Thursday, October 30, 2008

portland election night parties

I'll be attending a partie privée on election night but for the rest of you jokers, culturemob has a list of election night parties that will be taking place next Tuesday in and around the Portland area.

the celebration

I wandered into the house after work one day and to my delight, found my ex-boyfriend hard at work in the kitchen. I do so love it when people cook for me. In addition to the lovely smells emanating from the stove, chocolate-dipped strawberries, wine and flowers adorned the table and a crackling fire lit up the hearth.

“What’s the occasion,” I squealed, expecting to hear “I just love having you in my life” or maybe “you’re an amazing person.” What I wasn’t in any way prepared for was this:

“It’s our six-month anniversary! Did you forget?” This was said with more than a little shock and of course, an accompanying wounded look.

Aw, jeez. Another made-up holiday that I’m supposed to plan for with all of the pomp and ceremony dedicated to Christmas, a real holiday that I actually do celebrate.

I don’t mean to be unsentimental. But between half-year anniversaries, monthly anniversaries, Sweetest Day and the 1001 other made-up holidays that we’re forced to not just recognize but actually celebrate when we’re in a relationship, I’m just… not that into it.

I think it’s all really silly. Kind of a waste of time, really.

And it’s not that my family didn’t celebrate holidays and special events when I was growing up. Birthdays, Christmas, Graduations, end of summer block parties- we always had plenty of excuses for celebration. With one or two memorable exceptions.

One time, my parents were off on one of their trips and left me in the care of “the boys.” My older brothers managed to feed me and clothe me but fell sadly short in one essential area. I woke up on Easter eager to open my bedroom door, the place where the Easter Bunny always thrilled me with a basket of candy and toys.

The hallway outside my bedroom door was empty. Hmm, I thought. He’s gotten wilier this year. I trundled off to the living room, looking behind furniture, a popular hiding place for extra special gifts on Christmas Morning. Still nothing.

I quickly did a scan of the house, and then moved into the backyard to continue my search. Nothing. I asked my brothers if they had seen my basket, worried that one of them had stolen my precious booty. Puzzled, they looked at me as if I was speaking some new foreign language. Then the phone rang and my mom asked to say hi to me, presumably to see if I was still alive after some days in my brothers’ care.

“Mom,” I said crying. “The Easter Bunny didn’t leave me a basket this year!”

“Put. Your. Brother. On. The. Phone. Now.”

The mumbled no’s, I didn’t know, does she really? and uh, okays emanating from my brother told the full story: The Easter Bunny needed a helper to get the basket outside my door. Because he’s so busy, you see. That’s what I believed until my brother got off the phone and looked at me curiously. “Lisa… You still believe in the Easter Bunny?”

Not anymore I don’t.

On the night of the big six-month to-do, I quickly shot into my boyfriend’s living room and clawed through my handbag, desperately searching for something that could be considered a gift. The purse probe resulted in a car wash gift certificate (about to expire), some gum (Because I love your sweet kisses?) and something that looked suspiciously like a napkin with someone else’s phone number.

Someone, whom I’m sure, doesn’t celebrate three-week, six-week or two-month anniversaries. Sighing, I walked back into the kitchen.

“You’ll get your gift later tonight, honey.” Whistling and smiling, he dropped a kiss on my forehead and turned back to the stove.

Monday, October 27, 2008

cell phone service in portland

It looks like cincinnati bell wireless is going to pull the plug on my mobile phone. I've been looking at portland cell phone service options and they all seem pretty much the same, price-wise. And they all require contracts, which I'm not crazy about.

Before I sign my life away for two years can you tell me, if you live in portland, who do you use for cell phone service? Like them? Hate them? I'm most interested in coverage / service availability for using my mobile phone in Portland and while outside of the area.

e.g., when I drive three hours down to the coast to see my folks, can I still conduct business on my blackberry? Or will I be out of luck?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

blog crush: cobalt blue

My blog has a crush on cobalt blue. From the gory details of signing up at a temp agency to remembrances of sweet growing-up years in Texas, the San Francisco-based blog splashes life across the screen- and it ain’t always pretty. But it is always energetic and it’s very often great fun.

You’ve gotta love a blog that moves from flat-out bad boy behavior (presidential contender's policy choices from a dirty frat brother’s POV) to dreamy quotes like this: “Green fireflies glowing in the distance and a cigarette ash blinking right back at them.”

Blog crush: Cobalt Blue
Rated: Sexy, Smart and Funny as Hell.

