Sunday, October 12, 2008

About me and my non-existent Chevy coupe...

...or any other of my non-existent objects, a class of items which is both infinite and empty. Try cataloguing the non-existent things you own. Or is it the things you own which are non-existent?

Just wanted to catch da peoples up to speed with my life at present. I left Taiwan on September 30 and got into Portland the same day two hours later than I left. I spent the day with my brother, meeting his friends and then helping him pack up for his latest move to the land of Elsewhere. Then a couple days later I got picked up by my friend from Salem, OR. In the meantime I spent my time taking photographs of the wonderful weather and flora, as well as, at last, visiting Powells Books (supposedly the biggest bookstore in the USA, especially when you count Powells as one bookstore distributed over its six content-specific branches in downtown Portland). It was impressive, by all means, but it struck me as too polished for a used bookstore; I guess I was hoping for something more like the catacombs of books in Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind.

Since then, I have spent my time (time which the Chinese and Taiwanese call "American time") driving (or rather, being driven) between Monmouth, Salem, and Portland. My first weekend in the care of my friend, I attended his brother's birthday, ate some pizza, rode some go karts, and then on Sunday, paced with him for nine miles during his first (and last?) marathon. I ended up walking and running, with a backpack on, about 20 miles. Needless to say, my knees were feeling it for days.

Yesterday we went to Multnomah Falls, took some shots up the fall's skirt, as it were, then hiked up to the fall and took some shots down its shirt, as it were. Truly breathtaking (and dizzying) heights from the top. I will get around to posting my photos from the past two weeks on Flickr and then directing your attention there. Last night, pretty much on a lark, my buddy took me to meet up with a couple of his friends who had, on a lark, attended a fashion show in downtown Portland, and then had some after-party tickets to throw around. I kicked off the little dance session among a lake of stiffs in fine clothes.

Today we (including my buddy's girlfriend... and uncluding anyone else?) drove out to the beach, a vastly different experience from my many forays in the beaches of Florida. Nevertheless, I kept true to one of my compulsions and ran into the (starkly cold!) water of one of the world's great oceans. We then drove on to a dune area where people trek up to the top for photography, sunning, painting, and general frolicking. Thereafter we went to the Tillamook cheese plant and museum. I bought "squeaky cheese", which is just cheese curds, as well as some 2-year-aged extra sharp white cheddar. Yumz! On the way back I dozed off, we stopped at Ron's burger joint for some good chowda, an then got back to my buddy's place where we just finished The Royal Tenenbaums.

For the most part I have just been taking in my own foreign American culture. I truly have felt the reverse culture shock: so many choices, so much driving, such outgoing "friendly" behavior, such, ahem, ample bodies, etc. Can you guess what I've been doing a lot of as well? HINT: It rhymes with bleeding. On top of that, however, I would be needlessly coy not to admit I have been doing my share of "gaming", mainly "Portal", "Guitar Hero", and "Rock Band" on the game Cube and X Box 360. It's nice having no cellphone to make be constantly available, like some kind of social MD on call. And while I can certainly get online, I find myself, as you may have sensed, less prompt to do so.

Oh, and today I looked it up ("Googlit!"): the phrase "This too shall pass" is of Hebrew origin (gam zeh yaavor), derived from a folk tale wherein King Solomon asked his wise men for a cure to depression, whereupon they told him to wear a silver ring at all times in which it was carved "Gam zeh yaavor." Abraham Lincoln popularized the phrase in a speech he made in Idaho (?: my memory fails me at the moment on where he made the speech).

That's all for now.I appreciate your prayers! This is a season of discernment and rest. God grant me light and eyes to follow in it.


thomas said...

I took a business trip out to the West Coast a few years ago, and made a point of arranging my itinerary so I would have an extra day in Portland expressly to visit Powell's.

I should've taken a day to see San Francisco instead.

the Cogitator said...

Well, thomas, I'm glad to know it wasn't just me that missed the Powell's experience… even as I had it.

mightygreekwritingmachine said...

The Gotham Book Mart in NY City is the best. Dad

the Cogitator said...

Alas, M.G.W.M., the Gotham Book Mart, which I learned of only by reading your comment, has been doused. Terribly sad. Like losing a best friend I never knew.