Sunday, June 29, 2008

So it's been a year. Again.

I kind of forgot. But I've been back a year. Again. I guess I moved back around the 23rd of June or so. My one year back at First American is... um... Wednesday, maybe? How about that.

So what are the differences between this re-entry and the first re-entry? Well, this time I think I was ready to be done with the whole living-and-working-in-Cancun thing and was looking forward to being a normal Oregonian. The last time I was still trying to acclimate to "normal" life and couldn't stand how rude everyone is here. This last time I just wanted to fly a little bit under the radar, the first time I wanted everyone to hear my story (but, you know, back then nobody wanted to hear it).

The first time, I got a job that included bonuses, and this time around, maybe not so much. I feel much broker now, because since I haven't had any bonuses, I have not been able to build up any savings or pay down much debt. Plus I have a car payment and bigger insurance premiums. So financially I feel like crap. I have to find a way to fix that.

I thought that by now, I mean, it's been a year for Pete's sake, that I would be over the issues I had when I got back. But um, I'm not. And I need to continue to find a way to fix THAT too, because it's not good ju-ju.

People still tell me they think it's a pretty big thing that I did, both moves, and I know this, and it has made me into a better person, a more thoughtful person, a more patient (okay, that's a real generality there) person, a more compassionate person. I'm glad I did it and got it out of my system, and I know I won't do anything like that unless I have GOOD money coming in or the perfect (near, even)situation lined up. I have definitely learned to never say never.

I don't have any regrets, but I sure wish I had some more money in my savings.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heating up

So it's supposed to be hot today, 98 degrees (that's 37 to those of you who don't live in the US and never have). Though I have two pools at my disposal here in my little corner of paradise, I probably won't go lay out today. Reason one is that I haven't shaved my legs and reason two is it is probably going to be WAY too hot to lay there and occasionally dip. And there will be roughly 9 million people there as well.

My apartment doesn't really take hot days well. I'm getting ready to close the windows in the living room to keep what is cool in here and leave what is hot out there. We have very little humidity, but when you get in to the high 90s it kind of doesn't matter.

What is mildly amusing is that this is all they are talking about on the morning news, but I'm getting used to that.

The kittens aren't used to heat as it hasn't been hot since they were born. I throw ice cubes in their water for fun now and again, and I expect they will drop off to sleep the day away as soon as I leave for the supermarket and points beyond, so their activity will be minimal, but still. All that fur. Has to be hot.

So that's really it. After my horrifyingly stress-related hair situation this week (did I mention that?), I am newly shorn and properly reddened, and I feel rejuvenated enough to face the Beaverton area drivers and the fun that is the Fred Meyer. I may even venture forth to do a little shopping, who knows.

Now you know my day ahead. Let this be inspiration for you all to go out and do something way more exciting.

I do what I can to help.

Edit: I just checked and it turns out, I didn't tell you about the hair situation! So here it is.

I schedule my hair appointments out for the year. Every five weeks, like a little security blanket. My salon, and especially my colorist Taunja, is always hopping - pretty popular place. So all last week I was in Uptown, the branch with two people, covering for the assistant in there (which kind of explains my lack of ranting and raving here all week). I have made it clear to most of my coworkers that the Uptown branch is a branch that needs a break, literally, simply because if one person leaves for, say, a client lunch or to give a class or to go market clients, the other person is pretty much denied the simple creature comforts of getting lunch, having a cigarette (that's me) or going to the bathroom. They are used to it, but I try to let others know how difficult and frustrating it can be.

All that being said, my hair appointment was for Thursday at 3:45. I am no fan of doing it during work hours, especially now that I am a float, but you get in when you can get in, period. Sometimes my boss will call in some help from the downtown main offices, just a body that can cover phones and such, so that at least there is one escrow person in the branch, and that was the plan for Thursday - because the branch manager had a scheduled doctor's appointment for - you guessed it - Thursday afternoon. Crap.

