Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30th, my Birthday Blog

Hi there! Welcome, today is my birthday!

So this is my blog for today (yeah, like that isn't always the case, right?). Shut up! Didn't I just say it's my birthday?

I'm writing this last Friday, because I'm getting on my motorcycle and riding about 200 miles to stay a couple of days in another state, hang out, have a few drinks in Portland, Oregon, hit some local color, and visit my son who moved their earlier this year.

Did you know that Portland was named by the flip of a coin by its two original settlers, Asa Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove? Lovejoy wanted to name the new settlement after his hometown of Boston; Pettygrove wanted to name it after his hometown of Portland, Maine. Pettygrove won the coin toss, best two out of three.

I watched a show called Drinking Made Easy recently. They went to some interesting bars in Portland and I want to check them out and imbibe in their special house concoctions.

Did you know... "the phrase "Beervana" was coined in Oregon in the 1980s to describe the burgeoning craft beer movement that had taken hold. It's an apt description, as those who are actively involved in the beer community think of it a near-religious experience to make and enjoy well-made brew. Boasting several beer-y nicknames, like “Brewtopia” and “Beer Town”, Portland is home to more than 30 microbreweries; more (per capita) than any other city in the US, greater than one-third of the state total and more than any city in the world.On the last weekend in July of every year, the Waterfront Park in Portland plays host to the Oregon Brewers Festival, one of the nation’s longest running craft beer festivals. More than 80 craft breweries from across the US offer handcrafted brews to tens of thousands of beer lovers over the four-day festival. The 24th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival took place from July 28 – 31, 2011."

 I was there last year for it, my team were taking a boat ride for a team building event, which was a blast by the way, and the brew festival was going on, but we couldn't attend. Several of us were frustrated about that one.

So while I'm in Portland, I want to check out some of the places they went to on the show. Like: Huber’s CafĂ© for their Spanish Coffee. Then the pan American Bistro, Mint/820 at 816 North Russell, in the Elliot Neighborhood. For sure I want to check out the Shanghai Tunnel and their Holy Basil drink. I love basil. Our local Thai restaurant has a crispy chicken basil that is yes, to die for. SakeOne | 820 Elm Street, Forest Grove, I'm a JapanFan as I started Martial Arts as a kid and have been into Asian Philosophy ever since. New Deal Vodka from the distillery of the same name. McMenamin’s Kennedy Elementary School is housed in a building that has been a fixture of Northeast Portland since 1915. Boasting a restaurant, multiple bars, a movie theater, pool and 35 guestrooms, this hotel is also a brewery. Sounds interesting. I have all of Saturday once I arrive to visit, maybe some Sunday and perhaps some on Monday. But I have to ride the bike back 200 miles so... bright eyed and bushy tail is the order of the day... mostly.

My daughter has also indicated a few interesting place to hit (NE Portland area). I was going to stay at an expensive hotel downtown but instead went for a place nearer to where my son lives and that has a parking lot. The downtown places have valet parking but I'm not sure what the $30 a night for parking gets me when I pull up on a motorcycle.

Back to the original topic... having a birthday in my family as a kid was exceptional and made up for some of the not so great times we had to go through. When I was a kid, you were King (or for my sister or mother, Queen) for a day. We used to watch that TV show, Queen for a Day an American radio and television game show that helped to usher in American listeners' and viewers' fascination with big-prize giveaway shows when it originated on radio (1945–1957), before moving to television (1956–1964). They would pick one woman out of the audience and make her very happy. I used to watch this with my mother when I was very young. It was exciting. I think she got the idea from there. So traditionally on our birthdays, we didn't have to do any chores, everyone waited on you (within reason). It was excellent.

So I have done this with my own family (and here's where I take a turn for the weird). Which was problematic because my (most immediate) ex-wife, didn't seem to like birthdays. I don't know why. Other than, I don't like attention being drawn to myself very much, but the one time I let myself go (and it takes effort) is on my birthday, because I was lucky enough to be raised that way, ya know?

I do know she hated my son (not to worry, the feeling was mutual with him, but only since he was five, and like the first time he met her, but mostly because she wasn't his own mom) and she didn't like him having a birthday. I remember once, a lady friend of hers said about my son, when he was younger, "He's such a good looking kid." She responded, "I just don't see it." And her friend looked at her kind of weird and said, "You're kidding, right?"

