Tag Archives: Portland

As I Tend To Do

photo by Simone Badour

Because that’s the way it works with me. I wait until the last possible second, and then I make a connection. When I least suspect it, and absolutely don’t need it…that’s when I meet a girl I like. If I thought too much about it, I could probably come up with some sort of character flaw that explains the whole thing in very simple terms. But sometimes self discovery is counter productive.

I am absolutely fantastic at making a connection immediately before moving across the country, and Portland was no exception. I thought I could get out, I wanted to get out, I almost got out. She got there first. A friend of a friend, a cutie I’d known for nearly my entire Portland stay. There were drinks and there was dancing, shy smiles and stolen kisses. A holiday and a celebration, and that should have been that.

But as these stories tend to go, that couldn’t have been the whole story. So we talked, we texted, we chatted, we messaged. And once again, as these things tend to go, she turned out to be cooler than expected. Which turned into thinking about her more than expected, at the most unexpected of times.

photo by Simone Badour

And my mind began to wonder. What if. Always the great What If. What if we’d known each other a year ago? What if we’d had an actual chance to date, instead just drawing out our goodbyes? What if we made a run at it from a distance? What if we’d held hands and wandered the waterfront with our trusty border collie, Mr. Chips?

And it was silly. Because I was silly. I am silly. I know this, I embrace it, sometimes I love it. I was leaving town, and she was set to leave as well, just a few weeks later. It couldn’t have worked in any long term sense. We’re different people headed in different directions, there was no future. Though maybe, if at the end of the summer, and I’m ready to split Minneapolis, and she’s figuring out her long term…

No. That’s no way to live life. Which is why it’s alright to think about the here and the now sometimes, regardless of the long term prospects. Fuck long term prospects. To live life by long term prospects is to disqualify a perfectly fantastic experience in the here and the now. And I’m very much living my life for the experience. For the here and the now. And I’m happy doing it.

She was tough with me, and brushed off the sweetest of compliments with a shrug, though her eyes gave her away. They lit up when she smiled and when she laughed, and especially when she called me ridiculous. I know how these things work. I am ridiculous. Eventually we’ll fade, and that’s alright. She’ll still make me smile, regardless of what she’s up to in the long term. And that’s the important part.

Please take a moment to check out Simone Badour Photography


Get at it.

Because now is the time to harden up. To forget about all the great things that have happened over the last year, to forget about all the amazing people that I met. Back to real life, back to the grind, back the hustle of a miserable blue collar night shift existence.

To forget about my charmingly run down apartment in that charmingly run down section of the city. To forget about Floyd’s, and Yurs, and Santeria, and Rocco’s. To forget about Jack, and Becca, and Patti, and that bum with the bleach blonde hair and tear drop tattoos under his eyes. Now is the time to remember about putting in work, about paying dues, about manning up. About double shifts with no sleep, and union politics, and surly old men waiting to die in that factory because they don’t know any better. Twelve hour days at the computer becoming twelve hour days at the factory; sometimes that’s the way life works.

To forget about the boys, a good group of boys who’ve become my boys. Each of us bouncing around with our own plans and ideas and dreams. United over the struggle and the dive bars, the cheap beer and the pursuit of the opposite sex. The pursuit of happiness; each with our own respective definitions of it. Another of the tribe strikes out on their own, but this time it’s me, and that stings a little bit more without the boys to fall back on.

To forget about that girl. The cute one, with her shy smile and fantastic sense of a good time, the one I didn’t think I was going to miss. Also headed out onto the road, off on her own adventures, her own big things. Funny how these things find us when we aren’t looking for them.

The Empire Builder heading east bound from Portland is the perfect train for reflection, the perfect way to leave town. It starts out cutting through wet green, lush forest before riding along The Gorge, still green, now with great bluffs along the fantastic Columbia River. More forests up to Spokane, and then through the glaciers and mountains and canyons of Idaho and western Montana. This is all very breathtaking and beautiful. A fantastic distraction for leaving a place that you might not be ready to leave. But then you’ll make it to central Montana, and the landscape starts to flatten out, and change from green to brown. Somewhat desert, somewhat farm or pasture land, there isn’t much to look at.

