Archive for the ‘Portland’ Category

typical DC streetscape in winterIt happened like clockwork after the daylight savings time change earlier this month. My mood dropped, it was an effort to get motivated, and I noted an increasing reluctance to go out. The temperature changes didn’t help either, but I’m aware of these mood changes this time of year and work to recognize these mood changes. I do things to go against these urges like work out, ride my bike, and make sure I get out to socialize. These things help a lot.

This has always been a challenge for me in DC. I often explain to others that our winters are like the scenes from the Sleepy Hollow animated feature and movie. It’s worth noting I didn’t feel this way this time of year in Portland. I was warned that their winters were miserable in a different way. Granted, I wasn’t working and was able to go out in the day to get some amount of UV through the cloud cover. But Portland was somewhat warmer despite being drippier with all the rain. I think the tipping point for me is the colder temperatures in DC.

The other thing comparing winters between the two cities was that I noticed that not everyone in Portland did proactive things to combat the winter blahs. Not everyone in DC does either, but considering the reputation of the winters in the Pacific Northwest, you would think more people would do things to actively combat the blahs. Anyway my conclusion from all of this is that DC doesn’t have the reputation for having horrid winter blahs, but should. It is just as bad here as in the Pacific Northwest, but not as rainy. Just cold and dark.

looking?The other way DC is much like Sleepy Hollow is that we have a lot of headless torsos running around. I mean like people not showing their faces on mobile apps like Scruff. We have far more headless horsemen in DC than in Portland. I attribute this to some sort of cultural thing having to do with remnants of Puritanism or Southern propriety. And despite being recently hailed by the New York Times as one of the gayest places in America, there are still a lot of closet cases – or maybe people who think being seen on an app is indicative of their whorishness. This wasn’t the case in Portland, where people didn’t give a shit and showed their faces.

I think there were just as many open relationships in Portland as there are in DC. But again they were simply honest about their open status in Portland, which was very refreshing. In DC relationship statuses in online profiles are often left blank, where I simply assume they are in a relationship, open, and they think they are being sneaky about it. I much prefer to be fully disclosed on someone’s relationship status, then we can both go from there with all cards on the table. I don’t care if you’re an online whore or in an open relationship, I just want to be informed that you have a boyfriend. It helps interactions go much smoother. And believe me gurl, if you think I won’t find out you have a boyfriend at home, think again. My agents are everywhere.

Good news: while things are still rolling for a permanent job, I secured a short-term contracting gig that could possibly turn into a very lucrative long-term gig. It’s helping to write a proposal to assist as a contractor with the agency I formerly worked for. It’s the next best thing to actually getting right back with my former workplace. So right now it’s just helping to write a proposal as a “subject matter expert.” It’s nice to be recognized for my expertise after a year and a month of esteem-crushing joblessness. The irony is that they found me and actively recruited me without me having contacted them at all. This is after applying to 100+ jobs and networking my ass off for a year. I can’t complain, I guess this is how things work out. Now to turn on my UV lamp and get my happy self to work on Monday.

Weather was crazy here today, making the truck loading a wet business. Seems like some sort of tropical storm remnant that knocked out the power for a few hours today. But the truck is ready:
Oh what a bad machine.
All the nasty blobs on the radar are right along my route. Fortunately it’s kind of a warm rain, and I don’t see any icy conditions on the way over the mountains:
Sept. 29, 2013 weather
That’s about all I got to say. It’s gonna be a long drive. A couple days in Wisconsin with the family if we get there in good time. To keep you busy, here’s woofy Ben Cohen dancing. He’s a little stiff in the waist but can jump and I’m sure he can lift:

Considering the volume of Nike-related SPAM I clean up in the comments section every day, you would think they could have hired me. I have been managing their frikkin’ content for years now.

