Friday, November 13, 2009

Colds, cereal.

It's November, I must be sick.

Unfortunately, cute outfits alone are not enough to distract from the exhausted, glazed look in my eyes (trust me, I've tried). Getting to the gym yesterday was what I expect trying to get a whiny toddler into a snowsuit must be like. However, the highlight of the week was probably when I put too much whiskey in my hot toddy and dozed off while watching "The Last Starfighter." I'm weak, but I know there's work to be done, and that's why I'm returning to something I haven't done in a long time: BREAKFAST CEREAL REVIEWS.

Here we have Nature's Path Optimum Blueberry Cinnamon:
I'm usually pretty conservative with my cereal purchases. Without prior research, it's basically impossible to get the real story from the box, as every "natural" cereal seems to make the same claim:

"In 1929, Ol' Burl Huggins started his own farm, with the dream of making a better breakfast cereal for his children. 80 years later, the Huggins family continutes in Burl's tradition, growing wheat on their 2-acre organic farm and using Burl's original plow, drawn by Sunshine the Mule. Huggins Crunch: 100% natural, from our family to yours. Now with GMO-Free Organic Di-Plastinoids!"

In any case, a cereal could be owned by Exxon and contain industrial plastic by-products, and they'd still put a smiling mule on the box and stick it in the natural section. Add to that the weakness of USDA's organic labeling standards, and it's so much easier for me just to stick with what I know. However, that day there was a "2 for $4" sign which instantly dissolved any misgivings I might have had -- into my basket, Exxon Flakes! Upon arriving home, a quick Google search revealed that Nature's Path has not done anything reprehensible, and they seem like very nice people.

SCORE: 8/10. This is the first cereal I've ever had that manages to have "twig" shaped bites without tasting like actual foliage. This is undoubtedly due to the cinnamon coating, which is awesome -- sweet, but not overpowering or fake-tasting. There seemed to be about 6 blueberries in the entire box, but it actually made no difference to me. Do I need a freeze-dried blueberry in each bite? (No.)

Next. Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Raisin Bran!

Score: 7/10: The ability to make a decent organic raisin bran is, for me, the ultimate test of any cereal manufacturer; until now, none have received over a 4/10. UNTIL NOW. Nature's Path, you've managed to make a bran flake that avoids the dreaded "Organic Cardboard Syndrome" that has plagued so many of your contemporaries. Totally delicious! Unfortunately, I take issue with the name you've chosen. Perhaps "Raisin Jerky Bran" might be a better fit, though to be fair your raisins were by far the best I've had in any organic raising bran. What is that smiling Kellogg's sun's secret? (Is it chemicals? I think it's chemicals.)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thinking Outside Ye Olde Box(e)

In the middle of nothing happening, something happened: I no longer have a job. It's not exactly an ideal situation (since the last time I checked, being alive costs money) but in spite of the annoyances and unpleasantries, I'm excited. Don't get me wrong, most of the time the excitement is masked by a lurking terror, but I also realize that this misfortune is actually a golden opportunity to be resourceful and creative. I needed a push to switch gears, and here it is! I would have preferred the "push" not to arrive the day after I bought the $90 bus pass I use(d) to get to work, but what can you do? The push also demanded I walk down the side of a busy street, carrying the contents of my desk in a damp, disintegrating box (a goodbye gift from my former employer), but, again -- whatever.

So, there's that. It's been awhile since I looked for a job, so I turned to the internet to provide me with helpful suggestions. To craft a winning resume and find a job that suits me, the internet suggests I write a list of my strongest skills. Unfortunately, most of my strongest skills are things that place me in the role of "ridiculous sidekick" rather than "conscientious employee" (for example, my dedication to scouring the internet for photos of swooping birds of prey).

Found using the search term "skreee." (via:

The internet also suggests that I keep an open mind to careers that I normally wouldn't have considered. Looking at my skills, several careers jump out at once: writer, editor, and lackey. How pedestrian! Are there skills and talents I'm ignoring? Careers that I'm passing up, simply because they don't exist? After taking a closer look at my talents, here is a list of careers I might also want to consider:

1) Advocate, Dead Russian Author: Want to spend a miserable few hours (days, decades)? Ask me what I think about Vladimir Nabokov. If the man were alive, I would have shown up at his house by now, throwing flowers at his window and yelling paragraphs from "Ada." Instead, I have his portrait hung in the kitchen, next to an embroidered Boston Fern I found at Goodwill. (I live in a house of horrors.) On November 17th, Nabokov's final, unfinished work will be published for the first time, and I'll be at the bookstore when it opens, shaking and jumping up and down.

