Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Switching Over

Alright ya'll. So here's the deal. Some amazing things are going down in my life, and then some not so amazing things. I'm really proud of who I am becoming and I have found that there are certain people who are not being super supportive of who I am and the life I live. Some of those people read this blog. So, I'm abandoning this blog and going over to another one, because I believe in surrounding myself with positivity. If you are still interested in reading my aimless posts, e-mail at the below address and I will send you the link, that way I can control who will be able to read my blog. Hope to see you over there! Carly E-mail address: carleneostedgaard@hotmail.com Put in subject line: Your name- I think your blog is awesome! The subject line is there just to stroke my ego a bit;)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just letting you know I'm not dead

This is a super quick post to let you know I'm still alive. My writing has been sucking lately. As I bicycle all over the city, I conjure all these eloquent zines, posts, letters to friends, etc. But when it comes to putting paper to pen (or in this case, fingers to keyboard), it just doesn't seem to be translating. I'm also on the 15 minute express computer because people mob the library computers on Sundays. The library is closed on Mondays (stupid fucking budget cuts! Really? The library and public transportation are eating all the shitty cuts?!) so I will try to post on Tuesday. See you then, I guess.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lots of Thinking Going On

Hello there! It's been a bit. Sorry. Things here have been wild. I mean, I had all of these activities going on, which kept me busy, but I've also been exposing myself to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new kinds of people. It's amazing and overwhelming and exhausting. I moved here because I'd been marginally exposed to concepts such as anarchy, radical parenting, queer theory, and polyamory (all through zines) and I wanted to know more. I've made friends who are involved in all of these communities and they are open and honest with me and patient/indulgent with all of my curiosities. This is wonderful, but my mind is also on this constant reel, questioning what of these ideas is are ones I want to adopt. Sometimes I just want to turn the thinking off. I'll give you an example: Friday night I went out with the first friend I know to be polyamorous in my itty-bitty group of friends. I straight-up asked her if she would mind telling me about her choice to be poly and the obstacles and joys she's faced living that lifestyle. We talked about how living a polyamorous lifestyle forces you to constantly reflect on the assumptions that the dominant culture makes, our own insecurities and why we have them, and the ways in which we relate to each other. Then, we moved to another bar and my friend saw a woman with whom my friend's primary partner is engaging in a poly relationship (we'll call her Alice). My friend (we'll call her Katie) walked right up to Alice and gave her a giant hug and she introduced me and mentioned that I had been asking about poly and how crazy it was to run into Alice. Then, Katie and Alice engaged in what I would normally think of as an awkward conversation about a situation that arose between Katie, Alice, and Katie's partner (By the way, this pseudonym thing sucks. It's so hard to remember who's who!) because Katie's partner was not very mindful of the dynamics. Alice gave Katie mad props for not proceeding to punish Alice for the partner's mistakes. I just sat there not sure if I should be listening to the conversation or giving them their privacy while simultaneously wondering how on earth I would ever handle this situation if I were to engage in the polyamorous lifestyle. Two days later and I'm still thinking about it. I know earlier in this post I was complaining about the exhaustion of always questioning the choices I make in my life. But really, I think about what a curious person I am and how I am least happy when I'm not learning about all of the possibilities available to me in my life. So, I'll just handle the fatigue because to me it's worth it. It's worth it to know so many diverse, crazy, amazing, free-thinkers who are always challenging themselves to get to know themselves and the world around them more intimately.
This is the book that Katie gave me to read while I was hanging with her at her garage sale. It's about polyamory, of course. It's a really good read, I must say!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How to Remedy the Homesick Blues

This is a quick check-in, guys. I no longer have free and easy access to a computer until I move the rest of my things out in late October/early November. But I'm feeling a little bit homesick and writing on this blog does help me with that at times. So, what's going on in my world, you say? 1. I moved into my new house yesterday. 2. I bought a bike. 3. I started training for one of my jobs and my first day of school is Wednesday. 4. Julie's coming out on Tuesday! This is all super exciting, but with that excitement comes some nerves. I'm learning the nuances and schedule of one of my roommate and I haven't and won't meet the other one until Monday (he's out of town). I'm nervous about whether or not I will do my job well (which seems to be par for the course in any job), but I also have a little anxiety just being in a school building again. In fact, I was so anxious at one point last week that I dreamt about East Middle School. This school does seem to have a much more community-oriented vibe than East and it's an elementary school so I anticipate I will get over my anxiety soon. In the meantime, what I'm experiencing is just the waiting that happens before everything settles in. Hence, the slight sting of homesickness. What I've decided to do today to combat this is to do the Portland thing. Or at least I think it's what Portlanders do. The Portlanders I know do it all the time. I'm headed to North Portland to either Fresh Pot or Albina Press, I'm going to order a coffee, and then I'm going to read and write-- for hours. I'm looking forward to it. I'll talk to you guys soon!
Albina Press in North Portland

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Continuing the Conversation

I've been feeling less creative lately, probably because I'm slightly anxious. It's a good anxious, but this is the week of changes and change is never easy for us humans! Here are just a few things going on in my world, though. 1) I am returning to the Scandinavian tradition of 4-6 hour "events" with friends. For those of you who know about my experience in Denmark, you probably know what I'm talking about. Lunch was an event that you had to block out half of your day for, if you invited friends. Talking, eating, drinking, and laughing were prioritized over everything else. I find myself returning to that lifestyle. I can spend three and half hours at coffee with Fiona and four hours for lunch with Matt. It's amazing! 2) (In a similar vein) I have begun to realize that I moved to Portland because Portland is the closest approximation to my life in Denmark only in the United States. 3) I'm (evidently) a boisterous conversationalist. I blame my family for this one. 4) I've had a couple of occasions where I've noticed that my friends use the phrase "Oh man!" and it always cracks my shit up. For example: "Oh man, if I had Gandolf on my team, the others wouldn't stand a chance!" and "Oh man, I totally didn't get that comics job in Hillsboro." I would say this is a Pacific Northwest thing, but both of these examples were said by people from the Midwest. Maybe that's the common thread. Doesn't matter. There's just something funny to hear someone say "Oh man! __________" Like, you know that they are so disappointed or passionate abut something, but they say "Oh man" and the phrase doesn't accurately encompass their disappointment or passion. And that somehow makes it funny... to me.
The ubiquitous image of Denmark

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I think It's Called Faith

I secured myself a house today. Yay! I have two male roommates, which I'm actually pretty thrilled about and it's near the Hollywood neighborhood, which is one of my favorite neighborhoods. So, things are finally coming together for me. That's not the real reason that I wrote this post, though. Each time a piece of my life falls into place here, I know that it's going to work out before it does. There is zero logic to it. I mean, it's not like I have evidence or a strong argument for why I'm going to get this job or that house-- I just know. I knew it when I got hired with Vermont Hills Family Life Center and with Athleta. Yesterday, after I left the house I will now be moving into, I was still holding out on a house in North Portland. That house was in a cool neighborhood, near some friends, but a little more than I wanted to pay and perhaps a bit far for my job. I really wanted it, though, because of it's proximity to all the cool people and stuff. I told my now roommate that I would get back to him by the end of the day, because I was still hoping to hear about the North Portland house. But weirdly, I woke up this morning and thought "That house on 77th? That's my house. I just know it." I waited until 3 in the afternoon just in case I heard back from the other house, but I just knew. I knew that my new home was in Northeast Portland. This keeps happening to me and I can't help but think that this is what fate and faith are. I've never been much of a believer in either. Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's all the books I've been reading lately. Maybe it's my quarter life crisis-thinking. But I am starting to believe that some things are, in fact, in the cards.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Revelations from when I went to Colorado

I've been wanting to talk about my trip back to Colorado and volunteering at the Portland Zine Symposium for a while, but then I starting fretting about my life situation and forgot. Well, here's a little bit about the observations I made while I was in Colorado. First, I want to say that my family is the shit! We haven't talked often since I moved to Oregon, but that apparently is not a problem. I thought it was. I thought they didn't like me or didn't really want to include me in their family unit. I have no rational reason for believing this except that sometimes I get insecure. I have this weird habit. I am not insecure with my friends (I mean, my really good friends like Julie). But my family is this force. I don't even know how to describe it. We are an amalgamation of really strong personalities (my dad and I being probably the weakest of those personalities, but not weak by anyone else's standards). It's easier for the less-strong personalities to feel less-than or left out (it's similar to the concept of "eat or be eaten"). Basically, most of my life I've been the least sure of who I am or what I want and that has made me pretty insecure when I see my mom,sister, and brother all pretty damn comfortable with themselves. So, I am always evaluating who I am in relation to my family. Portland has eased that some, but as my trip to Colorado neared, I found that feeling bubbling up again. Here's what I learned, though: I am the only person who is unsure of my position in my family. Upon my return, I easily fell back into a rhythm with my brother and sister with the bantering and obligatory sibling heckling (I will say they were gentler than they used to be when I lived near them). They didn't seem to be riddled at all with any uncertainty about whether or not I was still an important part of the family. I was, but those are my issues. I still feel that there are some unsaid tensions between my sister and I, but after going back to Colorado, I feel fairly confident that we will deal it those tensions when we're ready. In the meantime, I've realized that I shouldn't worry that we won't be ok. We'll be ok.

