Monday, July 27, 2009

Scorching Days and Mondays always get me Down

Today is the first day of three or four consecutive 100 degree days for Portland. It has already been in the 90s so we've already spent the days showering, moving fans with us wherever we go and drinking more lemonade and ice tea than any human should. But it's going to get hotter anyway . . . and my husband will smile through every degree. The hotter it gets, the happier he is. I guess SOMEONE should enjoy it, right?

PLUS my period (if this is too personal, just skip ahead peeps) is three weeks late and keeps starting and stopping just enough to keep me in a permanent case of PMS. Yes, it's crappy for my family but you know what, it's not much fun for me either.

Then this morning, I get up to find out I am fired from one of the best long term gigs I have ever gotten. No warning, no feedback. Just "you aren't up to our standards" goodbye. I hate to sound smug, but I've been in this business for 25 years and I AM good. Couldn't they work with me if what I did wasn't quite right? Point out what they would like me to change? Guess not, eh? When my work load is already so low, this is just a huge blow for me and I want to lie down on the floor and throw a tantrum instead of shoulder it and keep going.

So that old Carpenters song is running through my head as tears are running down my cheeks and I gotta admit, today is not one of my favorite days.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Love this City

Over the past eight years, some people have asked our family if we would consider moving back to Indiana. Those that ask do not know us very well at the time. Those that know us would hear the question and snicker because they know that the answer is a pretty huge NOPE. The last 24 hours have reminded Joseph and I again of why we are so happy here. If you live in the Portland area, all of this will seem terribly familiar and certainly not new. If you live where we did before, in Indiana, however, you would see how starkly different this new life of ours is.

Yesterday I had a tough day. I am working on a project that is turning me grayer by the second. It is terribly hard, long term and low paying--not the best combination. But it is also WORK and I need that. After literally walking away from the computer in tears not once, but two times, my hubby whispered to me that if I would just hang in there, he had a surprise for me later that night. (Minds out of the gutters, people!) At 11:00, an hour after what I know he would like to be his bedtime, we left the house and drove 170 streets west to the downtown area of Portland. I could already feel my nerves letting go and the day's worries falling by the wayside.

The night life was alive, as it always in in larger cities on hot summer nights. The sidewalks were full of people laughing and chatting and of course, the usual "street drama". Different themes of music burst out of different doorways. Sidewalk tables and chairs were full of people enjoying a cool breeze and cold beer or glass of wine. You feel energized just driving down the street and soaking it in. Joseph and I remarked on how glad we both are that our days hanging out in bars and hoping to find someone are long over. We much prefer being one of the oldie couples walking down the sidewalk hand in hand.

He surprised me by driving to this one area we had commented on several times in the past but never stopped by. It is a corner parking lot where six to eight food vendors (in portable wagons) gather in a circle and provide food for the late night crowd. They open at 8 or 9 pm and go until 2 or 3 in the morning. We parked across the street and walked over. The area was bustling and so alive with people. As always, I was struck with the incredible diversity of this city. There were blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics and Russians. There were gays, straights, queers, questionable . . . It was a rich mix of city folk indeed.

We scouted out the food selection and ended up with J getting a pastrami dog and me a double chocolate creme fried pie. We found an open spot at one of the picnic tables set up under an awning. We were entertained by people watching and an occasional overhead firework when we least expected it. It was a truly perfect Portland moment. We spent most of it talking about how glad we were to live here.

The experience was further enhanced today when we went to the Division/Clinton Street Fair. For a couple of hours, we wandered up and down the sidewalk soaking up the culture once again. We smiled at babies in slings and packs, appreciated the clothing styles that ranged from a bikini top, shorts and more tattoos than skin to Muslim burkas to bohemian tie dye (oops, that's me!) to rhinestones and pink lycra (on a guy). We stopped to listen to a FABULOUS three man band called Sneakin' Out (mandarin, bass guitar and percussion) and took extra time to chuckle at the drummer who managed to play drums, bongos, xylophone and TYPEWRITER while wearing a bright red taffeta skirt, black t-shirt, shaved head and mohawk. We snacked on bratwurst from a sidewalk vendor and tried (and discarded hybiscus ice tea). We connected with Nicole and her friends walking about and stopped by Voodoo Donuts for a quick last sweet bite. We naturally dropped into our favorite thrift store in the area and I picked up a couple of dresses for Nicole and a statue for me.

Once again, it was a day that reminded all of us are fortunate we feel to live in a city like this one. I know that some of the things that make it special to us are also the very things that others would or do not like--the free esxpression, the crowds, the sounds, the swearing, the tattoos, the sweat (it is in the 90s) but for us, it made a perfect Portland 24 hours.

Now I am back home, way out in the suburbs, far from the distinctiveness of downtown Portland. But as I enjoy my quiet deck, I know that it is still out there, only 20 minutes away and I can dip back in and soak it up anytime I want. That's a blessing in my book.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One is Silver, the Other Gold

Friends. In my list of life blessings, they are pretty high. I've had a number of them over my lifetime but only a few have made the "list" of best friends. (And yes, i believe you can have more than one best friend . . . ) Let me introduce you to them.

The first one is my husband. You've heard plenty about him over the course of these blog entries, of course. I truly cherish the man (even when I'd cheerfully throttle him) because he is the kindest person I have ever met. He has more integrity than anyone I know and I still wonder how I was lucky enough to nab him almost 27 years ago. I can be totally myself with him in ways that I know other couples haven't yet discovered. He truly has seen me at my best and my absolute worst and he is STILL HERE. Whew.

