juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
This is just a quick entry to say that Alfie died a few hours ago. The pigs have been back in Corvallis while I've been staying here, so I wasn't there with him, but Devon and Devon's family—his father in particular—were, so he wasn't alone. Whatever killed him was pretty quick onset—he was fine earlier today, but in the afternoon/evening started showing some signs of lethargy, disinterest in food, and a drop in body temperature. They got in touch with me to figure out what should be done, and at midnight Devon was planning to take Alfie in to the vet when they opened tomorrow; a few minutes later I got a call saying that he had died. This could be possible heart failure; he had no other URI symptoms, but really, it could have been anything. These things can happen so fast.

Devon is coming up tomorrow with Kuzco, who is thus far 100% fine, chipper and stuffing his face full of carrot and otherwise healthy. (Prior to this they were eating the same food and sharing a divided enclosure.) He'll live in the travel/quarantine cage with me for a bit while we figure out where I'll be and he'll be, &c. Right now I just really need to see my pig. Devon will probably also bring Alfie's body, because I think that seeing it may be the only thing which makes this real for me. I imagine he'll be buried in Corvallis with Dink, though.

This isn't to say that I haven't been a sobbing shaking mess. I have. I also have Dee here with me (staying up until 2a to watch a comfort movie, and otherwise being so beautiful and sympathetic and full of hugs) and I'll see Devon tomorrow. I've just exhausted myself for the evening, that's all. My plan now is to sleep for as long as humanly possible and fill the rest of the time with movies, and to throughly take advantage of whatever degree of disassociation this is. As I've said before I have a poor concept of death, but I think I understand this one better in lieu of Dink's not-too-distant passing. It's all unreal and heartbreaking and, unless I indicate otherwise, I don't really want to talk about it online right now. (Condolences are welcome; questions less so.) But I feel like it needs to be recorded and so, here: it is.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I have been having one hell of a roller coaster ride over here man let me tell you.

Devon was up on Saturday, but didn't stay until Sunday because he's fighting some sort of cold/allergy/sinus infection thing of ick. It was fantastic to see him and I spent half the day in tears. So I said that Portland and I have unfinished business. Devon-long-distance and I have unfinished business and Whitman and I have unfinished business too, and this last week has been a particularly strong reminder of all of that. Normally I have a poor memory, which I may call a pain in the ass but actually rely on to protect me because as it turns out, the last (oh say) ten years of my life? really not worth remembering. This last week has been nothing at all like those years, but there's been so much emotional turmoil that sometimes it's hard to tell, and...

It's just that I remember it all.

Examples wouldn't help you or me—because they aren't your memories, and because fuck no I do not want to dwell on them. But all of it, everything about my time here in Portland, everything about seeing Devon this weekend, reminds me of something else, some random thing that I've done a perfectly good job of forgetting these last few years. Not every memory is awful, but each one is tied a past that is, and so all of it, even the nostalgia, it fucking hurts and scares me.

But after Devon left, Dee hung out with me in the living room for a few hours and we just talked. I talked, I rambled, I touched on some of why this is so difficult and scary, and it was distracting and cathartic and wonderful bonding time. I didn't have to ask for it, I don't know if I expected it, but—ah, this is what friends do, isn't it? They're there for each other. That's still a revelation for me, a surprise—that I have friends; that this is what that means. On Sunday we went walking, in the glorious and gentle overcast weather, we went to Starbucks and poked at awesome stores and had that sort of perfect day where you do exactly what you want, purely because you want to, and come away feeling satisfied, which is no small thing. At night we watched The Dark Crystal and it was fucking fantastic. These things surprise me, too. Happiness always does.