I discovered this fact on Monday, and my salon, which by the way is ONE MILE from this branch, is closed on Mondays. I felt the panic creeping up, but discussed it with the manager and she sort of indicated that we might both try to figure out a way around this issue. Tuesday I phoned the salon and got some girl who I do not know, who basically said, "Yeah, Taunja doesn't work Wednesdays and she's booked the entire Thursday and Friday. Oh and she goes on vacation next week." Oh. My. HELL.

I'm screwed. I tell Whitney this, and she seems unaffected. She also doesn't make a move to call her doctor to see about rescheduling her appointment. I mean, I know the doctor is more important than hair, but me having to go SEVEN WEEKS between cut and color is not an option. It just isn't. And I do this not just for myself, but for EVERYone, since the good Lord knows what a catastrophe my hair out of control is.

So I am a jarbled, jumbled wreck of a girl at this point, and then realize that my CUT is at 5pm, it's the color that is earlier. If I can get Taunja to squeeze me in ANY OTHER HOUR OF THE DAY but Thursday afternoon, I can swing it. I call back the salon and get the machine, and leave a whining, pitiful message on the machine (along the lines of "somebody help me". It's not pretty and I am not proud of it). So I drive home, and at this point, panic has given way to anger. No other branch has to put up with this crap. This is so not okay. You can't do normal things in this branch that other people can, and no other branch gets that. It's ridiculous. I call a friend and bitch about it. The underlying issue is missing the appointment, but what fuels it is the WHY. Unacceptable.

I call Barbie, who has been going to this salon since 1986, for advice. She tells me to call back and ask for Valerie, the receptionist, and appeal to her abilities. She schools me on the best way to approach Valerie. Suck up. I can do that.

I spoke with Valerie on Wednesday morning, and she saved the day. She got me in at 6pm on Friday, (and actually it ended up being 5:15 on Friday) and basically saved my life. My sanity at the very least. I raved up and down about the rock star that she is and she told me I made her day. I made HER day? Au contraire mon frere. Or soeur.

So here's the point of all this: I was ridiculously stressed out over this not being able to make an appointment that has been scheduled out for a long long time because there is no one else in that branch and God help us all if suddenly a tooth abcesses on the same day as a client presentation. As it was, I barely managed to get my eyebrows waxed at the salon THREE DOORS DOWN from the branch on Wednesday afternoon, a process that takes 15 minutes, because of coverage. How is this okay? How can you NOT go get a sandwich or go to the bathroom or take the mail out if one of the two people in that branch has another commitment? It's frustrating to me and I don't even work there all the time. I can't imagine what it is like for them. So not only was this a stressful hair near-disaster, it is also a lesson in staffing. I implore someone to move over to that branch just for the sanity of the two people in there. Somebody for the love of God let them go out and get some lunch once in a while!

All right then. As you were.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Remember those cute little fuzz balls?

They were so small they couldn't do anything but scamper around and hang off my thigh.

They grow up, though.

So fuzzy. So innocent.

Here they are this evening. Their eyes are closing and they look all irritated on account of my piece of shit camera. The flash bothers them since it flashes for like fifteen minutes while you wait for your clothes to dry and the picture to take.

But look how big they are.

Not yet a year old, still arm-in-arm. Such good girls.

They're just resting up for tonight's festivities, I'm sure.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Reaching out

Dear Wife from "The King of Queens" (whatever your name is):

You seem so unhappy. Have you considered divorce? I'm no marriage counselor, and nobody ever called me an expert on the subject, but it seems to me that if you don't like or get along with your husband, you should probably just end the relationship.

I've only watched your show a couple of times, so maybe I am missing something that other people see. Maybe I missed the episodes when the two of you were dating. But the marriage seems to have gone south somewhere, and since all you do is fight and try to change your husband, it could be time for you to consider moving on. I think you'd be embarrassed to air all of that dirty laundry on TV. Do you realize people are laughing at you? I'm not really sure why they are either, maybe they take comfort in seeing other people in a worse situation than themselves. I don't think you'd like that if you knew, so I'm telling you. You don't seem like someone that could really be pleased by anything.

