Thursday, October 13, 2011


Twelve per cent unemployment is no sneezing matter. That, my friends, is what I'm facing in this city. With its reputation for cool and as the birthplace of the hipster, too many white, bachelor's degree totin', artistic twenty-somethings moved here too fast. Wanting to reduce their carbon footprints and live off farmers market produce and hate on motorized vehicles, they wish to reside in the city. Work in the city. And this means there aren't enough jobs for all of us. Plus, the word about Portland's myriad programs and cash for the taking got out in the homeless community. They come here in droves--most of them about my age. So when I say I'm new to town and jobless, people inch back from me as if the next time they see me, I'll be asking for a $1.00 to add to my hostel fund. "It's going to rain tonight," I'll say.

With redundancy the pool teems, so one's only hope is to be an expert at something. You're qualified to be receptionist, you say? Have you spent a year as a personal secretary to Harvard's Provost? How about time as a senior undersecretary to the governor? No. Alright. Perhaps I could count change at a bank, smile, and tell customers to have a splendid day. Well...yes, you meet the minimum requirements, they say. But our other applicants spent a collective 29,470 hours in environmental service. One developed a sign language pattern amongst penguins in Antarctica. Ok, I think. I can nanny. I've done it recently and with style, right? Yes...but we, the parents, would really prefer whoever watches our children speak fluent Portuguese, Spanish, or Mandarin. We might consider French, even. Also, we'd like you to be here as the kids wake up to make their meals and get them out the door, stay to pick them up from school (The house should be spotless when we get home, btw), make dinner, help with homework, wash them, and put them to bed. Most nights you'll be out by 9. We'll call you.

Since I haven't invested a three years in Cyrillic or composed a sonnet circle on the merits of a cherry blossom, I am still awaiting returned calls.

Ever more plain, my lack of control over my own life. Care and keeping of, yes, but control belongs to He Who Sits Above. Know what? Praise to Him for that! I'll keep applying, but I know His hand must open those matter how many endangered species I regenerate from bone samples.

Fall: A Contrast

They tell me it's fall in the Northwest. Trees still bear their leaves, the air stings a tad when biking, people started putting pumpkin in their lattes, I overheard a sibling debate 'tween the merits of a Power Ranger costume versus Disney's Belle--but I find myself longing for North Georgia's October. Here, we have none of that evening autumnal glow, no richness in the air as the cooler temperatures release smells heretofore masked in a summer haze, fiery foliage, sweet relief from oppressive heat. We lack the temperature contrast. Ben and I met relief from heat oppression upon arrival in August. There's nowhere to go from there.

Makes me wonder if I owe a piece of my fall adoration to my disdain for Georgia summer.

So, not much of a fall. But what they lack in October glory they pour into their coffee and beers (...excepting the lack of pumpkin beer for which I never can forgive the state. Seriously? Doesn't someone sell a respectable brew in honor of squash's robust cousin? I need Shipyard, dog'on it!) They're quite proud of these. And it's no wonder! With all the rain we're driven to teapot, press, and stein to lift our spirits and make our taste buds dance.

Rain appeals to me, though. It's a good thing; for our ten-day forecast reveals nothing but sprinkly days with bright spots between. Never have I consumed tea with such fervor. Portlanders walk about indifferent to this constant dripping. Most of them seem averse to the concept of an umbrella, preferring to shove their hands deep in their pockets and keep their beanie bedecked heads low. Light waterproof jackets and Doc Martins are the thing. Sometimes goulashes. Bumbershoots are for the out of towners--a funny stigma since everyone in Portland is a transplant. Besides the two true locals I've encountered, this is not an exaggeration.

This is Department of Eagles weather. Weepies. Wilco.

I'll like it all the better when I can meet a friend in it. This much tea consumption requires a partner.