Tag Archives: Caffeine

PORTLAND: UNIQUE, OPEN & PROUD…BUT NO WEATHER EXTREMES, PLEASE!


I love Portland, Oregon! It was love at first sight for me…it had everything I wanted: enough city to meet my soul’s need for that; a very mixed population from business to artists to Deadheads; museums, coffee houses…little individually-owned ones where one could read & write for hours without snarky looks. There was pride in the different identities of the various neighborhoods in a city divided by quadrants; a bus mall & transit system that got me out of my car for the first time in eons & there was greatness: Powell’s City of Books…nothing like it anywhere else in North America; a library system that is actually well-used and greenspace…you could be in the rainforest without ever leaving the city. it had one other thing unique to Portland: weather-phobia! Oh, yes…fear of unexpected weather. Psychology has not given it an official name and , in this case, it seems a mass phobia.

I, like most people, had many pre-conceived notions of Portland: small town, unsophisticated, place where hippies went to die and , of course, rainy. Endlessly, always rainy. I was wrong on all counts. Yes, it rains…actually more mist and drizzle than real rain and ,even then, mostly in the winter months. You see, Oregon has some mountain ranges and Portland happens to sit between two in a green belt known as the Willamette Valley. Being between two mountain ranges keeps the weather quite temperate, no extremes. Being an East Coast native..New York to be specific…I like this. Moderate, somewhat grey winters, equally reasonable and sunny summers. Rare is a snowfall or a heat wave, but watch out if there’s either. EVERYONE FREAKS OUT! ALL CHANNELS GO TO 24/7 REPETITION OF WHAT IS OBVIOUS! STORES ARE TEEMING WITH AN ANGST-RIDDEN PUBLIC FEARFUL OF BEING TRAPPED WITHOUT AMPLE……(FILL IN BLANK, DEPENDING ON SEASON).

The first year I lived here, there were mad predictions of a snow storm. Busses were parked on the mall, getting chained….I didn’t know tire chains were still made or used anywhere; people either stayed home or left work early; weather was wall-to-wall on all stations and citizens were assured that the city was prepared to throw something by way of de-icers on the roads. I drove to work. I arrived to find 1 other person, my boss.. and received a hero’s welcome. Oh, did I fail to mention that at this point it appeared like talcum powder from a clogged container sprinkling down? I thought I was going mad! Where were these rugged individualists? Where was that Oregonian can-do attitude. Apparently, clearing supermarket shelves and scurrying back to the safety of their homes. Schools and businesses closed, sometimes a whole day in advance, based on the Magic 8 Ball of weather. I laughed hysterically at this mania along with my fellow transplants from states that had real winter. Life went on, spring and then summer came…

“HEAT WAVE HEADED OUR WAY!” It blared from televisions to print media and , again, I saw the stores selling ice and water….in a city of water fountains from which to drink everywhere and decorative fountains in which anyone can play…on either side of the river. Fans, as though a new concept, were swept off store shelves; people headed in droves to any of the several rivers and lakes around us and, again, media were there to remind us to hydrate, dress accordingly and check neighbors. Coming from a place where the humidity allows everyone to enjoy a steam bath and at least one reporter will demonstrate how fast an egg can be fried on the sidewalk, I was once again astounded. Had everyone lost their minds? Not to mention that for a place as moist as Oregon in winter, it is wonderfully dry in the summer…virtually no humidity. I don’t tolerate heat well as a rule, but it has been a fact of my life always. We went to Coney Island, the Jersey shore or stayed in air-conditioned apartments and cars….and complained. Again, cheap entertainment for those of us from less temperate zones. My main issue with the heat is that I have a low threshold and I don’t actually sweat..a weird malady that leaves me to bloat like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon. Not fun!

After a cumulative 20 years here with a brief  madness of 5 years back east, I have realized that these events of winter/summer extremes…usually 2-3 days long…occur about every 4 years. Right now, we are in the midst of a 100 degree weekend and aside from my sweltering apartment…my family back east: “Don’t you people have air cnoditioning?”…and non-sweating bloat, I can take comfort in watching the mêlée around me. Oh, if I do go out, my fair skin requires SPF 1000, so I don’t have that healthy Oregon tan/burn look.

