Monday, April 26, 2010

Checking the mail.

At our apartment here in Portland, we have this rickety metal box outside our front door that makes a really satisfyingly loud screech and clunk when the mail-lady/mailman (who all walk around our neighborhood with adorable hats on which we also really adore) plunks in our mail. When I'm home during the day and am lucky enough to hear this wonderful noise, I wait for a respectable minute, then run to the door. I always feel slightly disappointed when it is just junk, but as wasteful as it is it is still more satisfying than nothing. In fact, even when there's nothing there, the hope of those few seconds when I open the screen door that there might be something, that there might be some random envelopes and slips of paper confirming, "You live here, you have a place in the world, and people in the world that will send you crap at that place," is still my favorite time of the day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Home, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.



I like this song! It is good.

Runner-up songs that I also lately think are good:
  • Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers
  • Two Weeks, Grizzly Bear
  • White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes
  • Kids, MGMT
I have no idea of the cool-or-not-cool value of any of these songs, although I do have an inkling that if they are cool, they were cool with the cool kids like a year ago. Oops. Also, I feel the need to mention that without ever hearing any of their songs I have always had an irrational dislike of MGMT's name. What does it mean? Who knows, all I know is that cryptic band names which make the listener feel stupid are stupid. Yeah! Yeah. But then I heard this song on the radio a few times and kept thinking to myself, "Hm, I think I like this song," and then finally one day I heard the DJ say it was MGMT. So. Good story.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dunkin.


Here's the truth: my love affair with Dunkin' Donuts isn't really about Dunkin' Donuts. I am not really a huge coffee person and never will be, even though I devoted years of my work life to Starbucks Coffee Company and I indulge in the occasional sugary caffeine laden froofy drink from various places every now and then. When I got a drink from Dunkin' it was usually their chai, which was entirely too sweet, as were most of their products. Freshman year of college when there was a Dunkin' Donuts in the bottom floor of my dorm--my family continually referred to my school as the Dunkin' Donuts College since that Dunkin' on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets in Boston was the only real landmark of it--I would sometimes treat myself to a coffee coolata (wayyyyy too sweet) and a Boston Creme. Mmmm, sweet Boston Creme donut and your gooey yellow insides which would inevitably splat and splurt all over the place out of your little donut butthole, you are so delicious, all the time, even if you make one feel sick afterwards. What I'm saying is, even though I probably consumed a lot of the food and sugary drinks, it isn't actually about the food and sugary drinks.

My love affair with Dunkin' is really a love affair with a place. One learns you can miss giant corporations, because one learns you can miss anything. I love Dunkin' because Boston loved Dunkin', because there was one on every corner, those tacky orange and neon pink bubble letters branded the city, and every college student and bustling business person alike carried their large styrofoam cups--just one cup for a hot drink, and then a plastic cup INSIDE a styrofoam cup for cold drinks, to be extra wasteful--on the street, to class, on the T. Dunkin' is a pretty frequent sight throughout the East Coast, but it only truly owns the heart of New England, and moving to a city which mainly subsists on local, rootsy, independent coffeeshops--I know, gross--was a bit of a shock to the system.

True story, and one a lot of you have probably heard already but which I am going to repeat again anyway: in the first year we lived here we were blessed to have our good good friends Kim & Cliff living an hour and a half south of us in Eugene, which I long to still be true. On a trip to visit them one day we stopped in the state capital of Salem because we had DunkinDonuts.com Location Finder'ed this state up and found ONE lonely location in Salem, and this was our sole mission, being that there ain't many other reasons to visit Salem, Oregon. Well, we drove up and down Random Personality-less Salem Street a few times searching for that beloved logo until we eventually found the exact address and realized it was no Dunkin', but some sad state of affairs which used to be a Dunkin' but which was now transitioning to some strange independent place called Daynight Donuts, which yes, in case you were wondering, doesn't even make sense. Not willing to admit defeat, we popped on our Red Sox hats anyway and walked in with our heads held high, ready to be rudely waited on by people who don't pronounce their R's. But the place was a sad ghost of itself, and everyone was still Oregon-y. They were still selling some Dunkin' products--had the plastic cups, maybe some Munchkins? The same Munchkins all your college teachers brought in on the last day of class all the time? Oh man, Munchkins. You could see the faded shadow of where the bubble letters on the wall used to be. It all felt like a somewhat surreal experience. And then we saw that they called what appeared to be Boston Cremes, Bismarks. Bismark? What the hell is that? The audacity! The ridiculousness! It's a Boston Creme, and we left feeling even angrier at the commercials which we kept seeing on Oregon TV which continued to tell us that American Runs On You, Dunkin'. It's a lie.

And so. Every time we fly to the East Coast and find a Dunkin' Donuts in an airport somewhere, we will go, and buy something unhealthy, and take a picture of ourselves with it and post it on Facebook, every time, no matter how old it gets, because we know, and everyone who knows us knows, and everyone who is from New England knows, that we have to, because it means we know we are home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

John Mellencamp.