Perhaps if you guys split you might be able to find someone that would put up with your constant nagging, and then maybe you'd smile more. You know what they say about more muscles frowning and all that. I'm not trying to meddle in your personal life or anything, but since you're on TV, I guess you sort of set yourself up for it. You just seem really unhappy and what with the way you constantly insult and nag your husband, he can't be that happy either. You don't appear to have any kids, and thank goodness for that, so it should be a pretty easy split. I really think you should consider it.

Very truly yours,


I know someone who watches this show because it reminds him of his own marriage. I think that's just sad. He's a really nice, creative guy and the thought that his wife, who I have never met, is this kind of a shrew is really a bummer.

Frankly I don't even know why I am sticking around for the next episode, but there it is. There's no explanation for what I do.


I'm of the belief that there is no leaving the house without spending money. It might be why I spend so much time at home. Even going to work costs me money, and I am not talking about gas prices. Think about it - if you feel like getting out and about, the odds are good there will be money spent. Dinner with friends, the movies, shopping, swinging by Target. Sure I could go up to Washington Park and walk around the Rose Gardens, and that wouldn't cost me anything, but knowing me I would probably want a green tea Frappucino (no whip) on the way home. Even a trip to the grave means stopping at Langdown for a couple of flowers. The errands I am running this morning means I have to spend money, but that's understandable since it's groceries and stuff.

So, for me, it's get out of the house and do something not work-related to stimulate other senses, or stay home and not spend any money, and then feel like my weekend was wasted. A trade off I can live with when I am feeling broke, because, you know, I get over it.

Now that I am moving into a private condo instead of a huge monstrosity of an apartment complex, the deposits are more, and I have to actually watch my money. I don't like that so much, because I am impulsive and like to buy stuff. I think maybe though this is the right age to start living with a budget in mind. Not easy for me, but I can adapt. In the long run, it's worth it.

Same can be said for anything, really. Where you choose to live, since a lot of my readers have chosen to hang their hats in places much different than where they were raised, is a personal choice and it doesn't matter for how little or long you choose to stay. Whenever someone asks me about my time in Cancun, I get a "Why did you leave?" -type of question, always. The first time it was planned, so that's an easy answer; the second time, not so easy. But I am always left feeling like the person who asked the question is somehow smugly happy that I no longer live there, that perhaps I failed in some way, and now I have to be here, like them, living a mundane existance. Maybe I'm just too sensitive. Or cynical.

For those of us that went and came back, big kudos, because we stepped out of the box for however long, did something most people only dream of doing, and lived to tell the tale. To those who stay, and make their lives there, the same. Because happiness comes from within and it doesn't matter where you live. I'm happy for anyone who has found their happiness.

And for those people that seem to find some kind of pleasure that a person has decided it is time to pack their things and move on to pursue their happiness, I hope someday they find their own. It's no fun to go around looking for the discomfort of others to make their own lives seem somehow better. Everything we do that is different is hard at first, but the rewards are great and worth it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'll have one good day, please, hold the additional deposits.

I don't want to do yesterday over again. Not only did I get some icky personal news (financial, always financial) (well, not "news" but let's just call it "realization" - as in, when you realize you haven't quite recovered financially from a poor decision made a year ago and coming to terms with that fact is not conducive to a good day), but I also got some icky work news (I'm not going to go into it, I'll wait for you work-readers to get the memo) and I happened to be sitting right at the scene of the crime at the time. No amount of good natured humor could make this news any less icky, so I pretty much holed up in the office I was sitting in and kept to myself. Apparently I was gritting my teeth most of the day as, on the drive home, my jaw was sore. Huh.

