Friday, August 29, 2014

You're gonna laugh at me

I'm just sitting here, on a Friday night, trying to decide what my wedding song would be if I were to get married tomorrow. So before you start laughing about the sorry state of my life (I think I'd choose Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits, but Maybe I'm Amazed is also a contender), lemme just do a lil bit of 'splainin. I think about questions like these all day long. Usually they aren't quite so outrageous, but I do. If I were leaving right this second and never coming back, what's the one album I'd take with me? (Grass Roots - Their 16 Greatest Hits.) What's really my favorite flower? (Lilacs.) And on and on. I quiz myself about little things all the time. I play out scenarios based on my scenarios, and it goes on and on and on. I hope to god I'm not the only person who does this, although I presume that I am. Anyway, thinking about that question tonight got me thinking about those fantastic "myspace surveys" we all used to do; a million little questions in a survey that we'd fill out and post on our myspace pages and aol profiles. You know what I'm talking about. Anyway, they're incredibly asinine most of the time, not to mention completely self-serving, but I actually really enjoyed reading the answers of my friends (and people I hardly knew) because people were generally pretty honest on them since they were really only answering them for themselves. I think it's pretty easy to fall into a routine of waking up and going to work and coming home and exercising and eating dinner and watching tv and going to bed and never doing a whole lot of critical thinking, whether about ourselves or about the rest of the world, so those little quizzes were kind of smart because they got us thinking.

I think you know where this is going.

Since it's a Friday night, and I'm at home alone with a bottle of beer that my boss gave me this afternoon (thanks, boss!), and since I have a big weekend starting in the morning and mostly because I have nothing better to do at the present moment, I found myself a myspace quiz. That is actually what I typed into google: "myspace surveys". Up popped a goldmine, replete with clip art from the late 90s.

I also haven't read any of the questions in this quiz, so this should be a lot of fun, and totally not sophomoric at all.


A- Available: Yes!

A- Age: 24 and 11/12ths.

A- Annoyance: Oh man. Only one?! Freight trains as of late. I'm stopped by one near-daily.


B- Best Friend: littleboo1088.

B- Birthday: September the 23rd.

B- Brand of cell phone: A cracked Apple.


C- Crush: I should have known this question would be on here. I'm going to plead the fifth. Sorry.

C- Car: Suzy the Jetta, 8 years and counting.

C- Candy: Does Reese's count? Because I choose those. There is no close second.


D- Day or Night: Day. Day is when you see all the flowers.

D- Dream Car: I don't have one of those. Cheap date, huh?

D- Dog: Specific? Judy. Vague? Australian shepherds.


E- Easiest Person to Talk to: So many! Beth. Kari. My sister. Babies who don't understand language quite yet.

E- Eggs: Frittata-ed.

E- Earnings: Enough.


F- Favorite Month: MaySeptemberDecember. This one hasn't changed since my high school days.

F- Favorite Color: Most days it's green. Some days, yellow. But always always, the color of the sky on a perfect Midwest afternoon.

F- Favorite Memory: Whoa baby! I'll have to come back to this one. Okay I'm back (really I did finish the rest of the quiz and then come back). I think my general favorite memories just revolve around everything related to growing up with Abby and Beth. Sleepovers at their houses 5x a week, watching the OC obsessively, getting ready for dances, having parties, making Jackson 5 lanyards, driving anywhere and everywhere, trips to Arizona, weekends in Colorado, middle of the night trips to Jewel, that one time when we decided to stay up all night and walked around the neighborhood at sunrise, watching Moulin Rouge in the basement of the old lake house, LNSG, LH3, french fry Fridays, Ireland, etc etc.


G- Gummy Bears or Worms: Wormies.

G- Giver or Taker: Giver. Always. Although taking is pretty nice once in a while.

G- Graduated: From kindergarten, and from middle school, and high school, and college!


H- Hair Color: Brown turned blonde.

H- Height: Five feet and ten inches.