Monday, October 20, 2008

the triumph

so today, I was goofing around downtown, getting my passport (are you reading, lynn?) and I quickstepped over to macy's (just to check on things) and bada-bing, bada-boom, someone asked me where something was and I knew the answer! (imagine cymbals crashing)

I was very blase about it all but couldn't stop grinning at the guy, who smiled back in obvious recognition of my all-knowingness.

could I be more of a geek?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

black box

The old black box tells a million tales.

Ticket stubs, from concerts long ago forgotten. Yellowed photos of a young girl in a long dress. A diamante crown leftover from some unknown celebration. Pennies flattened by trains. Dried corsages, old but firm, bedecked with pink satin ribbons.

And letters. Everywhere. There are letters.

Ruled white paper, torn from a notebook and filled with blue ink. I don’t have to read the letters to know what they say. I pick one up, and like a flash! I remember. That big old car. Windshield wipers swishing in the rain, a farmer’s rain, a real soft soaker. We left the windows open and the car was turned off but for some reason, the windshield wipers were still on. You forgot about them, or maybe you just liked the rhythmic, thwap-thwap sound they made. The stereo softly playing some song I thought I’d never forget, but after a while I couldn’t hear it, couldn’t hear anything but that thwap-thwapping sound.

And I remember smelling that heady scent, that wicked-rhododendron sweet smell, and laughing softly at the flowers you put on the mirrors, the dashboard, on the floor of the car and in my hair. Our Secret Garden.

Sometimes I still read your old letters. Are you somewhere reading mine?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

the pitch

So a couple of unrelated events happened in the last 24 that got me thinking:

I am at home last night minding my own business (working, actually) when a guy from Environment Oregon stopped by. Barely taking a breath (I watched for it but never saw one) he proceeded to natter on about the environment and then he.pushed.his clipboard.over the threshold.and into my face.and waved it around. I told him I wasn’t interested and still, he kept wiggling his list of signatures in my face.

I appreciate the fact that he’s on commission (those signatures seemed almost a matter of life and death), but come on… That was a little much. I very much contemplated taking the clipboard, locking the door and calling his employer, but instead repeated that I wasn’t interested and firmly shut the door. A shame, because I actually thought Environment Oregon was fairly reputable. Apparently, I was wrong.

Today, I went for a deep tissue massage (hey-hey) and to see the chiro and while I was waiting, had a funny conversation with the receptionist. That crazy girl admitted that she looks in everyone’s grocery cart at the store to see what they are buying. That struck me as really funny, and we laughed when I told her if I ever saw her anywhere around New Seasons that she was to just walk away immediately, ha.

In the middle of our conversation, a couple of sales reps from Quill Office Supplies came in. Without apologizing for the interruption or asking if it was a good time to talk, they disrupted our chat to move in on the receptionist and to give her their pitch. We talked about the Quill sales reps after I came back from my appointment (they’d stayed for a while and she was aggravated by their strong sales pitch) and I told her she was too polite. She said she didn’t know what to do to avoid those situations so I pointed her to Staples to buy a “no solicitors, ever” sign for their door.

And how many people have YOU heard complaining about the Greenpeace kids who hang out in downtown Portland? The receptionist started talking about the downtown Greenpeace folks and their aggressive behavior this morning, but lately I hear complaints about them from everyone. And I am all for Greenpeace, trust; but when I’m in downtown Portland I’m always going somewhere and I don’t have time to talk. I, like many other people, will and have actually crossed a street to avoid the Greenpeace cadre that lurks outside Chinatown like an eco-friendly gang of tweakers.

I know of many, many people who made sales their lifetime work. It’s often an honest and perfectly acceptable way to make a living. But there’s a fine line between salesmanship and aggressive, annoying behavior. For me, that line was crossed not once but twice in the last day by Environment Oregon and Quill Office Supplies.

I am v. open to your suggestions for best ways to handle overly aggressive or rude salespeople, readers. So far, my no thank you’s and my more abrupt I’m not interested's just don’t seem to be doing the job.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the interview II*

One part of the online dating process that strikes me as really, really strange is what can only be termed… the interview.

When you date people online, you’re supposed to have Some Goals in mind. Have an Idea of What You Want. So when you are emailing before you meet, talking on the phone or on that interminable first date, you can make sure that you’ve found someone who is Very Compatible with What You Want and Need out of A Relationship.

But when it comes to asking extremely personal questions of people that I hardly know, I have to admit that sometimes it feels suspiciously like…. A job interview.

“So Dylan… I see here that your last relationship failed miserably after only six months. Can you tell me a little bit about what went so horribly wrong?”

“Have you thought about having children, Mark? When?!”

“Can you list some of your areas of experience? And maybe, uh, tell me a little more about your specific areas of expertise?”

