Wait, are you really moving to Portland?
No reason, really. I just think it'll be fun.
You're moving across state lines for fun?
Yeah, pretty much. Is something wrong?
Where are you going to live?
Beautiful North Portland! Right near the MAX.
My house is yellow.
It has a guest room. If you're nice you can come and visit.
Riiiiight. How are you paying rent on your yellow house?
I have a job at a major state university! If you need anything in the Graduate School of Education I am your new best friend.
I don't think I need anything there, no.
Okay. Just let me know.
Did you know you can get a department secretary job right here in the Bay Area without actually relocating your entire life?
Where's the fun in that?
I'm asking the questions here. I'm an FAQ, after all.
That didn't sound like a question to me.
Look, what are you going to do with yourself in a new city where you don't know anyone?
Fine. FINE. When are you leaving?
That's in two weeks!
That wasn't a question!
But don't you want to see me before you go?
'Course I do. What are you doing on Saturday?
It's creepy to see largish bits of my skin flaking off and falling away in any case, but it's especially creepy when they show up littering the ground in lurid shades of green and red. My other tattoos have been mostly sober black lines, and the last time I ventured into color was ages ago when I'd never even heard of LITHA.
LITHA is not a new international treaty, although it probably should be. It stands for Leave It The Hell Alone, a good policy for world politics as well as tattoo aftercare. It doesn't need to be washed three times a day and it doesn't need any more puppet rulers. Don't pick at it and stop sending assassins to clean up its government. Just put a little bit of A&D on it, help it build some roads and schools, and then go sit on your hands.
In the pre-LITHA era, the red countries scabbed and oozed and cracked like mud flats after every unnecessary intervention. Since LITHA passed they've held together better, going through their rough spots but eventually emerging whole and cohesive. It's at this point that not even my impressive capacity for analogy can make this metaphor hang together. Countries don't generally peel, even if they're the Soviet Union.
Still, it's fun to leave brightly colored scraps of gossamer skin confetti behind me wherever I go. By the time it's all gone it'll be time for a new batch, a new continent to show up an uncertain greenish shade on the map and change its borders with every newscast. All is not stable in the Kingdom of Blackberry.
I have a house to move into! Yay!
I just un-made someone's day with amazing precision! Boo!
After my first batch of potential housing situations mostly fell through, I started looking for apartments with someone I'd met and felt ambivalent about -- she seemed perfectly fine but was looking for a pretty different housing situation than I (find a new apartment together, just you and me, right in around here, versus find a house full of people over here or there or maybe over there). I was openly hesitant, she gave notice at her current place, I remained hesitant, and I continued to eye houses (full of people and over there).
And then I found a house! Full of people! Over there! And the people seem neat and the house old and quirky, and most importantly, everyone but me is already moved in and I can ship my boxes and arrive in a state of non-panic. I took it -- Mama didn't raise no fool (at least not more than one). And I was upfront and un-passive-aggressive and called the other girl right away to tell her I wouldn't be living with her, even though that's more or less my definition of the most terrifying possible use of the telephone. And her day was quite clearly not made by the news. If her day were a bed, the sheets would be rumpled, the pillows flattened and flung everywhere, and the covers would be sliding onto the floor. If her day were breakfast, the eggs would still be runny and the waffle iron wouldn't even be warm. If her day were a mafioso, Fat Tony wouldn't even offer it a cigar, much less call it Bambino and invite it to the VIP table.
My punishment for disappointing people is evidently to have my back move into its itchy stage today. It itches like, to give the metaphors and similes a break for a moment, a large and densely colored 3-day-old tattoo. A large and densely colored 3-day-old tattoo which will soon be living in Portland!
Last week my female roommate was out of town. My male roommate, who happens to be her boyfriend, spent the week sitting on the couch playing video games, eating canned soup, and leaving dishes in the sink. As soon as she came back, he went out of town himself for a few days and hasn't come back yet. Last night I came home from running errands and found my female roommate sitting on the couch watching the 5-hour BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and painting her toenails pink.
I don't want to be left out of the stereotype party, so I'm throwing on a pair of jeans and a wife-beater and going to Pride.
Please note that this entry is being posted in the category "This is precisely what the fuck I am talking about".
Now that I look at it closely, I'm noticing just how much more stylized it is than my original idea. If you remember, my first choice artist was Marie Wadman, whose work is precise and botanical and shows every vein and bump of every leaf. But her colors are muted and subtle, and I wanted a riot of green and red. So I went with Mike Davis (stupid nonnavigable flash site), who lets botanical detail go and hang but has the knack of putting down an outrageous color and making it look like it's always been there. So my tomatoes are lush and round but the leaves are splashes of green and yellow curviness that tricks your eye into seeing leafy convolution that isn't there. And I'm damned pleased about it.