So he grew up thinking he never had a birthday party. But I have photos of him having them, with big smiles on his face, so it was more a feeling than a reality. Our daughter had good birthdays.

I do know that while we were married, the first guy she ever kissed, a cohort and friend of her family, got married. I know that because shortly after we were married, we went to his wedding. She was open and honest about who he was, but also that her mom saw him as a kind of second son. He was a nice guy, I liked him. At the reception, she went to give him a congratulations kiss and it bothered her that he kissed her right on the mouth. Well, she was that type that if you got the chance, you just wanted to go for it, so it's hard to hold it against him, but then, his wife was pretty attractive too.

But then, after a few years of an alcohol riddled, rocky marriage to what must have been a bit of a shrew, he told her one night that he was going to drive to the local High School (where they had all three graduated) and blow his brains out. She let him go (they were both drunk and having a big argument) and so he did indeed, blow his brains out in his truck in the school parking lot at 2AM.

That was two weeks before her birthday but the memorial was on her birthday. So every year after that, about two weeks before her birthday, she would go into a depression, then it was a month before. She wouldn't allow me to mention her birthday for several years after that. Then one year, with the help of her girlfriend, I broke that sad tradition for her and she got better after that. After all, we should enjoy celebrating our birthday, our being alive.

After we divorced back in 2002, I was able to raise the kids how I liked. I had my son full time, our daughter every other weekend and whenever I could. And once again birthdays became something very cool.

For my son's 18th birthday, I threw him a big party, invited friends, had a friend and neighbor do the BBQing as he is a great cook and brewmaster, made him the center of attraction and it was so great to see him enjoying himself. He deserved it. He wanted no drinking because of growing up around his mother who he thought drank way too much. Yes, it seems, I can pick them.

So our two friends who were grilling, hid their beers by the grill and my son had the best time of his life. I had also sent out to everyone, especially those who could not attend, a form to fill out. It asked for them to offer him an experience they shared with him at some point in their lives together. I also asked them to write him some advice for the future. I compiled these two documents and gave them to him in folders as a gift, in front of everyone. It was a turning point for him, a passage and rite to adulthood.

He is now working as a video game tester and loving it. He has a very nice and talented girlfriend who is not insane. He taught himself to play piano and plays the grand piano at work in the lounge area. He's finally entered life.

For my daughter, now 19, to my surprise, she wanted no such 18th birthday party or extravagance. She had great parties here on here 13th and 16th, however. Now she is off to Europe for travels and adventures in a few weeks with her well beloved backpack. She is also musically talented. They are both very artistic types.

So this year, for my birthday, after a hellacious summer at work and falling behind on a couple of screenplays, I decided I needed to get relaxed and happily exhausted (whatever that will mean). So tomorrow I'm riding down south for a few hours on a motorcycle that really needs a better seat. A few days ago, I bought one on-line. Sadly, it will arrive, most likely, after I return. However, I have two weeks off from work starting at 3PM today. So I will make use of it, returning Monday, tired and hopefully satiated, I will be home to rest and have good reflections on both this birthday (today), this past weekend, and all my past birthdays both good and not so good.

It has so far been an interesting life. I left childhood with two desires. One, to escape childhood and my parent's house, and put as much distance (experiences and time) between myself and my childhood in order to forget it as much as possible; and two, to have interesting experiences so that in my old age of 50 or more (I thought that was ancient and my planned retirement age all my life, which I failed to meet, I might add), so I would have interesting stories to tell and draw from. Always in the back of my mind was the thought that into my ancient and feeble years I would have great stories and experiences to fall back on in order to create great and wonderful stories that I might make a living selling into my dotage.

Well, so far so good. I have some great experiences in my past life. Somehow I have managed to raise two great kids into adulthood. I have somehow staved off prison. I have avoided being stuck in a loveless (or worse) marriage (and yes, I'm still looking for my next ex-wife). I have done interesting and dangerous things and lived to tell the tale. Now I only hope I can tell the tale and avoid any legal implications. But, that's what fiction is all about, isn't it?

When I first thought of the concept to live an interesting Life, I had yet at the time, to hear of that notorious ancient Chinese proverb and curse: "May you live in interesting times." I wouldn't trade my life for another (well, depending who we're talking about, but for the most part and statistically speaking anyway, I wouldn't), and I'm certainly not through, not yet.

