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August 21, 2008

POD: bringing people together

Yesterday was a big rainy, drizzly mess here in the City of Roses, weather I assume is similar to what we'll be experiencing all winter long. But whilst waiting at the bus stop, a human ray of sunshine wearing a black tank top that said "Stop bitching/Start a revolution," a blue plaid skirt and a red pom pom in her ponytail came hurtling toward me.

"What is this thing?" she demanded, indicating the POD's bulb. "It looks like something you see in a grocery store. An eggplant... no... a kiwi... no..."

"A starfruit?" I offered.

"Yeah! Are you supposed to peel those things or what?"

"I think you slice it," I said.

"My, what a beautiful skirt," she said, indicating the long, maroon-purple-orange-yellow delight my uncle had purchased for me because he thought the girl in the catalog was my spitting image. "Twirl! Twirl!"

I twirled. She joined me.

"What are you reading there? Oh! Anna Karenina," she said, using her best Russian accent to say the heroine's name. "You're brave for reading that book. I won't ruin it for you. You know, I had an affair. My husband knew about it, but the guy wouldn't marry me. Next you should read Muh-dahm Bohv-ree by Goos-tahv Flo-bare. And then Wuthering Heights. You've seen West Side Story? This is Natalie Wood: 'Don't you DARE touch him! [kiss kiss kiss]'"

I applauded. She curtseyed.

"Thank you very much. My name is Kathryn Ann Sampson*."

And she raced off accross the street.

*As soon as she left I scribbled our entire conversation on the back of an envelope. The one thing I couldn't remember was her name, though... Curses.

August 18, 2008

More public art

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This piece of beauty, which graces my bus stop, is called the POD. I took the picture above last Thursday, when temperatures topped 100 degrees. It was radiating heat onto my mug, making me resemble a sopping wet tomato. The photo on the right, taken from another angle, shows the bulb at the sculpture's epicenter. What the heck does it mean, you ask? (Cough cough uncultured peon cough cough) According to the plaque next to it, it represents "the infrastructure, energy and vibrancy of Portland[.] This sculpture is made complete when a passerby gives the pendulum a push."

That's right. It's an interactive sculpture. When you poke it, the steel "hairs" jiggle to and fro like Santa's belly while he's being tickled.

There wasn't a plaque next to this one so I'm not entirely sure it's supposed to be art. It could be that some curmudgeon stole a gaggle of children's bicycles from some kiddies and then locked them all up to the pole with a padlock to mock their youth. But even that could be considered art-- no? A commentary on the ephemeral nature of youth? In any case, I saw no less than three tourists on Thursday flash peace signs in front of it whilst a friend snapped a picture. Definitely a Portland icon.

Other public art sightings:
  • A man walking down the street beneath my office's supply room window wearing a cape and playing a flute-like instrument. Despite resemblance to the Pied Piper, there were neither children nor rats in his wake.
  • A vagabond cuddling a stained, pillow-y doll at my bus stop.
And now, just for fun, a golden pony:


August 16, 2008


Yesterday morning blazed as hot as the Spanish sun (over 100) and I had two fierce desires burning in my homonculus: No. 1- get to a body of water and submerge and No. 2- get my first pedicure.

I googled the heck out of my options. No. 1 was easy; there's a community pool up the street that had a free swim from 1-2:30. Free as in no dinero. Score.

No. 2 was a bit trickier. Since I've never had a pedicure and had but a handful of manicures in my life, I wasn't sure what I should be looking for. I knew I had to be careful of the cheap places because of things like this, but I don't really have a gaggle of girlfriends here I can survey on the matter. Then I found this place, which has Neenuh written all over it.

It was glorious, let me tell you. I submerged my feet in water bubbling with essential oils and then got exfoliated and... but I digress. That's not what this post is about. One of the ladies--a fellow member of the tribe--asked what I was doing that night and I told her I was planning to go to services at a gigantic reform temple here called Beth Israel. She told me not to go there; it was huge and hoity toity and every available surface was inscribed with someone's name. She referred me to a much smaller reconstructionist congregation called Havurah Shalom.

Once there I made the acquaintance of some nice grandma types who reminded me of folks back home and settled into my seat. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some youngins sit down to my left. I took a gander and what do you know... it was a girl (woman now, I guess) who'd gone to my temple in Duluth forever ago and her fiance!

If I hadn't had the burning desire for a pedicure, and if I hadn't happened to find this particular pedicure place, I would have gone to the other temple and never connected with my long-lost friend. Now, what are the chances of that? I'm no mathematician, but I'd say it's pretty close to one in eleventy billion.

August 14, 2008

A $1.75 bus ticket gets you so much free advice

I heard her nasally, whiny voice-- a voice that sounded like she had a lot of trouble pushing it out of the diaphragm-- before I saw her. She stood outside the bus querying the driver for what seemed like forever about whether his route would take her by the hospital.

Finally she hoisted herself into the bus. She was stuffed into a black corset and skirt, and her legs were encased in black fishnet stockings. She had a stained bandage wrapped around her right leg under the fishnets. She looked around helplessly before approaching the man next to me and asking for his seat. She plopped down and muttered about being late for an appointment and then apologized to me for knocking her oversized tote bag into my lap.