A few things

Hey there! Not a lot to report, but a few random things going on in my personal development. 1. I have decided to journal what I create each day for my "Let's Make Shit!" quest in September (and part of August). I'm considering turning this journal into a zine, but we'll see how it turns out. If it's got some deeper learnings or at least some good quips, then I'll probably publish it. Otherwise, it'll just be documentation for me to remember what I once created in a month. 2. I finished drafting my zine about zines today! I just need a better title and it needs some revision, but my hand hurts so, even though I'm all amped to do it now, I should give it a rest. 3. I learned about the concept of de-schooling or unschooling on Saturday and I've been scouring the interwebs (I stole that from my buddy Jonas. It's hilarious to me that he calls it that since I call it "The Internets"!) looking for zines about it. The person who told me about it said she'd lend me her zines when she was finished, but I'm impatient.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Moments in Time

I saw a man reading an ancient hard back book today. When he was finished, he wrapped it up in a small woven blanket and put it in his backpack. This man loves his books. It was beautiful-- poetic.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I am blog-bombing you!

Sorry, today is blog-bomb day. That's just how it's gonna be. So, two things. First, I realized today just how self-involved I have been. I mean, I try. I try really hard to be cognizant of others, but my shit's been all over the place lately, and that makes it hard for me to think of anyone else but myself. Today, Maria yanked me out of my self-centered haze. I spent the whole day looking for potential places to live. About 1pm, I finally descended from my room and Maria was visibly in a panic and uncomfortable. Her mother and aunt arrived last weekend and we've all been living together. Since my Spanish is pathetic, I mostly say "hello-how are you?" and try to keep to myself, so as not to make them uncomfortable. I've felt like I'm not as welcoming as I could be, even though that's not at all the case. However, after Maria's mother and aunt leave, her mother-in-law is coming. Paula (that's the mother-in-law) is formidable and neither Maria nor Mario are particular fond of her. She's meticulous, scrupulous, and highly critical of their lifestyle. Mario recommended that I be out of the house by the time she arrives and I said I would. Frantic, Maria approached me and asked me when I would be out of the house so that she can "deep clean" the room for Paula. I was miffed. I've already felt like a huge inconvenience since I arrived here (not because of them, but because that's just how I feel) and, for whatever reason, Maria's comment made me feel like I was no longer welcome. I proceeded to go to my room and pout/pursue viable living arrangements. But then I thought (and this is from knowing Paula and speaking to Maria and Mario extensively about her presence in their lives) "Maria is simply panicking about how she will never meet Paula's exacting standards. This really has nothing to do with me." In fact, given Helena's reaction to my leaving, they would much prefer me imposing on their house than their mother! Maria wasn't trying to kick me out of the house. She was merely trying to make her life easier by making sure that the house was as perfect as possible when her mother showed up. I felt instantly guilty. I'd been so consumed with my own job and living arrangements that I'd forgotten about the people who had so generously opened their homes to me in my time of need. I feel like a huge butt hole right now, I will tell you that. The other thing I wanted to tell you all is way more inspirational. I read an interview with Fred Armisen (yes, SNL and Portlandia Fred Armisen) today and it really got me thinking. He said that he tries every day to create one thing. It can be making a piece of art, writing a part of a script, or learning a script. It just has to contribute to creation. I have recently learned (through Helena) that I am happiest when I am creating something. Some days it's writing, some days it's publishing, and other days it's painting a matryoshka with Helena. It doesn't have to be big, but the act of creating something makes me feel good regardless of the instability I am experiencing in my life. So, I have to agree with Fred here and I have decided that I will create something everyday. It might not be creating something to completion, but I will engage in the act of creation every day through the end of September. From there, we will just have to see...

Another New Zine

Yesterday evening I was reading a zine about a female busker in Canada. It was hands-down one of the best zines I've ever read, but I think mostly because it captured some of things I've been contemplating in my own life. That got me thinking... Zines have completely transformed how I think and live my day-to-day life. I know that's a bold statement, but had I not exposed myself to zines, I would never have exposed myself to the politics, ideologies, and activism that changed my life forever. So, I decided to write a zine about how zines saved me as a human being. Right now, the title is "How Zines Saved Me (and How They Can Save You)" but I find that title boring. Really, that's more of the theme than it is the title, but I figure the title will come as the zine develops. I love this zine so much already because I am so emotionally invested in the content. My connection to zines is such that, for each life event that I've had in the past two years, I can name a zine that either related to my experience or helped me through that experience. And I feel deeply connected to so many of these zine writers, most of whom I've never even met. Anyway, I just wanted to share what I'm excited about right now.
The zine I read last night that got me thinking about this. Visit her shop here.

West Coast Dreamin'

I've always been into dreams. I mean, who isn't? Dreams are cool. I'm not as into them in that whole "interpreting-them-to-determine-your-future" way, but more as a gauge for what's going in your life and your head. My dreams have definitely come down with a case of multiple personalities since moving to Portland. Sometimes they are completely absent or they make no sense whatsoever. At other times, they are vivid and absolutely indicative of my place in life. This past week, they have been extremely vivid and chalk full of emotion. I'm pretty sure that this is because I am spending so much time processing some big life changes. I'm starting a new job, I'm doggedly looking for a place to stay and running all over town meeting potential roommates. I'm thinking about packing and how that will go down and, with all of this, I'm navigating the whole crush situation. It's a lot and it's overwhelming. Not in a bad way, by any means. It's just I am definitely in system overload mode. My dreams are helping me sort through that. Here's the general feeling that I get when I wake up from these dreams: Happiness-- chaotic happiness-- and also, a sense that everything is going to be ok. My financial concerns will be ok, my romantic insecurities are just not that big of a deal, and my life in general will turn out to be fine. It may not look the way I'd planned, but I will be happy. I am already happy, if the dreams I am having are any indication. So, I'm going to trust my dreams here and stop worrying like an old woman about money, and housing, and finding the perfect timing for various life events.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Making of an Anarchist

I went to look at a house and meet some roommates this evening. The ride home was pretty interesting. First, a ginormous boat was on the Willamette so I had to wait for the bridge. In the process, I got to see the Morrison, Burnside and Steele (I was waiting at the Steele Bridge) Bridges elevate. It's pretty cool. I saw the Hawthorne bridge elevate for an itty bitty sail boat with a giant mast the other day, so now I've seen all of the bridges that move except the Broadway in a matter of two days. That and the house/housemates was the good-interesting part of the ride. Then, I went to the Skidmore Max station. There was a drunken homeless man laying face-down on the pavement with a Portland Police Officer straddling him. He was flailing his legs and the officer kept punching him in the neck. Then, a flurry of cop cars came driving (or flying, it was so fast) up the tracks, braking violently,slamming doors and sprinting toward the man and the first-responding cops. It was brutal and violent and, even though I was never in any danger, it really frightened me. I have historically had extremely visceral reactions to any kind of violence and this was no exception. Portland has a couple of really active Police Watchdog groups and I can definitely see why. This man was clearly mentally ill, and while I understand that cops in Portland deal with a lot of shit (there are an obscene amount of addicts, mentally ill, and homeless here because of the temperate weather), it did seem like excessive force. Literally, the man was dragging his feet and the cops basically had to carry him to the cop car. He couldn't possibly have posed any kind of a physical threat to anyone but himself. This isn't a political or philosophical post, but it's moments like these that lead people like me to view radical politics as a viable option. Actually, I've been wanting to write a zine where I interview zinesters who are progressive and/or anarchists to find out what events led them to their (invariably) unpopular political beliefs. This evening was definitely one of those moments where I remembered why I have the politics I have.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A (very cautious) update

I accepted a job today. It's part time, but it's for a non profit organization that provides preschool and before-and-after care for children. I can get about 33.5 hours a week if I want, so I'm just trying to navigate the system(s) here to figure out what benefits me most financially. Yup, I'm that bourgeious. I had an interview with a division of Gap Inc. that went really well today. So, I can either have two part time jobs or take on the before care session in addition to the after care session at the nonprofit to fill in the economic gap. Hmmmm... Also, I'm attending some open houses to find a roommate/house situation. So, I'm cautiously beginning to believe that my crazy-ass dream might actually become a reality. We'll see. I start training next Tuesday and I hear back from a few other prospects next week, so.... In other news, I went to Kinko's to copy my zine and-- woohoo! It worked. Thanks to the Northeast 7th Avenue FedEx Office store for helpin' a sista out! They rocked-- even had a long-arm stapler (that kept jamming, but they helped me with that, too) that I could staple my zines with. So, there are now officially 15 zines for sale/distribution. I don't care whether people buy my zine or just get it. I simply want people to read it. So, if you want it, let me know. I sent three off to my best friend who will be distributing them to my friends in Colorado and one copy went to Chicago to my new penpal (the author of "Cheer the Eff Up", which is an amazing zine by the way). That means, for you mathmeticians out there, that there are 11 left for anyone who wants them. I'm considering consigning them at Portland Button Works, but I'm not so confident about them yet to gamble on that. I would prefer to distribute them and then have people tell others how great it is (if it is, in fact, that great). That's about all I'm willing to report right now. I've promised many an embellishment post, where I elaborate on various events in my life (i.e. my realizations about my family and PZS) and I haven't forgot them. I'm just not quite ready to talk about that yet. But soon, I promise. Soon...