And then today I thought I'd ride on that high—the high of discovering that Devon can leave without the world crashing down upon my shoulders, the high of having loved ones and being happy—by writing a book review and making dinner and attempting my version of productivity, and instead I was singularly nonfunctional and after a mini-breakdown I just decided to lock myself in my room and pretend I didn't exist anymore, at least for a few hours, and ain't that just the hallmark of mental fucking health. It's hard for me to talk about these things with her—to talk about the wild ride of the brain crazies, because I find it difficult to work these things out in words; to explain the effect they have on me and why I don't want to leave my room, because I fucking hate to admit the truth about myself because I just don't like that truth very much, you know? And so I repay her love by being the bad non-communicative friend ... but on the flipside I come out feeling a little better, a bit more prepared to try again.


I feel it all I feel it all
I feel it all I feel it all
The wings are wide the wings are wide
Wild card inside wild card inside

Oh I'll be the one who'll break my heart
I'll be the one to hold the gun


I've sort of flayed myself alive here: I've opened myself up to the thin air and it hurts like a motherfuck, believe you me. And when I see in there, I don't like it all. It's almost enough to make me wish I didn't know it was there. But I did this to myself and so I can't regret it—and not just because I don't want to look like an ungrateful coward, unhappy even when she gets what she wants; but because I did it because I wanted to. I want this opportunity and this pain. I want to work things out and embrace these new experiences and give myself the chance to become myself. (I want the dog days to be over, if you will.) That doesn't make it any easier, though.

I love you more
I love you more
I don't know what I knew before
But now I know I wanna win the war


So it's been an intense couple of days is all I'm saying. And beautiful. And awful. And intense.

And I think I caught Dev's cold thing.

P.S. Sometimes in the process of writing all these things out I manage to resolve them, at least a bit, at least temporarily, in my head. Almost all the time I manage to tire myself out. That can make my replies to comments absent and/or slow. But those comments are still so welcome and productive and beloved, and I don't want anyone to think otherwise, even if I can't always express it.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I've been having a rough couple of days. Here are three reasons why:

1. Congrats, everyone that thought it was weird that I'd be willing to spend significant time away from my significant other: yes, that's hard. Of course it's fucking hard. I've done plenty of multiple day trips; that's easy. A few days more, though, and I do find myself—not homesick, really, not lonely either. I just miss him. That's obvious and predictable but for me it is remarkable, because missing people is one of the big things my brain does not do. As a result it's something I don't know how to cope with, either. I miss him.

2. Portland and I have unfinished business. I have deep love for this city, but.... A lot of bad shit went down here, right? Some of it because being apart from Devon is fucking hard. Most of it because I was sick. I was just really fucking sick back then. Some of it is tied up in the exact same things that make me love this city—all the opportunities I didn't, couldn't, take advantage of before, and how much of a failure I felt as a result. But sometimes it's just simple familiarity, it's poking around [livejournal.com profile] damnportlanders and seeing the same icons of the same members who were active those years ago and then remembering what it was like last time, for the better maybe but also for the worse, so much worse. I still won't use, can't use, alarms because they bring me back to when I was in Portland, in school, still trying and failing to get to class; I may be a lot better now but I haven't quite healed from how it was then and the reminders of it fucking terrify me.

3. I have rough days. All of these things are interconnected—Devon would probably be able to talk me through some of these bad memories, and so it stings even more that he's not here; I have those bad memories because at my heart I just am, always have been, the sort to have bad days, whether that means some moodiness or a full-on major depressive cycle. But there's something to be said for the simple fact that that is who I am: I can be in the best place, I can get what I want, and I can still feel like shit on a biscuit. I just hate being reminded of it, you know? I hate the fact that nothing will ever make that go away, all of it go forever away. Being depressed is depressing in its own right.

