Saturday, May 17, 2008

Back from Portland

Man, when I take a break, I'm serious about it. April 28 was my last post and while I have thought countless times per day, "That would be a fun/sad/miserable/
fucking awful thing to write about," apparently nothing really made its way to my fingertips. Still, I am giving myself points for bloggity thoughts.

We had a substitute teacher today in my water aerobics class. Her name is Gina and she is kept buoyant by dint of the large and floatiness of her fake tits. She's nice enough, albeit a little on the dull side but I was doing well enough with all her crazy ways of keeping us busy, deeply sighing so only I could hear and wearing an unnaturally sunny half-smile. Gina is always bouncing around the club, happily drawing attention to her 22" waist and 40" perky globes and I rarely think anything aside from "oh there's Gina...she looks happy." Seriously. I see that many enhanced women when I wander into the Calabasas Gelson's every day that I rarely think "oh for chrissakes" anymore. As a matter of fact, the day we moved to Topanga (almost six years ago) I had to head down the hill for milk and stuff and I went into Gelson's since I knew where it was. Driving back home I was pretty astounded that I'd seen half the porn movie industry doing their grocery shopping at the same time. Amazing, I thought and drove faster so I could get up the hill and tell Roger about the excitement of it all. I had seen Boogie Nights and knew that the Valley was porn central, but I didn't realize it was located quite this far west. But I'd read it all wrong. These weren't the actors or the extras, these were just Calabasas moms doing their grocery shopping, pants slung precariously low with Juicy emblazoned across the ass and necklines way south of cleavage to enhance the allure of their jutting mammaries. Funny how you get used to things.

But yesterday we flew home from our four days in Portland which I do believe is the complete and total antithesis of Los Angeles and Gina, therefore, was almost a little shocking. We went there to help our friend, Lee, celebrate his 60th and to hang with Betsy who had just had her first chemotherapy a couple of days before we arrived and it was wonderful to be with them both in their new digs. Still, Portland is so very different from L.A.

Things I noticed in Portland:

  • Tits that are low-slung, not blouses. So not only does the average gal in Portland seem to shun implants, she also shuns the humble bra.
  • Socks on grown-ups when it's hot outside. Socks with skirts. Socks with shorts. Socks with sandals. Socks.
  • Frizzy hair. It's a lot more humid up there.
  • People who aren't that good looking but very hip in a resale shop/retro kinda way. You get used to the beauty in Los Angeles and it's almost shocking when you see normal looking people in such abundance.
  • Lots of hip wine bars filled with lots of women. Even women with babies having a glass of wine with the baby nestled comfily in a sling. I particularly liked that approach to babies and life and nursing.
  • Smiles. These people seriously smile a lot. And nice? I've never been around such overtly nice people. It made me a little uncomfortable at times but I was gradually getting used to it.
  • People apologizing for know, stuff like this woman not holding the bathroom door open for me when she went in a good 10' in front of me and didn't notice me until the door was closing when she hauled it open and said, seriously, 'ohmygodi'msorryididn'tsee you.' That kind of thing. I hate to sound all city-hard, but for a minute I thought maybe she was crazy. She wasn't. Just nice.
  • A woman taking her cat, Salami, for a run down a busy street...without a leash. Salami knew how to hang tight with her owner (who was nice and had frizzy hair, wasn't wearing a bra and was wearing socks with her sort of dressy sandals).
  • Fantastic restaurants all over the place. The choice was staggering. This is a seriously food and wine-driven town and the choices are pretty exciting. We had dinner on Thursday night at Le Pigeon (no french accent please) and aside from their throwing foie gras into stuff for what I believe to be the shock value (a peanut butter mini cookie laced with foie gras was hideous, in my opinion), the food was superb. Seriously good stuff.
  • Ten minutes. That's how long it takes you to get anywhere in Portland. At least it seemed that way. Amazing.
  • Rhododendrons and azaleas and roses and dogwood abundance. So beautiful. And moss. They say it doesn't rain that much, but there's a lot of moss around which makes me believe that even if it doesn't rain all the time, it has to be damp and cloudy (a lot).
  • Slow drivers. It's a good thing, I'm sure, but it sort of felt uncomfortable, like everyone was just a little weirded out by this newfangled four-wheeled invention. They are that used to good public transportation, walking and biking.
  • Pedestrian's rights. A car will cheerfully stop for you and wait until you're safely on the other side of the road before proceeding even when you're not in a crosswalk. I tried not to make eye contact with drivers whenever I thought about crossing the street. I felt badly that they would screech to a stop just because I wanted to cross.
  • Betsy and Lee. They could be anywhere and we'd go, but I'm sure glad they chose a city as cool as Portland.
If we hadn't lived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for several years, Portland may have tempted me a bit more as a place where I'd consider living. But all that moss...for now I was happy to come home to the brilliant sunshine and insane temperatures (early heat wave), the heavenly scent of sage, lavender and rosemary that permeates the hillsides around my house and most of the things that make Southern California our home for now. The scene at Gelson's? That not so much.


