i remember seeing these guys in a band passing through birmingham in a bar one night, in the garage i think, and i remember thinking, "how does that feel, moving across the country staying where ever there's a place to sleep, seeing the strange bits of america that not a lot of people get to see?" i'd never been able to be so completely free of responsibility. and i still am not. i have a job now. i have an apartment. i have no plans to move. i want to see how my life here in portland develops for a while, so long as i have a job.

and moving across the country, settling back into a routine, i realized i'm just not the type of person who likes an unstructured life. i like routine. i like having a plan and direction. and here in portland i think there are types of freedom i was missing in birmingham, but i've kind of found a similar life here across the country. however, despite my acknowledgment that i'm done with believing i can be irresponsible and wild, there are certain steps that seem so remote to me.

first of all, marriage. people getting married absolutely scare me. even if the relationship seems to work wonderfully and marriage seems to be a natural progression for the couple, the idea of marriage seems so remote to me. i just look at couples announcing their engagement and think, "but i'm too young!" i feel as if i have miles to go before i'm anywhere near ready settling down with another person. and this may stem from the fact that i've never really had a long term relationship with anyone, but such commitment seems to belong to an age group i have not reached yet. having said all this, congratulations and best wishes to those couples who have announced their engagements in the past few weeks. i'm so happy for all my friends getting married, i'd just like to say, i'm far from that point.

second, children scare me. not the actual children. i really do love children. but the idea of taking care of one scares me. hell, when josh goes out of town in two weeks to visit his family for christmas, he needs me to take care of his dog. the prospect of this seems daunting. i haven't had anyone except my beloved feline genevieve rely on me to take care of them. and genevieve was low maintenance. she didn't need to be walked. i didn't have any time frame in which i needed to be home. i just needed to play with her and feed her and she slept with me at night. but i'll have to get up earlier than usual and feed josh's dog and walk her; come home after work to walk with her again. and if i go out, i'll need to make sure not to stay out too long so that she can be walked again before going to bed. this is just a dog. children need far more attention, a lot more care. there are a lot of pregnant women in my office, with husbands or boyfriends, with children already, my age or younger, degree-less, and i think: how can you do this? how can you come to work pregnant everyday and be willing to give up so much time in your early twenties and most importantly, how can you afford having a child working this job? i can barely afford to live without anyone relying on me.

all i'm saying is that while sometimes i feel old and boring, too responsible in comparison to the twenty-somethings who drink and go out and party and go crazy, i still feel way too young for marriage and children.

Monday, December 8, 2008

the mondays

it was a mondayish sort of monday. i wasn't even in a monday mood when i went to work this morning. it wasn't as cold out this morning. i had lunched packed. i ate breakfast. i got to work on time. but the people i talked to on the phone were all having mondays. blue mondays. there's just no reason to be rude. sure, if you're not feeling upbeat, if you're having a monday, i can't understand. but there is simply no reason to be rude. luckily for me i had pumpkin pie with my lunch, stephen colbert's i am america (and so can you!) to read, and my winning attitude and stunning charm to get me through my day.

now, i have to look forward to dinner, iron man, and brian greene's the elegant universe which i picked up from the library this afternoon. and tomorrow, another day at the poop farm. "way down on the poop farm; got me working late nights." there should be musical notes surrounding that quotation, like with close captioning.

oh, i always have another commute on the train to look forward to as well. like today i saw a boy with a floppy and the close cut sides of his hair dyed with leopard spots. and the other day i witnesses a drug sale i think. i was sitting in the second seat from the front and this young black man was sitting in the row in front of me. at one of the stops downtown on yamhill, another gentleman boards, sits by the black man. They don't seem to know each other at first; they certainly don't say anything to each other. then the white man discreetly hold out his clenched first toward the other. the black man quickly takes whatever is in the fist and the white man tucks something in his plastic bag. then by the motion of the black gentleman's arm i can tell he's counting money. at the very next stop, one stop after the white guy got on, he quickly exits the train. at the stop after this, the black guy gets off. ah! the fun of public transportation!

and i can look forward to the gloves madre packed in the packages i received today. now my hands won't turn red and stiffen during my bike commute to work! thanks mom!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

another weekend in portland

the weather has been brutal these past few days. no matter how tightly bundled you are, how layered your clothing, the wind still bites at your face and hands. and i ride my bike in this weather, leaving the house a little after five o'clock each morning. josh says, portland drinks in bars during the winter, becomes sluggish, avoids the cold. and that's true everywhere i suppose, but the weather will not stop me. there may be a point when i start riding the bus to work in the morning, but it's going to have to be pretty cold for that. i guess i just need to find that ski mask i have someone so that the tip of my nose doesn't freeze off during my daily ride. i pass so many others at five in the morning biking; what do they do to keep warm? i shall have to observe and report back. the only good thing i can say about the cold is that the portlanders i have talked to predict that it may get cold enough this year to snow here at least once which would be fun. i love snow! snow, and kittens, and brown paper packages tied up with string...

