Monthly Archives: September 2011

How to say goodbye to Portland

STEP ONE: Brunch like your life depends on it!

This was at the Waffle Window, but I’m not endorsing any specific brunch place for the simple reason that I know any brunch in Portland is 1000x better than brunch anywhere else.

STEP TWO: Visit all your favorite flowers for photo shoots.

In real life, these flowers are 1994 incarnate.

Nature’s Moodboard

Paper Flowers

Usually I detest anything evocative of gradients, but these flowers make it work.

I see you hiding, wispy little blue flower.

Flowers on tree, flowers near tree.

STEP THREE: Say goodbye to your favorite chickens.

STEP FOUR:  Throw yourself a fabulous farewell party!

Thanks for making my wish come true, neat Portland friends!

STEP FIVE:  Say goodbye from afar (otherwise you may never leave).

Always remember and NEVER forget

There’s been a lot of talk about 9/11 this week, and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the tragedy of that day as well as what those tragic events engendered. It’s been a decade since a small group of hateful people committed atrocious crimes against humanity.

Almost half my lifetime has passed since then. I’ve been thinking about the past ten years.  What has happened in that time?

-The day after 9/11 I wore a patriotic outfit to my middle school’s flagpole prayer memorial event (navy blue pants, white oxford, red mary janes and a red ribbon in my hair). That morning a bee flew really close to me, circling my body while we observed a moment of silence. I was terrified,  but I knew this moment of silence was very important. I did not move or make any sound. Everyone talked about how Americans were coming together, helping each other, and generally demonstrating how we are Really Nice and Neighborly Despite Our Differences.

-Nine days later President Bush declared a war on terror, and soon after that, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. I remember being really confused. If the 9/11 attacks were planned by a small group of people, why invade a whole country?

-The immediately-post-9/11 friendly patriotism gave way to ‘You’re either with us or against us.’ There was a rise in Islamophobia and hate crimes against people deemed ‘foreign’ or somehow ‘un-American.’ Lots of people slapped ‘Support Our Troops‘ magnets on their cars, and I heard over and over that now was not the time to consider whether this war was morally just.

-Toby Keith released this song.

-In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq under the pretext of finding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Again, I didn’t understand why we were going to war, and I wished we wouldn’t.

-For the first time, the country felt completely polarized. You were either a staunch Bush supporter who trusted the president no matter what and cared about the troops or you were a peace-loving liberal who gave no thought to the real individuals involved in on-the-ground conflict. It felt like there was no middle ground, and there were a lot of mean anti-Bush cartoons that weren’t about politics at all.

-I realized that I was opposed to war, in general, and the current U.S. conflicts, in particular. The 2004 election felt like the only way to stop the wars. I became a Kerry supporter and helped the eighteen year-olds at my high school register to vote. On election night, I took two TVs into my room and had them tuned to different channels. I kept them on all night, sleeping for short intervals and waking to see up-to-date elections results. It took a day for the final results to be tabulated.

-George W. Bush was re-elected. I had the sinking feeling that we would keep fighting these seemingly endless wars, at least until 2008.

-The United States grew ever-less popular. I feared more large-scale terrorist attacks.

-In September 2006, the president of Venezuela called Bush the devil at the United Nations.

-I applied to colleges and got ready to leave the nest. I marveled at how fortunate I was because the wars never directly affected me. I felt queasy that we could be at war this long without me or those close to me being very affected. It felt wrong.

-In college, I canvassed for Obama, cheered when he won the democratic primary, spent election night at an Obama office, making phone calls and helping people turn in their ballots (Oregon has a mail-in voting system).

-We watched the final returns at our school’s largest lecture hall. Obama won! I was incredulous. When I called my mom, she told me she was so excited that she had made steak…for the dogs!

-While people celebrated across the nation, I cried. I felt it to be a solemn victory. I thought about the U.S.’s racist history and all of the people who had died because of the wars in which we were involved and how now things would finally change. We had elected a candidate on the platform of hope.  To me, that meant that the wars would end soon and that the post-9/11 sense of community and friendly patriotism would make a comeback.

-It didn’t exactly turn out that way.

-We are still at war.

-Our government is gridlocked, so no real progress is being made.

-Osama bin Laden, the figurehead believed to be responsible for the attacks of 9/11, was killed in May of this year.

