Thursday, February 28, 2008
Time To Move

Well, not quite time, but getting there. I tried an experiment last night, posting a "housing wanted" ad on craigslist, just to see what would happen. I didn't expect much. But within an hour I'd gotten half a dozen replies, and by this morning I'd gotten almost twenty. Most of them, predictably, were hopeless. Two or three were vaguely interesting. One I even drove out this morning to look at. It sounded good, but it was just too far away from things, so I won't be pursuing it further.

The thing is, at this point I'm a pretty solid housemate candidate. I've got a steady job, good local references, I have some time to spend on looking for the right place, and I'm a good fit for a grown-up house, so I figure I can afford to be a little choosy. The trick now is figuring out what it is I really want.And the one thing the trip this morning did yield was my re-discovery of North Portland. I'd driven up there not long after my arrival, but at the time everything was simply unfamiliar and tending to blend together, so it didn't make a big impact. Now that I know the city better, I was better able to discern the character of the area, and I have to say, I really dug it. I could see myself living there.

This evening I was working a volunteer shift at the Hollywood Theatre, and got to chatting with the other girl working. And after the usual warm-up small talk, we established two things: 1) she's from Memphis (the second Memphian I've met in the last eight days), and 2) she's currently living just off N. Mississippi in North Portland. I have, of course, joked about how cool/bizarre/stupid it would be to move from north Mississippi to N. Mississippi, but was actually considering trying to do it for the first time today. And now here, out of nowhere, was someone who'd done more or less exactly that. So I asked her how she liked it, and she told me that she loved it. It's really a pretty awesome little neighborhood, with more diversity (ie, black people) than much of the rest of Portland and lots of interesting stuff going on, plus easy access to downtown and the rest of the east side.

I've decided to take that as a sign. So I guess, while I'm still open to any good possibility, that I'll be aiming north.
12:41 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Everybody Got Your Five Dried Grams?

There is actually a reason why I dig up Bill's corpse on this day every year, you know.

The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly colored and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say, "Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid ever, because -- this is just a ride." And we... kill those people. "Shut him up. We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real." It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. Jesus, murdered; Martin Luther King, murdered; Malcolm X, murdered; Gandhi, murdered; John Lennon, murdered; Reagan... wounded.

But it doesn't matter, because -- it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

1:50 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Crap... most years I do a perfunctory Oscar-prediction post, but I don't think I've got it in me this year. I haven't seen any of the current nominees and have no useful opinions to offer. I can't even speak to the docs this year, having only seen one of them. It's all a big fuck-around anyway. But I hope Jon Stewart does better this year than the first time (not that he was terrible, it's just not really his scene.)

Ironically, I'm going to be spending much of my day today orbiting a rather large, unwieldy Oscar Night party, though I won't be attending the party itself. It's a fund raising event for a group with whom I would be quite pleased to ingratiate myself, so I'm doing some work for them in support of the event. Nothing exciting, but it'll keep me out of the house until late tonight.

Tomorrow, however, is entirely my own. I've stretched myself a bit thin over the last week -- I spent three straight nights out with friends, work nights each and every one -- and I'm feeling a little jaded. It was good for my soul, though, the first time in years I've been able to just go and hang out with people. Most of them were co-workers, but each one brings their own circle of local associates with them, and some of those new people were very interesting.

A couple of nights ago, at my second booze-fueled birthday party of the week, I found myself sitting in a loud bar on East Burnside, working my way through a weak margarita, talking to an opera singer/music writer with two different pretty young men attached (one gay, pretty much hanging off of me, and one straight, more-or-less sitting in my lap -- there are moments when life's not so bad) planning my incipient corruption. It's not that I need to be corrupted, it's just that there are a few pivotal, formative experiences which, at 32, I have yet to undergo. And apparently a few people have decided that it's time, which I was already thinking anyway. (Don't worry, Mom, I won't do anything unhealthy.)

But as I sat there, I managed to step briefly outside the immediate context and regard it from a six-months-ago perspective. And it struck me: these are my Portland friends, or at least the first batch of them. And they're a mixed bunch -- some younger, some my own age, some older; male, female, gay, straight; hip, square, and a few decidedly dorky; and many recent arrivals like me. None of them are close, yet, but one or two probably could be. And the whole thing took me completely by surprise.

Just to note that in passing.

Coming weeks will probably see me equally jaded, for different reasons. Somehow I've committed myself to helping a mob of fifth-grade girls make a video over five week in March and into April. Yeah, that just kind of came out of nowhere, though I think it'll be fun -- messing around with a video camera, without the pressure of doing Good Work or even anything of consequence, always has a tonic effect on me, and nobody's better at just goofing around than a twelve-year-old. I hope to be editing full-steam-ahead soon, too, because I want to get the MTC film done in time to move on to another big film education project in the summer.

You know, for only having been here for four and a half months, I'm not actually doing too badly.
11:26 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Monday, February 18, 2008

Today was gorgeous -- no, seriously, gorgeous. I was off work and in high spirits, so I took a bus downtown, returned a heap of library books, and then took a long, unhurried walk home. And along the way I was filled with a sense of already having everything I could ever need, of being totally in love with everything and everyone, and overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of pleasure on hand in return for just a hint of curiosity. It was an all-pervasive feeling of wellbeing, and I just felt like telling y'all about it.