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Yesterday was a really good day. I went to the Columbia River Gorge and went swimming/frollicking on gigantic logs. I also got a call for a job offer working at a nonprofit childcare program. You'd think I'd be feeling pretty good by the end of the day. But as evening settled in and I found myself, once again, eating at a restaurant alone, I became quite melancholy. I didn't understand why, though. I'd had such an amazing day filled with beautiful and promising things. Feeling sad and mopey, I did what any mature, nearly 30-year-old woman would do-- I called my mommy. My mom has a way of knowing when something's up even before I utter a complete sentence. This is probably due to the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve so much that, when I'm sad, I can barely utter a complete sentence without the tell-tale quiver in my voice. Anyway, I cried a little and spent some time processing what I think the cause of my melancholy was with her and then we talked about what was going on in Colorado. It reminded me a lot of when I was an exchange student in Denmark and I'd call home out of homesickness. Homesickness is a little different this time around, though. When I was 17, homesickness was about missing your favorite restaurant or riding in your parents car with your best friend. With age, homesickness has a lot more depth and is more psychological. It's also more complex. I don't miss any particular places or moments in Colorado. I miss being able to go to my parent's house when I had nothing to do and was feeling lonely. I miss knowing that I could see my best friend Julie in a matter of hours instead of weeks or even months. I miss going to Julie's house and just lounging there for hours, feeling completely comfortable and at home in her home. I miss old friends that I felt comfortable crying and confessing my feelings to. I miss the stability of having a routine and a place that I identified as home. The truth is I came here for a life of instability. I wanted to make myself uncomfortable because there were a lot of things about my comfortable life that I wasn't happy with. However, I didn't expect things to take this long to settle in. So, I'm beginning to understand that Portland is my lesson in patience. I expected Portland to be about adventure and it is-- just not the adventure I expected. I expected crazy long nights out with punks and dumpster diving and ridiculous camping trips. Instead, my adventures seem to be happening in the development my identity. I am coming to understand things about myself that I never thought I was or could be. It's a tougher adventure than I expected, but there's also this comfort with who I am becoming that is something I've never quite felt. I feel like myself now more than ever-- erratic emotions and all. The other adventures will come. In fact, they are already beginning to. I am going to "Trek in the Park" on Sunday with my friend Kristin (google it or watch Portlandia-- it's awesome). That will definitely be an adventure! My crush and I also plotted some new adventures like hitchhiking up and down the coast and camping on Larch Mountain. There will be plenty of adventures to come! But for now, I'm learning to settle into the version of me that I've always wanted to be. Also, I've included some pictures from yesterday's shenanigans in the gorge and a package that I got from my friend and fellow zinester, Jonas.
The zines and letter I got from my penpal/zinester friend, Jonas, in Chicago.
Jonas's really sweet letter that brought me to tears.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Checking In

Hey Guys! I'm back. Once again, I've been MIA. To be honest I've been avoiding the blog and, especially my last entry (I won't even read it and have considered deleting it-- it's just too raw). The thing is, there just wasn't much to report. Still looking, still waiting, still hoping-- other than that, there's just not been a lot to report. But I know that some people rely on this blog to hear about what I'm up to, so I figured I'd at least check in and give you some information about what's going on in my world. Here are some happenings and observations in my life: 1. The head chef at Gallo Nero Trattoria remembered me when I came in today! He said the guys were all on vacation, but come September they'll be back and I should start frequenting the restaurant on Sundays for a good Italian time! 2. Cemeteries remind me of Iowa. I learned this on my way to an interview today while passing a cemetery. I think it's solely because anyone I've known personally who's died is buried in Iowa. Still, kind of a weird and morbid realization. 3. I volunteered at the Portland Zine Symposium last weekend and had a really great time. I will be writing more about this later, once I feel ready to seriously blog again. 4. Trading e-mails to make friends and going for coffee is an actual thing in Portland. I had several people at the Portland Zine Symposium say "We should totally trade e-mails so we can hang out!" I don't know about anyone else, but I'm used to people trading phone numbers, not e-mails. I just thought it was funny. Also, people here suggest going to coffee to hang out as a serious thing. I feel like in Colorado people suggest coffee, but that's just to cover for the fact that they'd rather go for a beer but don't want to look like a lush (or is that just me?) But the coffee is just that good in Portland that it rivals the beer. This really is a city of liquids. 5. I have a pen pal in Chicago now! He's the writer of the zine "Cheer the Eff Up" and I'm so excited to trade letters and zines with him. 6. I've learned that I'm old-school when it comes to establishing new relationships (friendships, romances, etc.) despite my social awkwardness. When someone gives me their phone number, I never start by texting them. I always call first. It just feels more genuine. You know, like your actually putting in the effort to start the relationship? This sucks because talking on the phone scares the shit out of me. I'm terrified of talking on the phone! It's a weird paradox for me. 7. Getting established in Portland is hard. I've spoken to a lot of people lately (people I am confident will soon become friends) and they've all said the same thing about my frustrating experience here. Portland makes you sweet talk her and it will take you a long time to find a job with which you can stand and a home that you actually identify as home. 8. I want to go to the ocean... and I might actually be going... with a very special someone! It's weird how this happened. I had the thought this afternoon that I really needed some time from the city and that a trip to the seaside might be beneficial for me. It's been terribly hot here this week and so the girl I've been pining after suggested we get out of town, possibly to the beach for a swim. I will not be filling you in on the details of how this exchange transpired, as I believe that, at a certain point, it's important to protect your private life. 9. To that end, I find myself craving some quiet in my life. What I mean by this is simply that I am eager to feel more settled. I want the routine of a job and a place that I picture when I say "I'm ready to go home." I think my increasing age has made me a little less tolerant of instability. I'm just looking forward to feeling more established here soon. I'll talk to you guys soon. I promise I'll try to be a little better about what and how I post on the blog!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Taking a Moment for Me

You guys haven't heard from me in a while. It's been a crazy week and a half. I'm home in Portland. Life isn't easy, so I've really had to dig deep and make some difficult decisions. I am running out of money (at least from conventional sources like a job) and I need to be out of my friends' house by the beginning of September to make room for their mother/mother-in-law to come visit from Mexico. All of this got me a little depressed while I was in Colorado, but also Colorado makes me depressed. Sure, it was great to see my family. I really love them and being around them makes me feel good (more on that later). However, there is something about Colorado that always makes me depressed and anxiety-ridden. I don't even understand why because it isn't logical that a place (especially such a beautiful, sunny place) could make a person feel so yucky. Maybe there's just too much history there for me (being it's the only place I've lived). Anyway, I started contemplating if I should move home where I would at least have some security. During this whole process, which took place over the course of two days, I felt weary, depressed, mopey, and like I couldn't catch my breath. Then, something in me turned. Out of my despair came a very distinct sense of determination. I was going to do whatever it took to live in Portland. I then had to question why. I mean, it's crazy what I'm doing. In many ways, I am living an incredibly unstable lifestyle and throwing all reason out the window. That's kind of crazy. But I do know why I want to risk everything to live here. Portland has made me a happier, healthier person. I am a better person in Portland. I see other Portlanders and how they take care of each other and I find myself emulating them. Then, I asked myself how the hell I was going to fund my stay in Portland. I will be taking money out of some of my retirement plans to tide me over. I know you're not supposed to do that, but that money is my money and I need it now. I mean, who the hell knows if I'll make it to retirement and honestly, this is my dream now, so I should embrace my dream and my life now, rather than wait. In an effort to move forward with my life here, I decided to accept a part-time cashier job at the Dollar Tree. The manager wants me to apply for an assistant manager position (which I have), but I figured I would start making money now and get in the company. I thought that would help me. He called me in today and told me that if I wanted a management position at a higher pay right (which would be nice), I should actually hold off on starting work. Evidently, he could only increase my pay about 50 cents from minimum wage ($8.80) if I start internally and then move up. I have never heard of this! Most places I've worked want you to start at an entry level position and then move you up and you're not monetarily punished for that. Hmmm. Then, he said he would call his district manager, but I probably wouldn't have an interview until the end of the month. Ouch! I could kind of use some money now. He also said I would have to "Get a more natural hair color." I guess I shouldn't be shocked. The world just isn't ready to accept pink and purple hair yet-- not even in Portland. I'm also applying for a substitute paraprofessional position at Portland Public Schools but school doesn't start until the beginning of September. The timing is just all wrong and I'm kind of freaking out! So, I came home. I cried to Maria and then I laid down and meditated for about 15 minutes. I took many deep breaths and I thanked "God" or whatever being is driving this crazy journey for this beautiful Oregon day, and for giving me my time to volunteer at the Portland Zine Symposium this weekend (rather than me having to work and missing something I've been looking forward to for months), and for teaching me patience and perseverence. Then, I acknowledged and released each anxious thought that entered my head. I know meditating might seem hokey, but it helps me find my center. This entry doesn't make much sense, mostly because I don't make sense, but I guess here's my conclusion: I like me better here and I'm all in. I hate the term "Go big or go home" but I guess this is as good a time as any to go big or go home. If I'm going to fail at this, I'm going to fail big... because at least them I can say that I gave it my all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Making Some Noise

