Monday, July 28, 2008

the crisis

The dream:

I am in a parking garage and pressed for time.

Looking around I can’t find what I need, anywhere. I can hear the elevator gears grinding, but none of the doors will lead me to where I need to go.

I spy several young, good-looking attendants (hey, it’s my dream, ok?).

“Where’s the elevator? Which door should I choose?”

Moments later, nothing. Still no response from the weary, bleary-eyed men.

“Still waiting!”

I realize that one of the men is walking towards me. In fact, they all sit down at a long desk to observe. “An existential crisis, huh?” laughed the attendant. “Doors.”

“No!” I shouted with conviction. “Sometimes a door is just a door.”

“Do you have a problem with ambiguity?” he asked, furiously scribbling on a pad of paper.

“Well, no, I…. Well, I don’t like it. But I see its inevitability.”

I stepped through the door closest to me and leapt into nothingness.

~ Lately, I have the feeling that everyone I know is in therapy. And that they are all in agreement that I need to be therapy, too. Or on some kind of medication. If I choose to be screwed up and can live my life without causing harm to others, or harm to myself, isn’t that enough?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

one’s hot

I might have a tiny crush on my neighbor. I know, I know, but I just can’t help myself. I feel like every time I talk to him, I learn something so wholly unexpected, such a surprising new facet of his personality that it makes him, well, pretty irresistible: He can fix anything. He taught himself how to design websites. Plays the piano like a savant. Lives life respectfully in regards to the environment. Loves his family. Funny and a good listener. Modest about his many accomplishments and awfully sweet. And good looking? Oh, my. He is loaded with attractability.

But that’s part of the problem, dear readers. Help me out here; because I’m not sure about this, but I think he might be too good looking. At least for me.

A while back on the Today Show, they were talking about a funny topic- "One's hot, and one's not." They were, of course, referring to that mysterious couple you sometimes see together that has a, well, sort of imbalance in their collective appearance.

Today talked to a number of people with extraordinarily good-looking spouses and then did a man on the street poll, asking what people think when they see a couple with an inequity in good looks. The responses ranged from “he must have money” to “he needs someone to focus only on him” to “maybe he has a nice car.”

I don’t think those are fair assessments. After all, when it comes to the laws of attraction, who are we to sit in judgment over their kind of cute? "My kind of cute" is my way of defining that elusive secret of personal magnetism, that indefinable draw to someone I like. "That's chemistry, Lisa," my friend Jo has always told me. And maybe she's right. After all, what better way to describe that feeling than by using the laws of science?

For me, chemistry works something like this. The "right" kind of man says something to me. Something about his voice, the words he says (or how he says them) makes a bell go off in my head. I'm not kidding. It sounds like the end of round 1 at an Anselmo Moreno fight. Ding!

But it’s nothing that I can explain properly. Especially to my friends, who are always bewildered at my vast array of love interests, which have ranged from the hippie guy to the entrepreneur, to the artist, etc., etc. I don’t know how it works. It just does. But sometimes, what other people think about the one you’re with can be damaging- to you or to your partner.

I was at a bar with an ex-boyfriend, who left to make a phone call. The second he walked out of the room, some would-be lothario rushed over to talk to me. “Is that your boyfriend?” “Yes.” “No, really, you’re with him? Why?” This went on for a while, while I stealthily text-messaged my boyfriend, telling him to come back and rescue me. Later, I told him what the man said, only because he said he wanted every detail of the conversation, but it was still a mistake. Because the man’s words were very hurtful, and they cast a pall over the rest of the evening.

I haven’t ever bothered with online dating (I haven’t ever bothered with online dating yet) since I think that more than likely I will just be wasting someone’s time. Because either I will hear that bell, or I won't.

"That's just sex," says my friend Mark. "There's a lot more to a relationship than that." Well, I know that. And I know that for me, how someone looks isn’t a deal-breaker. But isn't basic chemistry between a man and a woman at least a starting point?

I could give you a list of what I like in the opposite sex, but it would be kind of useless, since it seems to go out the window whenever I meet someone who's my kind of cute. I have no idea how other people see me. Because it’s all so subjective- if I’m not their kind of cute, they probably won’t be interested.

And when it comes to trying to find a match, I worry about the really good looking guys. Frankly, dating someone who’s much better looking than me affects the balance of power in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t have to be the one that’s hot.

But I definitely don’t want to be the one who’s not.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oregon Country Fair: revisited

I’ve been writing about my great anticipation for the Oregon Country Fair for some time on the rose city journal and this weekend, it finally arrived. In days of yore, the fair was a much-anticipated event. And it was exciting to go back again, for the first time in years. As always, the fair is like two separate events: a daytime fair for the public, and a midnight show for friends of the fair.

