Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sundry tales of everyday life

I realize that it has been A While since my last post. The reasons for this lag are, in general, banal and prosaic; stories of final projects, moving apartments, and the sundry workaday requirements of life. I could not, in good conscious, foist such pedestrian tales upon my devoted readership without some interesting framing device or philosophical narrative, neither of which I felt sufficiently motivated to provide. Absent compelling external narrative my blog has lain fallow, devoid of content.

For this, Dear Reader, I apologize. Absent inspiration from the muse, this post shall serve simply as a brief update on my life. For those who know and love me and care about my every movement and activity, this post shall perhaps provide you with valuable information about my life and doings. For my teaming hordes of anonymous Internet fans, the biographical information contained herein may be somewhat less scintillating.

The most relevant detail, of course, is that I'm currently in Seattle. My research work, thankfully, is the kind of work I can do anywhere (contingent on availability of power and Internet) and I have no classes to take this summer, so I decided to pack up a car's worth of belongings and ship on up to Seattle, where L and I are Living In Sin. *Gasp!* In between Shambhala, Burning Man, and IJCAI, it seemed pointless to try and find a summer job ("I'd love to work for you guys, providing you let me take off one week in July, two weeks in August, a couple days in early September...").

So we're living a quiet, happy little domestic life up here. Cooking meals from scratch, practicing and refining my trombottle technique, catching up on my guitar, driving down to a friend's Roller Derby bout in Eugene. It's a pretty pleasant little life. And, to my great surprise, I've actually managed to do a fair amount of research in my spare time. Wild!

Tonight, to K and E's for game night and ice cream! Oh, the wild and crazy Seattle evenings.

I've never quite decided what the most appropriate answer is to tell people when they ask where I'm from. I usually answer "Oregon": after all, I was born in Portland and lived for eight (!) years in Eugene, longer than anywhere else. While that's a somewhat disingenuous answer--after all, I certainly didn't grow up in Oregon--it's a lot easier than having to explain the story of my childhood again.

Apart from functioning as an awkward tangent to my post, this is something that has come to mind as I settle back in to life in the Pacific Northwest. I like LA quite a bit -- it's huge and busy and full of interesting stuff to do. But there's just something about the cities and culture up north that I really appreciate and haven't really found in LA.

In my first weekend in Seattle, L and I visited the Fremont Solstice Festival, which is held every year in one of the weirder neighborhoods in Seattle. It was a delightful spectacle, full of naked bicyclists, crazy artistic floats (including an enormous floating replica of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) and myriad examples of possibly-misdirected creative energies (like the street-legal automobile that had been converted in to a spaceship, complete with attached laser guns and bells to warn off aliens).

Days before, I had attended the Last Thursday Art Walk in North Portland, providing a similar array of weird people and fantastical art displays. The processions of stilted passers-by surrounding themselves in a makeshift boat made of bedsheets was quite the thing.

It's not just art fests, I like, of course. As best I can tell, it's the general sense of comfortable weirdness that pervades the area (or at least the parts I hang out in) that really does it for me (or maybe that's just the "Keep Portland Weird" bumper stickers that make me feel that way).

LA's certainly got its weird subculture, of course -- I've never lacked for apealling social engagement. But it feels just so much more the dominant culture in the Northwest, not something I have to seek out and make an effort to find.

I suspect I haven't really been able to capture the essence of what I'm trying to communicate here, and doubt I really can. I like LA. I'm happy to live here for the next couple years and I'll regret no minute of it. But dammit, now I just wish it were that slightest bit cooler.

Oh, well.


  1. I can relate- I've been really taken with Portland since I've been back, which will make it all the more difficult to leave. I think "comfortable weirdness" is the best term for it.

    You know, you could always embark on a campaign to weird LA, import a bit of NW-ness there. You could start by propagating the Gospel of Really Good Beer.

  2. The Gospel of Really Good Beer is always a good place to start, but I prefer my NW to be actual NW. Glad to hear your sem-nomadic summer is treating you well!

  3. I've been doing my best with the beer. Seems to be taking. I'll keep it up. Thanks for the well-wishes!