So here I am now (This is later, on Sunday), in Portland. Got here yesterday. Had a good ride down. Didn't see any of the places I mentioned above, but, I'm still hoping to, maybe today.

I did go to Jake's yesterday, near Powell's Books (where I always have to go or you just haven't been IN Portland). I dropped in to rest, get my bearings and have a drink. I tried their Moscow Mule, a ginger related drink. Incredibly refreshing. But I stopped at one as I had just finished a three hour ride and might have been a bit dehydrated, tired, and needed to find my hotel room and drop stuff off before doing anything more like this.

Found the hotel, some miles out of downtown. Nice place. Courtyard Marriott in Beaverton, 8500 SW Nimbus Dr. Headed back to town, stopped in at the Deschutes Brewery next to Powell's Books. Good fish n chips & Solace Rose 26 month aged Flanders style sour brown at 10.5%. Very diff but tasty. At first, I wanted a pint and that snifter. But the waitress hesitated, saying, "Uh, well, I don't know if I can do that, I'd have to ask, but I don't know if you'd want to do that anyway." I said, "okay", I tend to trust my wait staff. Then I got the snifter of Solace Rose and realized she was right. It is a bit sour but tasty, and most might not like it, but she said it's her fav there. I never got the pint, at 10.5% it was pretty strong.

Filled up, I met up with my son and his girlfriend at her house. She lives with a few people and there is a party room and pool table and we played some pool. Three games, I lost on the break, but we kept playing. So in the end, we played three games, my son one two and I won two. Then we went to see the new Conan 3D. Fun, liked it better than the old one with Arnold, but I don't know why they can't simply follow the books.

Still, having a blast. My son just arrived with his girlfriend and we're going to visit my old party buddy who moved here.

Next day....

We had a great time, my old friend, who hadn't seen my son since he was four, got to be reacquainted with him and we all four when out for some Lebanese food, then hit a nickle arcade and had great fun acting like kids. I was completely burned out. Heading down on this trip with a sinus infection and taking a five day course of antibiotics, and getting dehydrated even though I was drinking fluids, and the ride down, pretty much wasted me. This morning, I'm feeling better. But I woke to a wet environment. I hadn't planned on precipitation. All weather forecasts were in like 80 and all clear, but this morning is overcast and misting. My bike seat is wet and I'm going to try to absorb the wet with a bath towel before heading out. I don't have to check out until noon.

The Hotel was good, clean, pleasant, just too many kids this weekend. This morning the breakfast area was peaceful and quiet, I was even able to access the waffle maker. I had coffee in the dining lounge, read some, then retired to the room to write, check the forecasts and satellite imagery, and found the longer I wait today to leave, the better chance I have at warm, dry and clear.

I feel like I've been all over recently, Chicago, Tacoma, now Portland, Oregon. But at least this trip was my choice and for fun. After a leisurely four hour ride down here, I have chosen the hotel which had the best reviews, the best price (w/breakfast) and nearest to my son, and friend, "Waso" which turned out to not be true. But there were KIDS everyWHERE here this weekend.

Some team event or something, I think. Ironic as I used to get annoyed at people who couldn't deal with kids (but mine were always very well mannered as I can't stand when parents don't make their kids pleasant to be around others) unlike these kids, who really are "okay", but still too loud and annoying, but then, I wasn't feeling so good yesterday). And after a few drinks the day I got here and taking meds for this sinus infection, and the ride down here Saturday, yeah, I was a bit rough yesterday. Still, I'm now better understanding two terms I've heard before: kids as vermin and, MILFs.

So last night after we left Waso to have a quiet drink before his wife picked him up by the arcade, I headed with my son and his girlfriend to her place to watch a movie in the basement of her multi roommate house. Perfect location for watching a horror film and we picked a good one: The Haunting in Connecticut. Really fun, spooky movie. After that my son gave me a ride back to the hotel, where I gave him his mail that was stacking up at home (I had forgotten to bring him the videos I'd burned of Game of Thrones on HBO, he doesn't get cable and hasn't seen the season finale yet). We talked a while in my room about an idea he has for a video game. It sounds pretty good. We may work on putting together a proposal for it. Then he headed out and it was hard to part ways, I think. I know it was for me. I do miss him. We've been through so much together, but now it's time we continue on, separately.