Her face was vampirishly pale thanks to a heavy powder, and two thin, arched lines served as her eyebrows. Her dark red lipstick bled onto her teeth.

"Can you believe these shoes I have to wear? It's because of my leg. I was in a car accident. I should probably wear a long skirt but it's just so damn hot I was like 'Heck, no!' Where are you going? Work? School?"


"Where do you work?"

"An arts nonprofit."

"Oh! Do they take volunteers? I'm a make-up artist, you know. I did operas and theater and stuff. I could make you look like you had no eyebrows and add some prosthetic to your face and put a wig on you and no one would recognize you. You have pretty eyes. You should wear gold eyeshadow and green liner."

She whipped off her sunglasses to reveal the fuchsia eyeshadow adorning her lids.

"See like mine? I got this stuff in New York at a store for make-up artists. But yeah, gold and green for you. Just real light. Liquid liner, you know? Your cheeks are still rosy. Do you mind if I ask how old you are? 23? OK that's why. What do you wear on your lips? You should just wear beets. That's right--beets! I got this powder from Egypt that's like, ground up beets. You can do anything with it. You could add water and make it liquid liner or add KY jelly... I could paint my whole face red."

We reached my stop and I started to get up.

"Brown mascara! Not black!" she called after me.

August 12, 2008


For those of you who know me in the flesh, it may surprise you to learn that I am often painfully shy when it comes to situations I'm not comfortable with. It probably won't surprise you, however, to learn that with severe social anxiety comes an excruciating exacerbation of my natural awkwardness.

I'm trying really, really hard to make friends here, and thus far my strategy has been to be adorably quirky. But my jokes bomb every. stinking. time.

A few examples:

20-something tech dude: So how's your computer running?
Me: It's as swift as... as swift as an eagle swooping in toward its prey of... osprey.

Late 20s/ early 30s front desk lady: See you tomorrow!
Me: No, I'll see YOU tomorrow. (several meaningful looks before I leave the office and melt in embarrassment in the hallway)

Me: That smells good.
Mid-20s hipster grants lady: Thanks! It's broccoli, rice and fake chicken.
Me: Oh, are you vegetarian?
Her: No, I used to be but now I eat meat. I just often still eat like one.
Me: Yeah, I do too. I'm afraid of cooking meat... well, besides chicken boobs.
Her: (silence)

I think the worst gaffe came at an employee party the director hosted. I think the aforementioned 20-something tech dude is one of my best chances for friendship, so I approached him to initiate a conversation. My opening line?

"You remind me a lot of my ex-boyfriend."

August 6, 2008

Quiche gone wild

Oopsies. I doubled the recipe and somehow this happened:

That is one huge, eggy mass. The second one turned out much better and a slice of it is currently residing in my new red lunchbox.

August 2, 2008

Overheard on the train

I was told the post I just did wasn't funny, but wasn't not-funny enough to be taken down. So I'm going to revert to the old standby: overheard conversations in public transportation.

Skinny white guy with missing teeth: Dude, did you see those chicks?
Huge black guy wearing construction boots: Man, you gonna strain yo' neck lookin' at all the fine ladies 'round here.
Teeth: Shoo...
Boots: So I just downloaded all this classical music onto my iPod here. I like me some Mozart. This other guy, he put some French dude's shit on here, but I just like my Mozart. I tell you one thing I hate listening to: country music. I'm allergic to that shit. I was talking to this lady and she told me Garth Brooks was a better singer than Michael Jackson.
Teeth: Say what? That lady's whack! I mean, his new shit ain't that great, but the old stuff is the bomb.
Boots: Yeah, Michael Jackson. You know, I think he's guilty on all them charges. I don't care if he didn't do nothing with those kids, just the fact that he had them in bed with him-- just ain't right to have someone else's kids in bed with you. Now he lives in Bahrain, you know. I just been there for the army. In all those Arab countries, ladies is just for having kids, the little boys is for having fun... if you got enough money.
Teeth: And he sure has enough money.
Tattooed woman with a 2-year-old and an infant: Have y'all seen the movie "Human Trafficking"? It talks about how these people are bringing over the Iraq children and selling them in America.

And...... scene.

All I'm missing is the iodine and Ace bandage

Content's of Neenuh's Mom Purse, as Aug. 2, 2008:

-1 pair socks, red, with a woman drinking champagne on them
-2 checkbooks, one for a now-defunct account
-1 passport (in case I should need to jet off to Europe on a moment's notice)
-1 DVD about Duluth, Minn.
-1 maple and brown sugar Nature Valley granola bar
-2 mp3 players-- one iPod Touch and one Zen Nano
-1 camera
-1 cell phone
-1 voice recorder (two if you count the one on my Zen)
-5 Allavert pills
-1 Kingston Data Traveler
-2 things of floss
-1 toothbrush
-1 pair sunglasses
-5 keys
-3 pens
-2 pairs of earrings
-2 bandaids
-1 receipt for hotel in Paris
-2 brochures: one from Portland's Classical Chinese Garden, one from Fred Meyer Grocery Store's rewards program
-1 proof of membership from Curves
-1 earning statement from previous job
-2 checks to deposit
-2 press passes
-2 tubes of lipstick
-4 tubes/pots of lip gloss
-1 pack of Orbitz citrusmint gum
-1 wallet

And yes, I need it all on a daily basis.