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December 25, 2008

Time for a new motto, perhaps?

In the past week and change, Portland has received somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 inches of snow. It didn't all come at once; it would snow for a day, be clear for a few days, snow again. And yet, since the snow first started falling on December 14, most streets here have yet to be cleared. They're calling this the worst storm in 40 years.

Here are a few fun facts about my first winter storm experience in a place that sucks at winter:

-In the past two weeks I have had four days off (out of seven possible working days) due to weather related conditions. During the first three there was maybe a few inches that stuck to the ground.

-No one here owns a shovel. That means no one bothered removing snow from their sidewalks. That means once the temp got above freezing during the day the snow would melt, and then harden into a citywide skating rink by nightfall.

-Salting the roads is illegal here due to environmental concerns. One would think plowing was also illegal, since I saw but a handful of the machines during the whole of Winter Storm 08.

-Tire chains are not only legal, but they were required on all state highways.

-They finally decided to sand and snowplow Interstate 5, which is the state's main north-south thoroughfare, on Tuesday. The machines started rolling out during rush hour. Some poor people were stuck on the highway for upwards of five hours trying to get home for the holidays. Some ran out of gas.

-Mass transit has been a crap shoot. Two of our three train lines stopped running, including the one that goes to the airport. The usually handy Transit Tracker arrival time phone line told me last night that the buses on the line I intended to take "may or may not be running."

-Flights in and out of PDX were canceled for three days, evidently because every airline ran out of de-icing fluid.

Were it not for the kind Portland citizens who helped push the boyf's car out of snowbanks not once, not twice, but thrice (and who joined him in pushing out a car that inexplicably chose to drive down train tracks last night), I might have started to sour on this fair city.

As it is, I think they might want to change their motto to something else besides "The City that Works," at least for three months out of the year.

TP note: Happy Chanukah to my fellow members of the tribe and Merry Christmas to all you goyim.

December 19, 2008

Bath time, Laura Ingalls Wilder style

Back when I was a grubby, bang-faced child of 8, I used to protest bath time with what I thought was a cunning, ingenious defense: Ma and Pa Ingalls only made their brood bathe once a week, according to the "A Little House on the Prairie" series. I begged my own ma and pa to allow me to do the same.

Now I know why the Ingalls' cleanliness was so sporadic. Bathing without the help of modern plumbing is... well... read on, dear readers.

Our pipes first froze on Sunday. The chill initially affected our kitchen, leaving us with mounting piles of petrified pots, pans and plates. We decided to make the best of it, and since the elements had not yet touched our bathroom faucets we lugged everything into the bathtub and washed it there. It was a little gross, but I felt all pioneer about it. "This is what the Boxcar Children would have done," I thought to myself. "Definitely."

The next morning was a snow day, so I took my sweet time getting presentable. When I finally decided to wash the stinkys away I realized with horror that Jack Frost had gotten his icy grip around our precious bathroom plumbing, too. The water in both the sink and tub was barely trickling out, and what managed to emerge was ice cold. Now that I've matured into a woman who feels absolutely disgusting unless she's laundered her tresses on a daily basis, the thought of skipping a day was unbarable.

I gritted my teeth and resigned myself to the inevitable: I was going to have to take a sponge bath. I found my biggest pot and waited for an eternity for the faucet's little trickle to fill it up. Then I sloshed it on the stove and waited an eternity for it to heat to an acceptable temperature. Then I sloshed it onto the floor of my bathtub. I hovered over it in a vertical fetal position and my frigid flesh shuddered as each measuring cupful of water ran down it. It was miserable. And cold. And awkward. And miserable. And I vowed never to submit to a sponge bath again until I was old. And then I did it again the next day.

I'm happy to report that our pipes are once again home to mighty gushes of heated agua. Never again will I wish to emulate my storybook forebearers in habits of hygiene.

December 9, 2008

The typical Portlander will sneer at you if:

