A Conundrum of Contradictions

The musings of one born in the wrong decade

>Why not? March 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 8:30 am

>Let’s get right back to why my husband is so happy now that I’m unemployed again. I know it sounds crazy – no one is happy about that kind of thing…except someone who has a grand plan that doesn’t involve working at all and is just waiting for his partner in crime to get with the program.

We’ve had this idea for a road trip across the US for some time now. Work had always gotten in the way, as have the obstacles of how to pay for it. But now, stars seem to have aligned. Or we just don’t see the obstacles the same. Whatever it is that’s possessed us: mad desire, being slightly unhinged due to the recent string of events, or just adopting a “fuck it” type attitude that says if not now, when? We’re going.

First we’re going home. Then in about a month or two we’re driving out of Vegas to wherever our hearts desire, staying as long or as little as we wish, and then going to the next beautiful place. The original plan included an RV or truck with a true camper on the back, taking the boat (because if you’re going to be a professional bum, as far as we’re concerned, fishing is essential), and a puppy. The new plan involves using the Rover, (getting a roof-top tent, making modifications to accommodate jerry cans, a sun shower, and maximizing storage), taking the boat, and more than likely, getting a puppy. Why the puppy? Why not? I’ve never had a puppy smaller than 6 months old and that’s one of the things you need to experience once in life. More on that in a minute. Our plan is to make a circuit of the National Parks, for about 6 months or so until the weather starts to turn, (and the money starts to run out), then we head for home and see about getting a job – one that pays well enough for us to stockpile enough money to go do this again. I’ve decided (for the umpteenth time) that working for a living and not having any fun is highly overrated. Therefore, I am hereby refusing to be a responsible adult (of the standardized model) and making tracks towards fun, adventure, and a life of my own choosing. If I’d had any sense I would have joined the circus as a child.

So that’s why neither of us are still fuming mad at my ex-employer for canning me – they did us a favor. We spent too much money to get up here, money we didn’t think we had, and now that we’re here, we realize we weren’t looking at it right, weren’t as broke as we thought, and should be taking this trip now more than ever. There’s no work to be had, nothing to do but stress and wait, so why not? As a show of my complete defiance, we went out and bought the laptop I’m typing on right now. I’ll be blogging every day of the trip and sharing a computer with my husband and his photography is no longer practical/possible.

There you have it: crappy economy meets adventure of a lifetime. Why not? What could you be doing right now if you weren’t working?

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>That was Quick March 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 9:12 pm

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Ironically, things have taken a massive slipping sidestep recently. Friday I asked my boss about our upcoming workflow – they took three of us off overtime last Wednesday and we’ve been scrounging for work for about a week – and if I should “plan for the future”. The short answer was yes. I called Honey and woke him up. He’s soon very awake and mad as a wet hen (or any other euphamism you can think of to describe someone who was previously peacefully sleeping and is now wide awake, mad as hell, and cussing up a storm). He called them liars. I agreed – 5 weeks isn’t 8 months. We decide we’ll hash it out over the weekend and come up with a contingency plan, should all this go South. I spend the rest of the day looking at the bleak employment market in Oregon, Washington, and Canada. Applied for a grand total of 6 jobs. It doesn’t look promising, I have to say.

Friday night we go over our options. This took awhile since we were both so incensed over the whole mess. We’d signed a 1-year lease on this apartment the Friday before, put money down on a killer recliner, and made plans to fly Honey home to collect the rest of our stuff. I was quite looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and we’d just selected all the paint colors for the house. Saturday morning I slept in, and when I did finally get up, was only dressed long enough to go rent movies. I need those absolute bum days every now and then. Sunday we went downtown in search of the world’s largest bookstore (that I know of anyway). It’s a 5-story behemoth that covers an entire city block. I found the Neil Gaiman isle and picked up Stardust and Neverwhere. Honey stayed in the photography section long enough for me to read the first third of Coraline and decided I could buy it later, despite loving the movie. Across the street is Rocco’s Pizza; we each had a slice the size of my head for $4 bucks. I had a “swine and pine”, aka Hawaiian, Honey had a meat lovers type with the word “massacre” in the name. We wandered around downtown for awhile. Stopped in an espresso and chocolate bar, had creme brulee and dark chocolate ganache cake – very decadent and nothing my hips needed, but delicious and indulgent in all the right ways.
Jump to Monday. I wrote a very eloquent post in the morning, detailing where things stood with work, everything that transpired over the weekend, and so on. Got distracted and forgot to email it to myself. That poor post is lost forever. Monday end of day I got released. Technically and according to them, I was fired due to lack of work but mostly because I’m “not a good fit and my skills aren’t where they thought I’d be”. That’s complete bunk and I haven’t believed it for a second since it was said to me. My skills are killer, that’s why they came looking for me and paid me $1.50 an hour above the baseline. Also, it doesn’t take 5 weeks to figure out if someone fits or not, and since nothing was ever said to me about areas for improvement…anyway, I should know by Monday or Tuesday next if I’m getting any compensation for uprooting my life and moving 1000 miles. The boss lady is on a cruise or something. So I am once again in the ranks of the unemployed. Honey welcomed me back.
So, we’re going home. I desperately need my chiropractor – a local one made my ribs worse and I’ve been medicating and drinking ever since. Gave notice on the apartment today – we’ve been here 11 days. Canceled the cable TV – didn’t have a television anyway and won’t be buying one. We’ve decided to see as many sites as we can, as money allows, and take off for home in about 2 weeks or so. It is what it is. And I’ve never seen Honey happier. That sounds crazy, but I’ll explain that in the next post.
 

