Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On and On and On and On

Summer in Portland. There’s just so much going on, I actually feel strangely pressured to not miss anything fun, so I try to cram as much into the nonwork hours of my schedule as possible. Really, it almost seems like a form of greed or gluttony the way I consume and gorge myself on fun activities. Guilt is involved, too, if I have to sacrifice, say, a street fair in order to go to a party. It’s actually kind of stressful trying to pack it all in and make those agonizing choices--in a fucked up, privileged, first-world, middle-class sort of way.

Not to be a downer or self-flagellating or anything.

When I first moved to Portland 5.5 years ago, I was casting around trying to make friends with people and had struck up an acquaintance with a woman in my yoga class. She and I had had lunch a couple of times, and I decided to branch out and see if she’d want to go hiking. This was April. She immediately shot me down, telling me that she’d love to, but that all her weekended were completely booked until the end of July. OK. I can take a hint. I can tell when I'm not wanted. I made no further attempts to hang out with her and from then on referred to her as The Woman Who Didn’t Want to Be My Friend, TWWDWTBMF, or Twidwidwhatthebloodymotherfuckingfuck.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve come to realize that maybe she wasn’t trying to blow me off at all. It is totally possible to book and double-book and triple-book every single summer weekend.

For example, here’s what last weekend looked like.

Friday evening: B and I took a leisurely 20-minute stroll over to Fernhill Park to hear a free concert by Dirty Martini,* while enjoying a falafel sandwich from Aladdin’s Café (Portland’s best!) and sitting in one of those lowrider lawnchairs amid a vast swirl of impish preschoolers; their wine-drinking, red-wagon-toting parents; and slumbering dogs (heavy on the border collies).

Saturday: We walked to the Hollywood Farmers Market to buy blueberries and strawberries. I got inexplicably overheated on the walk back (perhaps from not wearing a hat?) and had to shelve my weeding and gardening plans in favor of lounging on the patio drinking ice water and trying to cool down. Eventually, I managed about 45 minutes of weeding, deadheading, and inspecting in the garden. The leaves on my blueberry bushes are looking extra crispy and the berries look like very small prunes. Blast. Apparently, they did not go for those 102 degree temps we had a week or two ago.

Saturday evening: I donned a horrifying oversized shirt with pockets big enough to accommodate four wine coolers (with room to spare) and went to an ‘80s-themed birthday party. One of the first people to greet me was Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, well, a very reasonable facsimile anyway. B and I schmoozed with preppies and Valley Girls. And there was karaoke. As you know, I’m not really a fan of karaoke, but when it’s at someone’s home and there’s a hand-selected mix of all the ‘80s best and worst pop music moments** Well. That’s different. I volunteered to sing “Girlfriend in a Coma” as a duet with my friend P and ended up standing there (as if in a coma) while she belted it out.

But later (after I’d consumed only half a wine cooler), I fearlessly got up and attempted “Bohemian Rhapsody.”*** If you’re going to go down in flames, might as well do it spectacularly. I fear I was terribly off key, but B says I did OK. It was just that I was mostly inaudible. Probably a good thing. I forgot my camera, but the birthday (valley) girl was snapping away, so there’s photographic evidence of it, with me looking all anxious and my face all shiny with sweat (it was really hot that day). I’m clutching the mic with both hands at one point. Who does that? Dorks. A slide show (courtesy of the birthday girl) of the evening and its fashion disasters is here. At least, check out the cake, which, despite appearances, was delicious!

Sunday: We picked up our friends T and M and drove out to idyllic Hood River for the Fruit Loop’s cherry festival. First stop? The Apple Valley Country Store for BBQ pork sandwiches from an itinerant BBQ truck and some cherry cobbler baked right there in the store’s old-timey kitchen. B bought a cherry pie (also baked in the old-timey kitchen)--something he’s been talking incessantly about doing for months! Then we drove to a cherry orchard and were transported on a potentially deadly tractorish thing a total of about 500 yards to some extremely heavily laden Lapin cherry trees. B and I picked five pounds of them in no time.

Were we done for the day? Far from it. Gotta get some exercise. We drove to Lost Lake, where (unbelievably) we’d never been. It’s famous for this magnificent view of Mount Hood. By the time we got there, though, the entire west side of Hood was enshrouded in cloud. You’d never have known it was there. But that was OK. We took the E-Z hike around the lake anyway. The trail was lovely and amazingly undegraded and uncrowded, given that Lost Lake is a very, very, very popular camping/resort area. I liked it very much. We returned to Hood River for obligatory beer and burgers at a brewpub. So many of the hikes I take seem to end that way. And why not?

*Sorry about having to link to a myspace page; I feel fairly confident that it will be the first and last time I ever do it.

**“Ghostbusters,” for example, was immediately followed by “I Want a New Drug.” Remember the law suit about that?. Also, "Ninety-Nine Love Balloons" was on the list! I preferred the German "Luft Ballons" version, didn't you?

**Yes, I know. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is from the late ‘70s, but it's so baroque and over the top it seems like it should have been from the ‘80s.

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