And all that I am full of these thoughts, I'm really not that bad. I'm just blah and feel ugly and don't want to wash my hair and do want to lie in bed and watch TV all day and probably not say a whole lot. In large part I just need some recharge time and adjustment time, because antisocial Juu does not understand this "spend time in someone's company" thing. Then I may need some distraction, so I should eat goddamn chocolate cake if I want chocolate cake (and there is chocolate cake! I just don't want to be the person who eats ALL THE CAKE om nom) and I should figure out how I'm going to manage Starbucks trips without being chaffered everywhere and I'm absolutely looking forward to Valente's reading on Friday because I imagine that will do wonders for my mood. I also need to accept that there is nothing wrong with just having a few bad days—the people that care for me don't begrudge them half as much as I do; if I didn't try so hard to deny them then maybe they wouldn't last so long. I need to accept that they will happen, and are especially like to happen after a few good and high-energy days, because that's how I work even if I hate that that's how I work. I need to stop feeling so fucking guilty about it—like I'm betraying my promises and everyone's expectations of Portland! city of magic and light! It's a wonderful city but it is no miracle cure. I need to be honest, here: this shit happens; this is who I am.

For now: cake and cooking shows, maybe.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I am writing this from Portland. I am in Portland! I have a bed (my old queen, which has finally found a home—and obviously a good one, since we managed to get it here with minimal difficulty and it doesn't even take up my whole room). Tonight Dee and I put together a couch—a whole couch! for we are magical. Spike the cat has decided that this new house maybe isn't so scary, and this new person is after all a bit familiar. We walked to the grocery store and the weather and neighborhood both were lovely. There was stir fry. (This is out of order.) There are stuffed cats on my windowsill. To my great joy, there is a remarkable lack of teenagers—on my windowsill and indeed in the entire house.

My bed has an orange sheet, blue and gray and green pillows, and a turquoise comforter all against chocolate and cream walls and a gray carpet. It is approximately horrendous. The room with the couch is also the room with ALL THE CARDBOARD. (All of it.) This is clearly all a work in progress.

But ah, it is good work.

I expect I'll be here for at least a week and probably more, having a mini-vacation from that house while I help out with this one. I brought just about everything (except my wallet and laptop battery and card reader, and poo on the last—but there will be pictures after I see Devon again). I expect I will be more coherent tomorrow, after some rest, now that I've gotten out the squee.

But: hey, guys? Portland.

And that's awesome.

(Do I tag this living or visiting, I do not know!)
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Hello, internet. Did you know that there are some places without internet? I spent last weekend in Portland with Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes) and we stayed at a downtown Marriott that wanted to charge $13 a day for internet connections in the rooms, to which we said: fuck you, and also no. There was wifi in the lobby, and this is hardly the end of the world (I tend to travel internet-free anyhow); what's horrible is the principle of the thing, the every-last-cent principle. My Starbucks have free wifi. Hell, Shari's has free wifi. They wanted $13.

So we used the downstairs internet connection and then snubbed their in-house restaurants, too. On principle.

This is not the important thing about the trip. The trip was a last-minute decision: Dee had a pair of Decemberists's tickets and then her mum decided not to go to the show so I had the chance to attend instead, and so we were in town from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Friday was rain, endtimes rain and heavy traffic; we hurried under cover and an umbrella to Restaurant Murata for incredible miso—and some other Japanese food, too.

Saturday we spent exploring downtown Portland, walking in half-intentional circles from the central public library branch to explore the places where I used to hang out, to the Waterfront Park for some people watching, and then back again to make sure we could find the concert hall and get some well-earned food at Pastini. The weather was surprisingly, delightfully, fantastic. Fantastic for winter edging up on spring, I mean: cool and clear, weather for layers and sunny walks and warm food. That evening was the show. Mountain Man opened, and they were new to both of us and wonderful—their sparsely-instrumented, folky, offbeat female voices perfect fit the music profile I've been listening to lately. The Decemberists were almost entirely new to me, but that didn't make the live show any less enjoyable. A diverse group showed up to see them, but we all ended up on our feet and chanting along; they seemed to love playing for a hometown crowd, and the energy was contagious. I'm still going to have to give them a listen on a recorded, non-deafening level, and I don't know if the lead's voice will always work for me, but I had a fantastic time.