Alright people, I'm going to make some noise right now, so if you're not a big fan of The Rant, skip this blog post. What the fuck does it mean to be over-qualified? I mean, when it comes to jobs, you're one or the other, aren't you? And if you have additional skills above and beyond the qualifications, shouldn't that employer be lucky to have you? I don't understand how an employer can not hire someone because they're overqualified. The line of thinking (which I totally disagree with) is that people who are overqualified will get bored and leave the job sooner. The truth is that employees leave for a myriad of unpredictable reasons and their skill set being above average for the job description is not an indicator that they will be more likely to leave. The only employee who will leave an organization is someone who is independently wealthy, and let me tell you something: they're not the ones looking for jobs. It's us common folk who really just need a job-- any job-- because we live in a capitalist economy that requires money to survive. Most of us have a job because we need the money, not because we're "so passionate about customer service" or other such nonsense. I have decided that any company should be so lucky to have my wide range of skills, knowledge, and personality qualities, damn it! Why the hell am I begging for a job? Furthermore, we human beings created these employment institutions and yet they run our lives as if they are real. Companies aren't really real, as in they don't have an identity and they can't make something happen. It's the people in a company that make something happen. Yet we constantly hand over power to companies and beg for employment from them as if they are a living entity. People make themselves unhappy in jobs they loathe because they're afraid of the instability of leaving, interviewers pine after and sweat out that phone call that determines whether you have the job or not. It's demeaning and inhuman and unnecessary. I am so angry at the system right now for causing so much anxiety and unhappiness in my life. I am fearful that in 30 days I will have no money and I'll have to abort the pursuit of my dream-- living in Portland. An economy should exist to help people get the things they need and want. I'm not talking strictly about things that you consume. I should feel free and supported by the economy that my fellow human beings created to move to Portland because I love it there and I learn to become a better writer, and self-publish and become a part of the radical community. It seems wrong that I might be forced to leave the city I love because no one will hire me there-- particularly when, quite honestly, I am pretty damn valuable and there is no reason that someone like me shouldn't have a job. I'm sure you can deduce how the job hunt is going. I have a fall-back, but it's not good. It's minimum wage and part time-- they want to promote me to management as soon as possible and that isn't minimum wage and is full time, but who knows how long that will take. Feeling sad and scared and really REALLY pissed off.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The New Zine

So, I have a new zine written and I plan to publish it in Colorado and Iowa where I will have a lot of time in the car and a working printer to print everything before leaving for the wedding. I am so pumped about this zine! I'll give you guys the basic concept and inspiration for it. I am looking for this zine to be a multi-issue zine with input from other contributors, which is precisely why I'm posting here. I want your guys' input. So, the zine is title Lullabies for the Musically Conscious and the idea is to give us music savvy folk a musical cannon that we can access when singing our children or the children with whom we have close relationships to sleep. This idea was born out of my own personal experience with Helena. I was babysitting her one night and it was time for bed. She insisted that I sing her a lullaby. Her mother usually sings Spanish lullabies or "Rock-a-bye-baby." I don't really know any lullabies in English or Spanish and I just don't like "Rock-a-bye-baby." The "oh shit!" moment happened and then I remembered that Helena loves The Flaming Lips song "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1"so I sang it to her. Then, it was Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird" and so on. I didn't think much of it, but a week later Helena's birthday rolled around and she wanted to have a dance party. She bossed me and told me I was going to be the DJ. I told her that she had to help me pick the songs. Her first request was "Yoshimi" and her second request was Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead." Holy shit! I'm totally influencing this kid's musical tastes. The power was totally in my hands. The idea slowed crept into my head that singing songs that are either indie rock or contributed to musical history in some way would be more fun for the caretaker than lullabies and would also help to mold a musically educated child. I wrote the zine in an hour and half, I was that excited. Then, I went to a reading (you know, the one with the crush and that whole thing, blah, blah, blah) and I was talking to this guy about his comics. He asked what I was working on and I told him about Lullabies. I thought he was going to pee his pants, he was so excited. He was like "That's a zine I would actually buy... and use. All the time!" Then, he grabbed his buddy at the table next to us and told him about my idea. So, I feel like this baby his some serious momentum. I also feel like it's an opportunity for music lovers to dialogue about how and why they want to musically educate the children in their lives. I'm considering this zine the Rad Dad for the music community. I have established a few rules so that everyone who reads Lullabies for the Musically Conscious can easily use these songs. 1) The song must be able to be reasonably sung by your average lullaby singer. Everyone should be able to sing these songs fairly well. 2) Your song choice must be either indie rock or from an artist who significantly impacted musical history. When I say indie rock, I'm certainly not excluding any genre. It just has to be independent. I don't want any Katy Perry up in this, ok? Actually, I'm looking for an Emmylou Harris song and perhaps Roy Orbison. I am also trying to find more culturally diverse musicians. I've got a lot of white folks in this first issue, so help me out here. 3) The song must be able to be sung without a CD, computer, iphone, ipod... you get the point. This will require some studying on your part to learn the lyrics (surprisingly, I found that I didn't know all the lyrics to many of my favorite songs), but it's worth it. Epic poems were memorized by bards in Ancient Greece and recited for entertainment. These bards memorized 10-30 thousand lines of poetry-- poetry that told a story, provided lessons, and educated the youth in the community about the social morays of Ancient Greece. That's pretty awesome and it's a dying art. Let's bring it back. Memorize your songs and bust them out for bed time, at the playground, or as a party trick. Furthermore, there is an intimacy to singing acapella, even if you aren't a brilliant singer. You're sharing your love of a song, you're sharing music with child, you're making yourself vulnerable by allowing yourself to screw up on the melody or lyrics. Singing lullabies is about building a human connection with them. I happen to think there is a significant dirth of human connection as of late and that needs to be changed. Having an electronic device helping you to sing a song somehow obstructs that connection (I'm not sure how, but it is less intimate). 4)You have to love the song. If you're not passionate about the song, kids pick up on that fast and the last thing we want is to push our kids toward the Justin Bieber crap machine because we aren't choosing the right songs to sing to our kids. If you choose to submit, e-mail me at sisioux@hotmail.com with the subject line "Lullabies for the Musically Conscious" and include the song title, artist name, full lyrics (you can google them and copy and paste), and why you chose the song (you can talk about why it's easy to sing, the images you see in your head as you hear that song, if it reminds you of a time or place, the message of the song, or even why the artist is significant). I look forward to hearing from you!!