Moving truck is secured, although I may get another honkin’ 16′ truck, which I learned I don’t need. I had plenty of space on the last trip. This time I opted for a 12′ truck which would be much easier to manage when I get to DC (and driving across country). I emphasized that with the fleet manager on the phone, but may end up with another huge truck. Maybe I’ll pick up pronghorn antelope roadkill to bring in for all the foodies in DC.

It’s already snowing in the Rockies, and I’m a bit concerned about the drive over the pass in Idaho. On my last trip the weather was nearly perfect, although I was driving a few weeks earlier in September. Birds are migrating though, which should make the drive through the ecologically significant prairie pothole region of South Dakota and southern Minnesota more interesting. I hope I don’t get distracted trying to identify all the swans and geese along the way.

My oldest brother, who lives up the Columbia Gorge outside of Portland, is driving with me as far as Wisconsin to visit family. This should be good if I want to extend driving beyond nightfall. Last time I quit driving at sunset for safety purposes since I was alone and was worried about falling asleep at the wheel. On the down side there may be some sibling bickering along the way.
>; )
I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Voice on NBC, but it was always nice to stop by to ogle Adam Levine for a few minutes. But this season he is fully bearded. I may be watching more often:
WOOOOF!

Well this quote from a 10 Most Overrated Cities in America article made me feel a little better:

Whether you’re playing semi-pro tag, food-truck hopping, forming (yet another) artsy folk band, or meditating on new ways to recycle, there are all sorts of things to distract you from the fact that there is no meaningful employment. Those of us who live in more fast-paced cities lose a few friends to Portland every month, only to hear them glumly report back that the city is “BYOJ” (Bring Your Own Job).

Considering the shooting incident at Navy Yard this week, I’m sure mom isn’t too happy about the move. Then again, there was that shooting in a nearby Clackamas mall last December in the Portland area. Nowhere is safe from crazy people with guns.

I’ve been thinking back on the things I’ve accomplished in the past year, trying to look on the bright side. Travel and adventure are certainly on top of the list, having visited Hawaii, Los Angeles and Seattle (both twice!) and an attempt at crossing the border to Canada. That was a mess of a trip but certainly memorable. And of course tons of hiking and camping. I’ve certainly covered a lot of the trails around Portland. Here are a few more:

  • Streamlined my job application materials. Duh. Not sure if it’s the best example of an “accomplishment” but my LinkedIn profile is pretty sweet nowadays. Let’s hope it works better in DC. LinkedIn seems to be a new reality in the job hunt. Sometimes I find it convenient, more often I find it to be an annoying professional version of Facebook.
  • Submitted article pitches for Dungeons & Dragons magazines. They didn’t get accepted, but it was something I always wanted to do and will probably try again some time.
  • Made a lot of new friends in Portland. I’m bummed I have to go for this reason, but I’ve got to eat.
  • Conquered a toenail fungus infection. This victory was short-lived when the recent brutal hiking trip killed the formerly fungal toenail. No toenail means no place for fungus to live.
  • Learned precisely how much storage space and what size moving truck I need to put all my stuff. Let’s hope we can find a place to unpack it all and be rid of those boxes for a long time.

Last outdoor hurrah in the Pacific Northwest, a trip to Silver Falls State Park and a nearby Oktoberfest with friends:
Silver Falls State Park
The park had many more waterfalls to view, but my legs were still a mess after my hike earlier in the week. I was fine just seeing the one shown above. It also appears that I can no longer sleep soundly in a tent, despite having recently purchased a deluxe inflatable sleeping pad. I keep waking up all through the night and can’t get back to sleep. I’m chalking it up to being older. I will have to review my approach to the outdoors it seems now that I have upgraded all my gear.

The two-week countdown to leaving Portland begins. I’m filled with many conflicting emotions, regret being the least of them. A friend texted to me, “Look back on all you were able to do in this year and then move forward. It all happens for a reason; it just wasn’t Portland’s time.” That’s a good one to live by and I will try to remember those words. But returning to DC will mean immediately having to start working, with a liveable wage to cover rent. Playtime is over and couchsurfing is no longer an option. Plus I have been craving normalcy for quite some time now and want to get the show back on the road. I’m exploring temp work options remotely already – I will have to land on my feet and start sprinting right away.

