I’m convinced that there must be some combination of beer, coffee, sleep, environmental stimulus, angst, and sex drive that is optimal for the blogger. As I write this I have some (ed: or all?) of the above in varying quantities, most notably “environmental stimulus” – I’m sitting in the coffee shop at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, maybe the largest bookstore in the nation/world/universe. You could get lost in here, and I’ll bet many people do. In an earthquake, you could quite literally drown in romance or erotica or Persian-studies anthologies.
Earlier this evening, I drank beer at a hipster place up the street, where the big event was the bartender’s announcement that “she’s no longer homeless!”. A nice young man from South Carolina – or Gresham – tried to sell me a homemade CD of his guitar music, and when I demurred, changed tactics and offered to sell me drugs. I am currently in the cafe in Powell’s drinking my signature cappuccino. I had a nap.
As for the rest of the list of optimal blogging inputs, let’s leave something as an interpretive exercise for the reader.
As I was drinking my beer, I leafed through Portland’s equivalent to the Stranger, called The Mercury, and it was nearly the same in every regard – but, surprisingly, it was a little nicer, a little cleaner cut. Whether that’s the result of Dan Savage’s blunt, cover-the-children’s-eyes brand of erotica, or whether the Seattle crew has a bigger drinking problem, or whether the Portland advertising purchasers are more family-friendly, like Sesame Street viewers, I didn’t feel like i had to wash my hands (or eyes) after reading the Mercury. In fact, if there was a single reference to “penis” in the entire magazine I’d be surprised.
Portland has been busy and fun. I arrived Monday after a relaxing, dull-the-senses train ride, exactly what I needed after a couple weeks of anxiety and turbulence surrounding my big announcement that I was leaving my previous job and moving on. The cascade of untapped emotion that came along with that decision, and the series of inevitably sweet-sad goodbyes with coworkers whom I know and love, has slowed to a trickle. I’m still convinced it was the right decision, for me personally, and that moving on will open up new vistas. However, part of me will still clutch to the past, as ridiculous as that is, and I’ll have to be aware to open up and seize new opportunities as they arise.
I had a nice time catching up with a friend Monday over drinks and food at a cool little place downtown. Tuesday was a U.S. Open Cup meetup at a soccer bar, where I drank too much and watched the Sounders come out on top over an overmatched Columbus Crew team. Tonight is quieter, which I’m not sure I like. What I think that means is that distraction remains my friend while I continue to work through things in my head about where I am, where I’m going, and that I don’t want to be too eager to sit still and listen for the echoes as my mind shouts out these questions.
If you would have told me ten years ago that I’d be sitting in Powell’s, arguably THE mecca for book lovers, and ardently wish to be somewhere else, I’d have dismissively called you a meathead and/or slapped your nose, Three-Stooges style. And yet I am wishing I were elsewhere. Ah, that will pass, I suppose, for nothing is truly permanent, not even the most finely polished feelings. The trick, as I summed up in not-so-many words to a friend last night, is to capture the happiness available to you now, in the present moment, and not let the weight of the world (or the weight you take on) crush you, block you, blind you to good things that are available if you were just to reach out. Life is meant to be lived, not endured. Suffering is temporary, not transitive.
So – back to Portland? I think so, yes. I’ve buried quite a few ambivalent memories here and will be better able to experience the quirks and angles that Portland has to offer next time I return. There is a lot of city to discover, a lot of serendipity to open myself up to, and the feel of the place meshes well with what I (think I) need right now – young, alternative, diverse, energetic, and literate.
Tomorrow I board the return train to Seattle. I may catch up on some reading, or I may review a couple things on the laptop, or I may write some code, or all three or none of the above. Who can say what will happen? A friend is fond of saying we manifest the things that we need, at the time that it makes sense, so I may think on that and put some thought into what it is I need/want and how to put my world in the correct place to allow that to happen.
We’ll see. In the meantime, last night in Portland, and on the way back to the hotel I’m going to stop by Voodoo Doughnut on the advice of a friend, and pick up a sweet nom for the MAX ride. Their motto is “The Magic Is In The Hole”, and how could I not love that?