Saturday, July 29, 2006

Simple exercise is a natural anti-depressant I’ve been told. Though I haven’t been able to make that scientific connection yet, I walk. If nothing else, it’s good for the legs. Pants are looser. The elevator is/was/is broken and I was slightly relieved I had to take the stairs. Forced to burn calories. Because, face it: if it’s working, I’m taking it. Upstairs, even downstairs. I am that lazy. Or passive.

Big Saturday (apparently Sunday as well) Market going on under the bridge today--the place Keith and I said we would use to decorate our place if we ever moved here. We’re still mulling over Paint Colors. (Since we signed a one-yr lease, we get to paint.) So far we have pretty much narrowed down the kitchen to That Fiesta Ware Blue Color. But there’s other ideas including large stencils/drawings, Rasterbator art. Maybe we can incorporate all of them. Better not wait too long or it won’t dry until next May. I have to say, right now, I am looking forward to the rain.

Time to read. Reading: The Cameraman by Bill Gaston. Very good.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oregonians We Are

Sunday morning we were all set to move in to our new apartment in NW Portland. I found a pretty great apartment in a great location near public transportation and near a dog park for a decent price and they allow dogs. Check check check check and check. Here’s a shot of the living room on Our First Day:

After staying in hotels for a week and hearing the sound of our bank account slowly being drained competing with the sound of hi-cool A/C, we had a place to live. Portland was in the middle of a heat wave, temperatures over 100° during the day and not dropping much below 80° at night. Lazlo didn’t understand why we were watching a lot of TV in the hotel room and not outside chasing tree-kitties (a new code word for squirrels).

Sunday morning we repacked the Jeep for the last time, tied the painting and the ironing board on top and headed to the dog park near our new apartment to wait until noon to meet the apt. manager.

At 11:30 she called and said they were in Seaside and could we meet them at 5:00 instead. Oh sure, heat wave and all, we’d love to spend 5 more hours outside with our dog waiting for you. (Luckily our friend Amber was home and gracious enough to let us come visit her for a few hours.)

Sunday evening we moved in. The heat was indescribable, but I will attempt: I felt like I was on a tropical vacation. Only with the sound of traffic. We’d brought a tiny incompetent oscillating fan with us and the heat was mocking it. Keith and I both easily lost 5 lbs that night sweating. And poor Lazlo was panting all night, giving us the illusion of a Magic Fingers® bed. All over the radio they were saying every store was completely sold out of fans and air conditioners, don't even try. Here we were on a Sunday night/Monday morning, coming a little late to the heat wave preparation game, but hoping against all odds to find something to make it bearable to sleep without resorting to sleeping in a bathtub filled with ice cubes.

Monday morning, pre-6a.m. I woke up to the sound of:

The hazards of living near a construction site. Ugh. Oh well, it’s pleasantly cool at that time of day and I wasn’t sleeping for more than 30 minutes at a time anyway. Time to get up.

After some research on the laptop courtesy of our local coffee shop on the bottom floor of our building, we were lucky enough to buy one of three air conditioners left in the city. We spent a couple of hours putting it in the bedroom window, put up curtains and pulled the shades and waited for sweet cool air. It didn’t take long for Lazlo to get the idea. Last night was a great night of sleep. Keith even chastised me for covering up with a blanket.

We justified the cost, and the idea that we were going against our new motto of Live Simply, by saying that there is no way we could leave Lazlo alone in our apartment on the 4th floor during any kind of heat once I go to work in a couple weeks. The poor little guy was experiencing heat exhaustion from one night and didn’t eat and barely drank the whole next day. So we are good pet parents, and I admit I love sleeping without constantly turning over to expose new sweat to the breeze of the fan. Nature’s cooling mechanism works OK, but A/C works great.

We made a trip to the library, which was like Mecca to me. Three giant floors of so many books. I checked out six and helped Keith find a couple. Also, learned how to operate the self-checkout! City living!

Today Keith went back to work and I walked to the DMV to get an Oregon registration and a driver’s license. After a few tense moments, I passed the “written”/computerized exam and had my very own appallingly bad driver’s license photo on file with the state of Oregon. “Register to vote?” Yes. “Be listed as an organ donor?” Yes. Then I walked to get a parking permit for the Jeep, ate lunch, took Lazlo for a walk, walked to Goodwill for a lamp and a trashcan, came back to the apartment and read, took a nap, and now I’m downstairs using wifi. I have no idea what I will do for the next few weeks until my job starts. Read a lot, take a lot of walks with Lazlo. But I am so glad to live somewhere where most things I need to do are within walking distance. Even the DMV, a good 20 or 30 blocks from here, was not a bad walk. And I got to know Portland a little better. My legs and feet are sore and that’s, as Martha Stewart would say because you know how I love to quote Martha, a Good Thing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We have arrived.