So suddenly you’re forced to deal with yourself. You could read a book or watch a movie or take a nap, but when moving across country under less than ideal conditions, its important to take stock in things, to be honest with yourself. It’s important to have a drink. A friend made me an alternative country compilation, and though not my normal style, it’s rather appropriate for this leg of the trip. A lot of it is about living hard, but living honestly, always struggling to find happiness, albeit in a million different forms. It’s lonely music, and this is a lonely trip.

Was it worth it? Is anything ever? We always say we’d smile more and worry less, and I guess that’s true of the Portland Experience too. I wasted a lot of time. I drank too much. But I lived for myself. I had a dream, and I followed it. I have 98,000 words in a giant word file on my computer, more or less a book. Which is a pretty spectacular feeling. I made a lot of new friends, a lot of them will stick around for years, and that’s what life is really about. Making those connections and holding on. Taking risks and holding your own. Smiling at cute girls on the off chance that they’re just waiting to smile back. Because usually they are.

We’re all waiting to be smiled at. As always, Thanks For Reading.

Into The Streets

photo by Christopher George Hughes

This should have been a big one. In the past it would have been.

The tribes were gathering, the stage was set.

The bombs were already exploding in south Portland.

Instead, I just felt old.

The futility of the whole scene was running strong.

As was the realization that things are not changing.

The pre-action meal of beans and rice and water with protest songs and punk rock failed to lift my spirits. It was cold and rainy, and I felt like we should all take a step back for a group nap or something along those lines.

No, instead out into the cold and the rain to watch kids get beaten by cops, to chant and scream to no avail.

Here’s to you, and your misguided dreams.

And then I went, and I marched for four hours in the cold and the rain, and it was fantastic. My faith was restored in the fire of the youth. I came home literally dripping, starving, with a smile on my face. A write up is soon to follow.

Whose streets? Our streets.

About the protest…
The Oregonian
Photos by Hit and Run Journalism

And I’m Doing Alright

if music is your thing, then do your thing.

As we grow and we change, we learn to appreciate the little things, and we learn to love in different ways. We come to realize that it is not always about the sex and the drugs and the rock and roll. We come to appreciate the people who are truly important in our lives; like we should have been doing all along.

We come to wonder, sometimes, just exactly what it is that we’re doing here. Sometimes we lose our way, sometimes we struggle. We become a singer who can’t find the words, a painter who can’t hold the brush. A writer who has forgotten how to write.Eventually we come to realize that to struggle is to be human. That our struggles are shared, that they are yet another tie that binds you to me to those hipsters suddenly taking over our favorite bar. And that helping someone up when they fall ensures that they will be that much more ready to help out the next person who needs it. Which is a beautiful a thing, especially if you happen to be that next person who needs it. We come to realize that helping others is exactly the same as helping ourselves.

And though we’ve suspected it for awhile now, we come to truly know that mysterious smiles on cute strangers in dark bars are some of the most exciting things in life. And we are reminded that sometimes it is actually about the sex and the drugs and the rock and roll. And that’s okay too.

photo by Simone Badour

We can learn to appreciate things that we don’t understand. We can admit when we don’t have any idea what we’re talking about; because we’re curious, we want to learn. We can see the beauty in each other’s passion, even if that passion isn’t our own.

And we come to realize that every conversation is not a battle. And for there to be winners, there must also be losers, and sometimes winning means losing, in the grand scheme of things. We come to understand that communication is not just talking, but it is also listening. We come to find that compliments, small and easy, but sincere compliments can completely change the course of someone’s day.

We come to see that doing things the right way, is just as important as what we do. We learn that setting a good example will never go out of style, and that there is always room for improvement.

We come to value things like cookouts, and patios, and sunshine, and beers with friends, and dancing, and live music, and late night conversations, and the gentle rain outside the window at night, and lying in bed with someone special, and lying in bed alone, and intramural sports, and shared secret kisses, and walks along the waterfront, and street cart vendors, and travel, and visitors, and family. We come to value things without price tags.

And we learn to appreciate the little things, like waking up at 4:30 am on a rainy Portland morning and suddenly remembering how to write.