>Green Milestone March 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 7:23 am

> Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I know its a day late, but I was having too much fun yesterday to worry about posting. I blazed through the work day wearing green and feeling a sense of triumph at surviving 6 years of marriage and 10 years of relationship with a challenging man like my husband. The “7 year itch” can bite me!

We went to dinner at Edgefield’s Power Station Pub. It being St. Patty’s, there were people everywhere, a live band, a booth selling all manner of everything green, and a pint in every hand. No one was deterred by the sporadic rain. While waiting for our buzzer to summon us to an open table, we wandered around listening to the band, watched the glass blower at work, and made all sorts of gardening plans for the new digs. Our table was in an atrium with a wood-burning stove and shelves of old books on the walls. He had the whiskey chicken sandwich; I had an Irish Rueben, both with corned beef and cabbage soup. Shared a brownie with a mountain of vanilla ice cream on it, drowning in ale-infused caramel syrup. Good grub.

I tell you this next part because it makes me laugh. We went to the closest porn shop for a new movie and to replace an old friend. Honey hands it to me while I’m talking to the clerk, and she stops mid conversation and says “I have a cheaper and way better one than that. Hold on, you have to try this.” She comes back with something called the “Turbo Accelerator”, an 8-speed wonder-vibe with remote attached, pops batteries in and drops a nubbie silicon-covered bullet in my hand. Level 1 is what I’m used to. Level 8 had me jumping up and down, giggling like a school girl. No joke. Apparently, all the women who work in the shop, as well as women attached to men working in the shop, have one of these and don’t want anything else. After a thorough test run, lemme just say…Ladies, you need one. We named mine Ricky Bobbi, which also makes me laugh. Naming them is helpful for discussing such matters in public without looking like the horny wench that you are or being accused of indecency when children are present.

We’re going to pick up our recliner today. I’m sure most of the spats for the next month or so will be over who gets to lounge in the awesome chair. We’re also getting our internet hooked up today. Honey has been practically adrift without it since Friday. The guy who parks next to me can’t park, so I keep ending up half on the sidewalk so I can get out of the driver’s seat. Met the downstairs neighbor – she asks a lot of questions, but seems nice. They keep telling me the blue skies are coming…

 

>New Digs March 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 10:04 am

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We are officially no longer homeless or floating. We moved into our apartment Friday afternoon, the one day last week it didn’t rain. Three flights of stairs with boxes in your arms is no small task, luckily we don’t have much stuff with us at the moment. This means we’re sitting on the floor, sleeping on an air mattress – which apparently has a significant leak from the last time I used it – and eating whilst leaning on the kitchen counter. Neither of us thought we could last a month with that set up, especially the bed. Since then we’ve purchased two camp cots, two patio chairs and a folding aluminum table the size of a Monopoly board. The philosophy is if we’re going to spend the money then it must be on things we’ll continue to use. When the other stuff arrives probably sometime near the first week in April, I’ll have patio furniture ready to enjoy the summers that are promised to be fabulous, and cots ready if company should drop by before I get the futon or if I get to go fishing anytime soon. But for now, they’re filling in as box spring, office desk and chair, and reading chair, respectively.