I reached out to my former landlord and the unit below the one I used to live in may be available. He liked me and even offered a lower rent because I “take care of the place.” That would be wonderful for many reasons. It’s Metro-accessible, it’s a familiar address, it’s near all the spots I love, and it would be great to not have to run around looking for places to live when I get there. I haven’t gotten a solid confirmation back from him yet but it’s looking positive. I will need a roommate, but that should be easy to do once I get settled.

Oh, and JOB LEADS. Temp, contract, full-time, long-term, whatever. Preferably Metro-accessible. Send ‘em to me if you have them. Communications and public affairs stuff and of course blogging and social media. But hell I’ll dust your office if I have to.
>; )

I’m going hiking today through Wednesday to Devil’s Peak Lookout on the Cool Creek Trail in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness Area, Mt Hood National Forest, in the Zigzag Ranger District. It’s somewhere to the right of this photo:

Columbia Gorge seen from Rooster Rock beach

A view of the Columbia Gorge from Rooster Rock beach.


I hope to get some good photos, but it’s expected to be very warm. That’ll prep me for my return to swampy DC.

Sabre-Toothed Cats at PlayI was so engrossed writing my beard manifesto I neglected to mention that I visited Los Angeles again to hang out with the lovely Dingo and his equally lovely new bf. They’re so cute together it’s nauseating. But it’s clear it’s a good thang – one of those thangs that is gonna last for sure. I wish them well. We went to see The Breeders perform “Last Splash” in its entirety. It was a good show and I spotted Elijah Wood and Jinkx Monsoon (out of drag) at the concert. Wood is very tiny in person!

I always tend to have a nice time in L.A., probably due in large part to the lovely hosting. You wouldn’t think I’d take to a large sprawling city under the blazing sun in a desert, but I do. But then again it’s one thing to visit, another to live there. Conversely after repeat trips to San Francisco I’m pretty sure I don’t like San Francisco for many reasons. So I guess I like Los Angeles for some odd reason. Weird.

F-U_PortlandiaAnyway, vacations are always good for reflection and perspective, and I got what I needed on this trip. I’d pretty much made up my mind I’m going back to DC and some chats with the hosts helped me get my head around the idea. Then a slew of job app rejections came in when I got back and I’m all like “fuck this shit, this isn’t working.” I’ve been slamming my head against a very firm wall for a year and have done everything I can to get gainful employment in this town but it isn’t happening. And sometimes things just don’t work in certain situations and it’s good to know when to stop. The economy in Portland still stinks and isn’t expected to recover in another two years. And I ain’t waiting around for things to get better. Portland if you don’t want an able-bodied hard worker with an M.S., Midwest work ethics, and mad skillz to match you can suck it.

That and I think I’ve gained a greater appreciation for D.C. and for larger cities in general. I had used the word “provincial” to describe the local attitude around here, and the term was recently confirmed by an actual Portland native I was chatting with at a Labor Day party recently. I swear I did not use Jedi mind tricks to put the word on his tongue but he said it out loud and I didn’t. What I mean by “provincial” is that Portland is still a small town and not yet on its way to becoming a cosmopolitan city. Employers are still reluctant to consider an “outsider” when they can hire someone from Oregon. Whatever you did outside the state boundaries doesn’t matter to the locals, and the “Pacific Northwest Chill” is a real thing. It’s a mild form of xenophobia. I’m not sure if it’s due to intimidation of outside experience or just a small-town mindset, but it’s real. Keep that in mind if you’re considering moving here. Portland isn’t all fun, games and hipsters. It’s also a place where people get a glazed look on their face and shrug their shoulders with indifference when you mention you recently moved there and are looking for work. And I thought people in the Mid-Atlantic were cold.