Highlights of the post-sweep show included a naked woman who stepped out on stage to do a reverse strip and a burlesque show done by two women on trapezes. Highlights during the day included phenomenal falafel and plenty of people-watching. But like everything around us, the Oregon Country Fair has changed over time. Some visitors felt the changes were subtle but noticeable, and others (like me) felt they were huge, sweeping changes that manifestly changed the fair’s footprint.

With the rose city journal in mind, I had some very good, very involved conversations with vendors, volunteers and visitors who have been coming to the fair for many years. One attendee (a tax protester who only comes down from the mountain for the annual event) was at the very first Oregon Country Fair and has been back every year since.

A few things that I noticed about the country fair this year:

The fair has expanded a great deal, with a lot more space to walk around in. This is nice, but it also adds to the more commercial aspect that the fair has today. In addition to the current expansion, the fair’s management team continues to look for more new ground to break, in their efforts to continue to expand the fair.

There were a lot less people waving their freak flags at this year’s Oregon Country Fair. Sure, the strumpeting flamingos were there and the parade went by one time, but overall, well, it could have been a renaissance faire in Ohio for all of the freak-festing that didn’t go on. Having said that, I was wearing a t-shirt and Capri pants so I can hardly complain. There were some women, young and old, who were topless, but they were few and far between.

There’s some sort of tension between vendors and Oregon Country Fair volunteers. I don’t know if I completely understand the root cause, even though it was explained to me more than once. But it seems like there’s some kind of misunderstanding that’s gotten a bit out of hand. Which seems silly, but then I’m not in the middle of it. The fair could probably benefit by using some mediation or finding some champions on either side to come together and determine how they can work out their problems.

There was far less dust than in previous years. This was due in no small part to vendors, who used watering cans to keep their walkways dampened.

The Oregon Country Fair has become somewhat homogenized and more than a little bureaucratic, explained the tax protester. Yet, he also pointed out something important: where else could you have this big of a gathering, where nothing bad ever happens? And that’s true. I told him about the many Midwestern Oktoberfests I’ve attended, and how they often seemed to end in muggings or fights. He told me that’s because they are based on drinking beer, where the faire finds its roots in a more peace-seeking variety of herbs. He might be right.

The Oregon Country Fair has had to change and adapt to the world around it for a number of reasons. The local police and the farmers on surrounding land were fed up with the “dirty hippies” that the fair engendered, and demanded a change. Being asked if I had drugs or alcohol on me was one of many changes the fair has made to capitulate. Seeing two officers when I first drove in to the fairgrounds was another surprise.

For the Oregon Country Fair to continue to thrive, it has to remain reflective of the counterculture that still exists in Eugene. But for that to happen, the world would have to stop. I completed a survey, part of the Fair’s attempt to capture the vision that visitors have for the annual event. I’m hopeful that they’ll contact me and ask me for my opinion.

A last thought from the Merlin-like vendor who told me the most about his Oregon Country Fair experiences, 40 years ago and today:

“It’s like a hot tub. Get in there with your best friend and it’s seventh heaven, man. Get in there with two best friends and it’s ninth heaven. Let everybody in and it starts to stink.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The Oregon Country Fair
July 10-12, 2009

Thursday, July 10, 2008

reality check

Visiting the coast this weekend included spending time with my aunt and uncle, an eclectic couple of intellectuals who hail from a small town in Eastern Oregon. Over the years, their activism has brought them to places like Central America and to points beyond. In between protesting the war, doing social work and standing up to evil corporations, my uncle occasionally publishes poetry and in fact, just won a prestigious poetry award.

My uncle owned a small newspaper that was financed, like many small papers, by ads from local merchants. It only took publishing one anti-war column and the ads were summarily pulled, and the newspaper folded. Conversation with him is always lively, to say the least. And this time, we got to talking about basic needs.

In addition to their other projects, my aunt and uncle have done a good amount of good works with inmates. The prisoners’ needs are simple, my uncle explained, and similar to the Franklin Reality Model. The model is based on the four categories of needs that all people have and was first identified by Dr. Murray Banks.

The Franklin Reality Model assumes that all people have four basic needs:

  • To live
  • To have a sense of love and to be loved
  • To experience the world around them
  • To have a sense of self

People then judge what happens to them and react based on their own belief system. What happens around them or to them will then strengthen their beliefs and justify their subsequent actions or, they will discard information that doesn’t support their belief system. But once they’ve processed information, they act accordingly. For many prisoners, the sense of survival is a strong base need and often related to what landed them in jail in the first place.