THEN I get home and there is a note on my door. I gave my notice a couple of weeks ago and immediately tore apart the bedroom to pack winter-related clothes away, and just sort of stopped mid-stream and haven't quite made it back to the project. The note says that even though my move-out date isn't until JULY 23, they want to do a 5 minute maintenance walk through to be prepared for any major projects that might need doing when I move out. Nice. I don't care that my bedroom is a DISASTER, not as much as the fact that I have two illegal kitties. You see, folks, it's not just specific to Mexicans. My fear is that they will make me pay some money for my last month. And since, these days, EVERYBODY WANTS MY MONEY, I spent some time on the phone last night trying to come to a solution (but the note said they will be in any time from June 18 to June 20 from 9am to 4am and it's not like I can take them to work for three days, plus what do you do with all the kitty accoutrements like litter box, food, various toys and shoe strings, etc.?). After talking to my brother, who is also harboring an illegal alien (kitty), he said don't sweat it. He thinks the maintenance guy doing the walk through won't know I don't have a pet deposit in, and plus these are just guys doing their job, not the Pet Deposit Police. I don't know. I have no control over it, so I am just gonna roll with it.

Today I go to Lincoln Tower for a day, and maybe that will be better. I hope so. This morning on my way in I plan to go through the Universe drive-thru and order up a good one.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Oprima el numero dos

I have an issue. And it's probably a common issue around these parts, probably in a lot of parts of the US. But the reason it is an issue for me is probably not the popular reason for the masses around here. My issue? Why is everything in English and Spanish?

I was reading ol' Mexico Way's recent post concerning her culture shock up north there, and one of the things she mentions is that as of this moment the packaging on products for which she is shopping is all written in English (and French, because, you know, it's Canada and all that), and it confuses her somewhat due to the fact that for the last five or so years she has been shopping, she has been in Mexico. She's looking for the Spanish, because she's used to it, and sometimes you run into words that in English are one thing but in Spanish are another (example: Hay). So I thought I would give you my perspective, being as how I haven't lived full time in Mexico in like 2 1/2 years (well, 9 months really, but let's just pretend last year's 3 month "break" never happened, shall we?).

I was at the Target the other night with that Marsha, mostly because I haven't darkened the Target's doorstep in months, and whenever I am there I pretty much search for things I just might need to stock up on. Most of my time is spent in Health & Beauty Aids, just because it's there that you find stuff you should stock up on, right? So anyway, I was looking for some Pantene Shampoo + Conditioner (I spend exhorbitant amounts of money on my shampoo and conditioner, but my hair is weird - it needs shaking up in the week. So if I use the same shampoo and conditioner every day, it gets lax, weak, flat. I have three different brands in my shower right now, and I alternate. I use the shampoo + conditioner all-in-one situation perhaps twice a week. Now get off my back.) because I am just about out of it at home.

When I found the Pantene section (Target has like 2 full aisles of shampoo and conditioner - talk about choices), I searched for the all-in-one, and while reading the labels, I found that they are in English and Spanish. Same font, right there on the bottle. In a throw back to my time in Cancun, my eyes will automatically hit straight on the Spanish - I don't know why. It's the same for every product, instruction manual, whatever. I have to make a conscious effort to avert my eyes to the English. And I realized something. When I first moved to Cancun and needed shampoo, I had a somewhat difficult time finding the right kind for my hair. Yes they sold same and similar brands (Pantene was one), but the labels are not in English at all. So I had to figure out, in my limited, just-moved-to-the-country-and-not-quite-aware-of-all-vocabulary Spanish, what the heck these things meant. Liso and Sedoso stuck out. I asked Laura, my neighbor who drove me around and pretty much made my transition a smooth one, and even she didn't know. I found myself reading the back and trying to find familiar words that might lead me in the direction of what exactly this particular shampoo was all about. It was trial and error, and eventually, I figured it out.

So now, here in the Target, and the Fred Meyer, the Haggen and the Safeway and the Albertsons, just about every package out there is in English and Spanish - frozen foods give you cooking direction in both languages, body lotion, hairspray, Raid, Drano. Name it. If you don't have any English but you have plenty of Spanish, you will not find yourself lingering for any particularly long period of time trying to figure out what "daily hidration" means in your native tongue.

I'm not bitter that they are in both languages because I think we are catering to the illegals (which is I am sure why other people are - I mean, if every single person from south of the border came up here legally, it wouldn't be an issue to the US, would it?). I'm bitter that they are in both languages because I certainly didn't have that luxury when I moved down there. If I had to call Cablemas or CFE I couldn't oprima el numero dos for English. I had to suck it up and wonder why the hell I didn't have internet or TV or why my electric bill went through the roof when my a/c had broken and the power was out for 3/4 of the billing cycle.