however horrible the cold wind has made us feel, it has not stopped us from going out these past three days. josh, booth, and i braved the cold thursday and friday to attend the first of the month gallery openings in the pearl on thursday and two random openings in the southeast and north. i actually saw some interesting art thursday night in the pearl, some of the first great art i've seen here in portland. i usually find myself walking around mumbling to myself, "if you can't make it good, make it big and red..." because the art i've seen here is almost always never good nor big and red. the trend right now in portland is toward small, comic, colorful, fantastical works. sometimes stylistically they resemble merrilee challiss' work, except the three trillion guys and gals here don't have the talent, don't concentrate on the detail, don't work on the scale that merrilee does. it's super disheartening. however, thursday night i was pleased to finally shift through all the bullshit and see some serious art with a capital a, including stuffed cats stitched with pornographic images, a series of photographs of fishermen in icy, tumultuous seas cradling fish, and another series of photos in the gallery next door featuring portraits of people hanging upside down, their eyes bloodshot, their faces slightly pinched. some snapshots of this art can be seen in the last photo post.

last night, after work (i took some extra hours; why not?), i took josh by the arm and met booth at the blue diamond where he had been hanging around for a few hours like the rest of the odd characters who feature into that establishment. i drank a martini and then booth and i went out to the holocene. josh didn't feel up to dancing with all the other hipsters in portland, so booth and i rode our bikes down there alone. it took awhile for the scene to pick up, but we danced a bit and drank a bit. i talked to one guy who was pretty friendly before he left to start dancing. and really booth and i left fairly early. i'm old: i work all day, get grumpy when i haven't had dinner (at 4.30), and get tired early.

what you'll notice is missing from this post is a description of the political rallies i attended, the shows i went to, the crazy homeless people i had to wrestle. i don't live in that city. recently, my friend antonio sent me a message which ended with this request: "you should post more things about your new life in portland, no more meditations on complacency either. post exciting pictures of you doing exciting portland things, like going to gay bath houses, protesting globalism, vegan bbq's, etc." however, my new life is a lot like my old one unfortunately. not a lot has changed here. and even all the cool kids in america think "portland is the new san francisco," this town is too laid back to do a lot. there aren't really many protests against globalism, not since i've been here. while i know where the vegan neighborhood is, where the vegan coffeeshop, the vegan bakery, and the vegan tattoo parlor is located, not a lot of people here in portland are vegans, and i can't name a single friend who is. i have met a female to male transgendered individual who works in a bathhouse, but i would never actually go to one. besides, that's not even a portland phenomenon. does anyone remember the article in birmingham's black and white concerning the screening room? please.

so while i'm up for experimenting and investigating new ideas and trends here in portland, right now, not a lot has changed. i've been here exactly two months and there hasn't been enough time to go out and really get a feel for the culture here. and a lot of what i have seen here of portland's culture either a. doesn't seem that different from everywhere else, or b. doesn't really interest me. it'll just take time. but i am committed to taking my camera out, going out more, and taking pictures of everything. stay tuned.

Friday, December 5, 2008

la nuit americaine

these photos i'm posting represent a somewhat typical day in my life right now. but i guess there's still plenty of time for everything to change.

another post later.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

west coast slacking

what i've decided about portland: the people who are rude in portland are generally people from portland. they have bumper stickers like: "slow down! isn't that why you moved here?" and variations of this have been said to my face, as when i was walking into the supermarket the other day and some crazy man with a crane was apparently angry that i didn't wait twenty minutes for him to walk up a ram and through a door, though i didn't hear much of his complaint because i was already in the store and on my way. in the same store today, i believe the man at the cash register was making fun of me. he kept talking to me in that slow, drawn out, california accent as we talked about honey crisp apples or whatever. he even went so far as to throw out a groovy or some piece of california patois at me every once in a while. his eyes were bloodshot, his hair long and gray, so i figure, sure, he is some old hippie from california: nice, but a little too "far out" to not be slightly annoying. he hands me my receipt, showing me how much i would have saved if i had a safeway card, tells me goodbye twice i think, then turns to the next customer. i begin to collect my bags when i hear him greet the gentleman behind me. the cashier's voice suddenly lacks any of the drawling california accent it had before; his sentences short, his speech rapid. i look at him, my mouth gaping, trying to understand what's just happened.

do i seem laid back and west coast to anyone else? i certainly don't see myself as such. i'm still a little too east coast for portland: i want to get there fast, i want to get things done, and i don't want to stop and have a nap or a snack or anything else. i mean come on, i don't even know what to do with a forty-five minute lunch at work. that's just way too much time with nothing to do but relax! so how is then that i seem like some young lazy west coast kid? i don't understand this at all.

portland. in the next few days, if i can manage to wake early enough and remember to take my camera, i'm going to try to publish here a few photos of my day as it is now shaped through a regular schedule. i see a portland at five o'clock in the morning that few others are privileged to see.