If today was any indication, spring and summer in Portland are going to be lick-it-off-your-fingers delicious.
6:20 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Sunday, February 17, 2008

So, like, happy birthday to Doug, who's still one of my favorite people in Memphis and one of a small number of things I genuinely miss about the place. My very first conversation with him, four or five years ago now, centered on the golden age of porn and Wall of Voodoo, and I knew immediately that he and I should be friends. Staying in touch is tricky -- he hates emailing, and I have a psychological block against calling people -- but if I did finally get around to making contact, here's what I'd ask him:

1) Hey, whatever happened with that Afghan Whigs tribute album?

2) When's the next Chess Club album coming out?

3) Do I still get first pick of the tracks from which to make a video?

4) When is Chess Club going to do a tour of the Grate Northwest?

5) Even if it's years from now, if I come visit Memphis, can we still hang out?

And happy birthday to Stefan, who also has curly hair (albeit of an entirely different color) and is currently deeply involved in a Teen Wolf fanfic project. I've rarely met as kind and good a heart as his.

I love my friends, including these two. I hope they both get GI Joes, or whatever else makes them happy.
5:12 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Okay, Maybe Just A Little More About Work

To those (including myself) who were hoping I'd keep a lid on the work-related posts for a while, I apologize in advance. It's just that it's something weird every day, and this last week has been particularly farcical. But it's not really about Fnorders; it just happens that all this stuff seems to happen there. What can I do?

Last night one of my co-workers had a freak-out of epic proportions. We're talking full-on nervous breakdown stuff. When I got back from my break around 6pm, I found her in the staff room, babbling semi-coherently to me that I should make sure I always go to church, because she'd missed church the last two weeks and hadn't tithed in months and now it was "like locusts were descending." She was red-eyed and seemed to be having trouble breathing, and she just kept talking and talking about church and praying and how her life was falling apart since she'd started missing church, making very little sense but apparently in the throes of a major religious meltdown. And we'd all known that she was super-religious in a weird evangelical, fire-and-brimstone Catholic sort of way, but good god damn, enough already.

Just after close, I was called to the cafe to "help out with a little problem." When I got there I found the same co-worker having graduated to genuine hysterics and unable to do her job, and the other cafe girl overwhelmed by the amount she now had to do single-handedly before we could all go home for the night. So I started washing dishes. Yay, thank you Jesus. While I stood there, I got to listen to the freak-out first hand, and it was horrible. She was sobbing and choking over the phone to some poor probably-soon-to-be-ex boyfriend, sucking down air like a fish on a pier, and making no sense whatsoever.

I - I - I - I have to -- I have to go to - I - have - church - I have to go - I have to go to church!

Ohhhhhkay. And they say faith improves people's lives. What brought all this on I have no idea. I spent much of the last half hour sharing furtive are you fucking seeing what I'm seeing? glances with Mandy, one of my better friends at the job, who shares my atheism and is an all-around smart, funny bitch. The evening ended with the store manager having to call (and pay for) a cab for our nutso co-worker, no doubt wondering whether she'd be back, and if she wasn't, whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway, for this year, at least, I've decided that I like Valentine's Day. Because tonight, as long as people are in restaurants and getting laid, they won't be shopping for books. It'll be totally dead at work tonight, and that's just how I like it.

To make up for succumbing to work-related posts so soon, though, I will indulge DaveX's request for roommate talk -- and after this, he'll be begging me to go back to Fnorders posts. The reason I rarely write about the roomies is because they rarely do anything worth writing about. But I suppose they deserve at least a mention.

My head roommate is a guy name Chris, who owns the house. He's a former deadhead who spent the last several years of Jerry Garcia's life following the band; following the obvious end of that, he came to Portland and took up management of one of the city's bigger youth hostels. More recently, he took over management of an upscale-but-funky guest house catering mostly to the visiting parents of Portland trustfund babies, and until very recently had also used this, his own house, as an extension thereof. He's a good guy, though I've never managed to make much of a connection with him; but he's very fair, and not at all overbearing. He's got a girlfriend who spends the weekends and brings her sweet-but-stupid dog over. They mostly sit on the sofa together and watch DVDs of recent TV series.

My other roommate is a guy named Brock. Chris and Brock met when Brock first arrived in the city a couple of years ago and spent his first few months at the hostel. Brock's in his middling-late 40s but acts about 27, has a grown son, is now employed as an engineer, used to be in the air force as a young man, has a French-Canadian not-girlfriend named Soleil who's never around because she works on an organic farm somewhere around Eugene (I think), and really likes beer. Which, writing it out, makes him sound like an epic loser, but really he's just another Portland slacker who's too old to be a hipster but hasn't found any compelling reason to join the staid middle class. He's attractively bald, seems to have a hangover every Saturday and Sunday morning, and I've spent plenty of evenings hanging out with him talking about nothing in particular.