I'm all for being nice and considerate and all that, but isn't there some kind of line? I mean, you have people protesting the illegals and patrolling the borders, but the US just keeps on making it easier - the services we provide like healthcare and all that, and now this labeling. If you want English to remain the primary language of the United States, make people learn it. I had to learn the primary language of the country I moved to, why shouldn't they?

And what about the Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, whatever. What about them? They don't get any help with the language? What's that about?

So all I am saying is that part of the challenges of living in a foreign country are acclimating to their cultures, and it really does enrich the experience and make the immigrant a stronger individual. Which means that the US clearly would rather the Spanish speaking immigrants just be more comfortable here. Comfort is good, but so is learning how to live in the country you choose

Friday, June 13, 2008

Since I fell asleep on the couch, I'm not quite ready for bed

What do you think? Is this at all accurate?

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have high extroversion.

You are outgoing and engaging, with both strangers and friends.

You truly enjoy being with people and bring energy into any situation.

Enthusiastic and fun, you're the first to say "let's go!"


You have medium conscientiousness.

You're generally good at balancing work and play.

When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.

But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.


You have medium agreeableness.

You're generally a friendly and trusting person.

But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism.

You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.


You have low neuroticism.

You are very emotionally stable and mentally together.

Only the greatest setbacks upset you, and you bounce back quickly.

Overall, you are typically calm and relaxed - making others feel secure.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is high.

In life, you tend to be an early adopter of all new things and ideas.

You'll try almost anything interesting, and you're constantly pushing your own limits.

A great connoisseir of art and beauty, you can find the positive side of almost anything.


Yeah well you've heard it all before: a busy week on a busy desk. I appreciate the busy desks, because I like it when my brain is twisted into a pretzel, and it makes me appreciate the not-so-busy desks a little bit more. The EO I am covering this week is a flipping star. I told her branch manager today that sometimes after a week like this I praise God that I get to leave next week. I used to have a desk like this - no wonder I was a raving drunk, angry, bitter, swearing like a sailor (oh wait I still do that). I wonder how the heck this girl does it.

This particular branch I was in, in Beaverton, can be fun to work in, not just because of the people there - and I really like them all - but because working in Beaverton I tend to have conncections to most of the clients. Back in the day when I worked in the Raleigh Hills branch of Brand X, we used to play a game called "Six degrees of Joyce J". In the 2 1/2 minutes or so it took for me to take their ID, log it into my notary log, and have them sign that, I could discern just how I was connected to the customer. Then I would get up, walk out to the copy machine to photocopy the ID, and mention to the assistants "He was the DJ at my sister's wedding", or "She grew up the next block over". Great fun. Being at this Beaverton branch, I get a similar experience. This week I worked with the sister-in-law of a roommate of mine from LA in 1986, the mom of a guy I used to smoke dope with in high school, and, while monitoring the EO's email, saw a couple of emails from a kid that I had a crush on for about 3 days in the first grade. Yes, 1971.

I also hit my head on a cupboard pretty hard by the copy machine. It still hurts. About 4 years ago I was a bit concerned that I didn't know if I could survive another head injury (remember the drinking and bitterness? I fell down a lot back then). Turns out, I can, but, you know, it's anybody's guess as to how many more I will.

I came home every night just exhausted and actually fell asleep on the sofa twice this week, something I only do on weekends (and with great intention). I also slept all the way through to the alarm daily. Thursday morning we had a company-wide meeting at the MAC at 7am (again, I won no prizes. There was only one, an iPhone, and I am still genuinely shocked that I didn't win it), but we all met at the branch at 6:15am to carpool over (parking at the MAC can suck), so I got up extra early (which for most of you it appears I might have gotten up about the time you were going to bed). Actually the meeting was fun. I like those things. I like hanging out with the entire company. Some people don't. I don't get that.