H- Happy: Very very very much so. I just smiled as I wrote that, matterafact.


I- Ice Cream: Mint Oreo Blizzard.

I- Instrument: I don't know how to play a lick of any of them. I like the sound of pianos and violins though.

I- Insecurity: b-o-d-y-i-m-a-g-e


J- Jewelry: I used to wear so much! One ring is plenty these days. Sometimes a pair of earrings is nice.

J- Job: Nanny!!!!

J- Jail: No?


K- Kids: Yes. But I get paid to take care of them.

K- Kickboxing or Karate: Karate.

K- Kindergarten: Did it. Loved it.


L- Longest Car Ride: Nonstop from Boulder to Chicago during a snowstorm.

L- Last kiss: Last week. WHO'S ASKING?!

L- Lipstick or Lip gloss: Stick ick ick.


M- Milk Flavor: Chocolate!

M- Most Missed Memory: My childhood imagination.

M- Movie: Matilda. One and only, forever.


N- Number of Siblings: 3. 6 if you count the in-laws! (I do.)

N- Number of Tattoos: Uno.

N- Name: Alexe.


O- One Wish: Call me optimistic, but world peace would really be nice.

O- One Phobia: I don't know, man. Ever since I heard that story (last week) about the Chinese chef who cut the snake's head off and then it bit him and killed him twenty minutes later, I've been a little wary of snakes. Not like I've encountered any. But I'd like to keep it that way.

O- One Regret: Not studying abroad in college. I'll regret it forever.


P- Pet Peeves: Others standing next to me while I'm sitting. Generally rude people. Kiwis (the fruit).

P- Part of Your Appearance You Like Best: Tush, usually.

P- Part of Your Personality: What about it? that I like best? Just a part of it that I have? How about that I'm a goof like 90% of the time?


Q- Quote: "Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card." -Arthur

Q- Quick or Slow: Oh, I don't know. Are we talking waiting for pizza to cook or dial-up speeds or length of playoff basketball games? I'm generally happy with something right in the middle.

Q- Quiet or Loud? This is genuinely a terrible question.


R- Reason to Smile: There are 4 vases of flowers at the table I'm sitting at. Plus 7 succulents and a plant.

R- Reality TV Show: Guys. I need to tell you something. Earlier this summer, I decided to watch an episode of The Bachelorette just to see how truly terrible it is. I've bashed it since its inception (conception? inception I think.) and figured I probably should actually watch it to see what it is I hate about it so much. Well, weeks and weeks later I found myself TEARING UP at the finale. So, yeah. Don't worry, I hate myself for it, too.

R- Reason to Cry: The other night I went to the movies, and just as the movie was starting a man walked in and just stood near the door for a few minutes. Even two or three years ago I would have thought nothing of that, but all I could think was that there was a chance, however small it was, that the man was angry about something or had been laid off or divorced that day, and he had chosen that movie theater to take his aggression out on. And that thought made me want to cry. (Turns out, he was just waiting for his wife to get out of the bathroom before sitting down.)


S- Song Last Heard: George Ezra - Budapest.

S- Season: I sure do like me some fall and some spring. Also early winter and early summer. But whatever we're on now (late summer?) is pretty good too. So, everything but February.

S- Shoe: I'm pretty partial to my Saltwaters these days.


T- Time You Woke Up: 6:36 am.

T- Time Now: 10:52 pm.

T- Time you wish it was: Tool time.


U- Umbrella design/Color: Is this real?

U- Under your bed: Boxes. And backpacks and sheets and books.

U- Underwear: Pervy 14-year-olds.


v- Vegetable You Hate: I'm not really down with mushrooms, but I don't hate them.

V- Vacation Spot: Pacific Northwest, please.

V- Voting: Yes, I do that.


W- Worst Habits: I lack self control in most things. I also swear too much in front of strangers.

W- Where Are You Going to Travel Next: In state: Mt Hood National Forest. Out of state: MONTANA! Wait. Seattle first. THEN MONTANA!