Rolled into Portland this afternoon. Uneventful trip. Almost got cried on this morning leaving mom and dad's. It's going to be lonely without them. Spending time with them was a great gift for us. Although we're looking forward to being just a family of 3 again, it was hard to leave this morning.

Columbia River

Took Lazlo to a dog park this afternoon and he played with a cute little girl cow dog for a bit. It was warm and sunny but cooler than it has been in ID. We've decided that living within walking distance of a dog park is our #1 criteria for a dwelling unit. Let's hope we find one quick.

Keith's meeting his potential employer at 11 tomorrow. I don't know what I'll do....walk Lazlo and take photos, I guess. Call on some apts. Etc. Internets. Etc.

Okay, nite nite. More updates as they develop.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Clean up in storage unit #220

We spent today paring down items to Must-Haves for the big move to Portland. Uncharacteristically (of me anyway), we are keeping it realisitc, space-wise. We have it narrowed down to a dozen or so boxes, our box painting, and our clothes and bedding.

Who Paints Boxes? by Country Neal
(premier archetype of the Blankenships)

Finding an apartment is nerve-wracking. I can look all I want to from here, but until we get there and can go look at places, we're in Apt Limbo. I've been scouring craigslist and getting crushes on studios with hardwood floors. Apartments downtown are preferable to any "wooded complex with a pool" (ugh, could it be less desirable to live in a 45-unit apt complex off the interstate?), so we have to stay close to the MAX, or any form of the Tri-Met.

Now if I could only find a job. Craigslist is a great idea, in theory. But the jobs section has been dry lately. There's tons of postings for Keith's line of work, but I'm coming up largely empty handed. I did apply for an Americorps position I'd love to get, but they aren't hiring until the end of the month and I don't know if I want to wait for it. I may not have a choice!

Also, let's just say, on the topic of housing again, that any person answering the phone on the other end of my apartment query who starts to say, "But we do have breed restrictions," gets a "Well, we refuse to rent anywhere that has breed restrictions," and the dial tone in their ear. I mean, if you were a responsible landlord/agency you would interview all pets and weed them out that way. Assuming that a dog is a risk just because of its breed is ignorant. I've met plenty of nasty dogs that are not pit bulls, rotties, pinschers, or chows. So stop your doggy racial profiling, okay.

Sunday, July 2, 2006


Venting frustration in dealing with people and situations that are beyond my control has become an urge I can no longer repress under certain circumstances, like a lot. I seem to have lost (or at least reduced) my ability to pretend away some of my feelings and they rise to the surface too quickly for me to stomp them down and before I know it they are released into the atmosphere. The resulting impact (what goes up must come down) on other people and objects around me is largely inconsequential.

Scene 1: Standing in line at the Boise Greyhound bus depot at 6:30am, hoping to be allowed to grace the steps of the bus we want to ride on for the next 22+ hours after having missed the first one the night before due to no fault of our own and all fault of Greyhound's inability to follow a fucking schedule. Random scrawny gakked out teenager with no baggage, nothing but a striped rugby shirt size 42 shorts and giant puffy white shoes, turns to me as if I have the capacity to take on any more suffering than my own at this point, and starts a conversation about his troubles, "driving from Texas..." He leaves the ending open and this is where I am supposed to show interest or at least acknowledgment and therefore he feels sufficiently provoked to unravel the rest of the mystery of How He Became a Greyhound Passenger. Dashing his dreams of having a conversation with an irritated stranger, I look to my left, at the bank of empty pay phones and pretend to have not heard him. He starts and sputters again, and I continue to pretend I am in the Cone of Silence. He gives up and turns away. Victory is mine, small but sweet. However, not 10 minutes later a crazy bag lady type comes up to me and starts the same schtick. People, where has my compassion gone? I think the ticket agent who said he hoped he could find room for us on the bus the morning after we spent $50 we don't have on a dank motel room in downtown Boise shat it out after his morning coffee.