Some hot otter with a beard.

This is not an actual otter I have bedded, but a very close approximation of what I've experienced in Portland.

So I learned that DC isn’t so bad, although I will always loathe the humid summers there. I also learned that I still have game in terms of romance. Sure there was the “fresh meat” factor when I arrived, but this is a small town and you would think that phase would end quickly. But it hasn’t, and I’ve been having a consistently otteriffic time out here. Portland has been good to me in that respect. Very good. My sexual self is certainly in tune with the West coast, which concerns me because I have no game in DC.

Here’s how it went in DC:

Me: “Hi, you’re cute.”
Him: “EEEK! Why are you talking to me? You’re a stalker!”

Here’s how it goes in Portland:

Me: “Hi, you’re cute.”
Him: “Thank you. Wanna fuck?”
Me: “Sure!”

It is honestly that easy for me in Portland. Not so in DC, but there are tradeoffs for everything. Right now my primary need is to find employment and a steady paycheck, not to cavort with otterkind. I will deal with my approach to romance in DC at a later date when I get my shit together. The fact that my shit was not together here did not seem to matter to the otters in Portland, but it will in DC when I need to pay rent.

Anyway I should be getting back to DC around October 8. Just in time for the swamp-ass season to end so loading and unloading my stuff won’t be a sweaty affair. I’ve already extended job feelers to contacts, am in touch with a temp-to-hire agency, and even some former coworkers. And a good number of friends there are already excited that I’m coming back. That’s a good feeling.

Just got a call from the last place I interviewed and they selected someone else. BUT at least I got a call, and he did say I was a contender for the position. That’s better practice than from other places I’ve interviewed, and I appreciate it and said so to the search leader who called. Such calls – while utterly devastating – are an opportunity to give a parting positive impression and leaves the door open for potential future opportunities. They know you, and if you think they liked you there could be openings in the future. And I will not be mad at anyone who has the balls to call me with bad news. If I’m ever on a search committee myself I will push that such calls be made, however difficult and awkward they may be.

That said, I had just gotten out of a three-day k-hole from my Canada rejection. Although I had a feeling a while back that I wasn’t going to get the position anyway and was somewhat mentally prepared to be resilient to the bad news.

The K-HoleThe term “k-hole” is from the old Circuit Party days when someone would do too much ketamine and become unresponsive. This state was highly mythologized but I witnessed it happening from time to time: “Oooh gurl Paul fell into a k-hole on the dance floor right when the DJ was playing some Kim English!” These days I use the term with endearance when I fall into a depression due to joblessness. When I find myself despondent and making lunch seems to be an insurmountable effort, I say to myself “Oooh gurl you in a k-hole.”

Knowing you’re in a k-hole is a good way of finding your way back to a better mood, and I have proven ways of getting out of it. Socializing with friends, exercise, being outdoors and applying for more jobs give me a sense of empowerment and positivity. Staying in and reflecting on the overall hopelessness of it all does not help one get out of the k-hole.

I recently read some article about the Kübler-Ross model of the stages of grief, and am fairly certain I’ve been to the final stages of it. But one goes back and forth on the scale and here’s how it’s gone with me:

  1. Denial: I can’t believe I haven’t gotten a job in 11 months.
  2. Anger: Fuck Portland.
  3. Depression: I will never get a job again.
  4. Bargaining: Maybe if I network more I will get a lead.
  5. Acceptance: Ha ha I will never get a job again!

And so it goes back and forth, sometimes on a daily basis. The final stage has been an odd one for me lately. Sometimes I feel like I’m at this Zen state of joblessness, which can be a relief sometimes. “Well fuck I can’t get a job here, I made a gamble and lost.” The reports of the heat wave back in the Mid-Atlantic combined with the fantastic dry, sunny weather with cool evenings here still has me resisting the idea of going back to DC. But there are jobs and a robust network for me back there, and here I seem to be hitting my head against a very sturdy wall. Sometimes when something isn’t working, it’s just not going to work.