Anonymous GraceD said...

Ah, there you are! Welcome back to your hilltop retreat above the porn industry. Can you smell the lube from your yard? Sorry, that was kinda gross, but think of the mass scale usage of the stuff just in the San Fernando Valley alone.

Yes, yes, yes to all your austute Margaret Mead-esque observations of the Oregonians in their native habitat. I'd like to add the following:

* Brew pubs everywhere. The best - McMenamins:

One of their breweries is in an old elementary school refurbished to one of the best lodgings I've ever had the pleasure to frequent, the Kennedy School.

* Tevas, Chacos, any and all of those heavy duty sandals you find at REI. Everyone up there treads Mother Earth in these big boats. With socks, of course.

* California Haters. Mention our glorious golden state and you'll be sneered at, heckled, and, perhaps, thrown out of wherever you are, including a (once)dear friend's home. Honestly, they should get over themselves about their California issues.

* White kids with dreads but not as many as there are in Eugene. However, Santa Cruz serves as the spiritual center for dread locked white children.

* How many black people did you see up there? Not many, right? Yeah, you ain't gonna catch no sister or brother in those clunky Tevas, that's for sure.

* Bikes. Everywhere. Portland is one big Critical Mass

* Outdoor wear for everyone. How much Patagonia clothing can one city wear? Portland says, a lot. And, if you can't wear Patagonia/Patagucci, then one must resort to the lower life forms of outdoor wear, say 'Columbia'.

* Too many self-congratulatory sorts. I think this has something to do with California Hating. Or, the Tevas. They may have the dread lock cool look, but mention a food item that's not wholly organic, say Cool Ranch flavored Doritos, and you'll be thrown into the Columbia River.

Having said all that, I'm charmed to heck whenever I'm up in Portland. I do, however, come prepared in my own Patagonia ensemble, lest the natives go after me, dreads waving, Tevas slapping, McMenamins beer foaming out of their mouths.

Glad you survived.

Love always,

9:01 AM  
Blogger Retiredandcrazy said...

Newcastle-upon-Tyne? Portland? LA? Mmmm! Not much difference there! I hope your friend is coping with the chemo.

3:41 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Lin, I loved this post! Your description of the pretty, plastic people of Los Angeles was priceless. Well worth waiting for!

3:47 PM  
Blogger Guineapigmum said...

I couldn't quite get my head around the similarity between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Portland. Is it something to do with rain, I wonder?

I hope Betsy isn't having too hard a time with the chemo and that your positive spirit encouraged her.

2:51 AM  
Blogger OvaGirl said...

Great post Lin, I'd reckon I'd go to Portland on the strength of this alone. Although I would be worried about all the moss too...where there's too much moss there's also a preponderance for thrush I suspect. But I could be wrong.

5:17 AM  

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