I don’t drive in the snow, can’t use chains and don’t care to mingle among the frantic. I don’t go to the rivers in the heatwaves because I’m not big on being decapitated by someone’s motor boat or drowning among the hoards of people swimming, tubing and getting caught in currents. One big thing I don’t share with many of my fellow Oregonians and that is a propensity for the outdoors-y life.

I’ll shower 20 more times today, sit in front of my fan and kvetch about the heat and wait for tomorrow, when everyone and everything returns to normal…until the possibility of a flurry six months from now and the shutting down of the city…or I move to the glorious coast, whichever comes first!

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What Would “Auntie Mame” Do? Aunt Sissy knew best….


My Aunt Sissy, the most beloved & enduring women in my life…beautiful,,independent, loving, kind, fierce, hilarious,,a survivor, an inspiration & , of course, my personal “Auntie Mame“!

Last Wednesday began with a rude awakening:  stirred from sleep by my landlord’s son shouting, “Hello? Hello?”. I stumbled sleepily into my living room, stepping over a gaming device, laptop & various dvd’s strewn across the floor. In my fog, the back of my brain noted the oddity, but I focused on the wide open front door & my landlord’s son standing there with a strange look on his face. I was abruptly brought to full consciousness by the scene….

I went to bed, my living room in the tidy chaos that is normal. Like any good former Brooklyn, NY‘er, I had locked everything up & felt the safety of not only the lock but the safety & tight-knit environment of my little Portland neighborhood (also called Brooklyn)…

Sometime, in the wee hours, we were robbed! Not only had we been robbed but it happened as we slept! I remembered my anti-social cat,Mumford, shouting in the night & me shushing him. I know my usual 4 alarms (I am not good at wake-ups) & coffee maker were set & went off at 5:45 a.m., at which time I chose to roll over & sleep in, skipping my early morning meeting. This may have been a blessing as I may have met some unsavory person(s) mid-burglary or a curse, since we did lose some valuables & the few precious funds of someone living on SSD. Who’s to say? Either way, my landlord watched me as shock set in & my mind began racing. I inanely explained to him that things were not this way when I went to bed…..as though this needed explanation. I realized that I must immediately call the police.          

An uniformed officer arrived, after what seemed an eternity, and made his report, advising me not to touch anything as the Forensics person would be following to do whatever it was they do in such cases. Clearly, I am intelligent enough to know this was not a CSI event, no one died in the incident & the case would not be solved in 1 hour. Still, I never thought I would experience an event in my life that would need Forensics. Even when my significant other died suddenly in our home, there was a flurry of activity for a couple of hours, a Coroner’s team, etc, I was too in shock to notice much & went through it robotically. It remains a blur even as the 5th anniversary approaches. But I digress….the Forensics officer arrived, dusted for fingerprints, was given information on who may have touched these items who could be ruled out. He left, advising us that we may hear from detectives in the coming days. That being done, we proceeded to clean up the mess & go about our day. It was not until evening that the reality set in.

My fiancé went to bed & I sat up, not abnormal as I am a “night-bird” & it is also in these quiet hours of night that I am most inspired to write. I planned to write, wanted to write, but the PTSD/Anxiety Disorder reared their ugly heads. I thought through every scenario & examined the facts Logic’s Public Defenders: overworked, underpaid, outgunned) : they’d came, gotten ID‘s, cash & whatever else was of lesser consequence to notice yet. Little could be done, it was over & out of our hands. The only trials at this point were the ones played out in my head…and I was the Judge, Prosecutor, Defense & Victim.

 The Prosecution ( the Anxiety D.A.’s: Ivy League, politically ambitious & win oriented) then entered with their case: the burglars saw what we had, which is not much but easily movable for sale. Perhaps, they would return, disguised & intent on harming us.They had no fear of coming in while we were in bed so what was to stop them from coming back ? I imagined awakening to shadowy figures standing over us, with us being at the disadvantage to defend ourselves.The Public Defender, as most are, was disorganized & without a good strategy.  Needless to say, argued this to the nth degree without a clear goal. I, the victim,  decided to sleep on the sofa; changed my mind, feeling I would be safer in my bed with Toby & my “kids”, Mumford & Harry. After all the arguing, I took my proper medications & retired to my bed, where I lay awake til dawn, meds not being any match for the unending arguments in my brain & the physical fear that left my body in knots. It has been that way since.

