2-6 March 2011

March 7, 2011

I’m writing this on a plane. I’ve had four cups of coffee already — I count my venti from starbuck as two — and I feel jittery and claustrophobic. I want to kick at the chair in front of me until my legs can stretch out completely. We were in portland since wednesday, in a little hotel room that looked out over 11th. Today we’ve been married for two years, although I was thinking this morning about how weeks are probably a more accurate measurement of time than years, what with leap years and all. And the fact that we got married on a friday and today is a sunday.

Here’s our trip, although you’re under no obligation to read it. I probably wouldn’t:

1. It takes two trains and a bus to get to love field airport. On the first train, a man sits next to us with his son in his lap, his wife across the aisle. An old man with a bicycle sits down next to the father and son, and when the mom asks if he wants to trade places so she could be with her family, the old man said, No thanks.

2. On our first flight we sit down next to a man wearing glasses, except I notice that his glasses are broken; they’re missing an arm. I wonder if he realizes. He offers us gum, and we take it. I wonder if he might be the nicest guy I’ve ever met, and then he falls asleep before we’re even in the air. He must fly alot, I think. Turns out he’s a pilot.

3. Our train malfunctions in Portland. Somehow we all know it’s a problem with the door, even though nobody tells us. A few rows ahead of us a woman is on a cell phone, and she’s narrating the situation to the person on the other end. I think about how strange it is to hear this moment through her eyes; she’s saying the exact same things I’m saying to myself. A man sprints down the block and catches a train that hasn’t moved for 10 minutes. Janessa sees a drug deal; I see a guy with a skateboard. We’ve been in Portland for 30 minutes, and I’m wondering if it would be ridiculous to bring a skateboard back with me.

4. The door gets fixed. We get to our stop. Our hotel is north, but we don’t know which way is north, so we just start walking, which usually serves me well in downtown situations.

5. Oh, a note about the Portland rail: It’s exactly the same as the Dart rail: poetry on the walls: etc.

6. A note about Colons: They are used to interpret, expand, or link two thoughts together.

7. A note about street signs in Portland: They look exactly the same as street signs in Dallas.

8. We came to Portland mostly for the bookstore. It does not disappoint.

9. There is a book called “Tree of Codes” by Jonathan Safran Foer and it is incredibly hard to find. I’ve been trying for months. Prices on amazon and ebay have shot up into the hundreds of dollars. Janessa finds it at Powells for $20.

10. Friday morning Janessa sleeps in and I walk over to Stumptown coffee, right across the street from our hotel. Don miller talks about Stumptown in Blue Like Jazz, and to be honest that’s mostly why I want to go. I order a large coffee and the guy gives me an empty cup. It’s one of those coffee shops where you get your own coffee. In the back room there’s a huge square of couches and in the middle a huge coffee table. I sit in the corner and read “Bluets” by Maggie Nelson and sip my self-serve french press coffee. People keep walking through the room with their dogs on leashes. They’re going to some back room but I don’t go check it out.

11. What if God isn’t “out there”, but instead in the depths of our very existence?

12. “What if I were to begin by saying I had fallen in love with a color?”

13. At the art museum, a woman with a name tag and a sport coat asks what brings us to Portland. I say it’s our second anniversary, and she smiles and says it will be her 35th on sunday, then she leans in and whispers “my second marriage”.

14. We don’t stay at the art museum long.  A group of teenagers is going around making fancy comments about the work, trying to impress eachother, trying to impress us. I assume they’re art students. It’s hard to be an art student and not be an ass.

15. At 3pm, the hotel sets out tea and cookies. I drink coffee instead but appreciate the thought.

16. I get extremely into Spoon’s album “Transference” and listen to it late at night in our dark hotel room, staring up at the ceiling, the glow of the city coming in around the edges of the curtain. Sometimes things suddenly make sense.

17. We buy green beans and keep them in the refrigerator but it’s set too cold and they freeze.

18. We’re eating in a restaurant and a woman is standing on the street outside our window holding a blank sign. Her face is dirty; she’s wearing a red cap; I can tell by her eyes that she’s not quite right. When I look at her again a few minutes later, her sign says “25 cents”. She had it backwards. Smart, Janessa says, Standing by a parking meter. We think about giving her a Dollar, but by the time we get up to leave she’s gone.

19. When people say someone is a “Few fries short of a happy meal” I used to think that the “Happy Meal” meant craziness but now I think it means sanity. It took me this long to figure that out.

21. We went into diesel and they had a jacket for $250 that would probably have made me a happier person. I didn’t buy it though, not because I’m not the type of person who buys $250 jackets, but because I don’t want to be.

20. We were at the train station this morning before the sun rose. People were wandering around with long beards and grocery bags and I was finishing a cup of hotel coffee. I didn’t buy a skateboard, but I did think about it quite a bit.

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