Tuesday, April 27, 2004

bus ettiquette

There is alot to know when riding a city bus, and plenty of mentally ill people to show the way. I've been taking the 4. It's called the 4. It's the one that goes up and down Division and into downtown. It is refreshing to report that the 4 never accidentally drives onto a freeway or winds up at the airport. The ease of the bus system is appealing. No parking to deal with, and on a beautiful spring day, cruising around on foot in downtown is fun. So much to see. But the strange thing is the social customs of bus riding. You are not expected, for instance, to speak to anyone. Are, in fact, expected not to speak. And the seats are narrow at best, narrower than my ass, and the people who sit next to you, sit next to you. And you don't talk. A tiny little man sat by me today. I wasn't so self conscious as my first time, when I clutched my purse and bags for fear a mugger would steal my new sweater. This time, a manic man was in the front of the bus. (The mentally ill stick to the front, from all appearances.) He was jabbering away, unlike us normal folks who say nothing and act as though it were a normal occurance. When the nut got off the bus, the tiny man next to me said, "Get a few more beers in him and he'd never shut up." I just told the guy I kinda thought he didn't operate on alcohol, had his own internal battery driving the train. bus. what have you. Anyway, the conversation initiated, I took it from there. I commented how odd I thought it was that we sit, literally almost, in one another's laps, and don't speak, and if we do speak, we're insane. or drunk. Well, I'm talking. I don't care. I'm sure after a million portland years I'll be silenced by the experiences of the city, but for now, I'm taking my small town manners with me.

Last night we went on a bike ride on our new bikes. We lay in the field at the school, and looked up at the stars, barely visible at 9:00. It's the light of the city, he told me. It doesn't get as dark here. You can't see the night. And it is true. I'm accustomed now to being in our neighborhood, and don't venture into town much at all. It's easy to believe I'm not living in a huge metropolis. It's easy to believe that nothing much has changed.

But it has. My name will change on Saturday, and I can't figure out what to wear.

Vows. I do.... I do too.... that's all we want to say. He says, "For the rest of my life, I choose you." I say, "me too." Me, the writer, speechless in the face of committment. Oh well.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Yard Saling

600 dollar day. What I know is this: you can never tell what other people will buy. I think most of it is shit, and my few treasures sit out there, glaring bright as rubies in sand, and the masses walk on by. The process I go through to finally place my treasures in plain view, pearls before swine, available to just anyone for a mere fraction of the original cost, is pathetic. It'll be the first to go, I tell myself.. I'll regret it forever, the voices assure me. I'll never find another (lampshade, oil and vinegar set, cape cod curtains...) Yet there they sit, among the refuse of leftover pharmacy salesmen coffee cups and obsolete computer manuals. After a few yard sales, you'd think I'd get the hang of it. You'd think I'd just toss the best of the best to the tasteless wolves that get up at six when an eight o'clock start is published in the paper, the faceless hordes who would rather have window pane widgets than an arts and crafts style headboard. Fuck them. And thanks for the money.

Learning Portland: phase two. I know I said earlier that all roads eventually turn into freeways up here, but that isn't entirely true, as is little of the crap I finally get around to documenting. So far, those roads that do not turn into freeways eventually take you to the airport, and the way you can tell you're at the airport is that the street signs are blue instead of green. I still haven't figured out where exactly the airport begins and the rest of the world ends, but I'm working on it. I'll keep you posted.

I am settling in, and am still in some phase of disbelief about my altered state. Better day by day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

lily of the valley

Would the plural be lilies of the valley, or lily of the valleys? Anyway, they are coming up through the sidewalks, piercing the ground, perfect green spirals unfolding in their own sweet time. Tiny white bells gave them away. I thought they were hostas. I thought I knew so much about gardening. It is a wet new world, where I don't have to leave the sprinkler on overnight or it will flood the basement. I am growing apricot begonias, three kinds of fuscias, and the lily plantation is on its own. I will try tomatoes.... I will I will I will.