Headed to Denver

Tuesday evening I will be heading back to Denver and then traveling with my parents to my cousin's wedding in Iowa. It's kind of a disjointed trip, but I'm excited to have some familiarity in my life for a few days. With living with friends, searching for a job, and not knowing where my next paycheck will be coming from, there is a lot of uncertainty in my life. I'm looking forward to being around the ones I love for a little while. I'm particularly excited to see this small yet tight-knit group of friends from when I pole danced in Colorado. These ladies are like my own personal set of cheerleaders. They think I am way more awesome than I actually am and, because of that, they encourage me in all of my pursuits. I can not wait to see them. It does get a little lonely here because 1) I've been pretty focused on the job hunt, and 2) When confronted with vastly unfamiliar settings, I tend to get excruciatingly shy. This doesn't help with the whole making friends thing here. So, to feel safe with a group of women who I know I can be silly with and swear like a sailor around and talk about just about anything with is very exciting for me right now. I've been on a starvation diet as far as intimate conversations go. So, I will try to check in a couple of times while I'm in Iowa/Colorado, but it will definitely be even more sporadic than normal.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

An explanation of the previous post

Alright. A little back story. I went to a happy hour yesterday with $3.50 margaritas. I was planning to have a few with dinner and then go home and watch the Olympics with Helena. Then I had margaritas and thought it would be fun to go to a reading where I knew my crush was reading her comic. Yeah. I did that. It was actually a good thing, because I had a lot fun and got a lot of encouragement about a new zine I just wrote (you will be hearing about it here in a few days), but there is something about this girl... Usually drinking a little gives me ovaries of steel and I just go for it. This isn't the first time I've plotted a meeting with a crush when drinking. This girl has a different effect on me, though. I think it's because I know that she is way more intelligent and talented than I am. She's also a bit younger than me so the combination of the two makes me wildly insecure. She found me almost instantly when I walked in the room and watched me until I looked at her. She waved. I barely mustered some kind of embarrassed half wave and averted my eyes, drinking my beer to look a little more natural. She presented her comic, which was brilliant and then sat down. I'd catch her looking at me and I'd smile. Then, I decided "Hell, I'll just stare freely at her, too, since she seems to welcome it." I also decided I was going to talk to her after the readings were over. Alas, at the end we both kind of got caught up in conversations (she was definitely the woman of the hour, what with her sneak peak of the comic) and I was too foggy-headed to butt my way into her conversation with some witty quip (as if I'm ever really witty, ha!) So, that's my little crush story. Fortunately, I get a do-over, as there is a double release party today and she is attending. I'm currently psyching myself up to go up to her this evening. I'm also enforcing a two drink maximum. She already renders me foggy-headed and absolutely juvenile. Obviously, alcohol can't help this situation any.

Acting half my age

It's pathetic when a twenty-nine year old woman is so enamored with a girl that she can't even talk to her after said girl has been caught staring on numerous occasions. Feeling a bit sheepish but encouraged by her obvious interest. The good news is I get to see her tomorrow. I'm working up the courage to speak to her then.

Monday, July 23, 2012

OK, yes!

I've been spending time meditating and doing a lot of soul-searching (hence, the absenteeism). I asked myself if it was worth it to stay here, was I meant to stay here, what am I really good at besides teaching, am I meant to be a teacher and am I denying my fate? All of these things have been swirling in my over-occupied head space. They still are, but then some weird things started happening to me. I have always been curious about the food industry. I've kind of aspired to be a bartender my entire life, but I don't have the skill set. So, I started looking for jobs in food service that I could do. I applied to Einstein's Bagels at the downtown location-- got an interview. I applied to Ken's Artisan Bakery (a well-known and loved bakery in Northwest Portland)-- got an interview. I applied to Prasad (a vegetarian, organic, raw food restaurant that shares its space with a yoga studio and is owned by two female chefs)-- got an interview. My second interview for Einstein's and the other two interviews are all happening on Wednesday. So, what changed? I was honest. On the applications and cover letters, I told them what I knew about their companies and what fascinates me about what they do. I showed my passion for their vision and/or their products(Except Einstein's. That one was hard, but I was honest about needing a job and enjoying breakfast.) And it seems to have paid off. By applying for food service jobs, I kind of chucked all of my need to feel validated in my experience as a teacher and merchandiser out the window. I had nothing to prove because I'd never been in the food industry. Instead, I allowed my personality, my natural curiosity, and my excitement about food and people to show. How elementary! As I mentally prepare for Wednesday, I am continually reminding myself that it was my personality that brought my resume to the top of the pile and it will be my personality that will get the job. So, here goes. Wish me luck! Ken's Artisan Bakery
Cuisine at Prasad
Funny side note: When walking into Ken's to hand-deliver my resume and application, I ran into Mierco (one of the Italian guys of Gallo Trattoria fame) heading to Ken's from the other direction. We chatted and I told him I was applying there. He said to his friend next to him "Weird. Wasn't I just telling you how cool it would be to know someone who works at one of these awesome bakeries? And here she is. Good luck, Carly! Do you need a reference?" I said something to the effect of "Sure, Mierco. I've known you a grand total of 20 minutes, so a reference would be great!" but I did take seeing him there to be an auspicious event. Seems I was right to think that.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Power to the Bike

Yesterday was kind of bad, but only because the day before was terrible. Today was better. I had to go to a couple of sites to apply for jobs today, so I hopped on my bike and caught the Max. The locations were kind of all over the place so I did a lot of cycling today. It lifted my mood significantly. There were crazy women screaming about how they weren't interested in the poor man passing them by or how "I don't care what he thinks. He's just a loud-mouth, fat ass mothafucka." Bikes zipped in and out of traffic, children were eating cookies the size of their head and smiling like they'd hit the jackpot (which I guess they had). Slowly, I found myself forgiving Portland for being so mean to me. I highly recommend to anyone who feels like their city has just shit on them to go for a bike ride. I'm not talking about hopping on your bike and hitting the trails. To really reconnect with your city, you have to take to the streets. Get downtown with your bike and just pedal around, taking in the scenery. Downtown is the best for any city, because almost all downtown areas are at least marginally bike-friendly/bike safe. Also, downtown is where the crazy people live and nothing lifts your mood like watching a crazy person screaming at themselves thinking someone is actually there. I know, it's terrible to say, but at least you can look at them and say "Well, I'm not there yet. There's still hope for me." Finally, downtown has that vibrancy of so many diverse people mingling in the same area for just as diverse reasons. Just observing the human interaction is intriguing! And you have to do it on your bike because the air is fresh and you can hear and see things better and, did you know that researchers have found that outdoor exercise is just as effective as anti-depressants for curing the incurable blues? I mean, it worked for me! So, I'm not mad at Portland. Oh and guess what? I have a job interview tomorrow. That's something. The power of positive thinking maybe?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Profound Pontifications (hope you don't come here for sound advice because that I don't have)

Sometimes in the absence of answers, it is best to get drunk. Today I am drunk... and eating a giant chocolate cake. That's a pretty good indication of how well my first day of work went. I quit. And then got drunk on champagne and a giant store-bought piece of chocolate cake. Yay Portland!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Am I still in Portland?

Why did I move to this city? Because crazy shit happens to me here. Simple as that. Today, after heading over to Portland Button Works to create a card for my zine crush (it's no secret who it is-- definitely Thomas Moniz of Rad Dad. He's smart, well-spoken, and he's sooo sexy in person), I was feeling pretty hungry. The heat and my rabid need to bike EVERYWHERE had finally gotten to me. I biked over the Steele Bridge and decided to fart around Northwest Portland to find a place to eat. Northwest Portland is uber-gentrified, which usually equates to overly pricey though nice food and pretentious up-and-ups. But the food is friggin' fantastic, I'll give 'em that! As I was tooling around, I found an Italian restaurant. I checked the menu and even though it met my expectations on price, I found a few affordable options and I liked that the food was the lighter, lesser-known, coastal Italian food. Perfect for a hot, sweaty day. This lunch started out as normal as any lunch on my own-- Caprese Salad, Prosecco (I swear I would replace champagne for water if I could), and reading Stolen Sharpie Revolution. Slowly at first, but then in a flurry, a gaggle of sweaty Italian men sporting soccer shorts flitted into the restaurant. The restaurant was instantaneously flooded with lilting, spirited Italian heckling. Tables jostled as they were shoved together. A man enthusiastically hollered "Vino? Vino? Qualcuno vuole il vino?" to his buddies, slowly coaxing them to drink with him. And more people kept arriving. "Mama Mia! Mama Mia! Vieni! Vieni!!" More tables crammed together, more kissing, more languages-- Italian, Spanish, English. In my corner of the restaurant, I gleefully observed the merry chaos. And then? I was swallowed by it. "Come! Come! Join us! You're hair is beautiful. What's your name? I'm Adriano." "Miercos." "That's Camillo and that's Donato." "Some of us are Italian, some Spanish. Like him. That guy's Spanish. I forgot his name. Non è importante. We all play soccer together at a park in Southeast Portland. Then, we come here to eat and drink. We know the owner. Here he is. This is __________." (At one point, the owner was having such a jolly time, he lost track of his wine and that he was actually cooking the food.) "What are you reading?" "Stolen Sharpie Revolution. It's a zine about how to make a zine?" "What's a zine?" "Che cos'è una zine? Cosa sta parlando?" (What's a zine? What's she talking about?) "I'm Anita. Miercos, a zine is_____________________________________________________." "Here, Carly, try this food. Hey! You need wine! Camillo! Pass us the wine! Fretta, fretta! She has no wine." and more "___________________________________________________________." Chaos. I was back on the beaches of Lido di Jesolo again, listening to the bustle of Italians dining, celebrating (always celebrating), and loving life. We shared our food and our drinks and our conversations fluidly. I floated through multiple conversations and was even fortunate enough to have moments where I wasn't engaged in a conversation at all. Those were my favorite moments, because I could just watch the Italian magic happen. They even invited the Bosnian waitress to sit with them when the restaurant was slow. Eventually, I had to go to the bathroom. On my way back, our waitress smiled at me and said "I know. They're like a hurricane." I just smiled. A hurricane. Only much more extraordinary to me. It was the most beautiful hurricane I'd ever known. I had to leave early, but even my departure was perfect. I have a tendency with beautiful moments like these to ruin them by trying to extend them or resume them at a later time. I can only attribute that to the shy-girl in me. When I meet people who immediately put me at ease, I want to cling to it. Today, I just said goodbye when it was time for me to go. Sometimes moments are only perfect, and beautiful, and extraordinary when they are encapsulated by reality-- hemmed in by the mundane.