The boss gave me Saturday off to finish getting settled. I thought that was nice of him. Turned out it was much needed after hauling boxes until 8pm, followed by a miserable night’s attempt at sleep. When we did manage to crawl off the floor, we went to breakfast – hadn’t retrieved the kitchen box from the boat/storage yet, so nothing to cook in – and went in search of our cots. Believe it or not, Camp World doesn’t have them. Ended up at Wal-Mart, tried both the ones they had, bought two, and promptly went home and took a nap. Later that afternoon, we went to empty the boat. It had been predicted as 100% chance of rain, but it was only misting so we got the last three boxes, tied down the tarp really well, and went home. That night while trying to watch a movie in the living room we learned you can tell the weather outside by listening to the fireplace.

Sunday Honey had a photo shoot with a girl I’ve taken to calling “children of the corn”. She’s creepy in Honey’s pictures, alright? Last time they got kicked out of the location for being too close to the train tracks, so we went back on a day the train guys don’t work. After that he took me to the Chinese Gardens and Old Town Pizza, both places he’s discovered while tramping around without me. The gardens used to be a parking lot. The building next door that owned it, donated it for the gardens and voila! You have a very Zen retreat where ringing cell phones are not allowed. The flowers are just starting to bloom; in a couple more weeks it’ll be dazzling. Old Town Pizza is located in what used to be the lobby of a grand hotel. They have their own ghost and tours of the tunnels where patrons used to be shanghaied and forced to work on sailing ships. We want to take the tour, but haven’t yet. After that very filling and tasty experience, we went in search of Voodoo Doughnut, which we found by the huge line on the sidewalk. Apparently, the main location is the best known and therefore a tourist trap. Since we’ve never been and didn’t think we’d get a chance to read the menu, we walked down to the Saturday Market to browse and give the line a chance to go down (which didn’t work). The Market had too much good stuff, just like the first time. As usual, I want everything. There were metal pyramid-shaped wind chimes and a giant bell Honey wants to hang by the front door (it’s LOUD), strangely shaped stones you use for massage (the sign read “touch me” so I did), homemade jams and preserves of every flavor you can imagine and some you can’t (garlic or jalapeño jelly anyone?), all sorts of sparkly things that had my head on a swivel (call me a crow, I’m into shiny things!), as well as leather goods, stuff to spoil your cat, and barbeque sauce labeled “Pain”. On our way home we found the other Voodoo Doughnut location – it was the only pink building on the block – and ordered a dozen, let them pick, and went on our merry way. We weren’t home an hour before Honey decided this no-chairs situation just wasn’t going to cut it and off we went in search of patio furniture. I have to say, it do appreciate the chair. I finished the beanie I was working on, the first attempt at circular and double-pointed needles. It came out well, Honey likes it.

We’re still discovering the quirks of our new place – some more charming than others. Everything groans – the floors, the doors, and the bottom of my shower – the last one audible from the other end of the house. The washer is quiet; the dryer loud and slow. The stove is remarkably fast for an electric. Regardless, it’s home for the duration.

 

>Blue Skies, Gray Paint March 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 5:49 pm

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Well, someone must have heard me – they’ve been demo’ing, building walls, hanging drywall, ripping out carpet, and tiling for two weeks now. I guess someone mentioned it to the lady with the purse strings that it looks a little sad around here and that clients will judge by appearance. So three cubicles have given way to two walled offices, complete with windows. The carpet is being replaced everywhere in stages but hasn’t started yet. The front office has received new tile and the kitchen by me a linoleum that looks convincingly like tile. There’s lots of plastic hanging from the ceilings to shield existing stuff and even more drywall-mudded or painted shoe prints on the old carpet. Today they started painting color squares…[imagine me sighing here] the woman who’s chosen the colors, the same woman who’s releasing funds for this little exercise, the same woman who wouldn’t fly me out for an interview and will determine whether or not I get reimbursed for the cost of a moving truck, this woman – has no color sense. As an interior designer I’m not surprised but slightly offended that they didn’t ask someone who knew what they were doing (hello…designer over here) and that I’m going to have to live, work, and function with her poor choices. So far said choices are four shades of blue, covering the undertones of grey, green, true blue, and purple, and a mauve that makes ill. Everyone is giving their unfavorable opinions to the poor guy doing the painting (I think he was volunteered) and no one likes any of the choices. I think the consensus is, well if we must then go with the gray because it’s the least offensive. It’s all a bit depressing in the midst of the positive progress being made.

As a sort of rebellion to this blatant assault on my senses, I’m already plotting to have the two walls above my cube painted a sunny yellow (or equally ‘me’ color), and my safety glass window with a view of the neighboring fluorescents tinted with stained glass treatment. Hey, they said we were welcome to personalize…that just means a whole other thing to us designers.