nasty Boise Greyhound bus depot restroom

Scene 2: After being sardined on a bus for 22+ hours and listening to asnine How To Grow Dope stories from 17 year old punks, trying to sleep in that Tilt Back Head way that gives you knots in your neck and a splitting migraine, being forced to breathe air that's been sneeze attacked by the crotchety old hag who insists on having the Other Front Seat even though my husband's legs are obviously cramping in atrophy for having been confined like a veal calf in a crate for the past day and all he wants is a seat to himself to stretch out said legs, being forced to huff B.O. from an ethnic variety of fellow Greyhounders (lemons and trash combo, I think Keith said about one woman), we finally arrive at our destination hotel at a little after midnight. Reservations have been secured more than a week ago by our very thoughtful uncle and aunt (who are also giving us a Jeep which we are picking up on this trip and which is the reason for riding the bus since we don't want to drive back home in separate cars). Roly poly front desk girl, "Elizabeth" claims there is no credit card authorization on file and therefore we are suspect, and retarded to boot. After shuffling papers for a while, she determines she can let us stay the night if only we call my aunt in the morning and have the requesite information faxed over blah blah blah. I say, in my best I'm Restraining Myself From Murder Right Now Only Because It Would Be A Hassle voice, that No, it is her job, the front desk person's job to secure billing information to which she replies that I am full of shit. I concede the fact that I am too weary for battle and I will willingly follow her every command, no matter how condescendingly delivered. She appears satisfied with this power gain and gives us our room keys. All this transpires while the "manager," a small Indian (dot) looking fellow in a t-shirt, mesh shorts, and flip flops observes his incompetent cow of an employee giving us the Shaft of Rude. I see. After being assured by my aunt the next day that front desk personnel have been read the Riot Act regarding their lack of service and overflowing ineptitude, we return the following night just as Elizabeth is beginning her shift. Our keys need to be activiated for tonight, since she was holding the next night ransom to ensure we called to get the credit card authorization. I tell her it has been taken care of, she shuffles papers, I call her incompetent, say the whole place is a joke, etc etc. She gives us newly authorized keys, at which point Keith reminds me to ask for towels because housekeeping failed to visit our room even though the nice shiny plastic door tag was begging them to do so. She says she will notify the head housekeeper; I say, "I bet." She shuffles off to get towels and says, "I'm trying my best, ma'am." Oh seriously, Condi Sending? You should be ashamed. You should be scooping poop at the local kennel if this is your Best. (The worst part of the whole thing was the shower----we've had better showers in Mexican dive hotels. My only regret is that the scalding water [alternating with freezing] didn't do any lasting damage for which I could have been monetarily compensated.)
gracious BBQ hosts and givers of Jeep

So, leaving out all of the other hiccups that happened on the way home, we arrive back in Kamiah this afternoon to see a very lonesome doggy and my seemingly lonesome parents, too. Mail is now being forwarded here (another anger story involving me, yelling, and the mail lady) and I find among bills and misc. catalogs my newest issue of Sun Magazine. It's routinely filled with bits of humanity and enlightenment that I tuck away into my soul and I found several in this month's issue. Here are two---

BoH&E1: ...the attention we pay to particular outcomes in life, be they good or bad, should be mininal. Fortune will change like the weather: Now you have fallen ill. Now your illness has been cured. Now you have gone broke. Now you have inherited a stash of money...Relinquish attachment to outcomes, Krishna advises; be equally indifferent to success and failure. The real value of what happens "out there" in the ever-changing world (and, from Krishna's perspective, "out there" includes your own body) lies in the opportunity to see anew from "in here"--from the perspective of the eternal soul. (Jim Ralston)

BoH&E2: (regarding forgiveness and the Christian prayer for forgiving those who trespass against us---although I am not a Christian or any religion for that matter) ...Nowhere do I see the notion that forgiveness is a good idea only if the offenders understand the gravity of their harm; if they acknowledge their role; if they promise to act differently in the future; if they are sorry enough. (Beth Mayer)

These snipets of my life and the gleanings of Sun Magazine are converging near a conversation I've been having with my therapistcounselor (of which I will spare you the details) but it all boils down to not apologizing for how I feel regardless of others' reactions to said feelings, owning up to what I want for myself, but at the same time realizing that my interpretation of a situation is not necessarily the interpretation or even intention of other actors involved, and that I need to Stop Living in the Past. This last item is hardest to accomplish, especially when your brain seems to have been equipped with a super 8 that records meaningless and traumatizing events alike and then runs them on loop incessantly until replaced by newer data. But, Be Here Now is a good motto and a good starting point and I will try to practice it more effectively. Amen.