Friday, July 13, 2012


On my way to go work out (a luxury I know I'm going to have to stop paying for here soon), I rode by a construction zone. No big thing. But, of course, some jackass in a truck decides he's going to make the light that's pretty bright yellow (which I didn't see and you'll find out why) and whizzes by me, blowing a fistful of dust into my eye. The obvious bodily reaction is to close your eyes as they well up, and as I opened them I realized that I was running the red light. Fortunately for me, Portland drivers are rarely in a hurry to get anywhere (except this truck guy obviously) and I didn't get hit. But seriously? I mean, what the fuck, asshole? You're in that big of a hurry that you have to torture the hardworking cyclist who's just trudged up a hill? Take a lesson from every other driver in Portland and chill out! My eyes were secreting protective tears for six blocks.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Time of Service

So, I got a job! It's for a non-profit, and even though I am going to be wicked poor, I'm really excited. I've mentioned how much community means to me before. Well, I think I have found a strong community at this organization. I will be canvassing neighborhoods and events to raise money for Planned Parenthood and OxFam. The organization for which I will be working works to raise money for left-leaning political organizations, which is definitely more aligned with my politics. I am excited to be actively working for things that are important to me, even though it will mean a poor existence and I will continually be challenged by having to persuade strangers to donate their money. When I walked into their office, I was floored by how passionate, warm, friendly, and open the staff was. It just felt right. I felt I had found a beautiful community. Then, I was offered the job immediately after my interview, which also felt like kismet. In all honesty, I'm nervous about the money. But, as I told my mom, I think everyone should be poor for a time. It forces one to be creative. It forces one to be empathetic. My poorness will push me toward doing all of the things I've talked about doing like buying my clothes secondhand, growing my own vegetables and herbs, foraging for food that grows in the city, fixing my own bicycle, and making my own shampoos and household products. I'll have to go to free events and buy beer on the cheap. I think it will be amazing! And the people in this office! I am so excited to get to know them. They remind me so much of the radical community with whom I was involved in college. I believe that I was meant to take this journey and, evidently, I was meant to do it all the way. What I mean by that is that I came here for the Portland experience and I have been handed the Portland Experience on a platter,starting with my service job. I will work for a non-profit, I will not own a car because I can't afford one, I will not eat meat (mostly because meat's expensive and it's easier to find roommates that way, not because I don't like meat), I will make my own laundry detergent, I will live in a house with four other roommates who host punk rock shows and poetry readings in their house, and I will go for beers with my co-workers after a day of being shit on by the general public. Basically, by taking this job, I am saying yes to a lifestyle that I've been afraid to embrace. It's not a secure lifestyle, but I want to be insecure. It's good to be uncomfortable. Plus, I just want to fight for something that I believe in. I talk about things that I believe in, but I rarely actually do anything. This job is doing something. I want a strong sense of community. Well, the first step is to be a part of one and the next step is to work for a better community. Raising money for what I believe in is a great way to better my community. So, I'm putting in my time of service. I do not know how long it will last. I just know that I believe I was meant to do this.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Soap Box Time

This has nothing to do with Portland, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. I am facebook friends with a professional pole dancer from Brazil who I met at a competition almost a year ago. She's wicked strong and an incredibly talented gymnast, so when she posted an article about pole dancing on which one of her photos was the cover photo, I was pumped for her. I immediately clicked the link. Ok, first of all, the editing is appallingly bad. I'm guessing the writer didn't even bother to do a once-over to proof read, which only shows how little regard she has for what she is writing.
Second, she kept referencing how far pole dancing has come from strip clubs. The entire article is about how some pole dancers are trying to get pole into the Olympics, presumably to legitamize it as a sport. Here is my soapbox speech on that issue: Pole dancing is not a sport. It is an art form. It is an art form that requires almost inhuman flexibility, strength, and grace. It is an expression of your accomplishments as an athlete, as well as what you are experiencing at that moment. And quite honestly, I don't need to be legitimized by the Olympic Committee as a pole dancer, thank you very much. I actually believe that if pole dancing became an Olympic sport, it would strip (pun absolutely intended) the sensuality of pole. Sexuality and sensuality do not have a place in sports in our culture. They are attached to our baser instincts, and therefore, less revered. While I think that this is crap, it is still the culture we live in. That being said, if we took an innately sensual art form like pole dancing and inserted it into the Olympics, in order for Pole dancers to truly feel legitimate, the sensual aspects would slowly disappear. And then there's this whole, separation of pole and stripping business. I loathe the idea that pole dancing is becoming less and less like its parent, stripping. Stripping is the only original dance form that the United States can claim as it's own. Striptease came out of burlesque in the 1920s and started in the U.S. then expanded to the rest of the world. I think it's pretty freakin' awesome that we didn't create ballet, or salsa, or river dancing, but, damn it, we've got the corner market on striptease. Striptease is an art form in and of itself and many women use it in their pole routines to tell a story. It's beautiful to watch,too.
Pole dancing does great things for womens' bodies, as many pole dancers will attest. But more importantly, pole dancing does even more profound things to the mind. Until, I became intrigued with using striptease, lap dance, and burlesque in my pole routines, I never understood how powerful an effect my body could have on an audience. Up until that point I saw my body as strictly utilitarian, because I understood the sexuality of my body to be something that should be managed and not celebrated. The first time I ever stripped for a burlesque-chair routine, I noticed that never before had I had a more captive audience (and I only stripped to my bra and panties!) I would never want a woman to look at pole dancing and think "Wow, that's a great workout!" I constantly tell women who say that, that "Yes, pole dancing is a great workout. But it also taught me how to love my body just as it is and, through that self-love, to stop feeling threatened by other women and connect with them." Pole dancing is intimate and it exposes both the performer's vulnerability and the audience's. There is someone who is using their body in a distinctly sensual way right in front of you, the audience, and you can't help but watch, enjoy, notice her straining muscles, and hope she takes off that dress before she does some crazy trick. So, I say "Keep poles in strip clubs and keep stripping in pole!"
Photo Credits from top to bottom: Rafaela Montanaro's Facebook page, Vintage burlesque via google images, my first burlesque routine And just so everyone knows, I did do a once-over to proofread.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This and That

I have become such a cheap skate. Today, I went to the library to make copies of my letters of recommendation. The library charged 10 cents a copy, so I went to pull out my change and noticed that there were 80 cents left from a previous copier. I looked around to see if anyone was close by to claim it, and then I made 8 copies of my letter of recommendation! Yay, free copies! Also, I have an interview on Thursday with Grass Roots Campaigns where I will be working for Planned Parenthood. I'm pretty pumped even though I will be doing field work fundraising. I love Planned Parenthood and it would be pretty awesome to work for them. Oh! And just because this girl's gotta dream a little, I spent some time on Craigslist looking at places to live. Here are some of my favorites! I actually genuinely want to live in both of these places. Alas, neither of them accept dogs, and I need a place that not only embraces my inner freak, but dog's as well (and he is a freak). $300 queer artsy apartment of 2 lookin for a 3rd 42nd and Alberta Date: 2012-07-10, 9:34AM PDT Reply to: cvxjr-3130395108@hous.craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?] Hey! We are currently looking for a 3rd to move into our 2br apartment so you should be OK with one of us setting up our room in the living room. Don't worry, there is plenty of space. Matter of fact its so big we haven't known how to fill it. We are a vegetarian/vegan friendly household. I don't really know how else to put this but you need to be OK with drinking at any hour of the day. This is far from a party house but we do go out often which leads to us coming in very late at times. One of us has a girlfriend and she is over often. We are down with having company we just can't have too much because our neighbors will make a noise complaint. We are both very much into art with one of us currently attending art school so creative types are encouraged to apply. We are both queer ladies so you must be 100% open to that and it would be great if you're queer yeself. We have three cats and a rabbit so unfortunately no more pets. Email me with a little about yrself and the kind of place you'd like to live. I will be meeting everyone before a decision is made August 1st 300 move in or now for 150 look forward to hearing from you! 42nd and alberta at 42nd and sumner $322 Collective house by Alberta (NE 15th and Killingsworth) Date: 2012-07-10, 12:59PM PDT Reply to: n626j-3130924344@hous.craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?] Collectively run house two blocks from Alberta looking for a housemate August 10th (earlier move in is possible) The house has vegan kitchen, meaning all food in the house is vegan. (don't care whether you are but you must respect this) The house is collectively run, all the housemates have radical left politics. Some are involved with Decolonize Portland, Committee to Connect the Dots, Industrial Workers of the World, Red and Black Anarchist Cafe, various collective farming projects, doing art, playing in punk/hardcore bands, running record labels, etc... Some identify as queer, some identify as POC. The house is used for community events, usually fundraisers ranging from potlucks, to live music shows, to house parties. this only happens once every other month. The house is used for various meetings from time to time as well so being cool with a safer space politic is important to us (in general for all events). The house has plenty of storage, a gigantic back yard, space for projects, a band practice room, laundry room, etc... Rent is first last and deposit. appox $1100 to move in... No pets, or couples. Sorry not enough room. Also no christians.

