Wednesday, November 08, 2006

beets and birthdays

i have to credit my friend rebecca with my recent beet inspiration. the first time i met her was a rainy january night in portland. she picked me up from the train station, transported me to her home and served me a delicious meal of borscht. little did i know that this meal, less than a year ago, would be only the beginning of a wonderful friendship. i have just returned from my second trip to visit portland since that wet january night. on all occasions, i have been hosted by rebecca and her partner, brian.

it really is strange how friendships begin. i find that geographic location of one's home often has little to do with who i befriend. lately, i have been finding that the majority of people i would call friends live at least 200 miles from judy branch, if not 2,000. given that judy branch is located in a somewhat remote, out of the way place, i suppose it makes sense that a young person such as me would be inclined to travel frequently in order to have a semblance of a social life! since my first trip out to portland, i have really enjoyed my new "left coast" friendships. the houseguests of september included rebecca's partner, brian, who is ultimately responsible for my orientation into this circle of northwestern friendships. together with brian's brother, eric, brian and rebecca run a really great independent print shop called stumptown printers. i think all three are some of the most amazing people i've ever met. last summer, eric gave me a tour of socialist finnish astoria, showing me a place i already really loved in an entirely new light.

i embarked on this most recent westbound trip entirely burnt out and sleep deprived, having slept an average of 3 hours a night for the two weeks leading up to my flight to portland. i journeyed nortwest on halloween, which was actually quite a treat. among all the travelers, many dressed in business attire, i would spot the odd costumed folks. one suit walked by while i was enjoying a layover coffee, and i was delighted to doubletake at the cat's tail hanging out from behind his suit jacket and see a cat nose/whiskers on his face and a red & white top hat adourning his head. i wish people would randomly wear costumes all year round. it sure does break up the monotony!

i arrived in portland to grab a lunch with brian and then meet up with my friend taylor, who is a displaced southerner. we cooked up a big old southern meal, using some andouille that my cajun visitors had gifted me the week before. fried okra, collard greens along with a flavor of the real northwest: alaskan halibut that taylor and his bandmates had caught themselves. taylor is one of my september houseguests (brian's bandmates) that i've really enjoyed getting to know. we followed our delicious meal with 1960s itallian horror films. perfect halloween. throughout the week, tay provided great tours of subversive bookstores and the best used record shops. he also tried to turn me on to drinking manhattans. but i'm just not grown up enough for that!

sister tiffany and her lovely partner larry took a train down to portland to help me celebrate my big 30th birthday last saturday. we all gathered for an impressive meal (b/c it was so damn good AND so damn cheap) at a small restaurant call the farm. after i got done screening the films (the job that got me out there in the first place), we commenced to real celebrations at one of my favorite bars in portland: beulahland. i was really surprised at how many folks (new acquaintances, new friends, etc.) joined us.

all in all it was a great trip, providing little catch up on sleep, r&r. i've been home a little over 24 hours, and now i must get back to packing for the next trip (all work, perhaps some play?) to cedar rapids, iowa. i fly out tomorrow, which means i have to hit the road by 6am. i'm looking forward to checking out the chzech museum and village of cedar rapids in my spare time, if there is any... and sleep, if that is also an option.