Friday, January 30, 2009

The List Grows

I consulted with some friends on expanding my list, and I'm still running short on my goal of 32 new things to try my first year in Portland.

Here's what I started off with:

1. Go rollerskating to the sounds of someone playing the Wurlitzer pipe organ at Oaks Park Roller Rink. (DONE this week, I went to Ethan Rose's Oaks performance and it was amazing. Over 400 people rollerskating to an original score he composed just for that place and purpose)
2. Go to an Asian spa. There's a large Asian population on the West Coast, and I've never been to really any kind of spa. The ones back home weren't really spas, if you know what I'm talking about! I don't know what I'll get done, but I want to try it out.
3. Visit the Oregon desert
4. Take an overnight train trip. I've done this in Poland/Ukraine, but not in the U.S.
5. Take an overnight bicycle trip, preferably camping.
6. Go sailing.
7. Go whale watching (Cape Lookout has been suggested as a good spot)
8. See the Northern Lights. (This includes going to someplace where I can see them.)
9. Learn to knit.
10. Visit Alaska.
11. Try "Body Talk" sessions, a kind of energy work based on Chinese medicine
12. Sleep in a treehouse in the middle of an old growth forest.
13. Go on a blind date.
14. Go horseback riding on the coast.
15. Visit a foreign land (one that I've never visited before). I have to do this about every couple of years. It's in my blood.

And here's the new additions:

16. Hike portions of the Pacific Crest Trail
17. Go cross country skiing (I've only done down hill)
18. Check out the Roller Derby.
19. Watch the Salmon swimming upstream
20. See a show at Darcelle's (A premier Drag Queen cabaret)
21. Catch a show at Tony Starlight's (an old school concert hall/lounge)
22. Go up the Space Needle on a clear day
23. Walk across the Saint John's bridge
24. Design my yard into an urban garden space
25. Grow some plant I've never grown before
26. Spend a night in a yurt.
27. Go to Bagby hot springs
28. Try snowboarding at least once.

I need four more things to add to my list. Any ideas?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daily Rejection and Transformative To-do Lists

Perhaps one of the hardest things that any person or creature has to deal with is rejection. No matter how independent or laissez-faire we may be, it still hurts. To put yourself out there only be turned away, turned down or simply ignored. It bruises your ego, brings on self-doubt and breathes life into that inner critic that you've spent your whole life trying to ignore. In my former job, I had to write grants to raise all the money needed to run my programs and pay my staff as well as my own salary, health insurance and fringe benefits. Actually, I had to raise that plus an additional 22% that went to the organization as a whole. The only outlet I had was foundation grants. I couldn't go door-to-door asking people to donate. It takes a lot of time and energy to write a good grant proposal. But even if you write a proposal that is a work of art, you still have about a 10% chance of it getting funding. Even though I knew that funding decisions were incredibly impersonal, every single rejection letter had it's own distinct and painful sting. After five years, when I finally left that job, I swore I would seek out a new situation where financial panic and constant rejection were not part of the daily grind.

I'm not there yet. Applying for jobs when you are a stranger in a strange town is far worse than supporting your work through foundation grant writing. Instead of getting rejection letters every few months, you get a rejection letter every single day. Sometimes multiple letters in the same day. Often they are form letters, but every so often you get a personalized letter telling you, even though you were not chosen for the position, how impressed they were with your cover letter or resume. These are the worst, because they lift you up just a little higher only to find yourself falling a greater distance when it sinks in that yet another job you could have really done well has disappeared into pile of countless other jobs that you haven't been hired for.

Here is what I have been learning: 1. Before now, I have been tremendously fortunate in my professional endeavors. 2. It can be even more draining and stressful to be unemployed than to be over-employed. 3. Job hunting is a full time job that doesn't pay. 4. Waiting turns you into a zombie. 5. It is far easier to survive with no money in the mountains than it is in the city. 6. Even in the city, soup beans and cornbread still taste good and keep the belly from grumbling.

I have two different kinds of days: 1. "Productive days," spent composing and submitting multiple cover letters and resumes - sometimes up to 8 or 10 a day. 2. "Blank days," spent laying in bed, staring at the ceiling feeling and thinking nothing. Seriously feeling 100% blank and hopeless.

I am hoping to kick myself into gear and have myself some creative days. Blue Artichoke, one of my best pals since childhood, has been making a list of new things to do/try that corresponds with the number of years she's been alive. I am working on a similar list myself of things to do my first year living in oregon. This gives me until October 1, 2009 to complete the list. For the most part, they are new experiences. I only have 15 so far, which means I need 17 more to equal my age. Send me your suggestions.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

City Life

I've taken a break from blogging since landing in Portland. Much and little has happened. Hard to really tell. I should have been writing all along. Alas, all I can do for you dear reader, or two, is promise that I am sincerely going to to try to get myself back into the writing habit. Think of these past few months as a much needed respite. During this time I've explored Portland and surrounding forests and coasts. I've not had to endure the endless Oregon winter rains yet, because it has hardly rained at all since October. I did, however, get to experience the freak "Snowpocolypse" that hit the Great Northwest. We were snowed in under about a foot of snow for nearly ten days! I've also been learning a lot about bicycles and being unemployed. I've noticed that I am far more productive on my creative projects when I am overwhelmingly busy in other aspects of my life. The struggle to find myself gainful employment has had a slowing effect on just about everything in my life. I'm trying to pick up the pace and get back to work, even if right now the only kind of work I got is the kind I do for myself! One of the greatest blessings about being in a new environment is that there are countless everyday occurances and objects that, because of their newness, are potential sources of inspiration. Even in the depth of winter, I am going to do my best to pay attention while it is all relatively new.

One of my childhood best friends makes a list each year, corresponding with the number of years she's been alive, of new things to try within that year. I'm thinking of copying her idea and trying that myself. Or perhaps coming up with a list of things to do/experience within my first year living in Oregon. I'll sleep on it and get back to you. I already have one for the list that I plan to check off this week:

1. Go rollerskating to live music played on the Wurlitzer pipe organ at Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink. Just so happens there's some interesting musician playing a show on that very organ this Tuesday!