I am angry that the acts of strangers, likely drug addicts, had begun disrupting the peace & tranquillity of our little neighborhood. Prior to this, we recently have had spates of car break-ins but, to my knowledge, no home invasions, burglaries or person-on-person crime. Outraged that I am impacted so deeply by this event, my emotions roller-coaster! I recently went through an I.D. theft that is part of an international scam effecting thousands internationally. Another “never thought” moment. Interpol?Yay me! Wreaking havoc in my life for several months & causing me to have to change everything from governmental & financial information down to names/passwords on even the most inane of accounts exceeds mere inconvenience. Violation upon violation! Helplessness is the greatest sense here. Helplessness that I’ve not felt in over 40 years. Helplessness that brings up another topic that I’d planned to write about eventually, but now will be sooner than later.

Does helplessness trump my commitment to the year of FEARLESSNESS? I will not permit that! It may override it momentarily but I will not give up a commitment so vital to me to become the Agoraphobic & fear-filled person I slipped into years ago as I have struggled mightily to get this far on the road back to the adventurous, excited, loving-kindness woman I once was. In fact, I will use this to make an even better me than I was before life caught me unawares and overwhelmed that proud woman. I made decisions & choices that I thought were long overdue only to find that they were best left alone. This is not to say I did not find some blessings in them because I did…new friends, family members who’d thought I disappeared years ago & knew only black-sheep myths….but  the abuse, shame & bitter disappointment came first &  won out, proving stronger than the woman of power I believed could recognize & use all of my hard-won wisdom, healing and power to not only deflect it away from me but imbue those around me with some sense of peace & healing. WRONG!! Not only had I evolved for the better but somewhere along the way developed a sense of super-powers to change others (insert Serenity Prayer here).  Against instinct & better judgement, I stayed on. I ignored the flashing red lights, the sirens and all warnings. Rather than deflect the negativity directed at me, I absorbed it. Not only did I absorb it, I began to merit it…I became judgemental, bitchy and, worst of all, threw away more than a decade of sobriety & drug-free years….all in an effort at acceptance. It earned me not only further disdain from those who shall remain unnamed but from myself. Until I checked in to a posh treatment facility, exited to find my employer selling my division ( was the benefit of the aforementioned “posh”  facility the prep for the coming loss?) &  faced with unemployment;invested then lost all in a small business partnership &  ended up in a homeless shelter for women on a defunct military base, did my loss of self  become Priority One.

Permit me to digress once again and point out that none of this is part of the 45+ year old  trauma to which I referred. I’d yet to realize that I had my beloved extended family on the East Coast, who’d not abandoned me,as I believed, but never knew what became of me! I have since reconnected, told the stories they didn’t know & found that some bonds can never be broken. That will come soon enough…but it does tie in. Eventually, I’ve learned, all things circle around & relate to something past.

At last, the Universe smiled upon me…an investment (which I’d forgotten) check from my former employer appeared in the shelter mail. It was enough to start over there or….return to Oregon, the only other place outside of NY that ever felt like home….from Brooklyn (NY) to Brooklyn (PDX) . Portland,the place where I found  love, acceptance, my power and  been blessed with extraordinary experiences over my years there…and more to come, I’ve no doubt.  And this is where the question came in:

What would Auntie Mame do? Auntie Mame (as portrayed by Rosalind Russell) was a heroine of mine…she reminded me in some ways of my dearly beloved late Aunt Sissy and represented the kind of woman I aspired to: a flamboyant, free-thinking, open to adventure, fly in the face of convention & never give up woman. In many ways, I have succeeded. To come full circle, in the face of home invasion or anything else life throws at you: What would Auntie Mame do?  ” LIVE, LIVE, LIVE! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”           

A real “dame” & my partial inspiration for who I wanted to be as a woman!

   A real “dame” & my other partial inspiration for who I aspired to be as a woman!

So, I will live in my home, not giving up my power to the fear of some small little pathetic people whose only power lies in taking from others. I will return to the banquet…and when I get scared away, it will be only briefly. I will return to the banquet until I’ve had my fill….and that, I hope, will be when I draw my last breath and leave for the next plane. Oh yeah… and remember to keep laughing because if I didn’t I’d go mad! Sometime laughter may seem irreverent, out-of-place or plain crazy….it is often the sanest and only thing one can do.