Going right along with the job interview and asking all of the personal questions, I’ve started to wonder about checking references, too. I’d call ex-girlfriends, sisters, moms and friends to learn more about a potential suitor. Questions to ask might include:

“So tell me, Mrs. Bradshaw. Has your son had very many girlfriends?”

“Sarah, when you dated Jeffrey, did he do that thing with his hands? Or is that new?”

When it comes right down to it, online dating is exactly the same as regular dating. The wrong ones text and call you all the time. The right one disappears into thin air about ten minutes after you have your date. I guess it’s all a waiting game, no matter how you meet.

So far, I’m still waiting.

*Not to be mistaken with the interview, a wholly different type of awkward moment for single women.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the void

A friend of mine emailed me from Vegas and was telling me how unfortunate it was, watching the tourists cavort on the strip. Drunk and stupid and littering the streets. He said it reminded him of that spot by voodoo doughnuts where people congregate and whoop it up after the clubs close. Oblivious, I think he called them. I told him this:

Sometimes when I see people like you describe, I hate them. Not because they are oblivious. Because they’re really phony.

I like to drink. Beer, or sometimes a small batch bourbon. But I don’t whoop in the street, throw up on the curb or cry with abandon under the streetlight. Well, I probably do all of those things, but I do them in my home.

And I have never before lived in place where people got tattoos just to get them.

When I lived in the Midwest, people got tattoos because they meant something. To remember a beloved parent. Commemorate a lost brother. Celebrate the birth of a child. Here, a hallmark of the creative class is getting tattoos just because they’re pretty. An act of defiance as meaningful as working in a coffee shop and telling people that you’re an artist.

In forty years, will they be wiping the crumbs from the counter of the nursing home when someone notices their demarcation? And will they say: I worked in a coffee shop? Or will they say: I was an artist? Will they still believe it? Or will the inaction have finally sunk in?

I love humanity. I just hate people.

I think Linus said that.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

the elimination

So dear readers, I wrote about the craigslist experiment a couple of weeks ago and I’ve barely had time to catch my breath since. I still have lots to tell you but for now, I want to write about the elimination process; to share my experience in case you’re thinking about putting up your own personal ad.

The sorting process for the responses to the ad has been interesting. Because how do you choose? And you have to start the selection process pretty quickly if you plan to a. keep working b. have any sort of life outside of checking email and 3. ever go out on any dates.

Here’s a little about how I (tried to) pare down the responses:

Men who sent me an email saying, you didn't say what you're looking for, were deleted. I did say what I was looking for. But I talked about common interests, qualities I like and values instead of height or age or whatever. For the people who didn't "get it," I didn't feel like explaining it to them.

Men who responded and sent me their own personal ad or a link to MySpace, Facebook, etc. Deleted. Not that this was such a bad thing to do, though as Annie and my sis pointed out, they didn’t put any thought into it. I deleted them because when I read the email that was clearly their personal ad (“I like walks on the beach, butterflies and poetry”) or read their online ad or profile, I didn’t see why they were contacting me. I didn’t feel it.

Men who didn’t send a photo were deleted. I asked for a photo and my thinking was, for all of the people who didn’t send one, many people did, often saying, this is a terrible photo of me. But they still sent one. It seemed only fair to delete the rest of them. Also, and this is important, because everyone on craigslist personals complains about spammers, I think that many of the people who responded without a photo were spammers. Clever spammers who said they wanted to see if I was a scam before they sent a photo. I just have a feeling about it.

Men who quite obviously didn’t read my ad at all or only honed in on one aspect of it, one line, etc. Deleted.

Some people were from out of state. I deleted them just for expediency's sake. I understand, there’s a romantic aspect to dating someone who is far away. But there’s also a “you're far away and I bet you can save me and also you don’t know about all of my flaws” aspect to it that I didn’t like. Deleted.

Some were from out of state and said they frequently travelled to Portland. Those were suspect and deleted. Some were just a one liner and some included photos of half-naked men. Deleted. Deleted.

The people who responded apparently just to tell me we had nothing in common. Quotes from the bible, and others who were offended by something that I wrote. Deleted, deleted, deleted.

Spammers that were clearly spammers, “Hey I like you you look good hit me up” there were only a blessed few and they were deleted.

The hard part came in reading the rest of the responses. And then I just worked off instinct. Dear readers, it's been really hard. Everyone seems nice, funny, interesting and attractive. How do I know who I am going to have chemistry with?

I’ve been on a few dates. Have been trying to set up a few more. Tricky because of my travel, their travel, but I’m trying to take a Taoist approach to dating: whatever happens, will happen.

And the dates I have been on have been nice. Really interesting, dynamic, nice people. I can’t tell you too much about them, because it’s none of your business. That’s private. But I will say, I’m still feeling good about the experience.

~ More later.