Anywhooo, I just wanted to explain my MIA-ness. I didn't get hit by a bus, or jet off to some exotic land, or get arrested - I was just coming home, putting on my houseclothes, sitting on my sofa and staring off into space, trying to de-pretzel my brain.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hanging with the gente (again)

("again" because this is the title of a post from back in December 2005. Creative juices are forming a puddle in my brain)

So after the farmers' market and neighborhood stroll from yesterday I went home to a variety of things that could have been done but simply were not. This morning I slept way in (7am!) and was out the door by 10am (no it does not take me three hours to get ready. Good Lord. What must you think I look like first thing in the morning? On the weekends I like to read the entire internet and drink coffee-related beverages and basically dick around. This morning, however, I only had like 5 cigarettes left so my time was limited. Don't judge. I will be quitting again, truly, but for now, this is how it goes). I needed some groceries, wanted to tan, felt like driving since the sun is out. I DID get to tan, and since I am feeling financially stressed out, I thought I would save a few bucks and go to the Winco instead of the Fred Meyer.

The Winco is one of those "you-bag-it" discount supermarkets, usually not as sparkly clean and often stocked with items you haven't seen in years. They also have a huge Mexican food section, because, well, it's so much cheaper than other supermarkets and, um, well, there is a bigger demand for Mexican products there. Whenever I feel like hanging with the gente, I go to Winco. Today I felt like it.

I'm sure I saved money, but here's the thing: I go to the supermarket earlier on Saturdays so I can avoid crowds, but if I miss and have to go out and do ANYthing on a Sunday that might involve lots of people, I go during "church time". Barbie introduced me to church time once when one Sunday she convinced me to go to Washington Square. Okay, I have a rule: NEVER on a Sunday. Too flipping many people. But at church time, wow. Parking was a breeze, no lines, no meandering mothers with their strollers. Church time can be defined as anywhere from opening time (for the mall) up to about 10:30 or 11am. That's what time people are usually in church (just in case I lost some of you).

Turns out, there is no church time at the Winco. Mexico is like the most Catholic country on the planet, and yet none of these people were in church this morning. Perhaps they lose their faith crossing the border. Or maybe the Spanish-language mass is on Saturday night. I don't know. All I know is there were 4000 people in the Winco this morning and we all know how cranky that makes me.

The scenery was pretty good though. Lots of guapos and all manner of coy eye contact and half smiles. Problem with that, however, is when the inevitable wife shows up, looking haggard and much older than the husband. And, you know, shooting daggers at me and all that. I know, I know, all Mexican men are married, but this is the US - there's always the chance one of them is divorced. Oh well. It was something to do.

Here's another thing about me. I knew I probably should have used the bathroom when I left the house, but apparently I have not grown accustomed to my aging bladder. By the time I was standing in line at the Winco, I was starting to get a little nervous. By the time I got back to my parking garage, I was starting to do the little dance. By the time I got in the elevator, little beads of sweat popped out on my forehead. And by the time I got to the door, opened it up, said hi to the kits, tossed the grocery bags on the kitchen floor and raced into the bathroom, I found myself wondering, How does it know? How does my bladder know I am zeroing in on 15 feet from the toilet? How come it does not become THIS URGENT when I am in the car waiting at the light on Jenkins and Murray? I mean, why, EVERY TIME, does it become sheer panic inducing urgency just as my feet cross the threshold? Is it me? Is this just 42? It's crazy. I just don't remember having to go through this so regularly before.

Okay, so that's my Sunday. I allege I will go out again, maybe visit a sister or a friend or something, but the odds are good I will pick up a book and crash on the sofa. Happy Sunday in June to you all ~

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Market day

I met Marsha at her apartment this morning and we walked to the Beaverton Farmer's Market - first time for me this year. Beaverton's market is really the best around, it's pretty big and even Chelsea Clinton was here a few weeks ago. I'm always amazed that though I grew up here I rarely see anybody I know. We ran into one guy though, so it wasn't a total loss.

