Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weather Beaten: A Cycle of Abuse

One of the things I have come to find endearing about my fellow dwellers of the Pacific Northwest is that we are absolutely never prepared for the weather.

In Las Vegas, it is always really hot.

In Chicago in the winter, it is unfailingly cold and windy.

Most of the southeastern United States is humid in the summertime.

But the weather changes so often, and often so drastically, here in the Portland area, that we never really get used to any type of weather for too long. The summers can be wet, dry, cold, or hot. The winters can be wet, dry, cold, or warmish. I don't know where the saying originated, but a classic elevator social-filler is, "Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes! Ha ha ha!"

So basically, we are always constantly taken by surprise by the weather, which I'm starting to think is really funny.

Maybe sort of the way a goldfish forgets everything it knows every three seconds. Or the way a jack-in-the-box never fails to be terrifying, but you anticipate it anyway?

Or maybe it's just a willful naivete, and that's why I think it's cute.
When it gets below 32 degrees, all we talk about is "how cold it is out there!"

"How are ya today?" "Oh, just tryin' to stay warm!"

This summer, we had a ridiculous heat wave. The problem is, it's never any extremity for very long, so it doesn't pay to buy a window unit air conditioner (or the heated blanket, the window scraper, the good pair of gloves, a decent pair of sunglasses, etc). So one night after lounging at Jayhawk's pool until about 11 PM, when the temperature finally melted below 90 degrees, I came home to my apartment to find that the Little Roomie had reclaimed the fan I'd borrowed from her. She assumed I was out for the night, and had both fans: I had zero.

This revealed me as one of The Unprepared, and it also made sleep impossible: I dragged a comforter onto our cement porch and slept outside on top of it.

It kind of keeps the mundane (the weather) exciting, I guess.

Here's to you, Portland. May you never carry an umbrella, own waterproof boots, learn to lift your windshield wipers away from the glass, or remember to buy tire chains until we're in the throes of a blizzard.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I don't know where my head has been. I haven't been writing much. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I find that other people have already said It. And, oftentimes, said It better.

I recommend two books for the rainy season of knotted quilts, hot tea, slate gray evenings, and sitting on heaters. For the season where saying It is often less effective than either experiencing or doing It. Whatever That may be.

Both are by Marilynne Robinson:

"It is one of the best traits of good people that they love where they pity. And this is truer of women than of men. So they get themselves drawn into situations that are harmful to them. I have seen this happen many, many times. I have always had trouble finding a way to caution against it, since it is, in a word, Christlike." (p 187)

"Memory is the sense of loss, and loss pulls us after it. ...There is so little to remember of anyone - an anecdote, a conversation at a table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that the memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long."

"But if she lost me, I would become extraordinary by my vanishing."