Speaking of designing…I mentioned yesterday that we were approved for our apartment. We’re really excited – haven’t had our own place in over a year and we’re starting with a clean slate. Honey wants to paint before he leaves for Vegas, which he keeps telling everyone is around the 21st. Considering we move in the night of the 14th, he’ll be doing little else besides painting for the next 5 days or so. I guess we’ve all got the decorating bug. Think it’s an impending sprint thing?

 

>Meet Ivy Slime March 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 7:39 pm

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It’s begun. The Felix Phenomenon will be sweeping Portland in the near future. This past weekend we met with a prospective model (at a strip joint called The Boom Boom Room) and needless to say, got a good look at what we’ll be working with. We also had his first shoot. It would have been two in one day except one of the models is having an unfortunate string of car problems. The one we did meet goes by the name Ivy Slime and is probably the best model we’ve worked with – on a similar level to Fairie from Terrell’s art nude workshop in terms of professionalism. She arrived dressed and ready to go, didn’t need any posing assistance, but was also open to instruction. We were done in an hour flat…5 minutes later it started snowing. Since there was no direct sun to reflect and she didn’t need my help, I got to wander about and collect rusted railroad parts for an all-weather wind chime. Expect more hippiness – it’s encouraged here.

The housing situation kind of imploded and then resurrected itself. We had a place all picked out, thinking it was on the top floor (the only one my darling husband will live on)…turns out it wasn’t and that’s when the brakes went on – while we were sitting in the agent’s office with money order filled out moments before. We were both in a crappy mood after that and went in search of food comfort, which was only sort of achieved at a Texas barbeque place. The bbq beans were so vile we couldn’t eat them and the sauce bit back. I’m thinking Louisiana style next time. While I was working Saturday Honey found another apartment with all the stuff we wanted (namely a reasonable price, acceptance of cats, and garages for rent). We went over at our appointed time, viewed the last place on the third floor, which will eventually become our place, and paid our money to apply. The agent’s Pembroke Corgi gave me a thorough background check by smelling everything below my knees for several minutes. I’m sure my shoes must still reek of cat, but he didn’t tell anyone. So we find out Tuesday or Wednesday after they’ve had a chance to check our references. It occurred to me sometime Sunday that we’ll be moving into a place with no furniture…because we don’t have any anymore. One bed, a cabinet thingy we call Bob, and a TV stand with no TV. That’s it. So, on a whim we stopped at this massive furniture warehouse place (the people with signs out front were advertising 70% off). Found a bunch of great stuff: our future couch (yummy), dining set, and a recliner we put 10% down on to hold the clearance price. We talked for quite awhile about building a desk that accommodates both of us and which pictures of Honey’s we should frame and hang. Waited for an hour for Pizza Hut lasagna while doing this – it wasn’t as fabulous as the commercials make out.

I wrote the earlier post at work on my break. It’s much later now and the apartment complex called right after I set my purse down after work. We’re in! Extended Stay can keep their expensive rent and temperamental washing machines and their bugs – I’m assuming on the last part – something bit me on the rump…twice. So Friday we transition into our apartment on the third floor and onto our air bed. College living at its best!
 

>Busy Weekend March 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — summerv @ 11:23 am

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Another week down, another weekend gone. We made the most of this last one though. Friday night we went to cash my first check (Yea! And state taxes suck!), pay for our room, then to a celebratory dinner at a local joint called Shari’s (the biscuits and gravy were to die for, as was the chocolate cream pie), and then to see The International. I’ve decided I’m going to live on strictly cash as soon as humanly possible – no debt. Debt means power over you and I’m about done with that. Check out the movie – it gave me goose bumps.

