"this bottle of wine is to slow down my mind"

7/15/14

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, that I didn’t know who I was…I was far away from home haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds.”

so I’ve given myself time to catch up on sleep and think about what I want this post to say. I was able to accomplish the sleep portion, but the latter I’m still confused about. coming back was needed (I missed my mom & cat), but I wanted to keep going. an almost two week adventure alone was exactly what I needed to clear my mind of unnecessary thoughts. that is mosssttttllllyyyy the main reason I decided to still go when my original plans had to be changed.

I had become completely burnt out over the past four years and getting out of Chicago for a while made sense…and still makes sense. time away allowed me to come to a lot of different conclusions, some of those simply being that there are no conclusions, and then finding answers to questions I wasn’t even sure how to ask.

this trip and the time I spent alone, as cliché as it sounds, was truly life changing. I feel that I have started to finally move in the direction I have always wanted to. I guess that direction would be towards becoming more comfortable and confident with who I am and my thoughts, to start practicing what I preach on a more legitimate level, and in the process of all that begin to feel a little closer to understanding myself more.

tossing my being into the unknown and then seeing where that would take me. it’s been a long time since I’ve felt personally challenged by my surroundings here at home and I’ve learned that that’s something I need. about two months ago an extremely close friend of mine passed away and he was someone that was always there to remind me that not knowing was more than okay in this life. but when I learned of his passing I realized that not knowing is one thing, but not knowing and doing nothing about it to figure it out is another. I may not ever know what I want to do, who I am, or where on this enormous planet is the right place for me to be…but I do know life it way too short to sit in one place while trying to figure it out.

going and experiencing the things you want to I believe makes a person feel less empty. now, I know we all have different opinions on what it is that’s important to experience, but if you still feel lost or unsure or even confused at random times throughout the day, or before you go to sleep…then there’s obviously something missing (but that’s not something to get sad about, but rather motivated by).

I cannot say this enough, but if you ever get the chance to travel by yourself, to watch a sunset alone, grab a drink at a bar solo, or strike up a conversation with some stranger…you should absolutely do it. there is so much more to be learned about yourself through the places you go and the people you meet.

do not waste time simply thinking about the places you wish to go, just go. I still don’t know who I am, but im going to continue to experience all that I can…even though I think there’s something spectacular about not fully knowing. 

"I guess I can check bringing a homeless person out for dinner off the bucket list"