W- Weather Right Now: Night. Clear. Normal night weather?


X- X-Rays: Pathetic attempt at an x question. Yes, I've had x-rays because I'm a human adult.

X- X-Cited about: My weekend! And the next few weekends! And fall! And next year!



Y- Year You Were Born: 1989.

Y- Year it is Now: 2014.

Y- Yellow: Is a very good color.


Z- Zoo Animal: I went to the zoo today! I saw bears and beavers and elephants and a couple of sleepy warthogs. But usually the lions and tigers are my favorites.

Z- Zero tolerance for: Blatant disrespect, especially in a racial context.

Z- Zzzzz What time do you go to bed? Now-ish.

Well, that wasn't particularly enlightening. I guess I forgot how few deep questions life had for us when we were barely teenagers. But anyway. Now I can say I did a myspace quiz at age 24. And that's something!*

*No it's not.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Friends and Flowers

It's been a day for being outdoors. Who am I kidding, this whole dang summer has been one for the outdoors. This has been one of the most consistently lovely summers I can remember; which probably means like for the last fifteen years? Anyway, there are some days when it's a tinge too hot to enjoy anything other than air conditioning or a slip n slide, but for the most part it's been sunny and just warm enough every day. I spent the first half of the summer outdoors all the time and the second half of the summer outdoors half of the time, and inside napping, feeling guilty the other half. Because it's not truly summer unless you feel guilty every time you choose to hang out at home rather than climb a mountain or jump in a river or any other number of absurd outdoor activities available here. Anyway. Photos. Some indoors, some out. 

 My Kar Bear came to visit for the umpteenth time, and it was one of our best trips yet. We had dinner at Luc Lac, a Vietnamese restaurant that I'm pretty partial to. And only partly because of the bonkers good food. 

 After drinking roughly 5 tequila cocktails, I realized it was National IPA day so I sucked it up and got one. I've got a love-hate relationship with the old india pale ale. Some days it's the best thing I can imagine drinking, other days it tastes like hopped up garbage. 

 The beauty of this photo is that you can't tell if it was taken indoors or out. I'll never tell. (We were watching American Ninja Warrior on the couch.) 

 A crazy insane thing happened, where I went to the Commons, the brewery I go to a hundred times a week, and there was a Judy doppelgänger there. This pup's name was Mosley and had a patch of white on his chest, but other than that he and Judy were the exact same dog. I showed his owners photos. We were all in awe. 

 Just wouldn't be a set of photos without some Gus thrown in. I know I'm biased, but COME ON! Those dimples? Those chubby arms? Gah. My sister knows how to make em, that's for sure. 

 Trip two to the Commons. I wasn't kidding. They know me by name. 

 A hot effin' day that required a visit to the splash pad. Daner and I spent 7/10ths of the afternoon chasing pigeons. Fine with me. 

 Probably the cutest human to ever be wrapped in a Victoria's Secret towel. 

Garden grubbin'. 

 We spent an afternoon picking flowers and arranging them. She makes a good model. 

 Car giardiniera. Cardiniera?

 My eyes are not the same color here, thank you very much glasses, but my darlin Izzy came to visit! We took a lot of shots over the course of 5 days. Like a lot. Like even a shot of gin.

 He loves the camera more than just about anything, besides pickles and pizza and dancing. 

 Bucktown Pub reunion! I love visitors! 

 Spent a day with this little darling. Her favorite food is burritos. 


 We spent an afternoon at a swimming hole, and I was in l-o-v-e. It was deep enough for me to swim around in, and I even jumped off a sorta-tall rock that probably wasn't more than 8 feet but felt like an eternity to me. And then I did it again. 

 This photo is blurry because when you host a pizza party, you don't take a lot of time to photograph it. 

 .....And then the confetti came out. 

 He was happier than he looks about being covered in confetti. I think. 