  • You buy your groceries anywhere but at your local coop or the hippy favorite, New Seasons. At the very least you should go to Whole Foods. If you shop at local chain Fred Meyer's or Safeway you clearly want the bioterrorists to win. Go ahead. Buy that un-organic tomato. But I'd rather die a fiery death than eat it in the caprese salad you just made me.
  • You shop at any chain. What's that? You're getting your beloved episodes of Six Feet Under at Blockbuster because your aunt sent you a gift card? Way to support your local video store, jerk.
  • You use a car as your primary mode of transit. Ever heard of mass transit, dude? And this is only the most bike-able city EVER in the HISTORY of the UNIVERSE. I get 32 miles per burrito. What do you get?
  • You watch TV, especially crap TV like Gossip Girl or The Hills. The cool kids don't own TVs. We read episode recaps on Gawker and feel/act morally superior.
  • You buy new clothes. Pants: old drapes I sewed together. Shirt: a vintage, ironic Mickey Mouse shirt purchased for $2.00 from a homeless woman who threw in a paper clip necklace. Jewelry: paper clip necklace. Shoes: Kenneth Cole boots my mom sent me that I covered in duct tape to stave off embarrassment of wearing leather. Hat and scarf: knitted from the yarn of an unraveled thrift store sweater.
  • You attend less than three beer festivals in any given year. There's one practically every weekend so you have no excuse not to go and exclaim at the awesomeness of the latest jalapeno-strawberry-chocolate-coffee brew.
  • You throw anything away. That chicken carcass can be used (and reused, and reused) to make broth. That broken hanger could become a piece of art about the fragility of human experience. That notebook with one piece of paper left, that old shoelace, those stickers for the 99 cent roast beef special could all be donated to Scrap. Never, ever throw away or recycle coupons. People dumpster dive for them. Be grateful they're yours.
  • You don't devote a small part of your day to Keeping Portland Weird. Today I saw a man at the train station wearing a skull mask under his hoody and skeleton gloves. He was doing his part. It's time to do yours.

December 7, 2008

Let's pretend this is a picture blog

I was perusing our new handy blog roll (conveniently located to the right of the page, under the archives) and got reacquainted with Everyday, a lovely and whimsical photo blog from our lovely and whimsical friend Sarumph. Because I want to be like her in all things, I'm going to pretend for one teensy tiny post that I can be a stunning artiste as well.

Or maybe I just took a bunch of pretentious pictures that I wanted to post somewhere but didn't think belonged on Facebook. You'll never know.

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We went to Pix Patisserie, a glorious place for a francophile. Here you will see the St. Honore (a confection of cream puffs and caramel), cream about to be poured into coffee, one of my fleur du sel caramel macarons and my boyfriend's crotch. Try to ignore the latter.

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This is my eyeball. The sun was shining directly into it, revealing its splotches of blue and yellow that forge to make that olive-y color. I wanted to see what it looked like so I made the boyf take eleventy dozen photos of it whilst I struggled to keep the peeper open. This blurry mess is the best we got. Deal.

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This is the vessel for the sugar that accompanied his coffee. It made us have a funny reflection, which my camera struggled but failed to capture properly. I hope you don't think that cherry next to it is real. It's been decoupaged onto the table. Don't try to eat it.

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We have been having glorious sunsets lately.

There was one other thing I wanted to take a picture of but didn't: there's a tree in front of my apartment building that has lost all its leaves but inexplicably has flowers blooming on it. I might take a snap later and add it to this post, but don't get your hopes up. I'm fickle on Sundays.

PS: Happy birthday Sarrumph! Bisous!

December 2, 2008

Selling my soul

Dude. I've been looking for a second part-time job to supplement my piddly income since, like, ever. I'm on Craigslist every freaking day praying to find something like this:

Hip, truthy magazine seeks peppy young writer/editor semi-fresh from college, but with a year of journalism odd jobs under her belt. We need you 20 hours a week, and heck yes we'll work around your other job. Along with an outrageous hourly wage for the work required and a sublimely generous benefits package, we'll feed you and send you home with leftovers. We also have an office dog who likes to curl up in your lap and be cute whilst you work. Oh, and sometimes we like talking in Cockney accents. That's all. Pip pip!

Instead, I inevitably find listing after listing that says something to the effect of this:

Boring office in lame suburb seeks peon to do menial office work while we stare our beady eyes down your neck. The work required is tedious, but we want you to have been doing similar tedious work for at least a decade before we will even consider you. We only want you 20 hours a week (and never a minute more!), but we will schedule it in such a way that it is impossible for you to have another job. We will pay you a pittance. Benefits? You wish! We will hate you and you will never have anything more enjoyable than a "semi-OK, I guess" day here, so don't get your hopes up. Oh, and our toilet overflows a lot. You're going to have to clean it up.

Or this:

We need a sales-driven, computer-savvy registered nurse who has a car.

The job market here hasn't been stellar since I started paying attention to it--too many do-gooding recent graduates just like me are flocking here--and this Recession doohickey isn't doing a heckuva lot to help anything. So it got me to thinking: Recession or no, people are hella anxious to procreate, right? And the people who are unable to will go to quite the lengths to get a bouncing bundle of joy on their knee.

Basically what I'm trying to say is people would pay top dollar for my reproductive facilities, as evidenced by this article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. And according to what I've been seeing on Craigslist, they'll pay double for my goods since I'm Jewish. We're talking $20,000 here for the teensy trade-off of physical discomfort, social stigma and chance that in the future someone with my genes will be walking around somewhere in the great wide world.

Just throwing it out there.