17 October 2010

365 Days in the City: Day 42 - Street Cars and Homeless Penguins

This day simply couldn't get any more entertaining.

I decided to ride the street car to meet a friend for lunch today. It was my first time trying it, and like a kid on the first day of school, I wasn't without apprehension. I checked the schedule and walked the two blocks to the stop. On time, clean and quick, it was great. Even better, I live in the fare-free zone that encompasses most of downtown Portland (what an amazing city this is), so it was without cost. Lunch was fine and I headed back to get on the street car.

As I was awaiting the car, a man sat down next to me who was clearly homeless (I was breathing through my mouth for a while). I didn't really pay any attention and continued my telephone web browsing, until a somewhat chirpy, sing-song voice said:

"Excuse me, could you tell me what time the next car comes?"
"In about two minutes," I said.
"Thank you, penguins are not very good at reading small print, but we can march in straight lines in temperatures of negative 50, so we are rather militant."

I'm sorry what?

I looked up and now noticed the man next to me. Penguin hat (like the ones that have a face on them and ear-covers that are like wings) and a face painted red. I decided to engage.

"Well, it's a good thing it isn't that cold here," I said.
"Indeed, but it was chilly today," he said as though he hadn't just suggested he was a penguin. "But I don't much like marching in lines, do you?"

I indicated that indeed I didn't.

"It gets quite sunny here, which can lead to sunburn," he said pointing to his face which was clearly painted cherry red and flaking badly. "But if you try to steal anything, they will catch you, red handed," he observed, opening his palm to reveal more paint. I laughed and he indicated that I sounded like I might be a Portlander, and asked if I knew the mayor, whom he said he was quite close with.

He asked where I was from and was excited to hear that I was from the DC area.

"I used to live in Dupont Circle! Have you heard of it?" he asked.
"Yes, I have."
"I worked for a congressman there for a while."
"Oh."
"Are you involved in politics, is that why you lived in DC" he asked.

I explained that my father worker for the Smithsonian (which isn't even why we lived in DC, but it's an easy connection. This revelation made him very excited.

"Ohhhhhh! The Smithsonian! Well, I used to work there also." he beamed "You could say I change jobs like some people do shoes." But then his demeanor darkened a bit. "But I don't like to talk about that experience."

Sadly the street car came at the moment. The penguin had explained to me earlier that he didn't like crowded street cars, and this one had quite a few people in it. So, he wished me well and we shook hands as he waved to everyone on the car.

Well, Portland has penguins who hang out with the mayor after migrating from the DC area where they enjoyed stints with congressmen and the Smithsonian. Well, not the Smithsonian, we don't talk about that.

Best. Day. Yet.

365 Days in the City: Day 41 - Kicking Butt & Taking Names

Working late and traveling to New Orleans for a convention have put a cramp in my ability to move the loft forward. I am ready for it to be ready!

Yesterday I made some great progress not only on the apartment front, but also on the "Oh my gosh I love living in the city so much, everything is so close and cool" front. I met some friends at Mother's Bistro for breakfast and following that, I went over to the Saturday Market to hopefully score some affordable local artists' work to display on my walls.

I heart the Portland Saturday Market.

The outing was a success, however, I learned from this experience to always bring plenty of cash to the Saturday Market, as I had to visit ATMs twice, racking up a whole $7 in withdrawal fees [sad day].

On the way back I stopped into a little antiques shop two blocks from my house and scored two awesome arm chairs really inexpensively. This day was going very well.

I headed over across the river and met a couple friends for lunch and we went to the Rebuilding Center where I needed to shop for an old door (to use as a top for a kitchen island), and some old wood to top an old buffet I bought earlier in the week. Score and score!

The day continued surveying a couple more Portland restaurants with a friend and then a restful evening at home, putting some of my new artwork in frames and catching up on my guilty pleasure, the Real World.

All in all, a fantastical Day 41.

03 October 2010

365 Days in the City: Day 27 - The Front Stoop

I finally got my internet connected yesterday, so I hope to update more often as was planned originally (despite the disbelief of some).

Since I moved in, matched only by "how's the apartment coming?" is the question "Do you feel safe?" (To remind the world, my apartment is on the first floor with direct street-level access, which is apparently terrifying to everyone, ignoring the fact that
most peoples' houses have first floor, direct street-level access.) In brief, the answer is yes, I feel very safe.

Now that being said, having first floor, direct street-level access in a downtown area isn't without it's, well charm. Living in The Pearl, Portland's trendy, art district is a far cry from anything dangerous, but it certainly can be a mixed bag.

On the lighter side of things, the other day I walked out to find a sweet Ferrari parked out front (how bad could a neighborhood really be with a Ferrari parked out front?). The part I am now finding charming about my new loft that at first was a source of major concern is my front stoop. It is a very popular place. I generally enter and exit my loft through the back door into the garage, as I a
m typically driving somewhere. As a result, I typically leave the front light off. The other night I came home (at around midnight) and there were two men standing on my front stoop talking. It kind of freaked me out, but as soon as I walked in, they left. From that point on I decided it was entertaining. Two nights ago, I turned off a movie and was surprised to hear a woman talking out front. I walked downstairs and realized she was having a rather scandalous conversation with a man on my front stoop. I really wanted to turn the light on to give them a scare, but it seemed unwelcoming. After all, they chose my stoop to have their personal conversation, and darn it, I was going to live up to a reputation for hospitality.

So I put a welcome mat out.

Today while I was working on unpacking, a man came and sat on the stoop for a while. I'm not sure what he was doing, but he was using the mat, which made me happy.

So in summary, yes, I feel very safe, and yes, the front stoop may be the most happening place in town. I'm thinking of putting a chair out there and maybe even a fold-away bed.

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