 River pickles. This is me summed up in one photo, I think. 

 And then this morning I lived a little dream and went out to an island and picked a bucket of flowers. 

 I am so, so so so so so unbelievably excited to play with flowers for a living. The only very small minor teeny-tiny issue is that I'm 90% sure I'm allergic to multiple varieties of flowers. Oy.

 There are few things happier than a field full of sunflowers. 

 I took a wander around the neighborhood this evening, in typical Sunday fashion. This rose was particularly stunning. 

And I made a short stop at my favorite Portland bridge on the way home from the flower massacre. This view truly doesn't get old. The good ones never do. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Love Letter to Portland, Oregon

I arrived in Portland on a rainy night in September, the day after I turned 24, after spending the better part of a month crisscrossing through the western United States. As I crossed the Willamette in the dark and drove those last few miles to my new home, one I needed directions to get to but had looked up on Google Earth enough times that I felt I already lived there, I remember thinking that I needed to remember that moment, because it was sure to be one of the defining ones of my life. And when the infamous “Portland, Oregon” sign came into view, and I put on a Decemberists song, because of course I did, I realized I was starting the adventure of a lifetime.

I am asked on a near-daily basis why I chose to move here, and my answer is the same now as it was on day one: a shrug of my shoulders and two little words: “Why not?” I had and have always loved to travel, but never felt the need, as many do, to simply “get out” of my hometown in search of something bigger and better and brighter. I’ve never felt the need to escape. My feelings are the opposite; I grew up somewhere wonderful, somewhere I knew I could always happily come back to, so why not see what the rest of this country has to offer for a little while?

I gave practically no thought to the Pacific Northwest prior to my adulthood, save for a brief thought of applying to college at the University of Oregon before dismissing it as too rainy for me. (I eventually settled on college in Boulder, a city known for its 300+ days of sun. I transferred out after three semesters.)  But I had taken a lengthy Internet quiz in my last semester of college that claimed to predict where I should move, a quiz similar to those of the Buzzfeed variety, except this one was actually meaningful and didn’t ask questions like “What is your favorite emoji?” After half an hour or so of questions, I drummed my fingers and waited for my results; and when they arrived, I was amazed: Corvallis, Eugene, Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, Kent, Puyallup, Vancouver, etc. It was a list of twenty or so cities, and only one was located outside the Pacific Northwest. It hit me like a sack of bricks that day, and after the brief feeling of idiocy passed at not realizing it sooner, I became obsessed with the idea of moving to Upper Left, USA.

So, fast-forward two years, a few breakups, and a year in Chicago, when I fulfilled the prophecy of an internet quiz, packed my material life into my car, convinced my roommate to come out here with me, and moved to Portland. But we didn’t move here for jobs, and we didn’t move here for school, and we didn’t move here for a guy, who would have hypothetically been a bearded musician who worked as a barista to pay the bills. We moved here because we couldn’t think of any reason why we shouldn’t.*

That night in September was eleven months ago, and I can say assuredly that the past eleven months have been the most important of my life. I have learned so much, both about myself and my relationships, but also about the rest of the world. I have been the loneliest I’ve ever been, and also the most proud, and I’ve learned many clichĂ© lessons about growing up and about who I am and learning to just let my freak flag fly. Admittedly, much of that has to do with the simple act of moving across the country to a city where I knew virtually no one, and whether I moved to Portland or Seattle or San Diego didn’t make much of a difference. I’m just really, really glad that I chose Portland.