Monday, July 9, 2012

It just felt appropriate

My horoscope in the Willamette Weekly (super reliable source, I know) said that I need to stop farting around and get down to business. Pretty sure that is in reference to the job thing. So today I did it up good. I was a machine with the job search. I looked for everything! Signature signing, teaching at a charter school, dishwasher, retail, and (GASP!) even call centers. You know I'm committed to being here if I would even dain to consider applying for a call center. Whatever. It's what all the underemployed, over-educated, punk rocking, anarchist zinesters are doing here. If I'm going to do it, might as well do it right. That's not the point of this post, though (as if there's ever a point to my posts). While perusing Craigslist for a sufficiently seedy job to fulfill my Portland fantasies, I found this: Retail Customer Service Adult video and pipes! (SE portland) Date: 2012-07-08, 6:42PM PDT Reply to: zsvwc-3127163056@job.craigslist.org We are looking for a mellow and down to earth person to complete our tight crew. We need someone experienced with managing cash in a retail environment. You must be easy going and comfortable with our diverse customer base. We value our customers and need someone that respects the relationships that we have built with a personable attitude. A flexible schedule is a must as extra hours and swaps occur regularly. Most of the work is weekend nights. This is a part time position. Please have a clever response to this ad and show us your personality. Include the name of a famous singer in your subject line so we can insure that you are not a robot. Please leave a contact number, a short resume type thing that is at least 3/4 truthful (pasted, no attachments) and a brief reason why you are perfect for this position. How awesome is that? I am all for it. It sounds like the coolest job I never thought I'd have. Naturally, I applied on principal. Working in an adult video store slash pipe shop seems like something I should try in my life. Plus, I'm just to concerned whether they will judge me or not, so it made it that much more fun to reply. Here is my response. Hello! I saw your ad on Craigslist and was intrigued. I am a former 8th grade teacher with a purple and green mohawk. I feel like that might just make me unique enough to work for your shop. I am perfect for this job because I'm very friendly and curious about people. Here is my resume for you to review:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

When the highs are high, the lows are lo-ho!

*After a spectacular day two days ago, I plummeted into an emotional abyss that I hadn't expected to have for a very long time. It's probably similar to watching a heroine addict come off the ultimate high. Crying, cussing, pleading. Fortunately, no one witnessed it. But I love self-humiliation, so this is my tale. The start of the slump: Oregon moves at a different pace. A slower pace. Usually, that's a good thing. It's not so good when you're trying to find a job under a tight deadline. To be in childcare, one must have a whole grip of certifications-- Oregon Foodhandler's Card, CPR, First Aid, Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect, and registration in the Oregon Criminal History Registry. Ok, that's all fine. I already have my CPR and I was able to conduct my study and exam for both the food handler's card and first aid online. I assumed the child abuse certification and criminal registry would be equally simple. Not so. The reporting abuse course (a course I've taken before in Colorado and, frankly, isn't that hard) had to be attended in person and the registration with Oregon's criminal history? Well, we'll get to that in a moment. A little lesson in humility: Yesterday I went to the IPRC for First Friday. I had e-mailed my crush, telling her that I would be there and I would love to buy her zines then. Of course, the zine transaction was merely a ploy so that I could see her again and hopefully make a move. There were strong indicators that she like me, too, so I figured we'd be able to meet up soon. I never received a reply, which surprised me, but she's a pretty busy gal, and I figured it just wasn't a big deal. Furthermore, she's at the IPRC all the time so fate might be in my favor even if she didn't get my message. Fate wasn't on my side, and she didn't come. I coaxed myself out of disappointment by telling myself that it just wasn't in the cards. I'd read her wrong and that was ok. It wasn't a reflection of me. She just hadn't experienced the chemistry that I had. I mean, it hurt and it bugged me that I was wrong, but that happens sometimes. I've been practicing this type of zen-ness for a while, but I learned yesterday that one should also allow one's self to experience the lows in their life. It's important to feel the entire spectrum of emotion. Coming Home: A little sad and a little perplexed, I arrived home to a package. This was the catalyst that made me crack. It was from the Oregon Criminal History Registry. Now, the story comes full-circle. "After reviewing your application, it has come to our attention that you have not lived in Oregon for at least 18 months blah, blah, blah. You must provide the following items to acquire a provisional application: 1. Finger prints (Great! Now, I have to find a police station and fork over another $10 only to scrape by on $9.50 an hour. This all might be a bit overrated.) 2. Complete the FBI application that is enclosed (Ok. Fine.) And ready for the kicker? 3. A check for $62 to complete your application (Sixty-two fucking dollars when I'm already finger-printed and in the god damn system in Colorado! And I don't even buy checks anymore! What is this, 1952? Who the hell has checks?) I have the money, I just don't want to fork it over on principal. It cost me three dollars to initially register in the system. You're seriously going to tell me that because I moved from another state, you need 62 more dollars to find out if I was a criminal in Colorado? I'm thinking "Not really, but it would be awesome to squeeze a few extra bucks out of you out-of-towners." Screw you, Oregon! This opened the floodgates, literally. I cried and cursed all alone in my tiny walk-in closet. I felt totally betrayed, like everything had led me here only to make me struggle and sweat and feel ridiculously inadequate. A bit melodramatic, I know, but I did consider just giving up and going home. It's a shit-ton easier to find a job and navigate the bureaucracy in Colorado. After a good, long cry, I laid down and watched some TV to numb the pain. I felt raw, as if someone had carved into my belly and opened it up for everyone to see my insides. I actually think the disappointment of the failed crush was what really hurt me, and my frustration with Oregon's stupidly archaic bureaucracy just compounded my despair. I once read a zine about depression, anxiety, stress, and anger created by an amazing organization called The Icarus Project. The Icarus Project believes that mental illness should not be treated exclusively as an illness and, therefore, medicated. Rather, mental illness strikes talented, empathetic, creatives mind and those minds must feel empowered to explore their mental illness and the best coping skills for that illness. One chapter discusses how we must allow ourselves to experience that sensation of depression, anxiety, or whatever it is at that time. It is healthy to feel, and it is most decidedly unhealthy to ignore those feelings. It is important that we feel those emotions and then find a healthy way to cope with them. Today, I decided to embrace the rawness that I'm feeling. I'm sad and disappointed and not sure how to proceed in a healthy manner at this exact moment. That's ok. Feeling sad is part of living. Not knowing what to do is part of living. It's uncomfortable, but it's not permanent (I also got that from the Icarus Project). I carried on with my day. I had my child abuse training this morning so, of course, I went. I treated myself to a gluten-free almond cookie and iced coffee in my favorite quadrant of the city. I bought some zines that I thought would make me smile/laugh. I rode my bike in the sun, went to pole play, and ate a soyrizo burrito (I'm actually starting to crave vegetarian food. Weird!). I did the things I love and steered clear of the sauce (which has historically been a nasty pitfall of mine). Those are my coping mechanisms. And they're working. I can feel myself smiling more and talking to people free of anxiety. I knew these days would happen, but it still didn't prepare me for the wave of emotion. I'm finding that I just have to handle each episode as it comes, since each one is unique. And I haven't give up on living here just yet. Random side note: There is a barbershop choir convention here this weekend. Lots of fun people! P.S.: To you check writers out there, no offense. I understand that there are a myriad of reasons that people write checks, whether it's to manage your finances more responsibly or whatever. I just don't like them.
Where I bought my zines today: Portland Button Works