2) Gossip Columnist, Authors/Composers/Local Poets: You may remember this idea from several years ago, when I wanted to follow Richard Powers around and write a rag called "National Book Award Winners: They're Just Like Us!" (mostly featuring photos of R. P. getting out of cars and locking his bike). Since then, I've switched my attentions to a local poet who seems to live in my neighborhood; I'm still working out the kinks on this one, but I'm picturing a grainy camera-phone shot with the headline, "Featured New Yorker poet also enjoys coffee". Coffee, can you believe it? Local poets are just like us!

3) Motivational Speaker, Contemporary Poetry: Even people who "like poetry" don't like contemporary poetry. People still have framed wall-hangings of Robert Frost poems, but anything much past that has become a type of artistic pariah, pretentious and unimportant, to be read in a breathy, annoying voice. I don't blame anyone for thinking this, because I've heard Maya Angelou reading in a Very Serious Important Poetry Voice, and I'm not sure why anyone could be expected to care Why the Caged Bird Sings. I think poetry is one of those instinctual things, like music, that goes along with your biological beat; somewhere along the way, it ceased to be an instinct, and started feeling artificial. Most people are uncomfortable with modern poetry because (just a theory) it is no longer intuitive for us to let language be musical instead of strictly functional; we are taught and allowed to appreciate music when we're small, but contemporary poetry has been relegated to the land of the dry and academic. Hey, no way! The best modern poets, just like modern musicians, build off traditions and twist them into new and exciting things. I have many, many theories about modern literature, and maybe I'll call you up sometime after I've had too much to drink and tell you all about them. But for now, please put to rest that idea that contemporary poetry is a stagnant, dying thing. Nope! It's alive.

Poetry, coming to get you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Folding the World Over, or, A Ride in My Pocket!

Still kickin'.

So, I went to this wedding. Maybe I saw you there? Two wonderful people got married, and I was lucky enough to be invited to share in the occasion. As a bonus, some of the people I love most in life also happened to be in attendance! As a bonus bonus, the wedding happened to be in Illinois, which is where a bunch of people I'm related to live! Bonus bonus bonus, I managed to land in an airport in the same city where the esteemed Alex B. resides. And so I spent a long weekend hopping from city to city, seeing vows exchanged, eating brunch with friends, and sitting in my mom's kitchen. Per usual, there was not nearly enough time, and I missed some people I was hoping to see. A lot of people, actually. But this is why I have a bed waiting for you in Portland, Oregon! I will even remove all the library books from under the covers if you come to stay. (This is a big deal.)

Anyway, it was like this:

I have a dumb thing to say, but I think about it a lot: isn't it weird that everyone you know doesn't know everyone you know? Or, to put it even dumber: sometimes I forget that I'm not carrying around all of my loved ones in my pocket and showing them everything I see. Some of the people I know in Portland have never even been to the Midwest! How can this be, when it's one of the two centers of the earth for me? And how can it be that the people who give me love and advice in one city don't know the people who give me love and advice in another city? Sometimes I want to defy the laws of physics and fold the world over so that Portland and Illinois can overlap. Oh friends, there are lots of people I know who would love you if you only had a chance to meet them.

But mainly, I just want to fold the world over so we can finally get some decent pizza over here:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wearing white while talking about Labor Day.

As usual, I actually did something of interest, then forgot to update you about it until weeks later. Since it's now September 20th, a Labor Day update seems appropriate, yes? Sometimes this blog is like a time machine!

Anyway, I went up to Washington to Lake Chelan with the Price brothers and 30 of their closest friends. The thing about Lake Chelan is that, in addition to being over 50 miles long, it's also the 24th deepest lake in the world (and 3rd in the country). 24th deepest! When it comes to superlatives, I get excited. After cannonballing in the lake with one of the guys on the trip, I said something akin to, "Say, did you know that Chelan is the 24th deepest lake ON EARTH?!" and he nonchalantly said, "Oh yes, I researched before I came." Needless to say, nearly everyone on this trip got an A+ from me.