This is a city like none I’ve ever known, and I don’t expect to ever visit a new city and think to myself, “You know what? This reminds me of Portland.” Portland is like nowhere else. In an America where citizens are becoming more and more disheartened and ashamed of their society, the amount of civic pride in Portland only seems to grow. People love to live here; they feel lucky to be here, whether because they were raised here and have never left, or because they did what I did and chose this city over all others. It’s a city where bicyclists are respected, smiled at, and given wide berths, but it’s perfectly okay to drive a car if that’s what you prefer. You can walk down the street in anything you’d like (no, really), you can smoke cigarettes or smoke a joint or not smoke at all, you can find a decent beer for a dollar and change without searching too hard. In Portland, it’s not uncommon to make small talk at the grocery store or in line at the post office or simply walking down the street. Nearly everywhere I go, I am asked how my day is going or what my weekend plans are, and it never feels perfunctory. There were sixteen homicides in Portland in 2013. In Milwaukee, a city with five thousand fewer people, there were 106.

Much of that happiness relates, in my opinion, to the main reason why I moved here in the first place, which is its location. Driving from downtown Portland, I can have my toes in the Pacific Ocean in just over an hour; I could be sitting on a ski lift halfway up Mt. Hood in the same amount of time. Thirty minutes from downtown gets me to the heart of wine country, or to a 620-foot waterfall, or well into Washington. But even better than all of those things is what I can find just out my door. One block from my house is a rose garden, maintained by the community, that should require a fee to walk through but doesn’t, because it’s in Portland. The house down the street has a “community herb garden” out front, and the other day I walked past two kids sitting outside their house with boxes full of extra produce from their garden, asking strangers if they wanted free tomatoes or cucumbers or zucchini. There are, by my estimation, eleven breweries within a twenty-minute walk from my front door. Eleven. The stereotypes about mustaches and hipsters and vegan Christmas trees all ring pretty true here, but it’s a lot easier to be proud to live in a city that’s known for its beer and its friendliness than a city known for its gun violence and corrupt politics.

Oh, and that whole issue of the terrible weather out here? I have a secret. It’s not true. Sure, it rains sometimes, and it can be gloomy for a few days in a row, but it’s no worse than in the Midwest or on the East Coast, and it’s a hell of a lot warmer. I was told when I moved here that it would rain from October through June, and then be beautiful from July through September. It’s true that the weather has been perfect, maybe even too hot, since July 1st, but it was also beautiful in June and in May and in April and in March and even in the February, the month we all know is always terrible and should not exist. There aren’t 300+ days of sun here, but in my opinion, the coast is way more scenic on a cloudy day, with layers of fog blanketing the pine trees and no sun to distract you from the waves crashing onto the cliffs. It’s like Hawaii, but less expensive. And I am lucky enough to live here.

I realize that Portland isn’t perfect, just as no city ever could be. If I could have my way, there would be more diversity here, and a professional football team, and people would be better drivers, and there would be better pizza. Everyone has certain preferences when it comes to where they want to live, and I’m sure there are plenty of (completely insane) people who think Portland is the worst city on earth. But for me, a city where I can hike, bike, swim, eat well, drink well, get lost in a bookstore the size of a city block, and still see the stars from my front yard (because we actually have yards here) is a city worth getting to know.

Moving here was a big decision, but it wasn’t one I ever worried I would regret. I moved here with high expectations, and this city has far surpassed them. There are so many more reasons why I love this city, like the nickel arcade down the street and the guy who rides around on a unicycle and the $3 movie theaters, but I’ll never be able to list them all. It’s a city that doesn’t feel like a city, in the best possible way. But it’s more than that. The people I’ve met here and the friendships I’ve made are some of the best I’ve ever known, and I know that no matter how long I stay in Portland, whether it be for months or years or the rest of my life, I’ll always think of this place as home, just as much as the town where I was born.

And did I mention there’s no sales tax?

* I did end up finding that bearded guy, but he is a bartender, not a barista, and his passion is making movies, not music. Much different.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Beaches and flowers and pizza

Well, it's summer around here. Apparently everywhere else in the country it's mild as can be, but here in the pacific northwest it's an effin sauna day after day. Not really a sauna, because saunas are awful and obviously a creation of the devil, but MY GOD it's been hot for the last 30+ days. Lots of ice water, watermelon, slip n sliding, and sweaty afternoon naps. 