Please take a moment to check out Simone Badour Photography.

Slide Away

photo by Simone Badour

In reality, it takes just about exactly one second for the elevator doors to fully open or close. It takes no more than seven seconds to go from the first floor to the fourth floor, the top floor, my floor. It takes that long because this is an old building, complete with an old elevator. Maybe someday I’ll make it to someplace faster.

I am constantly disappointed by the lack of attractive girls on the other side of my elevator doors. Just once, I’d like to bounce out of #404, and for the rickety old door to slide open to reveal that brunette pixie from the third floor. The one with dangerously dark eyes, she was on the gymnastics team for a year or two in college. Maybe she’s wearing a skirt, or those trendy leggings, showing off toned stems, scars around the knees from all those years of falling off her skateboard. Young and tan, active and athletic. She wears the hint of a smile like she invented it, offering the suggestion of good times to be had.

Nope. Instead I get Juan, our building’s maintenance man. He’s friendly enough, with his scraggly goatee and paint smeared overalls. He’s always wearing a smile, though I rather doubt it suggests good times to be had.

Just once, I’d like for it to open with that cutie from the bar on the other side. That Irish girl with black hair and icy blue eyes. The one who’s only been over a couple of years from Galway, but with her accent still thick. Always up for drinks and adventure, she constantly kicks my ass in darts. The one who went on and on about socialized health care, and intricately detailed policy differences over Guinness at Kell’s. The one who had the unwavering attention of half the bar. With that accent she could have read the phonebook and we’d have fallen in love.

Sorry. Instead I get Paula from a couple doors down. Maybe a looker back in her day, more likely is that she’s never caught a break in her life. What’s left of her hair is matted and gray, and worn in an off-center ponytail. Do they make toupees for women? She’s got a kind heart and well over three hundred pounds of girth. I bring her flowers occasionally from the street vendor on the waterfront; she always signs for our deliveries.

I promise I’ll stop dreaming when that door slides open and I’m staring at that blonde haired, green-eyed college cutie from the second floor. She’s studying journalism or writing or something of an idealistic nature up at Portland State. Freshly 21 with rich parents in the West Hills, they pay for her to live in the city with punks and the bums and the rest of us. I heard she teaches yoga in The Pearl.

Unfortunately when the door slides open I’m face to face with Jeff from down the hall. He’s a rather large man, a union man, with a body that tells of hard living through weathered muscles and prison tattoos. He’s a good guy with two cats, 18 facial piercings, and only the hint of a drinking problem. He lets me bum whiskey and cigarettes when I stay up typing all night, and he’s always good for a dirty joke.

The worst though, worse than Juan or Paula or Jeff, is when I open the door and there’s no one there at all.

Please take a moment to check out Simon Badour Photography.

Methadone Mary

the music goes well with the words

I walked across the river to a spot on the east side that I’d never been to during daylight hours. A comfortable little coffee shop with cutie baristas; I went there on Monday nights to listen to yuppie royalty read their crappy poems. I usually left at the intermission, but I still enjoyed the normalcy of it all and occasionally it was really, really good. Set in a lower middle class, funky little neighborhood, next to a trendy hipster bar, a couple blocks from an industrial section in southeast; it looked exactly like it was supposed to.

Today, the barista was not female, and while somewhat unnerving, it was not particularly important. I posted up with a hot mug of black Stumptown in the back, and started the process. Type type type, pause, read, sip, type type type. And repeat. For hours, for days, forever. Until it sells or I’m forced to get a real job. Exposed as the fraud I’ve always suspected most writers to be.

Me and Jonny Two Times

In the meantime, type type type my life away until the productive peace is shattered by a rather large woman slumping down onto the couch next to mine. Peer at her out of the corner of your eye, just over the laptop, make her think that you’re not actually studying her intrusion, her disruption. She looks like a junkie or a bum, with tattered worn clothing; layers upon layers of it. A bulging backpacker’s bag and a rolling duffle besides, her hair is ragged but her face is kind. It’s better not to establish contact.