And so, I'm waiting to head home now. Tired, satiated, more relaxed than when I headed out of town two days ago. I didn't do all the things I had planned here, but maybe next time. In keeping a plan in mind, but being loose about my choices, I really had a great time. It's true what they say, it's not what you do, but who you do it with. Tomorrow, after I'm back home, I'll just take it easy, enjoy my birthday, and be around my daughter (but she's probably working). I only have a short time with her too, until she heads out in mid September for Europe for her own adventures.

Now I have the journey home to look forward to. I do hope it isn't too wet, though as I had no room for any more gear. I could have, but I didn't want this to be a big deal, just packing light and hope for the best. Besides, all weather forecasts indicated no issue and only very warm weather. Well, it IS the Pacific Northwest and I've only myself to blame if I have an uncomfortable journey home. But that, once you arrive, take a hot shower, and rest with a glass of wine or whatever if at hand, only makes for a more interesting reflection upon, well, reflecting. I am anxious to head home, but also, a little sad to leave.

Anyway... Tally Ho! Away, I go....

And here I am. It rained till I hit the Washington border, then dry, all the way home. However, I got no sun till Bremerton, no warmth till I hit our home town. I'm pretty tired, but it is a good tired. It was a good trip. Now, I get to wake up in my own bed on my birthday.

But, I'll probably be too tired to actually do anything....

Update, August 30th.

My daughter took me out for lunch at Teriyaki on Winslow Way. Very tasty there. This was after she gave me a present of a really old book about Nepal that she got a year or so ago and I liked very much and couldn't talk her out of it. It was wrapped with a repro of a drawing of a moonscape. After we ate, she had to go to work across the street, then head down to the docks to run the kayak rental. She's going "blues dancing" tonight, then staying with a friend in Seattle, so I'll see her tomorrow again.

So I walked along Winslow Way. I got a thin slice of BlackBird Bakery's Mile High Chocolate cake. I also got an iced tea, and a lavender sugar cookie, went to sit outside and read my book. One of two girls who had been sitting inside with a guy, was sitting on the other side of a set of comfortable wooden seats, arranged so there were modules of seats facing one another. Two could sit and face two with a small set of coffee type tables between then, then another set behind that. She was in one of those facing me.

I noted that she looked a lot like the woman that plays cello on the ferry, classical music. I saw her a few years ago with her very young daughter, then a while back with her again, but she had grown, maybe in elementary school now. Both very attractive. I tried not to notice her but it is hard as I'd always found her looks and playing, attractive.

One day, a man walked up to her on the ferry and started yelling at her, telling her she was no good, that she thinks she is good, but she will never be good. I almost got up, people were looking, but I don't like to interfere as I've had bad experiences about that. Some women, really take offense if you jump to their help. As much as she "busks" (plays for money donations in public), I figured she can handle herself, though she seems so frail and petite. She a handled the obviously mentally unbalanced man with dignity, restraint and acumen, I thought. Had he touched her, I know I would have been on him in a second, possibly not alone.

Anyway, she noticed me, and we locked eyes today. She has an interesting intelligence and I could tell she could read something in my eyes. Then the girl came out and sat next to her, the one who was drawing the head of a woman on a sketch pad in the bakery while I was buying my edibles. Then the guy came out wearing his hat, like a hat a man would wear with a suit, only on the casual side. These hats have become popular and as I've always loved hats, I'm glad to see it has caught on, at least to some degree.

They sat there and argued. Something about time, a bus, when you can or should be doing things and it seemed they all lived together in a house of people. Probably no big deal but talk of someone cold move out if they wanted, or should be allowed to. I kept getting pieces between noise, traffic and people walking by as I read my book. As they left, she looked at me again, there was a recognition in her eyes, and probably some in mine. I have no idea what we were both thinking; and then they walked out of my life.

I finished my tea, read to the end of the chapter, then headed out myself. I'm back at home now, writing this, recuperating from my journey south, and enjoying the fact, that although I'm a year older, I may possibly be only half way through the length of time that I may have to live on this Earth. Or Universe. I may, after all, decide to move.


I dodoled along for a while aft

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