*Trying to figure out whether to stay or go, and make plans either way
*The Great Scan continues
*Fitting in various last bits of Portland, just in case
*Another trip to the Columbia Gorge
*The decision is in!
I do so hope, though, that if this last place doesn’t want to hire me, that I find out before I go. I think I would completely flip out if they called me in for an interview after I left. Seriously!
Did buy a plane ticket today. Got a cheap one, but only to Boston (my brother lives in Maine, and the flights get expensive to get to Maine). If I do end up going, I'll have to take a bus or something the rest of the way, but if I don't end up going, I'm not out a lot for the ticket. It's for March 27th, so a week and a half away. (?!?!?!?!!?)
Stopped at all the waterfalls on the way, and everyplace I stopped, I spent some time, did bits of hikes to see different views. Horsetail Falls, Multnomah Falls, Wahkeenah Falls, Shepherd’s Dell…nice to take time and enjoy it. The waterfalls up close are quite powerful, and the air is full of mist and sound, and the areas around all the falls are so extra mossy and ferny and tropical feeling. The sun eventually went behind the mountains, so even though the highway and river were sunlit, the waterfall areas were all fully shaded by late-afternoon. I kept wanting to turn off the waterfall water to see what was under there, what patterns had worn into the stones, if any plants were living there under that bombardment.
Final stop of Tuesday was the Cascade Locks. Lots of stuff there, playground, museum, etc., but it was all closed for the day. But there was this island thing that I went out on and it was really lovely. It’s part of the locks that they built a hundred years ago to navigate the rough part of the Columbia River. The island was surrounded on both side by the sun-lit river, and there were old trees and mossy rocks and it was just peaceful. Geese, though, and a lot of goose poop! Some people came as I was leaving, letting their dogs run around. Probably a nice local park once all the tourists leave.
Then I went over The Bridge of the Gods! Doesn't that sound exciting? It was, actually, as it's so high over the river and has great views. And it connects two states--I went over to the state of Washington! For all of two minutes! Then turned around and came back, as it was getting late. Headed home after that, feeling relaxed and watching the pink western sky.
Do so wish I had more common sense!
It's amazing that only a hundred miles from all that damp greenness, there is this totally different landscape.
It was very odd driving again, because it wasn’t odd at all. Shouldn’t it feel weird after three months without driving? But it felt completely natural not only to be behind the wheel, but to be navigating around Portland. Natural, typical. Felt, actually, kind of homey. Which I guess makes sense, since my last sense of home did involve a car, very much. And so much of what I was driving was really pretty familiar to me now, by walking and busing. Just seemed like it should feel odd, somehow.
Talking with Dee a bit about her travels in the Amazon—very interesting!
Penelope insisted on hanging out with me all evening, as she has been doing lately. I like the company and am flattered, but could do without her farting…
So that's that. **sigh**
I’m leaving Portland. I have to go while I still have money to go, and time is way up to wait and see about any other jobs. I am now officially moving forward with plans to go to live with my brother.
(There must be a Portlandia song to work with this particular vibe, don't you think?)
Do you know about this free-cycling thing? I wasn’t really familiar with it until I came here—everyone in Portland seems to know about it, although apparently most people do in the summer, when it’s not so rainy. Basically, they just put anything that they don’t want out on the curb. That’s it. I’ve seen cut wood, lots of old clothes, one pile that looked like someone had cleaned out their baking supplies. No wonder no one wanted to pay for anything from my pile—they are used to getting it for free! However, it’s also a bit lazy—the neighbors, for example, put out a TV and it’s been sitting there for a couple of weeks, getting rained on, so it’s not going to work, right? They need to properly dispose of it, but would prefer some other person to get stuck with it? Or they just haven’t gotten around to it yet? I don’t know, but it’s ugly, sitting abandoned there by the sidewalk.
We went down the redwood trail and it was quite impressive. The trees are so tall and big—nothing like the giant sequoias, I’m sure (which I do hope to see one day) but really, really awesome. There were trillium all over the place too, which Raya was really into.
(That's Raya and the trillium. She's my old college roommate that now lives in Portland.)
I weighed all the scanned stuff, and it came to about 75 pounds of papers and photos and miscellaneous—about 50-60 hours of scanning!! (I AM SOOOO SICK OF SCANNING!!!!!) A lot of it is research that I might use for books that I might write, a lot of it is sentimental and I don’t use it for anything, so it’s time to stop hauling it around.
Dee’s house guest arrived today (she had asked me to move out a few weeks ago because she wants to have her house guest here, but I couldn’t quite accommodate the timing, so there is an overlap of 2 ½ days). I'm not super happy about it but I managed to avoid the house guest all day and counted that as an accomplishment. (Don’t worry—we are in different rooms!)
Frantic morning, way more stuff than I thought, so many little odds and ends of things...what is it all for?!?!? Desperately throwing things into boxes and and then realize that my suitcase won't latch on one side, so it's useless. Have a backup suitcase, but wheels don't work on that one and can I carry it? DOUBLE GAH!!
Panicking, crazy, and so, so, so resistant to doing any of it. Do not want to move. Do not!
House guest that I avoided for two days saved my mess by offering to drive me to UPS store (why did I think it would be okay to send the boxes today? Seriously, what is wrong with me????)