Gender Bending

I witnessed a man riding his bicycle today in a hot pink, tie-dyed, free flowing dress. I have never made my sentiments about pushing the gender boundaries very clear on my blog. Politically, socialogically, and psychologically I'm all for it! However, true gender ambiguity has challenged me in this city. I thought I was progressive and I am super progressive for Colorado. Not as much in Portland. I will say this, though. I smiled at the man I saw in the skirt today. It's been fucking hot the past two days. Because of the heat, I decided to don a short flowy skirt just to keep things nice and aired out. Furthermore, I learned after a shopping trip today that my body is not meant to be in jeans-- or at least not women's jeans. I find pants and jeans in particular ill-fitting around my butt, legs, and tummy and downright constricting. My body needs room to breathe. Even on a bike where I often flash some cheek when I dismount-- the air flow is worth it. So, why can't a man enjoy that amazing feeling. Skirts and dresses are awesome! I mean what sex or gender identity doesn't feel the need to air out their tender bits every now and again?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Little High

Yup. I said it. But, folks, this is definitely a "high on life" kind of high, not the chemically induced kind. I started the day with an interview and coffee in Outer Southeast. That was all fine. Nothing much to report. Then, I went to my first pole class in three weeks. It was just an Intermediate I class, but it was so fun to be back on the pole and I always marvel at how many women are in the stripping industry here in Portland. In Colorado, stripping is kind of treated like a woman's dirty little secret. In Portland, women are strippers and they're loud and proud about it. I find it liberating.
Then, I was hungry so I decided to hit up a happy hour somewhere. That wasn't terribly successful, but as I was tooling around Burnside looking for a place to eat (and imbibe, of course), I found the Doug Fir. Doug Fir is a lounge that is attached to the Jupiter Hotel. I walked in the restaurant and immediately the bartender, Josh, commented on my smile. He said "You have a wonderful smile. There is something so genuine about it." I get this a lot in Portland. I mean, I've heard it periodically throughout my life, but since moving here, I hear it on a pretty regular basis. I don't know if being genuine is an extremely important quality to Portlanders or if I'm just that happy here that it somehow comes through in my smile.
Anyway, I ordered a New Belgium Sunshine Wheat (the beers were disappointingly dominated by IPAs so I had to stay true to my home state in this case) and what I will call a Grown Up Mac and Cheese (gruyere cheese and bread crumbles. It was a beautiful thing!) I was reading a book and these two women (one my mom's age or older and the other in her mid-thirties) asked me what I was reading. I explained that it was Ursula Hegi and that my friend Anna bought it for me because I was moving to Portland and she thought I had to read Ursula Hegi in the Pacific Northwest (Anna was right, by the way). The older woman mentioned that she had lived in Oregon her whole life and never realized until recently how many great writers live in Portland. This long-haired, scruffy-looking guy who's probably 24 years old tops looks over at her and says "And cartoonists. There's this amazing cartoonist named _______________ (I don't remember his name) that lives in Portland. He's so talented." And, as happens way too often here, the older lady cries "That's my cousin! We're best friends." I've read about this phenomenon that seems exclusive to Portland. The Degrees of Separation game happens constantly here. Your bartender probably went to high school with your boss and the chick you met at a show last night is definitely sleeping with your roommate's best friend. It's inevitable here. Also, it's an everyday occurrence to witness people my mother and grandmother's age conversing with 20-something hipsters with ironic facial hair (and they actually have a lot in common!) So, I was treated to a wacky tale of this cartoonist-cousin's drug-laced public readings and naughty behavior. Awesome. Just awesome. Then,this set of characters decide to make a mass exodus, and I'm alone at the bar with my new buddy, Josh. Zola Jesus wails over the speakers and he wails with her. I decide to insert my one iota of musical credibility in a town of indie rock buffs by saying "Did you know she studied opera? That's why she can wail!" Josh, my new bartender friend, says "Omigod, the lead singer for the Tune-Yards, now she can wail. It gives me goosebumps." I stared at him vacantly, as I'd never heard of the Tune-Yards. See? I got one little fact in and then I was tapped out. Pathetic. Josh busts out his phone and plays the song for me and it is life-changing. He was right. Goosebumps. I scooped up my phone and instantly made a playlist of them on Spotify (Don't worry. I'm including the video. This band should be enjoyed by all.) I meet a lot of people here, as I've mentioned, because people are just disgustingly nice. However, I was instantly at ease with Josh-the-bartender-who-was-a-perfect-stranger. That's a little less common. It was like he was an old friend that I hadn't reconnected with in a few years. We're chatting about music and what he's going to do that night (evidently, it's Soul Night at The Devil's Lounge, a-SHOCKER-strip club. Soul Night is where they play exclusively Motown and soul music. Nice. Stripping for the musically conscious.)and how beer and I are in a relationship, but it's complicated (I'd love to tell that story, but it gets convoluted and you probably wouldn't enjoy it as much as we did). At a certain point in the conversation, the assistant manager of the Doug Fir asks Josh if he knows anyone who's looking for a job because they have a line cook, dishwasher, and one other position open. I blurted "I'm looking for a job! But I don't have any restaurant experience. I'm willing to start as a dishwasher." (No judgement. I don't care what job I do, as long as it keeps me in Portland. That's the priority for me.) Josh was sure to chime in and say "She's super friendly." She gave me her card and asked me to e-mail my resume to her. Bar stories, great music and fun company, and a possible job?! Good day, man. So, I go to leave and decide at the last minute to do something uncharacteristic for me, but commonplace in Portland. I said "Hey Josh, when do you work? I really enjoyed your company and would like to be in it again." Apparently, I can enjoy it Monday through Friday. I can't wait! Tune-Yards- Powa Tomorrow I'm headed to the IPRC for a First Friday concert and to hopefully see my crush.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Maria and Mario have asked me to teach their daughter, Helena, to read. I have minimal experience with teaching emergent readers to read. My area of expertise is teaching struggling readers who are in the secondary grades that are not performing on grade level. I was a little intimidated by the challenge, even though Helena is an extremely eager learner. Yesterday, we took her to a learning store so that I could evaluate exactly what level she was at in her reading. We purchased one book and I told Maria it would make more economical sense to go to the library and find books for her level. It's actually pretty cool because most libraries have a "learning to read" section (see, I don't know this stuff since I've never taught early childhood or elementary education) and the publishers put the reading levels of the book on the binding (super user-friendly). This morning was our first reading lesson. Helena and I have spent two days solid learning together. Yesterday was the learning how to make a zine and this morning was learning to read. I definitely had a moment after her lesson was over for the day. I realized that I miss teaching. It made me really sad for a fleeting second. Then, my mind completely switched gears from dreary nostalgia to an invigorated hopefulness. Portland has a strong sense of community, and as I have begun to dip my toes in that community, I have learned that not only do I want to be a part of it, I can also contribute a lot to it. I have been entertaining a fantasy of creating a community center (out of my home or rotating between many people's homes at first), where the focus is strictly on learning. However, I'm not talking about strictly academic learning here. I want adults to be able to come to classes where they can learn how to do bike maintenance or grow their own food in the winter time affordably (by scavenging supplies for greenhouses and engaging in seed swaps to get free goods). One of the free zines I got from the Reading Frenzy event was published by an organization that started in Portland called Urban Edibles. They have used google maps to plot the locations of food that can be foraged either on public land or on private land where there is an overabundance of a certain type of food. Say you have a plum tree in your front yard and that sucker produces way too many plums for you and your roommates/family/whoever you co-habitate with to consume. You can go onto google maps and post your place as a place where others can collect your plums for their own consumption. I am completely obsessed with this, but I don't even know where to begin. In my head I'm thinking, "I could ask one of the organizers of Urban Edibles to come to this community center and we could do a foraging fieldtrip!" Ta-da! An idea is born! Then, I began to think about obesity, particularly with minorities and how so much of that is linked to affordability of certain kinds of food and access to safe places for kids, in particular, to exercise. I thought "Well, I'm a Zumba instructor. We could start there and I could offer Zumba classes for kids and adults for free." (The area where I intend to live in Portland is where the majority of the minorities live-- hence, the cheaper rent. Sad but still true. But this gives me easy access to that demographic.) Making the zine with Helena made me think that I could partner my community center with the Independent Publisher's Resource Center to offer cheap and/or free zine-making workshops. I also thought I could use zines as a way of helping students learn to read and write (that's where my expertise could merge with the IPRC's expertise). We could offer tutoring and workshops and get-togethers to build something in our community that would improve it and seminars to educate adults and children about politics, religion, and human relationships. All of this excites me and I have to confess that I have never dreamed this big before. I think it's big because it is something wholly outside of myself. My dreams have historically been pretty ego-centric. Now, all of the sudden, I see happiness and meaning coming from what I can contribute to a community. I am not saying that this community center will happen any time soon. A year? Maybe more? But the idea that I will teach in some capacity and on my own terms in a way that will strengthen my community is absolutely intoxicating.