The BFM is the first place I ever tried Dave's Killer Bread (see my links) and true to tradition, I bought a loaf. I also got some soup, from the soup lady there, Souper Natural. Today's choice was lentil coconut, and it's really good. Really looking forward to that. Best soup on the planet, hands down. Marsha went the normal route and bought vegetables and stuff, but I'm not really as traditional as all that...

Not much going on, finished up a medium-busy week and am looking forward to a REALLY busy week ahead, the desk I am covering is generally nuts, so I imagine I will have much to rant about in the next few days. Stay tuned. I think you guys only really like me when I'm ranting. That's okay, I'll take what I can get.

So... um... yeah. That's pretty much all I've got. Marsha asked me today what my answer is when people ask what I've been doing. Like, when you see someone you haven't seen in a while and they go, So what've you been doing? My answer: Nothing. I don't do anything. Compared to what I had been doing the last few years, absolutely nothing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


That brother-in-law of mine, who knew he could write? Seriously, though, read this link - very thought-provoking stuff and a good place to start if you feel like you could use a lesson or two. In our ever-maddening worlds, it might help to change the way we react to and think about things.

Paul is maybe kinda smart...

So the fleet's in...

It's Rose Festival time again here in the City of Roses. Or Bridge City. Or whatever we call ourselves. Every year at this time, and really earlier, the Portland city high schools hold their Rose Festival Court nominations and choose a princess, and then at some point during the actual festival one of them is crowned queen. They get a plaque at the Rose Garden in Washington Park and get to ride in the big float and I'm not really sure what all else, but it's a tradition and I imagine a pretty big deal if you are a Portland high school teen.

The Fun Center opened last Thursday, a midway of all manner of rides and attractions at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I used to go every year, when I was younger. It was kind of fun, being from Beaverton and all, going downtown and seeing what crazy new fashion fad the girls from Oregon City were wearing each year: acid washed jeans with pleats in front, leg warmers, rope shoes. It was like going to the Copper Penny without actually having to cross a bridge. Anyone reading this who grew up in greater Portland around the same time as me will understand how incredibly mortifying all this is. Yeesh.

There are a ton of events during Rose Festival, including Fleet Week, where ships come in from (what used to be) all over, adding yet another attraction to the Fun Center - sailors from out of town. This is good fodder for the Oregon City gals: fresh meat for them, and it works out, since I imagine being stuck on a ship for months at a time means a sailor might not be so ... particular. It was fun for us SW suburbanite kids to watch the SE suburbanite kids toss their big hair over a shoulder and throw themselves at these unsuspecting (and quite drunk, usually) out of towners. Maybe I should put some perspective on this for those of you who aren't familiar with Portland demographics - Tanya Harding is from SE Portland. Over there, she's pretty normal. Get it?

Capping off the Festival is the Rose Parade. My brother and sister and I used to go watch it as kiddies down at my mom's place of employment, which was right on the parade route, and never really had to fight for a seat (we sat on top of the ambulances). I have fond memories of being wrapped in blankets and being thankful to be out of the pouring rain. Nowadays, it's a pretty big deal for people to fight for a good spot, "saving" spots for as far in advance as Memorial Day and pissing off other parade goers. Don't you love the fighting over what is supposed to be a festive event? This year the City of Portland intends to fine people who try to save a spot with anything, including duct tape, which seems to be big this year. Is it really THAT great of a parade?

For more information, go here. And if you live anywhere near Oregon City, better keep an eye on your teenage daughter.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A beach trip

So this weekend the kittens were trusted to stay home without a babysitter, and Marsha and I went to the beach. My company has a condo in Rockaway Beach and they give us the opportunity to rent it for a really good price.

