Sunday, November 12, 2006

Portland is awesome!

On Friday I took the streetcar down to the 6th & Market DMV to get my license renewed. We've had a lot of shitty weather lately and it was so awful. I get to the DMV and it's closed. For Veteran's Day. Until Tuesday. I had two thoughts at the exact same time: 1) HILARIOUS! 2) Goddamnittohell! There are very few people in the world that I expect to be aware of Veteran's Day, to not be caught off-guard by it's Federal Holiday bank closings and post office back up! Those people are:

1) Me
2) Leonardo DiCaprio
3) Calista Flockhart
4) Demi Moore
5) Stanley Tucci
6) My dad
7) Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
8) World War I veterans
9) The ghost of General Patton
10) The ghost of Dostoyevsky
11) The ghost of Abigail Adams

(Check my facts! Well, okay, you can't verify that I or my Dad were born on 11/11, but we were, and you'll just have to take my word for it.)

And I was! That's why I went on 11/10! But I forgot that if Armistice Day (as we call it, Old Skool) falls on a weekend, everyone is still entitled to their day off. I could not have predicted that the DMV would take Friday AND Monday. So I decided to run a couple of errands while I was downtown anyway, despite the miserable weather.

While I was walking from the DMV to the Central Library, I was stopped at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change next to this middle-aged guy in camo pants, black boots, REI/Columbia rain jacket and olive drab gortex hiking hat. He turns to me and says, "Can you believe this awful weather?" And he's smiling in that Portlander, "I know bad weather, and even I'm surprised by this weather!" kind of way. So I replied, "I know! It's just terrible!" And we had a little chat about the weather for the next block or so before our paths diverged. And I thought, "I love Portland!" I love that it's the kind of place where strangers talk to you on the street and smile and are pleasant and aren't scary psychopaths!

Then I went to the library to get a new library card. I've moved 13 times in the past 8 years - I counted - and at some point my Multnomah County Library Card disappeared. It turns out that since I haven't used it in at least half a decade, the system couldn't find me any way, so I would have had to get a new one whether I'd kept the old one or not. That library is SO nice. It's just beautiful, and the staff are helpful and nice, and it's just such a warm and inviting place. I remember going there as a little kid and how much I loved it. And it wasn't nearly as lovely a space then as it is now.

After the library I hit Portland Music, which smells like a library. I browsed through the sheet music, and although I didn't see anything I wanted, it was nice just to be in there. Then I went to Powells, the happiest place on earth on a rainy day. I gathered up the weirdest collection of "sale" books:

- Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
- Me & My Baby View The Eclipse by Lee Smith
- The Taming of The Duke, a super stereotypical-looking romance novel with a naked-chested man on the cover
- The Fig Eater, a turn of the century murder mystery that takes place in Vienna
- The Cartographer's Library, a mystery that claims it will take the investigator back 500 years to the theft of alchemical instruments! Eee!

The second one was to go with the third as a gift for my brother's girlfriend. Lee Smith has a great short story in MMBVE about trying to write a romance novel, and my brother's gf has never read a romance novel, so it seemed imperative to address that state of affairs. The first was for Pete, who after seeing a certain episode of Seinfeld has always wanted to see what all the rumpus is about. The third and fourth just looked neato!

I was all psyched for having to explain my purchases to an inquisitive staff person, but it was not to be. On busy Friday afternoons when Powells is packed with people escaping the rain, the clerks just stop caring about what crazy combinations of crap you happen to be buying on sale for $4-$7 a pop.

Nonetheless, I couldn't stop grinning all the streetcar ride home! It was a miserable, wet, cold, blustery, awful day, and yet somehow everyone was super nice, people smiled at each other on the street, drivers slowed down when going through puddles to avoid splashing as much as possible. This is just the nicest city and it's such a pleasure to spend time in it and to appreciate how fantastic it is! I implore anyone not living here to come and visit me and have the Portland Experience for themselves! Sure, it will probably be better to come when Pete and I have our own place, but if it has to be before then, then we'll find a place to put you up and we'll tote you around town to all the sites! The Japanese Gardens! The Rose Garden! Washington Park! Forest Park! New Seasons Grocery Store! (Don't scoff - I'm surprised it doesn't have a tour guide yet.) Powells City of Books! Portlandia! Other great crap that will make you go, "ooh! I love this city" and then maybe shed a tear, if you're the kind of person who cries really, really easily!


Sydney said...

PS - Demi Moore was born in 1962 and Calista Flockhart in 1964. Although only two years separate them, Pete pointed out that it would be way more acceptable for Ashton Kutcher to be dating Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford to be dating Demi Moore. How weird is that??

Anonymous said...

Even though I decided not to come back for the time being, you've reminded of a promise that I made to myself, that Portland is my home, and that I'm going to live there again. I have no idea how long this walkabout or law school will take me, but I know that Portland is the place where I'm going to get a permanent place and accompanying cat.
Funnily enough when people ask me where I'm from over here, I say "I'm from Portland, Oregon in the U.S." rather than "I'm from America." I guess my cultural identification is more Cascadian/Ecotopian/Oregonian than anything else. Curious.

Joseph said...

The ghost of Yasser Arafat might remember his deathday. But now I'm just being mean and going through the list to find people you missed.

Oh, and happy birthday, by the way. Facebook even reminded me that the day was coming, but my birthday-miss-o-sense (kinda like Spidey-sense, but lamer) made sure that I forgot when the appropriate time arose.