Leave It To Portland

28 08 2012

Since I started working in San Diego I have been obsessively trying to mold myself into a business women the only way I know how: working insane hours for little pay, neglecting my social life and buying all of my work attire at Express. I knew I needed to switch gears and get out of my mind for a while so I decided to go where nobody knows how to dress like a business woman, Portland, Oregon.

Portland is the place young people go to retire. It’s pedestrian and creatively weird. Nobody cares if you wear makeup or how much money you make because in Portland people actually talk to each other, which means you had better have something to say about the social injustice article in last week’s Mercury. Their neighborhoods look like the streets parents talk about growing up on, safe and quite and sweet.

People drink beers on patio sidewalks and listen to street musicians that look like Kurt Cobain. It’s not for everyone but for this tired pony, it was everything. I drove up the I-5 and caught up with friends in Seattle, another hip spot, separated by the wealth that circulates in the IT industry. I think every person I met in Seattle worked for Microsoft.

My trip to Portland and drive through Seattle was a grand week of beer tasting, food indulging and unadulterated hipster style, exactly what I needed to realize the following things.

I am never going to write a literary work that changes the world, solves a problem or is used in a college class to discuss literary genius. It’s just not going to happen. I can see by the last few posts that melodrama looks about as good on me as a hot-pink string bikini. It’s really very simple, when I’m happy, my writing is better and I see more traffic on this site. Most of that traffic is my mother looking for errors and poor spelling but also, so she can text me at 11:20pm and say something like:

Do U have 2 say fuck so many timz lamb-chop? :/

To which I reply:

Fuck-yeah, mom! : )

This trip to the Pacific northwest allowed me to remember what I love writing about: People in places – particularly myself, but other people too. I have been so consumed by my attempts at looking like I belong in a black Express suit that I have lost my voice altogether. My perspective in San Diego is nearsighted. Everything up close is stressing me out because it’s all I can see.

In the foreground is a beautiful, diverse, crazy-big planet covered in rock and water and it’s fucking flying in ellipsis through an endless black void – I don’t want to debate if the universe is expanding or not, so just go with it. I know who Steven Hawking is, alright! And compared to the shit going on out there, my life is as about as uncomfortable as a brown leather La-Z-Boy.  So, thank you Portland, for being a hot metaphorical shot of heroin to my brain and waking me up from this comatose I’ve been in for the last 8 months. I didn’t actually do heroin while I was there, but the 90’s are alive and well in Portland.

On another evening, while drinking Rudy draft beer (subtle hint of apricot, very good) I decided I should be writing more humor.

Guy in baseball hat: You’re a lot of fun, really upbeat. I like that.

Me, between sips of my beer: Yeah. Life’s too short. To be. Downbeat.

I didn’t realize what I was saying until I said it and you know what? I’m fucking right! It is too short to be crying over spilled milk, bad haircuts, and dead hamsters, lost shoes, or being broke. The only thing crying is good for is making people uncomfortable that don’t like crying.

Dictionary.com says:

Upbeat

adjective: it’s nice to read an upbeat story for a change: optimistic, cheerful, cheery,positive, confident, hopeful, sanguine, bullish, buoyant, gung-ho.

It’s true; I am surprisingly buoyant in water, especially in a string bikini. I haven’t felt gung-ho or sanguine (who has ever used that word before?) in a long time. Case-in-point, My Personal Apocalypse. I’ve been more or less blarrug. That’s a word I just made up to describe my personal denial, irreverence for being an adult and getting a 9-5 job and extraordinary talent at hiding all of this from the world. It was very important that a stranger remind me that under all of my Hemingway inspired melodrama I’m actually fun to be around.

Happiness is not something that passively happens to people, well, at least not writers. It’s something I have to work at, and a huge part of achieving it means finding a space both internally and externally that facilitates a desire to be myself and feel accepted. I don’t think moving to Seattle, growing a mustache and dating a bearded lumberjack named Chandler is going to make me happy. But leave it to apricot flavored beer and a week away from my boss to reveal the simple truth that something isn’t working for me in San Diego.

And that leads me to my final drug induced realization: My ego is enormous, and not in a way that makes me pretentious or rude (well, we all have our moments.) It’s in a way that’s limiting only to me. I am so worried about appearances that I often won’t make risky but potentially awesome decisions because I am afraid of social, financial or emotional chaos.

Perfect example:

I drive a beautiful 68′ Mercury Cougar (how hip of me!) It’s the only car I’ve ever owned and I love it like a family member. I refuse to let her go so that I may purchase a more practical and economically feasible car because I am convinced that Edith is part of who I am. Driving that car has contributed to several developing aspects of my personality. I have learned patience in mechanical failure, how to change oil and I have street-cred in my city because she sounds like a bat-out-of-hell. It makes me tough and cool and different. While I’m sweating my balls off in the summer on black leather seats and no air conditioning, people pass in Prius’ often smiling and waving at me like there’s a huge golden retriever named Rex hanging out of the window. Driving in the car with a very happy dog means the whole world smiles with you. My car is like riding inside a happy golden retriever named Rex. It makes people smile and I like that. But it also makes people flash gang signs on occasion. Those I don’t like as much, unless the guy is hot.

Wes-side!

In Southern California this ego-bulimia is an epidemic. For a lot of us it’s just easier to shut-up and deep-throat all the dumb shit we have to put up with in business, finances and relationships, but never-ever good food, that will make us fat. I feel stronger than ever that I’m not deep-throating anything that doesn’t return the favor.

I have this weird fantasy now of moving to Seattle and becoming queen of the hipsters! One Hipster to rule them all! I would wear Ray-Ban sunglasses and not wash my hair everyday and only wear red lipstick and I would develop some weird special dietary need like being a vegan.

 

I guess that was another revelation.

I’m a total hipster.

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3 responses

29 08 2012
Running in Mommyland

I feel like you could be writing about me… My writing is better when I’m happy, my mother ups my traffic due to her grammar and spelling assistance, and the ego stuff and the chaos!
I love the way you write and you never know… maybe you will write something that changes the world and is taught on college campuses as literary genius! All things are possible!

29 08 2012
Whitney Marie Butler

Thanks so much for reading. Sometimes my relationship with WordPress and all the fabulous writers on here ins the only thing that makes me feel accepted. I’m right there with you, running and running and running.

7 09 2012
Mom

wow Whit…”ego-bulimia” is a fab. play on words…& exactly right….and now I’m gonna do it…So. Cal is…’ in-your-face….fuck you until I need to sell you something’…..kinda place and it is exhausting. Case in point…I’m stopped at a red light…it turns green & I just can’t make myself put my foot on the gas pedal & move my car forward…wherever it is I’m going to, is going to be exhausting………..unless it’s to you or your sister!!! I love you…Mom

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