It's almost timeshare-ish I think, or something, as there are some rules about laundry and cleaning and stuff like that, but it's not at all difficult to follow those rules, and the front desk folks are very nice and helpful and all that. Plus every unit is beach-front. We left Beaverton at about 6:15 or so, and pulled into the complex around 8 or 8:30. It was still light, check in took no time, and there we were, staring at the ocean. This is the view from the deck.
The condo has a hide-a-bed and a regular queen bed in the living area, a kitchenette situation, a separate bedroom with queen bed and two full bathrooms. I take crappy pictures no matter what the situation, so this is about the only usable picture in the bunch - it's the main living area. After dumping our stuff, we darted out to find a store to purchase some snacks and water and ... stuff. We found a little place, got some necessities, and found that they had a huge selection of all things "Mike's Hard": meaning just about anything made by the fine folks at Mike's Hard Lemonade. Pomegranate, cranberry, mojito, screwdriver, and lemon. (Stupidly) I convinced Marsha to put the beer back in the cooler and we bought instead the equivalent in bottles. Then we went to a bar and grill across the highway and had some food. After two beers with dinner, I was suddenly exhausted. It had been a long day.

I have to say I haven't been drinking that much lately, so it's almost as if I am out of practice (but really, who am I kidding?). Cracking open a bottle of one of the Hards and sitting on the deck staring at the dark sea was just making us more tired. Finally I suggested a drinking game, and Marsha suggested chandeliers. Try to remember we have no beer. Good gravy. After losing twice I could barely get this swill down. For a person who has suffered from "stomach issues" her whole life, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. We powered through the game though, only to find ourselves bloated and still not even THAT buzzed. It's like we didn't even know ourselves. I felt like a 15 year old drinking wine coolers. Yeesh.

The next morning I woke up around 5:30 I think and cleaned up the sticky disgusting wreckage and cleared away the bottles and lamented that we still had like six bottles left. Fine. Marsha got up around 8:30 (you know what, I don't even know anymore. I totally forget time right now so I am just throwing in random values), and we got dressed and went on a coffee mission. Here's my morning view off the balcony - it was cloudy this morning. We did finally find our coffee, then took a little drive north looking for breakfast I guess, but ended up at Oswald West State Park, and the trail to my favorite beach, Short Sands. I didn't have my camera of course because I thought we were just getting coffee, but we took the trail down to the beach there - it's about a 15 minute walk down through the woods with a stream and all that, there is camping in there and all that and it is just really bad ass. I love that place. When you get to the beach, there is a day camp area, and then you walk down some steps and over a ton of river rock to the actual beach. This is where tons of surfers do their thing. There were no waves this day, but plenty of surfers, and we hung out for a few minutes checking it all out, then made our way back up to the car. It was energizing and neato and I really have to remind myself to get back there more often.

The rest of Saturday was spent having breakfast at the Morning Glory Cafe - a very charming little place with awesome food, and then going back to the condo and "reading" - two pages in and I was napping. Napped and read and napped and read, and around 5:30 I took a shower and we went to dinner at a nicer restaurant south of us. Can't remember the name of it, but it was something piratey, and the view was awesome. So was the food. A little spendy for the beach, but who cares. That evening we rented "The Insider" (a movie that was good but for God's sake it was like three hours long) and went to bed around 1am. I slept in the living room both nights because if I am at the beach I have to hear the ocean. Have to.

Sunday morning we got up around 7am, and took a good walk on the beach (again, no camera). We had to check out at 11, so we went for more breakfast at Morning Glory, and then cleaned the condo and hit the road. We decided that you can't go to the central Oregon Coast and NOT go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, so we headed south to Tillamook and for the first time got there before the crowds. The Cheese Factory is the actual factory, and they have a little self guided tour and samples and bags and bags of squeaky cheese for sale that I always have to get, and then even though it was only 11:30 we had to have ice cream, so that was fun. I highly recommend it if any of you ever find yourself out this way.
Under two hours later we were back in Beaverton with dirty laundry and little kitties to attend to. They tried to give me the cold shoulder when I first got home, but it didn't last very long, and I am pretty much covered in fur now since they kind of won't leave me alone. But I think they enjoyed their independence.

I had a great weekend even though I left my book behind when I wasn't finished and now I don't know what happened at the end of Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas", so if any of you have read it, let me know. The beach here is only about 65 miles away and I don't know why I don't go more often. I think I might have to fit it in to my really busy schedule this summer...

Hope you enjoyed it!