-Americans celebrated his death hatefully. I wondered if we would ever change our international image from ‘We’re Better than the Rest of the World’ to ‘We Are a Part of the World.’

-I am still wondering.

Though not exhaustive, that list pretty much encapsulates what I’ll never forget about 9/11 and the past decade. Those hate-fueled attacks fueled a lot of hate in response. And now it’s like we are trapped in a mire of hate and war and so many deaths. I want the cycle to stop, and I want to help stop the cycle, but I don’t know how.

And you know what? As much as I feel saddened and weighed down by the wars and casualties and hateful rhetoric of the past ten years, mostly it has been a dark cloud that has followed me around distantly. I have been free to ignore it for days, weeks, months at a time. I have grown up with a background of war, but it has never been more than a background. I am so grateful for that.

To all of the people that haven’t been so lucky–all the kids my age who went to war instead of college, the families (American or not) who have lost members to the wars or the terrorist attacks, the people who have heard bombs drop around them for almost ten years and who have lived in fear of death, all those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the terrorists who squandered their lives on hate, the soldiers who enlisted for noble reasons and realized too late that they didn’t want to fight, the individuals tortured at Guantánamo, the military families who have had to live in a society that largely ignores these wars and does not give much support to the people who actually fight in them–all I can say is that I’m sorry. I cannot comprehend your suffering, and I fervently wish you did not have to endure it.

¡A probar suerte (y así)!*

Remember how I said Flintstones kids are way cooler than Jetsons kids? Well, here is the proof.

Proud winners of the first sensitivityandgrace giveaway.

My friends Jo & Chris won the giveaway (free tickets to the tram and free frameless sunglasses that eye doctors give you after you’ve had your eyes dilated, courtesy of OHSU but also of me and my two doctor’s appointments). In order to win they had to answer the question ‘Were you a Flintstones or a Jetsons kid?’

Said Jo, ‘I think I was a Flintstones kid. Something about Wilma’s pearl necklace made out of rocks really resonated with me.’

Doesn’t that just make sense? And yet, there is something about patent leather and everything synthetic ever that I just can’t get enough of. Because I was, and will ever be, a Jetsons kid. While I’m on the topic, I should tell you that I have made further hypotheses based on my Cartoon-influenced Personality Theory.

1. The person who designed the PT Cruiser was a Betty Boop kid (or adult–do kids even watch Betty Boop? I don’t think I was allowed.)

Ms. Boop

...and her dream ride.

2. The appropriation of Native American culture by the 16-24 demographic between 2005-2010 was indirectly caused by the 1997-2001 cartoon TV series Recess and its portrayal of kindergarteners.

Blame the media.

I’m leaving for New York tomorrow, and the past few weeks have been one long crisis in confidence. Mostly I have asked myself over and over, ‘What am I doing? Will I get a job? How is it possible that I haven’t gotten a job? What is the difference between a cover letter and a letter of interest? Am I good at anything? Do I suck at everything? Why do I suck at everything? Does anybody even like me? Which comes first: the job or the business casual haircut?’

As you can imagine, I haven’t been much fun. But! I have learned one important thing about myself, which is that I keep my anxiety in my big toes, and especially in my left big toe. For some reason, my right big toe is slightly more mellow. Now I know.

It’s like when I went to college and found out that, though I imagined myself an adventuresome girl ready to live fearlessly, I am actually a planner. I was sorely disappointed in myself for a while, but then I learned to live with this fact, and now it’s not so bad. I know if I get an idea in my head, I can probably make it happen in fifteen steps. But, in the past four years, I forgot something else about myself, which is that, however much I like to plan and make lists, I do like adventure, and there is always a little part of me that yearns to venture into the unknown.

I’m getting ready to do just that, not exactly by choice; but no one’s forcing me, either. Here is my reality right now: I’m going to New York. Maybe I’m going to get a great job and be successful. Maybe I’ll fail gloriously and head right back to Texas to live in my pink and green bedroom until I figure out my next step. As of now, I have no idea where I’ll be sleeping after Monday night. I’m crossing my fingers that everything will work out, but right now, I have no clue. And that suits me fine.

*Trying my luck (and stuff)

Note: I wrote this before leaving Texas. So far everything is working out really well in New York!