And then it all somehow got done, as it somehow always does, in desperate, hyper mode, making myself an anxious mess in the process. Managed to get it all in the taxi, say good-bye to Penelope (sniff!) and get to the airport
and through the long lines and to the gate just as they were finishing up boarding.
The rest of the journey was hurried, as I landed in Chicago after four hours (and an white-knuckle stretch of turbulence for the last hour--remind me to avoid flying to Chicago in the future) and had to hustle to get some food and to the next gate. Due to my rushed departure, I hadn't bought any snacks for the trip and ended up eating a bunch of mini bags of peanuts and crackers, and Oreos, and drinking ginger ale, all of which I very much regretted once we hit the turbulence.
I was not super interested in getting on another plane right away, and my stomach was not super interested in food at that point, but I knew that I needed to do both, even though I had a strong impulse to just rent a car and drive to Holland, as if my old life would be waiting for me there.
Instead, ate an over-priced but yummy yogurt parfait and boarded the next plane.
Thankfully, this was a much smoother ride, and shorter (two hours). We arrived in Boston a little after midnight, and my Greyhound bus was leaving at 9:10am for Maine. I had thought briefly about trying to spend the night in the airport, but knew I would be to nervous to do it, so had booked a hotel (and the airport was so deserted that I totally would have not been able to stay there!). The shuttle driver came to get me, and he had a Boston accent! Well, duh, I suppose, but it was the first one I had heard that distinctly, and it was very interesting. He had to add a couple of passengers that had had a horrible flying experience that included lost luggage, and we all traded stories as we headed to the hotel. As the couple left, the wife said to me, very dryly, "Welcome to New England"--as if I'd better brace myself for it. Oh dear! And, why???
Got to the hotel and into my room at about 2am. This is 11pm Oregon time, so not too bad.
Friday, March 28: Did not want to get up this morning. Crawled out at 7:45 and got dressed, went down for a quick free breakfast and loaded my pockets with whatever was portable (still had no food, and no time to buy any), asked the front desk clerk to do check out and call a cab, went back to room (SLOW elevator!!!!) to throw everything in bags, and hustle down to catch cab. Cabbie fearless in the face of crazy traffic, but so calm and confident that I didn't worry about him cutting people off and speeding (or maybe my nerves are too tired to care??). Got to bus station, piled behemoth suitcase and anything else I could onto little luggage roller, and managed to get to bus gate just in time.
Greyhound bus driver also had Boston accent; welcomed us on his bus warmly and then said there would be no nonsense of any kind on his bus, that during his career, he'd pulled over and had the cops remove people eight times and he'd make a ninth if necessary. It was awesome! So glad to have someone lay down the law with rude passengers. One of his rules was about being quick and quiet on cell phones. Yay! Excellent driver, too.
I zoned out much of the trip. Couldn't believe that I'd made all the connections and gotten this far, and really couldn't believe that I was doing this, that I was really here. The ride was about 3 hours, and then I met my brother at the bus pick up in Lewiston, Maine. We went over the river to Auburn, Maine (Lewiston and Auburn are only separated by a river--like Saugatuck-Douglas, only bigger and less attractive).
So, here I am.
I've been here before, so it's not as big a shock to the system as it could be, but it's all just...not Portland. (Although, I'm only half an hour away from Portland, Maine, and I hear it's nice...but it's Maine. By which I mean, winter. And is it quirky? Does it have it's own TV show about how quirky it is? I think not!)
I don't know what's next. I feel frustrated that the whole Portland Adventure didn't work out, and I wonder if I would have done things differently in hindsight. Probably I wouldn't have come to Portland at all, if I had known what kind of competition for jobs I'd be facing. Here's what I know now: A lot of people are moving there (a million or so!) and a lot of them are coming without jobs, planning to find work. And these are often young, hip, happening, tech-savvy millennials. Tough competition, especially for someone out of touch with current job search issues and behind on her technology skills. (You know how many people I had to compete with for my last two jobs, totaling 17 years of work? Zero. Zero! I was the only person for the job in both cases! I need to seriously readjust my outlook!). Also, I really focused on jobs that were interesting to me, wanting to have that instead of "just a job" and if my goal was really to stay in Portland, that was not, apparently, the smartest idea.
Part of me looks at all of this as an Epic Fail. You crashed and burned, baby! And I feel like I let everyone down, too, all the great supporters that were cheering for me. But another part of me realizes that Portland itself isn't the dream. I went there because I saw elements of possibility for creating a more satisfying life for myself. But my hope and goal is still intact, and goes on wherever I am: my aim is to thrive instead of just survive. So while I'm not at all pleased to leave Portland, the whole process of moving there, being there, has started me forward to where I want to be. It has loosened my hold on the secure and the sure that was slowing eating away my life. I have become more open to possibility and change, more willing to let go.
What I want to do is stay open and ready. And I want to write. That's one thing I learned in Portland: while applying to all those really interesting jobs, none of them was ever as interesting to me as the writing I was doing in my free time. So that's what I'm going to do. In Maine. (And I hear Maine is a great place to write...but I shudder at this, because I think this is referring to the long, cold, dark winters--and I truly hope to avoid that!!)
Of course I will have to get some sort of job, too. One must be practical and not be a complete mooch off of one's brother. So that's what's ahead. And who knows? Maine might just surprise me!