My favorite thing? Check out the shine on the tomatoes. Yes, yes, it's almost photorealistic. But it gets even better than that. See the very lightest part where there's almost no red? Think of this like a coloring book -- you've got the outlines and you're filling in the color freehand without any kind of shading scheme laid down for you. That's pretty much how it went. So if you're me, you start by figuring out where the shine is going to be and put in some white or yellow that you can color around. But there's no white there! There's no ink at all! Those shine spots are completely bare skin! How much drawing experience do you have to have to be able to shade in a perfect shiny globe without a single spot of unnecessary ink, and get it absolutely right five times in a row?
A fuckload, I think. Mike is my hero.
Every time I get tattooed I remember just how tough I'm not. I walk into the shop and the sound of the tattoo machines sets my teeth on edge, the butterflies in my stomach play a rousing game of musical chairs, and I suddenly think of one hundred pressing reasons to leave quickly and pretend I was never there.
Today I had a two-and-a-half-hour session coloring in the vines on my back (pictures after the next time I see someone who's got a camera I can use). It was by far the longest I've ever spent getting stabbed by needles, and the fact that I've now been tattooed nine separate times didn't stop the first fifteen minutes from seeming certain to kill me. It's a pattern by now. Dianna walks into the shop clutching her bag of lemon drops for distraction and blood sugar improvement, artist starts tattooing, Dianna says to herself ha! this is easy, Dianna's ears start ringing, artist waits and waits for Dianna to stop being green and queasy, endorphins kick in and Dianna finds that the world is suddenly entirely awesome, and then, the part I discovered today, endorphins wear off and Dianna finds that it sucks intensely to be her and it's all not over yet.
It still sucks to be me, by the way, and I'm not sure how I'm going to sleep tonight without tomato-shaped pieces of my back sticking to my sheets. But I will sleep the sleep of someone who picked the absolute best artist possible for her project. I've spent two years hearing people tell me I should leave my outlines plain and wondering if the color would even be as beautiful and lush as I wanted it, and I can finally tell you that the former people were not in possession of the facts and I had the right idea all along. The title of this entry comes from the conversation that ensued between Mike and another artist in the shop after he finished one particularly fleshy tomato. It's true. They actually look even rounder and more touchable than I'd imagined.
It's a damn good thing, too, because I've got two more of these things to go and the other two will probably be even longer. Dear posterity: do not get very large and detailed tattoo work if your tolerance for sitting under a needle is very low. And if you do, keep in mind that your work will need to be EXTREMELY DANGEROUSLY AWESOME to make it worthwhile.
You're a cockface and you're making it hard for actual people who aren't long-distance con artists or spambots to find places to live. Every time you pull this shit Craigslist plasters its pages with huger and huger banners telling people to deal only with locals they can meet in person. Room to rent posters start reposting their ads after a day and adding NO OUT-OF-TOWNERS YOU ARE ALL SCAMMERS in big letters at the end. A wide-open welcoming city wraps its arms around itself and gives outsiders the evil eye, and the small cozy friendly world gets a little bigger and colder again.
I've quadrupled my daily tea consumption in the last month, from a single cup in the morning to two before lunch, one after lunch and another before I go home from work. If I were talking about any stimulant at all except tea, you'd all be as alarmed as I am. I suspect that once I make it to the city about which you're all tired of hearing, I'm probably going to throw in the towel and start drinking coffee again. What's that saying -- may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb? If I'm going to have a caffeine habit it may as well be one that actually wakes me up.
I'm this close --||-- to having a job in said city, working in a department office at a university that I can't identify without using the city name that I've already said so many times I'm not allowed to say it again. But, you know, it's in there somewhere. They've asked me to please not take any other job offers while they sort out the hiring formalities. It's nice to be wanted.
It would be slightly nicer if I were also wanted as a roommate. Serves me right for gloating to everyone about how cheap it is and how many nice places there are for rent; the fact that that is completely true hasn't stopped an amazing number of potential living situations from falling through in the last two weeks. People have been disappearing off the map as soon as I make a move to meet them, dragging their heels and re-posting their ads and refusing to give me a straight answer, and wanting very much for me to live with them someplace completely other than where I want to live.
I walked past a stand-up cardboard Harry Potter in the student store yesterday and noticed that it was sporting a tear-off calendar counting down the days until the release of the Deathly Hallows. 31 days, it barked at me, are you ready? Well, no, not really. By the time I go to pick up my preordered copy at Powell's, I'll have been in Portland for over a week. I'm fully prepared for the book, but the details of the home to which I'll bring it are still somewhat fuzzy.
