Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Portland and The Virtual Girl and Fifty Percent

Part One: Portland and the Virtual Girl

I very recently received an email from a young woman, and after asking her permission to post it in my blog, wrestled with whether or not to edit it.  In the end I decided against it, as part of why I love this email is its grammar  and spelling mistakes.  Additionally, it was difficult to justify such corrections when I myself receive, as a friend put it:

"some leeway for artistic expression.  but you’d drive a catholic nun crazy."

The good news is that I do not know any Catholic nuns. 

So, here it is, in all its glory, a wonderful email from a young woman wanting to help me out with my blog/project.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

"Hey! I recently saw your add on craigslist, and then checked out your blog. And i love this idea that you have! I saw some of the places you have been in portland or, (where i am from.) Have lived here all my life (so far) And i thought i would let you know of some places you should go before you leave for san fran. I would say lets meet and i could take you around myself, but i always feel really sketching about meeting people over the internet. So i thought id help you out with your blog and give you some cool places where i have been and what the meaning is behind this special places.

1.Portland Saturday Market.
 The portland saturday market is one of my favorite places to go to during the summer time. I am a hippie at heart and going there is a place where you can let your freak flag fly high! With all the different people there i always feel at home. Going through all the artists booths and getting to talk to people is always a pleasure. I once met a man who was selling these sleep pillows. And him, my brother and me all had a hour long conversation about dreams. His name was Chi ( i don't think he is there anymore) but we all just stood at his booth and talked about our dreams and what he thought their meaning was. He was just this skinny white hippie guy, who didn't mind one bit to give up some potential sales to talk to 2 teenagers about dreams. everytime i go to saturday market i will look for him, even though i know i will probably never see him there. The saturday market is just full of crazy people, muscians, starving artists who are there to all come together and chill out in the sun. When you are there, i feel like no body is a stranger, it is all a bunch of friends getting together.

2. The Roseland Theater
Now i know you wont be able to get into this place without a ticket to a show, but if you get a chance to get a cheap ticket before you leave DO IT! I am a huge music junkie, and going to concerts is like a drug to me. Being shoved into this concert-dancing till you can't move, crowd surfing, getting high on the floor to your favorite song. These are moments i leave for.  The people you meet at concerts, you may never see again, but for that 3 hours concert you are best friends. The roseland theater is the first place i went to for my first real rock concert. I saw "lifehouse" with my bestfriend, haha i remember we both thought it would be fun to kind of dress up, so we wore high heal shoes and these fancy dresses. I very much regreting wearing highheel shoes to a concert, my feet were killing me by the 3rd song. haha. I have learned to dress very comfortable when going to a concert. Roseland was the first place i crowd surfed. I saw the "bloody beetroots" there and i was up in the air for about 25 seconds. But those 25 seconds i felt like a god!! haha being carried above the crowd was such an amazinf experience. Now i have smoked weed before, but never in a crowd of 200 hundred people. When my brother and best friend went to see "DOWN LINK and Excision" my brother ended up meeting this guy who had weed on him and said we could take a hit off of his pipe to our favorite song. I was freaking out because they have security guards stationed everywhere, but i was lucky and didn't get caught. I never knew the guys name but he ended up becoming my best friend and my personal body guard to any unwanted dance partner. That was also the first show where i got to take my best friend to a rave like scene. We both had a blast!!

3.Mary's Hamburgers
Ok now, this place was a total surprise. Before a concert my brother told my friend to pick a place that was close to the roseland theater that we could go eat at. she was feeling like a hamburger and googles hamburger places near the rosesland theater. and Mary's Hamburgers came up. So we went there. and when we got in there we noticed there was a small stage and alot of gay men...haha so we sat down kind of confused. we thought that maybe this was some sort of gay bar (which portland has a few of )  but we found out that this was a tranny resturant. And we were in for a special night because this was the night of the diva show. which i guess they have pretty often. So we all got comfortable and got our food and got to experience our first diva show. The men were all dressed up, fake hair, big flashy make up on, and this sparkly dresses and such. They all came on and lipsinged to different songs and danced on the stage and came out into the audience. It was so fantastic!!! I had never seen anything like it before but i loved every mintue of it. I remember looking to my brother who was slightly uncomfortable (by the way- my family and friends have nothing against gay/lesbian/bi people) but he just didn't know how to take seeing these men dressed as women on the stage dancing and singing to etta james and tina turner.  But i looked at him and said " that is just beautiful!" and he goes " so?" i said "well i think it just utterly beautiful that those women(men) can get up on that stage in front of strangers and dance and sing and be totaly content and confident in them selves. They don't just look amazingly beautiful on the outside but its a inner beauty that shines out for everyone to see" and he just looked at me and said " yeah..yeah ya know, that is beautiful" and then we finshed eatting and went to the show.

Any place on hawthorne is wonderful, full of hippies and down to earth people, people that don't mind standing out, wearing weird clothes and just being themselves!!!!