“Didn’t I see you in here earlier?” She screeches, way too loud for the setting; people glance in our direction, but quickly look away. “Umm, I don’t think so, I just got here,” I reply, quiet but firm, direct and clear. She mumbles something else, but I don’t look up, I try to bury myself into words and headphones.

Glancing at her again, she’s pulled out a gallon carton of ice cream from some place, and gone in search of a spoon. Not even trying to hide my curious stare, I smile sadly at her in question.

“The Methadone makes me crave ice cream, makes me crave this stuff,” She slurs, face full of cookies and cream, “I got another one that he put in the freezer.” She gestures with her spoon towards the barista, who doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. A junkie. Of course. I guess ice cream is better than heroin, though probably not as satisfying. Like every other trade off that occurs in the pursuit of respectability, of normalcy, of mediocrity.

I sigh and lean back into the couch, this dingy piece of shit couch in this crappy run down coffee shop. I suddenly feel very old. In the day light it was easy to see the peeling paint and the water marks in the ceiling. In the daylight “funky” looks a lot like “run down.” This is my life; this is my Masters of Fine Arts program. This is where I’m putting my finger on the pulse and learning to become a writer. The yuppie royalty can drive home to their comfortable upper middle class existence after the show in their Subaru or their Prius or their massive SUV. I will walk back down Burnside, a shady section of Burnside, across the river to Oldtown; past strip clubs and drug deals and men huddled together in moldy blankets, just trying to stay warm. We’re all just trying to stay warm. The junkies and the hustlers are my professors as well as my peers, and also my twisted inspiration. Tomorrow is more of the same, as I’ll type type type some more, struggling, dreaming, above all working hard.

Working hard so that someday I can trade in my Methadone Mary for a cleaner model.

Apartment Number 306

The first time I saw her was in the laundry room. Scrubbed fresh and clean, hair pulled back into a ponytail, not even a trace of make up. Wearing a baggy gray hoodie with a simple USC across the chest, those stretchy yoga pants that hug the ass and then flair out into baggy bells at the bottom; it all complemented by hot pink shower sandals. She was leaning over the washing machine when I walked in, trying to retrieve a lost item from its depths. Up on her toes, those black yoga pants fit her nicely in this position.

photo by Simone Badour

The second time I saw her was in the elevator. It was a warm spring day, and I was just getting home from the library. The day had started off cool, we were all carrying our jackets. I’d already hit the Number 4 to head up to my apartment when she came running down the hall, “Please Hold It!” So I did. “Thanks,” she smiled as she stepped into the elevator with me and my elderly gay next door neighbor, who at the time was holding a simply delightful arrangement of spring daisies. Her thin wrist adorned with various costume bracelets punched the Number 3 as she stood in front of us, waiting as we rose. She wore a black tank top, and held some sort of light green sweater in her hands. Her thin brown shoulders looked delicate, and fun, if there is such a thing as shoulders that look fun. Shoulders showing off the promise of fun, activity, adventure, good times.

The third time I saw her was the alley next to our building. The hip little alley between the Oyster Bar and Voodoo Donuts, outside of Valentine’s; the bar you’d never find unless you knew it was there. It was 2:30 in the am, and the show had ended, the bars had ended, but it was one of those warm spring nights, and no one was ready to go home. I was cutting through on my way back from Santeria, we’d locked eyes and smiled at each other. Her cheeks were flushed from alcohol and dancing. From being young and fun and adventurous on a warm spring night in Portland. She was the picture of youth in action, she was the pulse of the city in that warm spring night. She took my hand and led me back into the building. Her small fingers in mine, and though I didn’t know her name, it was exactly perfect. She looked up into my blues and punched The Number 4 on the elevator panel, wearing that mischievous pixie smile like she’d invented it.

photo by Simone Badour

Later, much later, we laid in my bed and traced each other’s curves with delicate finger tip touches. The room dark, but with soft light coming from the city, we listened through open windows to gentle police sirens mingled with hustlers’ cat calls as Oldtown Portland slowly drifted off to sleep. I was fading fast, and my last conscious thought was that of her tracing numbers into my outstretched palm.

I awoke the next morning, alone of course, but with a smile on my face. My right palm was traced with dark blue ink, #306.

Please take a moment to check out Simone Badour Photography