Every few weeks I write myself a new label for the cup that sits at my desk holding the all-important tea. In the past it's said everything from Magical Elixir to Emergency Caffeine Dosage Device. Yesterday it said Muhhh.....
Today I think it's going to say Roommate Locator Potion. Go, little potion, fetch me my future!
I had two identical Earth Balance containers in my fridge this morning. One contained leftover beets and chard, and the other contained Earth Balance.
Guess which one I brought in my lunchbag today.
I have just returned from Portland needing no further convincing to pack it in and become an Oregonian. None! Portland lacks nothing contained in the definition of awesomeness, and it has a raging case of the nices. It is navigable (cirumnavigable, if you've got, say, 15 minutes), it is full of interesting independent things, it is full of friendly people. I told strangers that I didn't really know anyone in town and they told me, "Not for long." I guardedly told potential roommates that I'm not the biggest social butterfly but I do like to have game nights and dinners with friends, and they asked in surprise what I thought people did with their free time if not that. Even the rain didn't curb my delight; I stomped around in my big coat with my feet wet and the rest of me dry and found that life went on. I learned the secret of the spare socks (though I still need to master the secret of the spare sneakers), the damply zen acceptance of being rained upon, and that when all else fails one simply ducks into the nearest coffeeshop and, provided one hasn't left the city limits, one finds that it is warm and cozy and full of quietly friendly people and vegan pastries. And because one has the spare socks one can go back out, refreshed, and walk across the Hawthorne bridge in a downpour because it's Portland and you have to. I mean one has to.
On the other hand, I came home in delightful indecision over two lovely rooms in two old, intriguing, beautifully restored Alberta houses for under $400 and found when I checked my email that one of the houses was suddenly sold and isn't for rent anymore. And technically the other one isn't quite mine for the asking; its current inhabitant is still mulling over prospects. And now I'm saddened and need to readjust my brain and all in all I don't get to live with an adorable Labrador puppy and his queer vegan composting co-op-member mama.
Between analyses of potential living situations, notes relating to my one job interview this morning, notes on various parts of the city, discoveries relating to eating establishments and transit features, and general soliloquizing, I wrote something like 25 pages in my journal this weekend. Most of it is reproducible here. Some of it is interesting. All of it is sitting in my (suddenly exorbitantly expensive) apartment, where the internet access is still fucking not working after 2 weeks, this is getting ridiculous, we are a week and two service calls past where Comcast should be either providing us with the internet access we are paying for or telling us not to pay for it until it is actually provided. But they are not, because it is Comcast.
I leave you with the words of a jovial gentleman on the #8 bus heading down NE 15th Avenue on Saturday night: "Better to be late to the Pearly Gate than to arrive on time in Hell."
To what that might relate around here, I haven't the faintest clue. But we at Snoqualmie believe in picking up discarded epigrams and re-using them. You never know when they might turn out to be a nonrenewable resource.
Questions for today:
1. Why, when Dianna looked at the Portland weather forecast for this weekend and discovered a 40% chance of rain, did she decide to leave her umbrella, raincoat, and boots at home? Here a 40% chance of rain does not mean it is slightly less than likely that it will rain, it means it will rain for 40% of the day. And possibly drizzle for the other 60%.
1a. Will her 12-year-old leaky Chucks dry while she is sitting in this delightful internet cafe slash gaming establishment, and if they do not, is it worth it to go and buy a pair of $5 sandals so that her feet can get wet without the bother of socks and blisters?
2. What on earth was the Granada Hills Highland Marching Band doing in the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade this morning?
3. Whatever happened to the ever-so-cheerful and friendly girl who was supposed to meet Dianna yesterday to talk about rooming together? Has she been washed away by the rain?
3a. Do you, like Dianna, find it hilarious that one of the people who emailed Dianna via Craigslist to offer an apartment share was willing to answer any question except, "what general part of town is your apartment in?" It's the strangest thing to be cagey about. When I asked for at least a neighborhood I got the response, "well, I guess it isn't going to work out, sorry."
4. Will Dianna survive if she doesn't manage to find an apartment in the Alberta district RIGHT NOW OMG WHY IS IT SO NEAT THERE?
4a. Is it embarrassing that she walked into Vita Cafe, Alberta's rather prominent vegan/vegetarian cafe, and asked if it was possible to get a vegan lunch there, or is it just serendipitously amusing?
5. Why aren't my socks dry yet????
Spending a warm Sunday afternoon in a cubicle at work instead of relaxing in the sun is all right as long as you have
Between Lisa, Ping, my roommate Tim, and myself we demolished eight heavily-frosted vegan chocolate-orange cupcakes between last night and just now. But that statement somewhat obscures the fact that four of those were eaten by me. Chew on that, Miss Manners.