7/13/14 

that kid tucker I was so excited about meeting last night…let’s just say I’ve had the most interesting experience, and all around day for that matter, to conclude my journey with (I guess I still have the airport to experience later – the night is still young).
you could say that this whole day I’ve been in a kind of funk. not sure what it was, but I have decided I most definitely have a six sense. I woke up this morning simply thinking I felt off because I knew I was leaving in only a handful of hours. thinking that I was coming around to really loving Portland and it’s uniqueness…
but instead i honestly believe that my body was trying to tell me that having plans with a homeless kid in a city you, 1) are foreign to, 2) have no idea how to get around, & 3) aren’t even sure if you like, wasn’t the best idea thing to decide to end my trip with. sure, im super excited and exhilarated by the fact that I’m pausing my adventures on a hilarious note, but I could have accomplished a lot more than by hanging out with a pot head – but we all already know that’s common sense.
OKAY SO – I really wanted to check out stumptown’s coffee roaster location downtown, so I did. I headed there after I had a weird attempt at checking out of my hotel that morning (I found out after a phone call that you don’t have to check out and you get charged an extra $40 “just in case you do something to the room.”). At stumptown’s I treated myself to a 16oz glass of some amazing cold brew. it was delicious and I’m happy that my first experience trying it was at their own location. yum yum, I totally recommend jumping on that boat.
knowing that I didn’t have many plans for the day I sat in the lobby of the ace hotel which was located right nextdoor, and sat amongst an adorable little cluster of chairs, terrariums, and people reading. it was super relaxing and motivating because now I am interested in checking out more cool coffee shops in Chicago.
I joined this cluster of people enthralled in their reading with my own journal and book. knowing that I had potential plans with my new friend Tucker, I ended up hanging out there for a long time waiting, journaling, reading, and making another new friend. so in this time of hanging out and writing about how I was starting to like Portland more than I did firsthand, a nice man introduced himself to me and asked what I was reading. he was great.
John is a judge who lives in Washington and is originally from Chicago, so we had some common ground to start on. He told me about some of his own travels and how much he loved moving to the northwest coast. proceeding in conversation he asked me about myself, what im up to, where I’ve been traveling, and things like that. he mentioned thinking I was extremely brave for going to see the unknown territories I’ve wanted to see by myself. having a judge be impressed with what I’m doing may or may not be one of the more rewarding things that’s happened to me in a long while.
he wished me luck, asked the lobby boys to watch out for me while I hung out there and to give me some suggestions about how to spend my last day (john thought they would because he gave them a nice tip – but John, if you’re reading this, they never chatted with me! I’m still in love with the Ace Hotel though!). John was an awesome person to run into on my last day traveling and I hope to keep in touch with him in the mean time.
after he scooted on out I continued to wait for Tucker at stumptown’s. eventually the kid showed up and it was all immediately weird. the vibe was off and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. he seemed so genuine and down to earth the night before (which don’t get me wrong – he definitely was still awesome and interesting to chat with), but things started to slowly change.
(John warned me about staying safe and here I was moments later walking around with a homeless kid that I knew nothing about). he wasn’t scary or by any means intimidating, but I knew that I was probably being PRETTY naive. we met up with his friend Anthony, who was the definition of a punkass delinquent, hilarious and we totally got along, but just ridiculous. I later found out he was all messed up on heroin…it made sense because he kept randomly throwing up while we were walking around (all of this was happening around other people – so it wasn’t as shady as it sounds…but still shady).
calling my mom because I knew I was stuck and that was the only good excuse I had at the moment, I talked her ear off for as long as I could. it’s the most awkward situation I’ve ever been in – wanting to leave, but feeling obligated to stick around because I literally had nowhere that I could go. we sat on a bench at a park called “the blocks” I believe and Anthony rolled a blunt (I hate how that sounds) with this thing called a cyclone. it was the wildest “cone,” or whatever weedsmokers call, it I had ever seen. I took one hit of the pineapple express (hahah but really that’s what it was called) and called it quits. they of course kept going and educating me on drugs and the “philosophical epiphanies” they both had while on drugs. it totally changed them as people (I kept my opinion of “because it melted your brain” to myself – they were convinced it was a good change & in the right direction). both of these kids are 20 years old mind you.
Anthony kept telling the weirdest stories and setting up the most bizarre scenarios. I was utterly uncomfortable and uninterested. being high I had the excuse of being quite, giggling uncontrollably at their ridiculous ideas, and “spacing out” while they talked. the whole time I was thinking “what the hell am I doing here. this is hilarious. I need to get out of here.” not tweaking, but pretty close.
eventually Anthony had to leave to sell, what I presume was stolen, a Samsung galaxy pad to some people. then I was stuck with tucker and more “yea sure, I’m totally listening to everything you’re saying” situations on my end.
earlier he mentioned wanting to buy me dinner…(here’s another list) 1) you’re homeless and I know you don’t have the money for that, 2) i hope you don’t think this is a date – I was merely intrigued by your life and interested in talking….that’s it, & 3) absolutely not. I made what I thought was a joking comment about how if anything I should be buying him dinner. well…later I found out that he most definitely thought I was serious. getting then stuck in another ridiculous situation, I brought us closer to where I parked my car and we sat down for some sandwiches at this cool looking diner called Kenny & Zuke’s that thankfully was super yummy. I ate half of my sandwich super fast hoping to give the hint that I was in a hurry and needed to go soon. obviously he didn’t catch on and kept throwing out ideas for what we could do next (including going to a secluded park where he could smoke more and there wouldn’t be many people or any cops we’d have to worry about – aka horror movie/serial killer). Tucker started to totally tweak out and “really needed to wash his hands” so he went by the bathrooms and asked some absurd question that our waiter didn’t understand, “do you have any more bathrooms? this isn’t very convenient when more than two people need to use the washroom…” after literally two seconds of waiting he walked back over flustered, chugged two bottles of water because “he doesn’t always get clean water to drink” and then said he’d meet me outside after I paid the bill, he needed a cigarette really bad (of course I was the one that supplied that as well).
once he was finally outside I had to think of an escape plan. he was convinced we were going to this park and that I really didn’t “have to leave so soon.” I asked our awesome and friendly waiter Nate (he had the craziest dreads I’ve ever seen) if there was a back exit. he said that they unfortunately didn’t…I explained I was in an uncomfortable situation, “I met this guy yesterday and he seemed extremely normal and interesting…all of a sudden he was getting twitchy and clingy and I needed a way to dip & fast.” I was starting to walk away, getting myself pumped up to book it to my car, there’s NO WAY he could catch me if he decided to follow, and right before I got to the door Nate called me back, “so there’s another way out. it’s a little unorthodox and you have to walk through the catacombs under these buildings, but it’ll get you out a block down that way *pointing in the direction I needed to go*” I immediately replied “PLEASE” and he lead me through these secret underground hallways. they weren’t as dark and creepy as he lead me to believe, thankfully.
Along the way I met two other guys who Nate knew and while speed walking along with us, they kept asking what was going on and why I needed to get out secretly.
straight. out. of. a movie. honestly. finally it hit me how unbelievably hilarious this whole situation was. there was literally a team of men (all with dreads mind you) lurking under Stark St. to help me out. secret agent kind of stuff, im tellin’ ya.
Finally we got to “the door that is the furthest exit” from our starting point. Nate nonchalantly opened the door and walked outside, looked in the direction of Tucker, and says in a very loud whisper, “GO! GO GIRL! WALK FAST & GOOD LUCK!” I looked back and they were waving from the door still keeping a look out…
all I could say once i ran to my car and successfully started driving in the exact opposite direction of the diner (like he was going to catch me or something) was “what the actual fuck just happened……”
I successfully made it far enough away, crossing a bridge and heading in the direction of the airport for safety (disclaimer: I was never actually in any legitimate danger. Tucker was awesome (at first), but things just got too weird).
Now I’m here, at that airport – I stopped at a local bar to write out the first half of this – and I’ve already had a weird conversation.
the guy driving the budget bus to the airport, after I dropped off my rental car, asked about my day. I explained a little about my experience with Tucker and he immediately had a similar story. he said he used to work as a security guard and had an encounter with a young homeless girl. mr. budget-driver opened about being married, having kids, being from Belgium, but he was very tempted to be with the homeless woman who offered herself to him for money…he honorably proclaimed how he denied her offer, but he did admit that she was still in his thoughts & had he not been married their situation would have escalated quickly. OBVIOUSLY I got the hell off that bus and ran for the airport. it is most definitely time for me to head back to the Midwest for the time being. I knew traveling alone would lead to some interesting experiences and moments, but I was not expecting this. it makes for a good story though, right?

