Monday, September 2, 2013

1012 Days of Portland, Oregon: “Reading the Library of Congress”

There are days off and then there are days off. It was one of the latter for me on that mid-December day back in 2011. Janice had gone to Denver for the weekend. This meant that I was not only left alone in Portland, but I was completely unsupervised. And to make the whole ordeal all that much better, I did not have to don my white polyester dinner jacket and go to work.

I started in the early afternoon at The Commodore. Bobby and I had made plans to meet for drinks at The Rose and Thistle on NE Broadway. Afterward, we planned to see Brian's band play over at The Ash Street Saloon. Seems like a regular sort of day. Just a day off, and a plan to do a little drinking and honky-tonking.

Admittedly, there comes a point in the night when I say yes to everything. I don't say yes to everything because I'm a pushover. I do not even say yes because I'm drunk. No, I say yes because, there is adventure lurking behind ever y-e-s.

I made it to The Rose and Thistle. I met Bobby there. On our walk back we happened to find a little money in the gutter which translated very easily into a few Dewar's and rocks. We made it to Ash Street Saloon. In the men's room there, I pissed in the urinal while some crazy woman pissed in the toilet next to me. It was a strange shared experience that I have not said anything about. Soon after Bobby left on some “family” business, and I secretly suspect that they were off to hide a body—an experience I wish I could have shared. I went to Shanghai Tunnels with Brian and Rose and Andrew. After a shot, Andrew and I went into Chinatown (something I never do) and hunted up a dance club he knew. I danced with very tall girls there. Then, out the side door, we went to an art opening where we were separated. I got mixed up with crazy artists. Now, twelve hours into this adventure, this unsupervised journey, I went to the Silver Dollar II to see if anyone was there. There, I met Caroline, my MFBF, Jenny and Eric. With them, I left the comforts of downtown on a December night and went to some undisclosed neighborhood bar where I sundowned the night with Frito Pie. All in all is was a great day. I saw boroughs of Portland I would not otherwise have seen. I hung out with friends. I meet fun people. If anything, I'm still bitter that I did not hide the body with Bobby and his clan.

But fun is fun, right? The next day I was disturbed that I was not hungover. The next day, alone at our Goose Hollow apartment, I missed Janice. That day, also a day off, I thought about the past, the present and the future.

The past: it was past.

The present: Portland, Oregon. Portland City Grill. My ongoing and agonizing relationship with VSAC (Vermont Student Assistance Corporation). My ongoing schedule of daily events: get up, try to write, go to work, go to the bar, get liquored up, pass out and do it all over again. It was a fun time, but I was floundering.

The Future: Mid-December 2011 I was going to do only three things. First, get back to reading and writing rather than drinking and being hungover. Second, I was going to pay off my student loan. (It took just under nine months to pay it off.) Third I was going to find a publisher and get a book contract. That happened the following April, and the book released in September.

But there were things that I did not foresee. For instance, Janice and I found out she was pregnant about a week after I made these “future” plans. I did not foresee how much I would love being sober. Being sober made me better at my server job and Portland City Grill. It also made me enjoy going to work. It was weird. The biggest thing that happened was this: I read more books than I had since college. I mean college-college, my days at Metro back in the 1990s. I could not read enough.

I began to write earlier in the day, and I got more done during the day. The decision to take things more seriously made everything happen more easily. Sure, blame it on the maturity I had just acquired. Blame it on sobriety. Whatever. I think that if I can do this, anyone can do it.

When I went to work, I still had plenty of things to talk to my coworkers about. We still shared stories and talked shit. This only happened at work. After work, they went out or went home, and I escaped into mid 20th century novels. I enjoyed solitude. I asked my good buddy Eric how he'd been one afternoon. “How's things?” I asked. “Good,” he said. “You?” “I've been reading,” I said. “I heard that you've been reading the Library of Congress.”

The moral? None. If you live a life you don't like, things must change. I recommend change. These are the steps: 1) remember what you intended to do with your time and your life. 2) start doing it. 3) get rid of anything that squeaks, rattles or annoys you. 4) read as much as you can, I recommend starting with Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

Where there was once 2 there are now 3
Ring of Fire

The Lovecraft  

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