We stayed in 3 very nice lake houses, which unfortunately I have no photos of. But here's the 24th deepest lake on Earth:

The only 30 seconds when it wasn't raining.

I want pancakes! Also, because I'm concerned about my internet reputation, I need to make it clear that I'm wiping my hands on my shorts, not grabbing my own butt.

Tally ho, bacon nightmare! This grease-log was lovingly handcrafted from sausage, hamburger, and cheese, then snuggled into a bacon-latticed blanket. The arm is there for size reference. (Size XL)

Goodbye, summer, you treated us well! Ready and waiting for hot cider and cardigans.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Doing things the easy way.

Well, so much for my good intentions. It's for everyone's benefit that I haven't updated, as they would be filled with whining about various things that don't matter, some that do, and lots of desperate laments for more sleep and hugs. Luckily for all of us, the 3 worst weeks of the year have ended, and now I'm ready to paint my kitchen tabletop with chalkboard paint and show you a few photos from my birthday.

28. I skipped up to the forests of Washington with some of the people I like best, to a little campground called "Collins" (hmm!) on the Duckabush River. Remember when I showed you that lovely photo? Turns out I had no idea what I was getting into:

It is so good to let yourself be celebrated once in awhile. 28 felt the same as 27, and 27 felt the same as 26, but 28 feels different than 26, so I know something's happening inside. It's hard to say what my favorite part of the weekend was, but between you and me, I think it was the banana pancakes. (Not pictured: meteor shower, cupcakes, tofu tacos, nerdy card games, early morning swims, streamers wrapped around old-growth trees)

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I have tons of exciting news to share. Would you like to hear the most boring piece of news first? Then check this out:

Behold, or else. (Photo:

These are an early birthday gift from my loving mother, and... man, oh man. Man! I made the big switch from New Balance to Nike, and ended up with running shoes from the future. They're actually even brighter than in the photo, because in the future, they use only space-age materials (from space). One other thing: they weigh less than 6 ounces apiece. That's less than a sandal! A light sandal, even! Ok, one more other thing: I love them so much that I went running twice today. I also set a new personal record mile time the first time I ran with them. Hooray, a new fanatical devotion!

News 2: I have selected a camping spot for my birthday trip! It's a super-awesome site on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, which will remain nameless until I return, since I don't want someone Googling "super-awesome site on Washington's Olympic Peninsula" and showing up with 30 friends while I'm trying to secure a campsite. But here's a photo of the mystery spot:

Hopefully it's this pretty in real life, and not just a parking lot that's been photoshopped with rocks and water. I'm very, very excited to share my birthday with special people, surrounded by nature. I also might wear a tiara while we're hiking. It's my birthday, darn it!

News 3, the only piece of real news: I got my own apartment!! It's a pretty cute little place with hardwood floors (#1 wish for my living space), and it's only a few blocks from both the library and one of my favorite parks. Can you believe that I've never lived alone before? With my level of crankiness, it's nearly impossible to comprehend. I'm going to miss my housemates, but as I've gotten older I've gotten less and less interested in communal living, and more and more interested in PURE SILENCE ALL THE TIME. No talking. Shhhh. It will be so nice to come home after hanging out with friends to my own quiet place! But you're still invited over, of course. I have tea!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


SE 20th and Lincoln. Artist unknown.

Look, I'm not kidding around here. It was nearing 90 at 8 am. Yesterday was 105, today's the same. In desperation, I went to look for a portable air conditioner, only to find that fans and a/c's are sold out in the entire Portland metro area. Instead, I jumped fully clothed into our backyard kiddie pool, then walked across town soaking wet to meet some friends at an air conditioned bar (for a nice glass of ice water). From now on, I plan to do most daily activities while dripping wet.

I'd also like to talk about my room for a second. I came home last night to find that my candles had all completely melted. What does that put my room at... 120? 125? Needless to say, I've evacuated all living things from the upstairs, including my computer, which refused to turn on for a good hour after leaving my room. I also unwisely chose this week to start transplanting some plant cuttings, and I'm worried for their tiny lives. Hang on, little dudes!