Saturday I worked. Got out an hour early. I think the boss had had enough fun for one day and just sent everyone home. I’ve been fiending for this knitting needle kit since I read about it on the dominknitrix website and finally found a place that had it, was open, and not in Vancouver. I think we only drove by it once – tiny little sign. On the second attempt I decided to pull into a side street (I saw a parking space that didn’t require my rusty-to-non-existent parallel skills) and it turns out the shop was right around the corner. Let me just say up front that “dazzled” probably doesn’t cover my reaction. I’ve never been into a bona fide knitting shop before, and this one was comprised of 3 conjoined storefronts filled to the roof with every color and texture of yarn you can imagine, 1 storefront of patterns, and another as their own coffee shop. I was in Technicolor heaven and it smelled fabulous. It was also packed – apparently a lot of Oregonians are knitting fans. I managed to get out without breaking the bank too badly, but I know I spent too much considering I’m supposed to be saving for an apartment, but I couldn’t resist and Honey encouraged me. (It’s all his fault really). We ran straight to Shari’s from there because we’d both waited too long to eat and were getting shaky and weird, respectively. We had their chicken and dumplings, which I think was the best I’ve ever had. Skipped the pie for lack of room and went home to make my first attempt at knitting in the round, which turned out to be harder than I thought and took nearly half and hour on the web. I found instructions to avoid the gap and jog that’s common with rounds, and then had to cast on four different times because I kept running out of tail yarn too soon. Plus the directions were for American knitters, not Continental knitters (I knit like a lefty though I’m not) so some adjusting was required. I did finally get it together, no twisting, and an inch or so done before calling it a night.

Sunday. Somehow I popped out of bed promptly at 8:30am thinking I’d slept until 10am and was raring to go. I fit into a bra I haven’t ever worn and went out into a blustery rainy day to try out the MAX line. We drove to my office, parked next door at the frame shop (cars, not pictures) and walked to the train terminal. It’s fascinating – here they’re into trains big time and there are stations everywhere, three different lines (red, yellow, and blue), and the tickets are good for trains, buses, and trolleys. We bought all day passes and hopped the first train towards the zoo, which was our intended destination. We got a little sidetracked / quasi lost. We hadn’t gone far enough, got off to check the map and get our bearings, and ended up at the location of the Portland Saturday Market on its first weekend of the season. One side of the street is all hand made art; the other is all imported, with food vendors sprinkled on both sides. We both bought beanies with ear flaps (a must around here due to the wind) and a Philly cheese steak with garlic sauce that was wonderful and soon everywhere. The photographers all seem to shoot landscapes (beautiful ones, but with that being the only genre). There were metal hair pins and knit goods everywhere, and lots of things that I will later be spending lots of money on. It was a little small due to some confusion about opening day – supposed to be the first weekend in March, but Saturday was in February…you get the idea. We walked around downtown Portland till we found Camera World, which turned out to be a little disappointing. They didn’t have the accessory strap for Honey’s camera pack even though they carry the brand, and they can’t print any larger than 24” x 36”, and no metallic paper. Tried to find Voodoo Doughnut – GPS kept saying it was right around the corner, but we never did get there. Wandered back to the market and hopped the train to the zoo.

I like the idea of seeing exotic animals I’ve never seen before, but I also feel sorry for them when they’re in cages that look nothing like their home environments. One of the wolves was trying to dig to China; the sea lions swam the exact same path over and over and over; the ocelot was anxiously pacing in circles with its brow knitted. The monkeys are the hardest for me – it’s like seeing pit bulls at the pound, looking in their eyes and understanding that they know. The mandrills were bad – the male named Ebeneezer sat in the corner plucking at his fur; the orangutans were worse – one of the younger females came right to the glass, sat down, and put her chin on the window ledge, just staring at us. The other people loved it. Honey got some great pictures of her, but I felt sick. Regardless of what your stance is on whether humans are descendants or not, the fact is they’re 98% identical in DNA make-up. They’re almost human. That small percent difference doesn’t make them stupid – they understand. And this young female did – I could see it in her eyes – she knew. The question on her face was ‘why?’

We considered stopping at the Saturday Market on the way back to grub, even though we’d spent enough that day, but they were almost all broken down and gone when we passed back that way. I sat across from a guy on the train who I’m sure was reading my aura at one point and listened to the other passengers, complete strangers, some homeless-looking, some college-student-looking, sitting side by side, having actual conversations (ie not weather related). The people here may be indecisive, but they are friendly and approachable. I asked for directions to the zoo – the guy went and double-checked the map for me. We spotted at an apartment building near the yarn store we liked but couldn’t find the office so I knocked on a downstairs window – the lady not only opened the door, she answered my questions, and seemed genuinely pleased we’d moved here, as everyone has that’s found out. We’ve been welcomed to Portland at least 5 times now.

We were so tired; we got fast food closest to home – waited forever in the drive-thru. Got into our pj’s and finished watching Sleepy Hollow right about where we’d left off that morning. I finished the scarf I was working on for one of Mom’s friends, even managed to make fringe without the benefit of scissors. We both crashed out around 8:30pm – when Honey turns the TV off that early, you know he’s exhausted. He carried a full camera pack around all day so I’m not surprised.