Today, I missed my girlfriends for the first time. I don't know anyone really, don't make friends easily, and am cautious (Kelly says skeptical.) I am still unpacking. I shouldn't expect a full adjustment after one week. Anyway, I think new friendships at this time of life (mid way) are rare. I'll keep the ones I have, use my phone, and go to meetings anyway.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

easter and eggs

Last night we wanted to watch something appropriate to Easter, and since the Passion of the Christ isn't out on video, we chose the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Both horror flicks. Couldn't hang. We made it about twenty minutes and I was nauseous. I won't bore the few of you who follow this with a sociological diatribe on the effects of media violence, but I'll just say that those who think american violence is a mystery should rent that movie. It'll clear things right up. Now, some of you might chastise me and remind me that I did, after all, rent the damn thing; that I did, after all, exert my own free american will, which I debate, is not free, that there is no such thing as free will, that we are all a soup of hormones and upbringing and have so little to say about how it all goes that it is laughable to have words like "choice" in our vocabularies. Anyway, there I go....

I just want to say that I love any good reason for new underwear, and lace the color of easter eggs. That's what I really wanted to write about. Damn....

Friday, April 09, 2004

squirrel on a wire

There I was, sitting on my front porch, when a small brown squirrel cruised by on the telephone/electric wires in front of the house. I've seen birds on wires, of course, but never a squirrel. I knew we had squirrels in the neighborhood because the dog used to chase them obsessively. Maybe that's what drove them to the high-wire: fear of manic pitbulls (is that redundant?) Never a dull moment here on Clinton Street. OH!!! I had my first encounter with the hunchback. He (I am now fairly certain he is male) stopped by the driveway as I was unloading boxes and asked for cans. I gave him a few and told him I'd have more as I unpacked. He asked if I was moving. I said I was, and he told me he'd miss me. Well, I didn't think it was necessary to tell him we'd never met, but I did say (yelled), "No, I'm moving in." He's deaf, turns out. So many obstacles. I would have loved to maintain the mystery and fear the hunchback like the kids do, but he's not very scary. But then, I'm not a bus driver.

I've made some observations, mostly related to finding my way around.... For instance, in case you didn't know it, 82nd street turns into a freeway. There you are, just cruising down the road looking for the grocery store (Winco -- God I hate Winco.... more later about that) and suddenly, things are looking suspiciously like a freeway. Now, where I come from, you just can't accidentally find yourself on the freeway. There are signs and markings, flashing signals and idiot prevention devices all over the place. No ambiguity about it. Not so here. Suddenly, I was headed for Pendleton... not somewhere I want to go, again. I won't talk about my 17th summer or the "Let 'er Buck" room where you get a free t-shirt if you take yours off. Also, in Portland, there are crop circles in the middle of many streets, meant to slow traffic. This is what they seem like to me. I am just reporting my observations, remember. I'm sure there is a name for them. I just know that if there were no trees, a bird's eye view would look like crop circles. Some are larger than others. Ladd's addition is a particularly annoying one. I asked a rhetorical question at a meeting the other day: What is up with Ladd's Addition, anyway??? Who's idea was that? So this woman approaches me after the meeting and very earnestly explains to me it is a european concept meant to encourage a sense of community, which, she assured me, it does. I just get lost. But as I've learned, all roads lead to Mecca. You can get anywhere from anywhere if you have enough gas and a car that runs. So getting lost is just one way of figuring it out. My beloved suggest that I note the rising of the sun, determine east from west, north from south, and be a man about it. He cannot be as caustic as I am, but he tries, bless his heart. For my money, fuck the four directions... I just want to know where Linens and Things is.

Anyway, I'm decorating like mad.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Its the buttcrack of dawn and here I am, plucking away at the keys. Getting my bearings. The house is coming together, slowly, and I consider materialism. I considered it when I was packing, but it meant something else then. My stuff becomes our stuff. It is a slow process, like roasting or stewing. As the days pass (4 now) and this place becomes a combination of he and I, we adjust to the process of release and acquisition that is the essence of blending lives. I get a basement, he gets new towels. I give up twenty-seven bed pillows, he considers the possibility that there actually may be a limit to how many weedeaters one guy needs. The lawn is small. It doesn't feel like winning or losing anymore. It is not a contest of wills. It is no longer about what do we want, but what do we use? What has real value? Constructing one life out of two, one home out of two, and all of the memories that go along with it. I have mine: my son's first grade projects, the mother's day cards he made for me that I was too loaded to remember, or maybe it's just that time has passed and I've forgotten. I need to get a picture of him up so he is part of this. I bought him an easter card yesterday, and will mail it today along with some jelly bellies. I will be his mother from a distance, I don't care if he's forty.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


This is hard. Oh, I'm sure there will be time to write soon................