Today's my day off, and I'm dreaming of my freezing-cold office. (I am not dreaming of yesterday's deathly hot bus ride home from my freezing-cold office, where the overheated bus stalled on the side of the interstate, and some dude felt the need to turn to me and say, "Hot enough for ya?") Needless to say, I will be spending the day touring the city's most powerfully air conditioned establishments. I believe I have enough activities planned to keep me away from the house until 11 pm, whereupon I will retire to bed under a wet towel. It should be down to at least 98 by then, so, you know... no big deal.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Hot Hot Heat

(Taken in Eugene at the University of Oregon, where I accompanied Colin to a lecture last week)

Time is moving fast. It seems like only 8 days ago, I was promising you that I'd update at least every 7 days. And wasn't it just a few weeks ago that I was laughing at the indignity (oh, the wonderful, delicious indignity) of wearing a sweater in July? Well, those innocent times are over -- it's 100 degrees, with no A/C in sight. Tomorrow, 102. Wednesday, 102. By the weekend, 93. At last, something to look forward to!

All jokes aside, these are not happy times for me, and I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment. As my companion was remarking yesterday, people are moving almost as slowly as they did when we got a foot of snow in December -- I no longer understand how to deal with harsh weather, and neither does anybody else here. Current PDX hot weather fashion consists of only two extremes: 1) "How little clothing can I wear without being arrested?" and 2) "I'm going to walk around in tight jeans and a long-sleeved shirt and pretend this isn't happening." My personal strategy so far has included 2 cold showers a day, outfit changes every 8 hours, and cold bottles of Limonata on the porch. Also, whining! So much whining.


On the other hand, the hot weather has produced some lovely sunsets.

And, well, I guess it's pretty nice to jump in the river when it's really hot outside, especially when you're with a friend. (Note: the person in the photo is not my friend. Also, this is the Sandy River, at Oxbow Park.) I suppose things aren't so bad. Still, Portland: HOW ABOUT TURNING ON THE A/C?! Oh, that's right, you don't do that.

Well, I suppose I'd better get back to lying motionless on my bed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Dear Friends,

It's been so long that Blogger forgot who I was and demanded a password when I tried to update my own blog. It's been so long that I couldn't remember the password, and spent almost an hour trying to figure out what obscure, secret word I possibly could've chosen. (Sometimes I'm so dumb that I outsmart myself.) But look -- here I am! I won't tell you my password, but can I tell you what I've been doing? It's been so long, but I've still been thinking about you a lot.

June passed, July's here. Since we last spoke, I've been camping three times:

Backpacking at Eagle Creek:

Bike camping on the Nestucca:

Central Oregon, Metolius River & Suttle Lake:

(don't be fooled, I'm dying of heatstroke.)

Then, I celebrated America's birthday... keeping hydrated in the 90 degree heat...

... participating in a water balloon toss...

... and mostly, by jumping in a giant inflatable bouncy castle.

Then there were fireworks on the waterfront!

Oh! And here and there and in-between, I was...

... using glowsticks as mustaches...

... learning to skip stones...

...building hula-hoops...

... and finding new reading spots.

There was a bike scavenger hunt...

... and then I nearly broke my ankle trying to cheat during a 3-legged race.

I rode the bus to friends' houses, birthday parties, dinners, movies. It was late, it was early, it was hot, it rained, I ran after it, I missed it, I made it. I had a carton of raspberries, I wanted thai food, I was going downtown for lunch, I was tired after work, I was spilling ice cream on myself.

There were flowers...

... and flowers...

... and flowers.

And in-between I was walking and thinking, holding hands and holding coffee. To the library and back, to his house, to their houses, to air-conditioned cafes (it's hot!) but mostly to nowhere in particular, which is what I like best.

So there! But how are you? Are you well? I'd like to know. I've resolved to update at least once a week (mainly because it takes too much time to upload a month's worth of photos into one entry). Coming up are two special birthdays (one is mine! 28?!), a bike-building project, and a trip to climb Mt. St. Helens. Summer. Summer!