 This cute little monster!

I was very offended by this email. Seriously? That's my dream? Good lord. 

 Beth and I, well we talk a lot. (And on July 16th we were both packing for separate vacations, so naturally we had to FaceTime EIGHT separate times.)

 Beth reminded me the other day of the world's best snack: celery and peanut butter. I've eaten it every day since. Also the scrunched up look on his face is perfection. 

 These are currently my favorite flowers. They're so wonderful and weird. 

 And the old standbys. 

 Naked baby! 

 I woke up early a few days ago and drove out to the beach for the first half of the day. I grew up around Queen Anne's Lace and never gave it much thought until this year, when suddenly I think it's the most beautiful thing. 

 My favorite spot of the Oregon coast. 

 The water looks like fabric. To me at least. 

 If you get close enough, you can hear all the little inhabitants of these shells clicking around. It's sorta scary. Those white things could for sure be alien life. 

 Every time I go to the coast, I end up at the same beach. And that is fine by me. 

 Small treasures. 

There were no fewer than ten thousand people at the beach that day, so I have no clue how I managed to get a photo without any of them. 

I had/have absolutely no idea what this thing is. It washed up in the waves and I picked it up, half expecting it to sting/pinch/bite me.

Moss grows on everything here, you guys. Everything. 

 I feel like it's cool and trendy for white people to like pizza. But for me it is not a game. I think about pizza every single day. I lay in bed thinking about my favorite pizza place in Chicago, and I brainstorm ways to make my homemade pizza better, and whenever someone asks me what I want for dinner, I invariably tell them pizza. I can't even explain why I love it so much, but god do I. 

 Some QT with my best guy, Gus. He tried to eat my sister's phone immediately after this. 

 Speaking of pizza, I made this baby from scratch on Friday! I had a sleepover at work (which I feel weird calling work, because it isn't's a house where I spend time hanging out with two cute kiddos and then drink with their parents....), and figured that late July would be a perfect time to make pizza, which requires the oven to be at 500F for at least an hour. Anyway, it was worth it. 

 I bought a watermelon yesterday morning and it's almost gone already. Sidenote: I stopped on the side of the road in the middle-of-nowhere, Oregon, to pick those flowers. And then some of it fell into  my watermelon, and I was terrified because I remember my mom telling me when I was a kid that Queen Anne's Lace is poisonous. I did some research, and it turns out it's okay. Hemlock is the poisonous one. Really poisonous. Like, its only function is to try and kill you. 

 I took two naps today and found myself falling into a One Tree Hill pit (rewatching my favorite tv shows from high school is my favorite thing lately, and my god are they angsty in that show!), so I put on my running shoes and went outside. And didn't actually do any running, because I was too busy admiring everyone's yards. 

 The city of tie dye roses. 

 Is there any way the driver of this truck isn't an incredibly sweet white-haired man? No. 

 I'm a pretty good person, morality-wise. Every once in a while I'll get honey crisp apples and go through the self-checkout and pretend they are red delicious, but for the most part I don't really like to do bad things. I'm not very rebellious. The other day a cashier gave me too much change and I turned bright red and immediately told her the truth because I couldn't handle it. But it's time you guys know a secret about me: I steal succulents. It's terrible. But every time I pass a house with a huge rock garden and a million of these perfect succulents, it's like my arms move without permission from my brain, and all of a sudden I have a succulent in my hand. It's not good. But I've amassed a beautiful collection! 

 I did not, however, steal these shoes. I left them there for whoever it was that left his shoes on the corner and forgot where he put them. 

 I made friends with this guy, especially after I learned his name was Peavy. I stood there petting him for a solid three minutes, and when I finally walked away, HE DIDN'T EVEN LOOK BACK AT ME. Just laid back down to wait for his next masseuse. Oh, cats. 

 Last little thing: I'm currently listening to this new Sarah Jaffe, and it's very good. Sort of trippy, but easy to listen to.