Oh hey it’s been a while. I moved and am now a housecub. I’m mostly settled, the new place is lovely, has no cats, and I get to have a garden plot. I’ve already planted acorn squash but have no idea how they’ll do in Oregon. This is a completely different growing scene than what I’m used to. I’m going to try potatoes for the first time as well.

I went to see my brother graduate from his nursing program, and of course I had to stop at Bonneville Dam to see more LAMPREYS!
Lampreys1
They’re gross but cool in a way. Lamprey Pride.

It was Pride weekend here in Portland. I had fun! Because there’s a parade and a festival with cotton candy and I saw a bunch of people I got to catch up with. Of course it’s the season for dissent against Pride festivals for a few. This year’s article written by an angertwink is again about how we don’t need Pride celebrations. But it doesn’t speak for the majority of people who somehow manage to have fun at Pride.

This year I marched with the organization I’ve been volunteering with. The organization provides housing, medical services, and skills training to help homeless youth get off the street and back on their feet. Many of these youth are LGBT who were kicked out of their homes for being gay. Because that still happens even though some angertwinks still think we don’t need Pride celebrations. Anyway, a couple of heterosexual coworkers/allies brought their kids, dressed them up as small unicorns and put rainbow stuff all over their kiddie bikes and they all had a blast. I saw from pictures from DC Pride that a few straight allies marched with the Renegades to wave some rainbow flags and they also had fun. Perhaps we can learn from heterosexuals in these trying times: you should have fun at parades. It’s OK to have fun. And if you don’t think you’ll have fun then stay home.

BrettCajun keeps sending me lewd text messages. This is the most recent one – a pic of him giving me kissy-face:
Lamprey
Actually it’s a pic of a lamprey attached to the viewing window at the Bonneville Dam fish ladders. There were also shad and salmon running when Kiri and I stopped briefly to watch:
Bonneville Fish Viewing
Yep that’s a salmon in the lower right of the image – a king or chinook I think. When fish are running it means that these fish are migrating upstream from the ocean to spawn, as they are anadromous. I like critters that swarm and migrate and stuff like that. Sadly I’m missing the cicada swarm back in DC! Anyway, I’d love to work there. I used to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lock & Dam #15 on the Mississippi River. There were a few positions open there I had applied to when I arrived, but the fucking sequester ended those options. The Army Corps is suffering even more brutal cutbacks than other federal agencies at this time.

Kiri had a conference in that area and I tagged along for the day. While she was conferencing I decided to explore the area around Hood River to check out the neighborhoods and outlying areas should I get offered the job out there. I must say the scenery is idyllic (click on any image to embiggen!):
Columbia Gorge
My brother – who lives in that area and knows the dude I’ve been interviewing with – said I needed to make a follow-up call to continue expressing interest. I had already sent a follow-up email and bro said interviews are a lot like dates, and calling is better than texting or emailing. I rarely listen to him but this time he had a good point. So I did call and was promised a return call but it never came. Interviews are a lot like dates also in that you can get an impression from non-communication as well as direct communication. And non-communication is what they do best in this region. I don’t want to be stalky, and my guess is it’s not gonna happen. I would have taken the job, but part of me is also relieved. I’d be the only gay in the village if I moved there, however scenic:
Purple Mountain Magesty
I know, I know, I need a job but I’ve also lived in remote situations away from urban gay centers before. There are mistakes I don’t need to repeat again. I hate to think I’m dependent on gay ghettos, but no matter how many close friends you have it’s also good to be around people who “get it,” who are like you. With the Internet it’s a lot easier to be gay in rural areas but having the option to hang out with others of your kind in person is crucial to mental wellness. I remember how I felt out on the cold Siberian steppes of Kazakstan as the only gay in the village. Desperation is not something that comes easy to me. I guess I’m a city gurl at heart.