Odyssey Day 8: Portland; books & bean

©2022 Michael Raven

I slept like hell last night, haunted by a number of dreams, combined with the fact that I preemptively set my iPad to a 10-hour YouTube video containing a black screen and white noise. If I had my way, I wouldn’t have done the white noise — I find it distracting. But it was essential, as I had some passing through neighbors on my floor that didn’t understand the concept of respect for the other guests.

I don’t understand the type of people they were.

No, the frogs were not the unruly ones. They sit there calmly, day in and day out. They are an interesting bit of artwork at the end of the hallway on the sixth floor.

No, these are the kinds of people who think of the world as their exclusive playground and that it is everyone else’s problem if their loud and obnoxious behavior is bothersome. This was one of those groups that have the mating call in the hallway, complete with slamming doors that goes something like this:

Woman 1: Whoo-hoo
Women 2 & 3: Whoooooooooo
Men 1, 2 & 3: YEAH! [in unison]
Door: SLAM!
Door: open
All people: Whooo fuckin' YEAH!
Door: SLAM!

This is at 6.45pm, which does not bode well for my nerves. Thankfully, whatever they were doing was outside of the hotel by 8.00pm, but I took the preemptive measures for when they returned at bar close (or whatever).

Not that it helped me sleep.

As I said, I find white noise distracting, even when going to sleep.

So, I spent a restless night, tossing and turning and thinking a great many thinks and not solving any of the thinks that needed solving, nor sleeping very well so that I could maybe solve those thinks at some point. In other words: I’m knackered today.

I woke up and had my newly favorite rediscovered breakfast/all-around-meal of granola in Greek yogurt and and apple (see, I really am eating healthy; almost no added salt to any of my meals and no restaurant food since arriving). Tonight, I’ll probably cut up the romaine I bought and make a chicken Caesar salad with the canned organic chicken I bought (I’m not fixated on such things, which is why it is an unusual addition to my diet to eat so much organic food these past few days).

Then I went out to the nearest coffee shop, half a block away — only to discover that I didn’t like their bean and there was no indoor coffee enjoyment, nor sidewalk WiFi. I can usually choke down almost any coffee, even the most hideous brews (instant, even) and, good gods this was vile. If there is one flavor I don’t like in my coffee, won’t tolerate if I can help it, is the sour/tart varieties. Guess what? This overpriced brew ($4 for a 12oz cup of drip? Absurd!) was entirely that flavor profile. I will only rarely dump coffee and, well, at least a dollar of it went into the local trash can.

I wandered around, it still being a bit early to go anywhere to look around, and came across what is apparently now a thing (this is not the first time I’ve seen it lately, especially on the NW Coast): edible raw cookie dough. And while I’ve seen it in the grocery stores for some time now (and will even admit to partaking of it more than I should have), it was the first time I have seen a dedicated raw cookie dough cafe.

It seems to be something that won’t be a lasting fad, at least enough to start a business model around, but what do I know? I had been surprised by the espresso fad when it came around, at least as a Minnesota thing (Minnesotans are notoriously disinterested in novelty and there are a few die-hard older residents who think that if you can’t see through the coffee, it’s too strong to drink), but now it seems like everyone has an espresso machine (including McDonald’s).

And then, afraid I might have missed something important, I went back to Powell’s for the remainder of the morning.

I didn’t miss anything, for the record, at least nothing super compelling. It seems weird to pick up a book while traveling that I can pick up literally everywhere and, while I want to support small bookstore owners, I just didn’t see anything I needed to add to what I need to haul around to get home. I was tempted by a Monstress collected edition in hardcover (but I already have the digital issues), and the Gloomhaven box for $140 (which has historically been hard to find) — but I just couldn’t justify it. I am also toying with getting the Ouija board they have (Portland seems to have a thing for them, although I haven’t heard why), but I can also just get that elsewhere and not take up limited space in my luggage.

And so, I left empty-handed. While it is a fantastic bookstore (and I love it), it doesn’t really have anything that I would call niche that you can’t get just out and about, or ordering online. Dreamhaven, back in south Minneapolis, has more rarities and interesting finds, so I’m a little baffled by my Minnesotan friends who also frequent such places and their crowing on about Powell’s.

I checked out another coffee shop by the hotel and was disappointed to see that it also lacked WiFi and indoor seating. While I understand the lack of indoor seating, most places in Seattle had indoor seating if you could prove you were vaccinated (or tested clean within 72 hours) and wear a mask when you aren’t eating. WiFi is a bit more spotty, but every place in Portland seems to have given up because of Covid. So, I went to the old standby of Starbucks and sat down to coffee and WiFi (which is less testy than the hotel WiFi, probably based on the number of concurrent users).

And now — I don’t know what I will do after I am done here. Part of me is considering going to Blick’s art supply down the street and picking up a paint pen to decorate my leather jacket with runes. Or pick up some yarn and a crochet hook to teach myself that skill (I’m hesitant, however, because I was a miserable failure when I tried to teach myself knitting — although I hear it is a much easier craft to pick up).

Or I could just read.

I’ve lost all motivation to walk around, honestly. I had a revelation while I was explicitly not sleeping last night, but my trip has yet to give me the big insight I was hoping to find in breaking out of my routine. I’m disappointed in Portland. Nothing personal, residents; it’s just not the oasis of “interesting” that quite a few people have told me it was. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are cleaner cities and have just as much quirkiness (if you know where to look), if not more so.

I’m not anxious to get home, because that has its own complications that frustrate me (not the least of which is my work). But I don’t belong here any more than I belonged in Seattle. And, honestly, that’s another kind of revelation I need to consider.

So, instead of finding a way to occupy my time tonight, I should maybe do some long-form meditation to consider what I’ve picked up and learned on my travels. That, and maybe cleaning my mental house of stuff by ending my clinging to various unhelpful thoughts.

6 thoughts on “Odyssey Day 8: Portland; books & bean

      1. ummm… I’m curious about being concerned about “vampires” when you considered eating at voodoo donuts AND you ate a pentagram pizza. Seems like night & vampirism wouldn’t bother you in the least.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. But the tundra is a hard place to live. No shelter. Cold, dry. It messes with your senses because there isn’t anything to focus on so you can’t tell if you’re seeing 50 miles or 50 feet. Very strange landscape.

        Liked by 1 person

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