A group of former roommates live in another house across the street, and there's a fair amount of back-and-forth between our house and theirs. But they're bit players at best in my current life. We wave to each other when we both end up out on the street at the same time, but we've never really talked. There's also a cat named Sasha who's agreeable but a little bit lacking in personality. The general atmosphere of the house is grown-up and mellow, with no significant tension or stress. I was genuinely lucky to end up here, taken in sight-unseen. I've always known it wouldn't be a long-term home, but it's as good a place as I could've asked in which to get my start.
3:06 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Saturday, February 09, 2008
Admit It, You Don't Care About Any Of This

I have just one more long day to work today, and then finally I get another block of three days off. It's been kind of a stressful week, with several well-intentioned efforts going haywire and leaving me vexed and frustrated. But whatever, fuck it. I guess sometimes you have to know when it's not worth it to give a shit.

I already have plans for at least two of my days off -- things are afoot, new possibilities slowly coming to a simmer. The good news is that this might all herald my departure from Fnorders (though there's always the temptation to stay on, if only a couple of days a week, just for the easy access to books.) The bad news is that my schedule may get complicated again. I'm looking at having an awful lot on my plate, so I have to be careful. But no point in worrying about it before it actually happens.

But, good news! I finally got my voter registration card yesterday, which makes me officially an Oregonian. So I no longer have any excuse to put off getting my proper Oregon driver's license, which is the only obstacle standing between me and legal status for my car, which is the last hurdle to jump before I can sell the damn thing. And while I'll miss having her, it really can't come too soon. She's rapidly turning into an albatross that I'd be best off being rid of. And I can't really afford the gas anymore. It'll still take me a couple of months to do -- there's no small amount of hoop-jumping involved -- but sometime this spring I should finally achieve carless status and finally finish making the transition to pedestrian/bus-rider/cyclist.

So, obviously I need something more substantial to write about. Anyone care to assign me a topic? Because right now my life is pretty much limited to books and ways of avoiding books. Help me out here.
10:24 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Memphis Wiped From Face of Earth

Okay, maybe not quite that dire. But still, damn.

Anyway, I've had word that all is well at the family compound in N. MS:

It was as still as can be outside with dark gray green funnel clouds all around us, but thankfully nothing came through our neck of the woods. Evidently the super cell tracked from North Tunica and went around us either on the west or to the east. It went over Bull Frog corner (not a tornado on the ground, but heavy winds) and then went up to Stateline @ Airways where something did a lot of damage. They had walls and roof blown off of several warehouses on Airways and Stateline Rd is actually closed this morning between I-55 and Airways, so you know it was serious.

I miss some things about Memphis, but I'll never miss tornado season. (Wait, is it tornado season? I don't think early February normally counts, does it? But then what the fuck was that?) But I hope and trust that all of my other much-loved Memphis / Mississippi people remain unharmed. Updates would be most welcome.
1:29 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Sunday, February 03, 2008
Talking About Nothing

Yeah, I know, I've gone quiet again. It's always like that, isn't it? A few weeks of relatively high activity, followed by a week of nothing.

It's not for lack of activity on this end. If anything, the last month has seen me consolidating most of these recent changes and getting ready for another building phase. Work has gotten genuinely easier -- mostly because the holiday season is entirely behind us now, and the demands of the job have returned to a normal, slackerly pace. But I've also just gotten better at it. I'll never be a stand-out at Fnorders, but I've been able to regain some sense of balance in my daily life, and at the end of the day I find I still have some energy for other things. That makes all the difference.

I've lately taken to walking to work. It's not far, probably 2 - 2.5 miles, 40-50 minutes depending on my pace. It's a better way to start my day than waiting for a bus. When the weather warms up, I'll start playing with the idea of riding a bike and finally getting rid of my car. So life is gradually becoming altogether more agreeable, on top of the inherent improvement of being in Portland.

And I believe that this arc will continue for at least the next three to six months. There's likely to be another chaotic phase when I move, say, April-ish, and there may be some other interesting things developing as spring progresses. But I've got a sturdier base under me now than I did when I first arrived -- I know a few people, I know the city better, and I know what I can comfortably manage and what I have to bring to new situations. And I have a few plans of my own. So I'm feeling reasonably confident for the time being.

So, does anybody care to make any predictions before Super Tuesday? Just for fun, I mean. My best guess: Obama "wins" by a narrow margin, taking away a few more delegates than Hillary, though not enough to knock her out of the running completely. Alas, while I've moved to a arguably blue state (though only by virtue of the extraordinary liberalness of its cities holding off the vast white trash wasteland beyond the suburbs), and while I've registered to vote here (though I still haven't gotten my card -- I should probably check up on that), our primary doesn't come around until late May, by which time this will all be settled. But those of you who live in states with primaries on Tuesday -- Aunt Vicky? Doug? Nelson? Greensmile? DaveX? -- would you care to offer your preference and/or insight?

Update: Say, I'm pretty good at this. Someone should put me on a cable news network or something.
11:32 PM ::
Amy :: permalink