7/12/14 

“the sun doesn’t go down, it’s just an illusion”

by the time I got to the pod of food carts and parked, a lot were closed. yet luck was in the air because someone bought a time sticker (the receipt for the pay to park spots) and left it in the receipt section of the pay station…what im saying is that I got to park for free because some lovely soul left already paid for receipts. that kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me very often so I confusedly looked around for an explanation, but when I found none I put in on the window of my car and started eyeing the prospects for dinner.

there were two ways I could have gone, but I ended up making a left instead of a right. there were a few yummy options still available. (kelsey and iver mentioned having a falafel and ever since then I couldn’t stop craving one). I continued walking just to see what else was around after picking the corner cart that had my awaiting falafel dinner <3

when turning around and officially deciding on a place I heard someone on my right that was sitting at a table ask something, but I didn’t hear him at first. he was younger and not intimidating to approach, so instead of ignoring it I walked up to him and asked him “what did you say?” and he goes “I asked if I could play you a song.” seizing an exciting learning experience when placed in front of me I answered with an “absolutely! but first I need to get some food.”

I was then served the biggest and most difficult to eat dinner ever, yet it was absolutely delicious. I then went back to join this young man and take him up on the offer to play & sing to me.

“what kind of music do you like?” “I like everything.” “that’s a good answer & what I like to hear.” he then played big fish by sublime. thank goodness he was actually good and I didn’t have to pretend or lie about it when I complimented him at the end. then, “do you know metallica?” HAH! DO. I. KNOW. METALLICA?! “oh sure. kill ‘em all is my favorite.” “wooooahh hey now you’ve got my full attention.” he then went on to play a song off the black album – can’t remember which one now. after my own personal mini concert we introduced ourselves. I then asked him about Portland and it turns out he just moved there from Bakersfield, California a month ago and was loving it. From there he started opening up about his decision to move out (he’s 20 – 21 on December 9th  aka sagittarius) from his parents place and to start a life in Portland. He’s now living in a shelter and playing guitar at night for money.

-SIDENOTE: does anyone else find it WILD that I was just talking about looking at my horoscope the other night & I never do that?! does anyone else find it WILD that that just so happened to come up in conversation & him then ask me more about our same sign?! DO YOU HEAR WHAT I’M SAYING?! ::::ALERT::::THIS IS LIKE A MOVIE::::ALERT:::: -

it was eye opening and it’s crazy how much he gets “it” (remember – I still don’t exactly know what that “it” means, but he’s got it). his first interaction with Portland was attending a business convention, realizing then that he needed a change.

he talked about the shelter he stays at and how much he’s enjoying it. now I know that there has to be more darkness to the stories he was telling, but he seems optimistic in a realistic way. for what I got out of him his sense of reality relates to mine as well, but I have no intention of moving to Portland to live in a shelter. I don’t have the personality or bravery for that.

in the midst of conversation one of his friends walked up wearing carhart overalls and a bucket hat that was pinned up on one side, this making him look like a crocodile hunter…his name was beezley (bees-lee). he was an absolute goofball and super soft spoken, nonetheless hilarious. we got along quite well.

to be honest, the last thing I pictured was me hanging out with two young homeless kids, but it was such a cool experience. they were so normal and so beyond interesting. things like this could have been easily missed, these moments completely lost, had I been with someone else while on this journey.

