Monday, October 28, 2013

portland fog

it’s like that moment just before waking or sleeping when everything could be real or not, except this blanket is cold in the morning. i biked up north williams from adam’s house to my own apartment and the fog seemed to thicken around me. in and out of pockets of cold damp, the water drawn together by the magnetic polarization of that molecule, i found my corduroy jacket lacking and wished for a scarf.

sometimes my perspective gets foggy, the periphery of the past and future disappearing momentarily. when one lives in a city long enough, the trajectory of that place stretches out forward and back, obscuring any other history. one’s life becomes enmeshed.

an indian summer in portland is still rather chilly. but beautiful. and welcome. talking to the bartender at the red fox the other night, i told him i had expected this year to be particularly cold. i recalled a white winter five years ago. my friends had returned to alabama for the holidays and asked me to take care of their cats while they were away. i went to work everyday then returned home then trudged through the snow to feed those damned cats. that was my first year in portland and i lost much of my appreciation for the snow.

the bartender told me it had been the red fox’s first year, too. they opened their doors that snowy week in december. the toilet seat broke and that bartender found himself trekking through the snow to fred meyer to purchase a new seat for the throne.

adam and i went out for chinese food the other night. and found a chinese restaurant we actually liked, though it wasn’t the least expensive. before finding this restaurant, i had written chinese food off in portland, unable to find anything i liked. i had stopped craving chinese even.

birmingham seems to love chinese. good and bad, chinese food can be found all over town. i loved this little place in five points south called new chinatown. sesame tofu. i ate there once a week. the woman there was nice but would also made fun of me. i fell in love with a boy there who had ordered sesame tofu as well.

biking back from the chinese restaurant, adam said, “let’s live there!” and pointed to a cute apartment building checkered with warm glowing squares of lamp light, white arches over the louvered windows. sometimes it seems like everything fits, like portland is atlantis and that we’re all just coming home.

my cat, born in alabama, doesn’t mind the rainy winter in oregon. she hates that i’ve taken to wiping her paws whenever she enters the apartment to avoid the patter of paw prints. the rainy winters in oregon can be tough. but one can get used to them.

Monday, October 21, 2013

jordan, never down and out

i said, “good morning.  how are you?”

she said, “fine.  but it’s evening here.”

morning in portland, oregon, i was just beginning the day with a cup of coffee and a newspaper.  jordan, in england, was drinking wine in a library.

jordan reminded me this morning that it has been ten years since we first met.

that first fall together in college, jordan and i spent hungover mornings on the steps to the new men’s dormitory with coffee and black & mild cigarillos we had obtained from the anxiety inducing gas station down arkadelphia road.  happy groups of students and families strolled across the quad, avoiding eye contact, worried by our troubled languor.

i met jordan one night when my friend ryan took me to her dorm room.  jordan stood over her bed, looking at a dress laid out over the covers, a contemplative frown on her face as if she wondered whether she could bear to put it on or not.

jordan always maintained an easy elegance.  she did not like to be seen where her sweatpants.  she did not want to be caught with her hair down.  she liked shirts and a nice pair of flats.  she wore large sunglasses, like a starlet from the fifties.  

on friday night she seemed at home greeting the owner of our favorite restaurant, bottega favorita, as if he were an old friend.  the young college going friend to an established chef with three restaurants.  

while not a sister herself, all the sorority sisters loved jordan’s company, her attention, and she floated between all the social groups as a freelancer.

we were nineteen then and twenty-nine now, but jordan always seemed a little older than so many of our peers at college.

jordan could keep up with the parties and the twittering of sorority socialites, the flirtations of fraternity boys.  she could act like the perfect hostess, a veritable madame de guermantes of young birmingham-southern society.

jordan stayed with me at my apartment for thanksgiving our sophomore year.  we made dinner together.  drank wine.  watched movies.  sighed at how exhausting our classmates could be.  laughed about how much we loved our art  history professor, dr. spies.  frigid that year, we opened a window, dressed in sweats, our throats wrapped in scarves, and blew cigarette smoke at the screen in the window.  as adverse to the cold as we were, the smoke refused to drift out the window.

i loved our downtime together.  i love how snarky she could be.  and then with a flip of a switch, a smile, and some grace, she’d be clever and lovely.  a hostess.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

news cycles

“Until recently, her emphasis on unemployment would likely have disqualified her for the job, and it has already inspired opposition from some Senate Republicans and investors concerned that she would not be sufficiently vigilant in guarding against inflation.”

i read this sentence three times this morning trying to discern its meaning.  the  cold medication i have been taking religiously for the past two days has not done much for me.  additionally, i feel out of it.  i cannot concentrate.

ten years ago, during my first year in college, i attended a current events discussion group.  lacking anything but nyquil i took a dose to help alleviate the cold symptoms from which i had been suffering.  sitting through the meeting proved hellish - difficult to stay awake and focused, the room spun around me.  but after that first miserable afternoon, i attended that current events discussion group every week for the next several years.

adam came over and took care of me last night, brought me dinner, sat and watched tv with me.  sick, i usually feel like a wounded animal, averse to being touched, to being cared for, but this time it was nice to have him around.  he turned off the lights before i fell asleep.

the republicans are holding up budget and debt ceiling negotiations again this year.  politics and economics have their own cycles.  another budget, another budget showdown.  we saw a government shutdown one decade ago.  we will find ourselves in the full circus of another presidential election in three years.

my favorite mornings are the ones in which i wake to find adam in bed with me. he's usually awake already, waiting for me to wake up, waiting for breakfast. on the weekends we often go out for brunch. sometimes its pancakes. and sometimes lox and cream cheese. and sometimes a breakfast burrito. and sometimes some new place we've just heard about.

i read the paper every morning.  new legislation.  new conflict.  new technology.  some things never change.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

bipartisanship italian style

what does the g.o.p. have to do with the italian senate?
there’s no punchline here but republicans should be paying attention to the recent political developments in the italian senate. berlusconi, former prime minister recently convicted of tax fraud in italy, asked senators from his center-right party to topple the current coalition governing. senator’s from berlusconi’s party said no. important lieutenants from silvio berlusconi’s party would rather preserve the fragile stability of the italian government during a time of economic danger in europe than support a fallen man attempting to save himself.

you know i understand that republicans, that anyone out there, can have a different opinion concerning what policies will keep our country most prosperous. but at this point, a government shutdown is not helping the american people at all. we all need to understand that at some point something must be sacrificed, a goal delayed or idea suspended, to maintain stability in the present.

republicans, especially speaker of the house john boehner, need to look at italy. they need to note that internal political solidarity at times must be disregarded in order to uphold national stability. italian senators spurned berlusconi for this reason. and now american politicians, too, whether they support the affordable care act or not, must come together with the rival political party and negotiate a bipartisan path to maintain american economic stability. they must look at our debt and our budget and think of the greater american economy. you can come back to the obamacare later, but there are more pressing issues now.

there is no reason italian politicians should respect the citizens they represent more than our own elected officials. it’s time that republican congress members insist that boehner violate the hastert rule, to consider voting against members of their own party, in the interest of the country’s economy.