The second is my daughter, Nicole. I once was very close with my oldest daughter, Jasmine. I lost her somewhere around the age of 16, I think. I miss what we had every single day and harbor the hope that one day we will rediscover a fragment of it. However, I am incredibly lucky because I also have Nicole. She is almost 19 and she still likes me! We share secrets, laugh to the point of crying, and generally adore each other's company. She reassures me, by who she is, that I must have been a decent mom because wow, look how she's turning out! If I am gonna hang out with another female, she is my first choice. We 'get' each other in a unique and special way that I had in some ways with my own mother--another best friend whose loss I mourn.

But guess what? I'm lucky enough to have TWO more incredible friends. One used to live two blocks from me and now lives 2000 miles. The other lives 10 minutes from my house and I hope she always will.

My Indiana friend . . . . anyone who knows her is blessed. She is the heart of compassion and gentleness. She loves her family with a passion I admire. She is strong, determined and if you hang around long enough to really know her, you find out she has a wicked sense of humor under the surface. She is one of the most ethical people I have ever met. I used to call her my "ethic barometer" and seek out her advice and thoughts on the issues that mattered most to me. I can't tell you how many hours we spent sitting across a kitchen table talking about everything from the mundane to the ridiculous to the profound. I miss those times terribly. Almost 8 years after we left our Indiana lives behind, I cling to our friendship and write letters and emails because she is the epitome of a forever friend to me and I never want to lose what we have developed. I just adore that lady.

My Oregon friend. . . . just thinking about her makes me smile. She has the best, quickest sense of humor I have ever known. I would never, ever want to get in a verbal joust with her because I would lose big time. (And if I ever get on her shit list, I am just going to pack up and move to a foreign country.) She is clever and witty and makes me laugh every day. Under that ironic, sarcastic sense of humor, however, is one of the gentlest hearts in the universe. She has been there for me too many times to count, whether it's a last minute birthday cake for one of my kids to a loan when she knew I needed one to teaching me how to do crafts (kicking and screaming) because she knows I can do them even I happen to disagree vehemently. Stashed in between our joking and our almost nightly instant messaging are thoughts about life, love, marriage, men, children and other deep subjects that we trust each other enough to confide in about. I love my life in Oregon and moving here was one of the best things I have ever done . . . and this friend is one of the reasons why. I adore this lady too.

My life is so much richer for the amazing people that share it with me. I try to count my blessings on a regular basis and you can bet that everyone I mentioned here (and yes, a few more along the line) are top of the list. I hope you're just as lucky in your life. And if you haven't found that best friend yet, keep waiting. You just never know where they are hiding--hoping to meet a friend like you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Crisis, a Trip, Another Crisis and a Scary Mystery (which is actually another crisis . . . )

Did that intrigue you enough to keep reading? Good.

Ok. The first crisis was that, an hour before we were heading out of town with three children, dog and boyfriend (our daughter's) in tow, the clutch cable on the VW bus went out. It took 3 1/2 hours to repair . . . I spent most of it sitting out on the grass trying to provide emotional support for the frustrated husband lying under the bus trying to figure out what to do. The pavement was hot (he burned his back), the cable was the wrong year so too long (a friend showed him how to temporarily fix it) and he was filthy, sweaty and at times either smug over learning how to do something new on the bus and guilty for making all of us wait so long. Our noon departure turned into a 4 pm departure and so we stayed in our lovely, last minute, discounted cabin for a whole 15 hours. Sigh. What time we had there was great fun though. It's interesting to have someone with us that isn't a member of the family. You become much more aware of things you do and say that otherwise, you'd never notice. Jon meshes with us pretty well and after almost six months, we are pretty used to having him around. We swear less, put on more clothes and see a lot less of Niciole. :) Our time at the coast was nice, albeit way too crowded with all of the other people who thought it would be fun to hang out at the ocean on the 4th.

We headed back into town to go to a friend's potluck. It was a really nice gathering but it was HOT and we were weary. We ended up going home, doing a little unpacking and then sitting around watching TV.

On Sunday, Jon suggested we all go to Vancouver Lake for a picnic and swimming. So, off we went. What a lovely park it was too! The kids swam for hours while J and I sat on the beach and talked about life, money, work, family and other profound topics. It was just a lovely day. It was Jasmine's 25th birthday and she was on my mind often throughout the day.

Monday was like a bubble bursting. . .just full of tension and unpleasantness. We had to take the van in for its $750 repairs and I couldn't get it to idle long enough for me to drive. J. was frustrated with the situation (and me), I was feeling completely incompetent . . . ugh. THEN, an editor told me I did a project all wrong and I have three days to fix it. I don't mind fixing it (well, yes I do, but not much) but I mind that my reputation with her has been damaged now. In the evening, Nicole and I went to Lucky Lab for J's VW group. She and I sit alone and write letters, talk and do other fun stuff. It was relaxing and lovely. All of that changed when I got home though and discovered that my blood pressure is 205/115. Scary stuff. I am taking all of my meds as perscribed. I am walking 3-4 times a week. WTH? I have stuff to take if it goes too high. I took it. Nothing changed other than it made me feel like crap. It was a long night. I thought it would be better this morning since I had slept, but no. It's the same. So, yes, I have called and emailed my doctor and am waiting for a response. I suspect it is my kidneys but it is odd to have a jump like this . . and really unnerving too.

So . . . that's it in the Orr house. Think low blood pressure thoughts for me, would ya? I have had enough crisises . . . however you spell that. . . . to last me a while. Really.