well, Tucker was and is adorably meaningful to the concluding days of this trip. we made plans to hangout tomorrow, but we’ll see! when I first got to Portland and even this morning I was confused about how I felt. I wasn’t sure if I thought this city was almost TOO weird for my liking. don’t get me wrong, I’m alllllll about the weird stuff, I feel most comfortable in those situations, but I thought it was slightly ‘in your face’ weird. that only sort of changed by the end of today. getting to the heart of the city and meeting some of the people who inhabit it made it a million times more welcoming. there are upscale sections to this city, like every other. there’s an inability here to name the vibe and essence that lingers, but I like it.

hopefully I get to spend tomorrow walking around this intriguing city with my new friend. he’s inspiring and I’m not ready for our conversations to already have reached all that they will.

tomorrow I will try to get a post out there about why I went on this in the first place, what I learned from it, and what’s next. but maybe not.

"feel the thunder. chase the lightening."

7/12/14

my first day in portland turned out to be a lot more successful than I was imagining. last night I was starting to get pretty lazy. im most definitely someone who likes to get out and do things, but the part of me that really likes hiding in a room was starting to surface…basically this morning it was really hard for me to get out of bed. BUT I DID! and im happy I did. I headed to voodoo doughnuts to check out the hype. all in all it deserves the hype it gets because it was delicious and more than worth the 40 minute wait (thankfully there was a charming fellow playing violin for those waiting. that helped pass the time quickly).

the handsome bearded man at the register hooked it up with a maple blazer blunt, grape ape, and voodoo doll…plus a big cup with a voodoo stamp on it for water. what a gentleman:

– sidenote: that’s something that I’ve come to realize while in Portland for only one day. these men seem to all have manners. they make eye contact with you and give a smile plus a small head nod. it’s just such a nice gesture and not at all flirty or creepy or unnecessary, but instead it’s acknowledging another person’s existence. they’re letting you know that they know you’re there and that you just shared a mini moment together. all I’m saying is that I don’t hate people as much as I say I do, I simply prefer the one’s who don’t make me feel less or invisible within their presence. doing this trip alone has given me a new perspective. to any boy reading: being nice and giving a smile to a girl isn’t creepy, as long as it’s genuine, and you should do it more often. it makes girls/people like me think about it the rest of the day. so to the few guys who gave me a smile today/on this trip, thank you. this isn’t just directed towards men either, women are a little harder to get a simple smile out of, but they few women who also acknowledged my existence while on this trip have been noted. it’s sad that there were so few though. people need to learn to become more approachable. not everyone is conniving or trying to  mess with you, so take down that wall (just don’t be too naïve – some people are jerks). –

from VD I moved onto the Portland Art Museum. I totally enjoyed every second while there and I got to see Monet, Renoir, Munch, & Picasso. they had two whole building with four floors each. there was so much to look at, but in the end my favorite piece was apart of the special collection exhibit. Pierre Tetar van Elven’s Nighttime Party in the Tuileries, 10 June 1867, on the Occasion of Foreign Sovereigns Visit to the World’s Fair. I can’t really explain it, but it’s magnificently beautiful and the colors were undeniably perfect (especially the blues).

I spent a good two and a half-hours lost among the art. what made it most exciting was how few of people there were walking around. having a whole floor to an art museum is something out of a dream. unfortunately there were these two pretentious pricks walking around in one part of the museum and tearing apart each and every piece after reflecting on them individually. they annoyed me…a lot, “so…so what do you think about this piece…did they have to move this close for the photographs lighting to not be overwhelmed in the particular area? don’t you think it would be better if this was angled just a little more? do you think we’re supposed to get as close as possible and that’s when we’ll see what he’s trying to say? (while looking at photography & then looking at a piece called ‘the American flag is not an object of worship’). I swear you’d agree in their absurdity had you seen it. so cliché.

after the museum I took the Altima over to Powell’s city of books…and let me tell ya, that’s exactly what that damn place was! every level was a specific color that included certain genres. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when given a lot of options so under this kind of pressure I almost snapped. so many books, so little time! their rare books section was open so it was nice to snoop around there quietly. got to see the first English edition of  james joyce’s Ulysses (!!!!!!!!!!) TOO COOL. I wandered in and out all of the aisles, but in my gut I knew there was no more room for books to be purchased on this journey – I’ve already accumulated two (which isn’t nearly enough but I’m watching my moo-lah).

After that I sat on some steps and people watched for awhile. I had nowhere that I wanted to go for the rest of night because the places I did want to see were either closing soon OR I needed to save for until tomorrow. getting my fill for the moment on staring at random people and wondering what their lives are like, I drove to the closest pod of food carts…

and that’s when the coolest part of the day and an awesome experience took place, but tucker (and beezley sorta), deserves his own post.