Holy crap do I love me some John Mellencamp. With or without the Cougar, don't matter to me baby, I. LOVE. HIM. The Best That I Could Do: 1978-1988 is one of the best greatest hits albums I own, although it suffers the common greatest-hits-album affliction of being rock solid at the beginning and then tapering off in awesomeness in the last few tracks. But regardless, when I say that I love John Mellencamp, what I actually probably mean is that I really, really, really love Pink Houses and Small Town. Like a lot, and also way more than Jack & Diane. Small Town probably because I'm from a small town, which sounds lame, but there you have it. But Pink Houses...okay, listen. I think Pink Houses is one of the best songs written in my lifetime. Seriously.

There is something about listening to these songs that immediately puts me at ease, that makes me also feel really American, but in the good way, that invisible, personal way where Tea Party-ers don't exist and you have random golden moments of thinking, "I am lucky and happy to be here," moments that make all the unpatriotic labeling hurtful. Randomly hearing one of these songs on the radio makes me feel either like I am Home, or like I am on the wide open road, which is convenient and telling since wanting to be in those two places simultaneously has been the crux of my psychological & emotional life since I was in middle school. This conflict--wanting the comfort of home, finding where your home is, versus wanting to constantly explore and be free, the dream of the West and the endless frontier--is really just the crux of the American Dream, not just my own head. Which might be why listening to Pink Houses makes me feel American in addition to happy-peaceful-comforted. Holy crap, all these things are suddenly coming together in my mind as I'm writing this. You're a genius, John Mellencamp. A freaking genius.

'Cause they told when I was younger, sayin'
"Boy, you're gonna be president,"
but just like everything else
those old crazy dreams
just kinda came and went
Oh, but ain't that America
for you and me
Ain't that America, something to see, baby
Ain't that America, home of the free
Little pink houses, for you and me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cleveland.


Dear Cleveland,

We brought you home two years ago when you were just a wee baby, mew-mew-mewing all the way home in your Oregon Humane Society box. Back before we got you I have to admit I told Kathy I wasn't a big black cat person, in the same way that before we got Lily I didn't think I was a big cat person in general, and of course now I love both of you in completely gross and pathetic oodles and oodles of ways. I hope you don't hold it against me; it was back in the day when I held opinions about things without any real reason or merit behind them. Like thinking all people who like sports are stupid. Or not liking black cats. Etc. People having such meritless opinions--which also spirals into and encompasses things such as, say, not liking Jewish people because your parents don't like Jewish people, and so on--is certainly the downfall of society, but what saves society is of course being able to change, i.e., realizing how silly we were all along.

Since we brought you home as a little sweet kitten you have developed into a crazy little terror, and when I am not completely in love with you I am screaming at you like a crazed person and referring to you as "a little bitch." I hope you don't hold that against me either.

There is almost no nook and cranny left in the house that you have not conquered/somehow climbed your way into/on top of. You use my (musical) keyboard as a constant sitting/resting place, cramming remnant specks of litter into the speakers. You jump on top of the refrigerator, purring and rubbing your face all over the place, knocking off an assortment of magnets. You jump all around the kitchen counters when I'm trying to cook or clean and I fear the day I am going to inadvertently chop your tail off or you jump onto the stove and burn your face off. You jump on the table and drink from the cup of fresh water I just poured myself. When I'm doing homework on the computer you jump on the desk and rub against my monitor, or jump on the shelf above my desk and knock over books and whatever else is in your way. The other week you knocked off and broke one of my favorite frames with a picture of my family in it. You bitch. If for some reason I am doing homework at the table, my pen as I'm trying to write becomes your favorite new toy. You nibble at all of my plants. When I am standing still, minding my own business, you jump on the back of my legs and somehow CLIMB UP MY BACK. My legs and arms are pretty much constantly filled with scratches and bites from you. You attack Lily for no good reason a lot, and when we pull her away and yell at you, you often look at us with this crazed look on your face and a big wad of grey fur still in your mouth. You bitch. Recently you've been getting bold enough to start swiping at Toby when he walks by you, even though he is at least three times your size. All of this makes me feel like we are bad cat parents but no matter how we try to discipline you, you just think being yelled at/getting sprayed in the face with water/being scared with loud noises, etc., are all really fun games! Yet at the same time that you are fearless, you are also the biggest scaredy cat I've ever met. Randomly, when Toby moves too suddenly or the TV makes a loud noise, you will run like a madwoman to the other room/run yourself straight into the table/scurry your little paws around our hardwood floor in a frantic way/jump straight up in the air/fall off the couch. When the pizza delivery guy comes to the door and you're feeling very nervous, you will puff yourself up and walk across the floor in very, very, very slow motion. You can also jump higher than any other cat I've ever met.

In other words, you are really quite something. If my grandmother knew you, she'd call you a "piece of work."

At the same time, whenever it is night time, you immediately turn sweet and affectionate, rubbing against our faces when we get into bed, sitting on top of our chests, digging your way underneath the covers, sleeping at our feet. Whenever we are curled up with a blanket on the couch either reading or watching TV, you always curl up right with us, too. You make the weirdest, cutest little noises. Sometimes when I call you a little bitch I am really, really mad, but a lot of the times right after I call you a little bitch, I laugh a lot.

To be honest, you are pretty much my favorite. I think you are one of the most specialist things in the world. And we are going to be best friends for a long time.

Yours,
Jill