For the rest of us, it’s how we react to everyday situations we’re faced with that might be the only thing that really differentiates us from people in jail. In addition, an underlying sense that our basic needs have been met, that knowledge that we are loved and our strong sense of self, may be what saves us. For example, being gainfully employed will preclude robbing banks and shooting someone in the course of a robbery attempt. An innate sense of the wrongness of murder might also prevent someone from killing someone else during an argument.

But if you didn’t have that filter, that bit of a belief system that reminded you about right and wrong, where would you, where would any of us be? ~

Editor's note:

I told a friend that I was writing about the four basic needs of people and he immediately responded with his four basic needs: “pork, cheese, make out sessions and road trips.”

Switch pork with “beer” and I think he might be on to something.

my apologies

dear readers,

I am so heartily sorry for not posting anything new to the rose city journal this week. I've been running back and forth from Portland to Waldport to Corvallis and I've backslid terribly. I value your readership and I promise, I'll get back on track right away. Trust me, all this time with family has netted me plenty of writing material. Upcoming blog posts include rest area Dungeness crab giveaways, a sun worshipper's diary and thoughts on the Franklin Reality Model.

I have lots of new posts for you and I will get something up on the rose city journal soon, sooner and soonest. In the meantime, please admire this photo off the dock in Newport, taken with my crackberry.



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

oregon craft beer month

I've always been a bit of a "beer snob," according to my friend Anna. Yup, it's probably true. I'll take a Rogue Dead Guy, a Skinny Dip or a Full Sail Ale over a non-microbrewery beer any day of the week. And since I've moved to Oregon, I've already found several new favorites, including Laurelwood Free Range Red and Drop Top Amber Ale. I practically dropped to my knees when I saw the microbrew selection at Fred Meyer on Barbur. Instead, I just stood there in awe until the distributor stocking one of the shelves laughed and said, "impressive, huh?"

The Oregon Craft Beer Month celebrates beer snobs by giving them more than 100 special events at Oregon breweries throughout the month of July. In addition, grocery stores everywhere will be getting in on the fun by providing beer tastings.

Learn more about Oregon Craft Beer Month events in your area at the Oregon Brewers Guild.

the punk years: jockey club remembered

A story that I wrote for you all will be published this fall in Stories for Shorty: A Collection of Recollections from the Jockey Club. The book is about the now-legendary, now-defunct punk nightclub that featured bands like Bauhaus, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks and The Ramones.

The Jockey Club has become somewhat mythological in the years since the bar closed. There were really only a few punk clubs in the U.S. worth going to at the time, and absolutely none in the central states, save Northern Kentucky. The Jockey Club was an excellent venue to watch a band and it was just always a lot of fun.

If you're a Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky reader of the Rose City Journal and you have stories about the Jockey Club, photos or art that you'd like to submit for the book, contact the publisher, Aurore Press.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

the fix-up

I was chatting with my friend Mark when he suddenly exclaimed, “Hey! I’ve got an attorney friend that I’d like to fix you up with.” Oh, God.

My emotions, as usual, must have been all over my face because I quickly received an uptight “What?! You’re too good to be fixed up?” No, Mark, I patiently explained. I am not “too good” for blind dates. But here’s the thing. If you want to fix me up with someone because he has that sarcastic sense of humor that I love, he’s interesting, smart and just seems like a person that I would be interested in, that’s great. I’d love to go.

But if you’re fixing me up with someone because he’s single and I’m single, well. You can just forget it.

There’s nothing worse than the fix-up. And I don't mean where you keep thinking two people might be a good match for each other so you make a suggestion. That’s great. I appreciate it. But the whole “let’s push these two lonely people together because they have nothing better to do” is just not happening. At least not for me.

I've never believed in dating just for the sake of dating. Honestly? I’d rather watch my DVD of The Big Lebowski for the gazillionth time than waste my time in an awkward situation, with someone I’m not interested in. why bother?

True story: Sometime during my senior year of high school or thereabouts, I was fixed up on a blind date by my friend Mel. He was nice. I liked him. But he wasn’t at all my type and I could tell, I wasn’t his type either. A day or two later I am on the phone with one my friends.

“So what did you think of him?”

“Well, he’s nice, but not my type.”

“Ah, too bad.”

“But I’ll tell you something. I think you would really like him.”

“What?! Are you kidding?”

“No. I just have this feeling that you two would really hit it off.”

They went out. Got married. And actually, they’re among the few people I know who stayed married.

How ‘bout that?