5.Rimsky-Korsakoffe House.
This place is one of my favorite places to get dessert. Its open late, and every thing on the menu is to die for!  Its an old house turned into a resturant and everything about it is everything BUT ordinary. you walk in, seat yourself at the tables that are concered in tons on pictures, papers, notes from past costumers, ticket stubs, condom wrapers, garbage papers. and you order from the crazy gay man waiter. And as you listen to the classical live piano player you may noticed that you table that was once normal height and moved 5 feet into the air. They have tables that turn, vibrate and move up and down. its so cool! haha. After you get your dessert you can write in the numerous books they have. Reading past journal writes from people that go there is a cool experience. they may leave some cool funny stories, sad experiences, inside jokes, jokes, pictures they have drawn or whatever they have on their mind in that moment. It is just a book for people to write in and people to read. Going here is definitly a treat, and i suggest going here before you leave.

Well hopefully i have given you some cool places to go, even if you don't put this in your blog i hope you get to experience these places. Portland is my weird and crazy home. I love living here and no matter where i may travel in my life time i know that i wil always end up in this city."

Chrissy M.
19 yrs. old
Born and raised in Portland Or.

Part Two: Fifty Percent

This young woman's charm, excitement, and perspective comes through in the descriptions she gives of the places she loves.  Noting that she feels "sketching" about meeting people on-line, I believe, is important to this particular project, because, while I feel very strongly that she is making the right decision in keeping herself safe, I also feel like I have missed out on something by not having had the opportunity to share any of this with her.  

The trend towards multi-tasking human interactions and quickly deciding whether or not someone is relatable based on their religion, skin color, political views, or eating habits only serves to make our world a smaller, colder, and more frightening place to be, and it is all based on a decision.  At various times, people have told me that I am crazy for doing these projects.  They warn me to be careful.  "There are a lot of crazy people out there."  Well, yeah, this is true.  The reality, though, is that it is just as crazy to live by your fears, letting them control you in such a way until your life is so small that you can no longer relate to anyone except for those who are just like you.  You take comfort only in people, places, and things which validate your world view.  This is where the true danger lies, and this is where death occurs, long before your neglected heart stops beating, long before your weak lungs suck in their final breath.  Having chosen this life, you look around, wondering why you feel so lonely.  So lonely in the world you have shut everyone out of.

We are dying from lack of interaction, lack of humanness, lack of empathy.  This is why people like Carl and Martin impress me.  They are putting themselves into the world.  This seems heroic to me because at this time in our history, this behavior is exceptional.  More and more of us have come to rely on Second Life and World of Warcraft for entertainment.  The irony is that we are becoming as two dimensional as the virtual characters we create, putting more and more energy into their dimensionality, and we are allowing real life, true life, to pass us by, all the while lamenting that we are not satisfied, not happy with our lives.  If there is one thing I have learned from all the amazing people I have met (and not met), it is that life is ready for you whenever you are.  You just have to decide to put yourself into it.


  1. I have to say this is one of my favorite posts of yours because we all have this. What I mean by that is that if you've ever lived in a city long enough to really strike up a relationship with it you have this, those places that are tied to moments where you have laughed, cried, done something you never thought you'd do, been somewhere when someone opened your mind to a new idea, railed at God, etc. The places we live carry us, and yeah sure sometimes they also drop us. That's what you realize as you get older, that the places we live are not just backdrops for our experiences but a character in them. It's why certain places haunt us, why we have to leave them, why we take care of them. They shape us sometimes as much as any human connection can. I actually think what Chrissy has given you here is a very personal snapshot, a glint of how this city has shaped her. And to me that’s a pretty big gift because reading her snapshots make me think, make me compare my own experiences, and somehow make me feel a little slice of shared understanding that even miles apart now in a different time a city did the same for me. Sure it'd be great if we could all go meet everyone we'd like to, hitchhike around still and trust the people in our society. I've lived somewhere like that and it is calming and exciting and validating. Unfortunately, I think the problem isn’t the individuals necessarily but the overall feeling we have created in our society today that stops people from doing some of these things. It’s gotten away from us. We have created this society in which technology reigns supreme, people rarely talk to strangers and perhaps most problematic, people care too much about what other people think. However, in this case I don't think what Chrissy is giving you here is any less valid then what those people have given you that have "put themselves into the world." Just because someone is being careful doesn't mean that they are letting life pass them by. I think the bigger question, and the more troubling one, is how do we fix this? Can we fix this? Many people are complacent, many people have stopped stretching, but there are also people every day that get up and try to make things a little better for someone just by doing what they do. Maybe that’s the only way we can really fix how vapid our country has become, finding some way for people to come together to accomplish common goals. The sad part is that we think what Carl and Martin do is exceptional. Especially because in other countries, in other places, in fact I think in pockets in our own country, people don’t think about doing that, it’s the same as breathing for them.

  2. I totally agree with you. I have not been all over the world, nor have I been to many places where community is such a priority. It is my hope that some awareness about the importance of community is resurrected as a backlash to our growing dependence on technology. The back swing, so to speak.

  3. I love this project, really glad I stumbled across it on CL. Especially given that I'm moving to Portland next week... I can't think of a better way to learn my way around a new city.

    Love your comments Meg, and I definitely agree. A lot of people are content to drift through life, but I think ultimately the best solution is to just stand up and go against the grain. A little Ghandi style 'become the change you want to see'.

    I'll definitely miss Seattle, but I can't wait to build out a new community and see what Portland has in store.

    On that note, I've got a place I'd like to check out that I don't see on here. I've never been, but there might be a story in it. Any interest?