Sunday we went to visit the neighborhood where Dee is looking to move. The weather was cooler, more overcast, a few sprinkles, perfect for a quiet day. We drove by her prospective house, and then to the neighborhood's main strip for all of the essentials: Starbucks, a bookstore, and an organic and veg*n grocery/café. It's a quiet, diverse, growing neighborhood—you can tell it was a bit rundown before but it's going places now, it has an welcoming and offbeat* atmosphere, and I can certainly imagine being at home there. (Just ask Dee about the way I was searching for outlets at Starbucks and eying the prime window seat at the restaurant.) Then we drove down to Corvallis, listening to the Decemberists and Florence + the Machine (of course!) along the way, and then she made the drive back home.

I was telling Express—who is making tentative plans for a Portland visit—about this future potential home, that Dee will have, that I can share. About how strange it is to think that such a place exists, could exist, will exist—the house hovers in the subjunctive right now, the neighborhood is an eventual certainty, the specifics are unnecessary: it is a form of home. About how strange it is to know a place is open to me, to know that it may be a central hub for this growing, scattered, social spiderweb that stretches over the Northwest and further still. About how strange it is that that exists: a social circle, a social web, so fragile yet so strong; about how strange it is to have friends at all.

It is advice I give to other people, people like me, people who also think that they don't deserve these things and that the people who give them their love are mistaken and should be corrected: We are all able of making our own decisions. We own our love. We owe it to each other to respect what we give—even if we're the recipients, even when we can't understand why.

I tell that to others because it's true.

Now I'm starting to live that myself. I don't think that I deserve winter-sun days in downtown Portland, surrounded by beautiful variety and places I fondly remember; I don't think that I deserve subjunctive houses or good friends. But I am thankful, so thankful, for it all—and I won't question why I have it, or try to push it away.

So that was what I did with my weekend.

* One day I will find a better word than offbeat—something that more precisely means "unusual in the good, quirky, maybe a bit raw at the edges, my-people sort of way." For now, I'll keep reusing what I've got.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I spent last weekend in Portland (Oregon) with Dee ([livejournal.com profile] century_eyes), and have about a dozen entries I could make on the subject. But while catching up with Devon on the first evening, I mentioned where we'd gone to eat and he replied with, "You review everything." He meant it in a good way. ^_^ And so we begin with: Portland restaurant reviews, from this non-foody, vegetarian, picky eater who nonetheless found a lot of good food over the weekend. For the most part I can only speak to my own biased, limited experience, but nonetheless...

Doug Fir Lounge
We stayed at the Jupiter Inn, so it only made sense to visit their restaurant. I had the Farmer Sandwich with a side of tomato soup for lunch, and while the sandwich was damn hard to eat with anything approaching grace—chunky vegetables and extra cheese make for disobedient filling—the flavor of everything was wonderful: green veg, sweet red pepper, savory cheese, and a touch of bite from the onion in the sandwich with a rich, savory, flavorful soup. We both had the Mac-n-Cheese for a late dinner the next day, which was enjoyable but not quite as good: the breadcrumb topping adds wonderful texture, and the dish is warm and comfort-foody, but the pasta was a touch overcooked and the sauce could have used more garlic to make it pop (keep in mind, I eat a lot more garlic than most folk). All in all, a convenient, quirky place (the atmosphere is wonderful) with a nice menu. We were both impressed.

The Farm Café
Just down the street was this busy little restaurant, but the wait for a table was worth it. Most of the menu is preprepared, so turnaround is speedy—but they sacrifice no quality. I had the Goat Cheese Ravioli and while the cherry tomatoes and hazelnuts on top made for too much textural froo-froo, the flavor—especially of the tomato cream sauce—was divine, and the goat cheese gave it personality and kick. For dessert we split the Sunken Chocolate Soufflé with Coffee Ice Cream, which is made to order. A rich, hot bitter chocolate soufflé with a crispy top and moist heart, topped with sweet, cold, creamy ice cream—the combination of textures and flavors was delicious and decadent, and there are few things in this world better than a great chocolate dessert. We both loved this place and want to return—I think it's my pick for best of the weekend. The menu is extensively vegetarian friendly, and the outdoor seating has an atmosphere which is simultaneously classy, airy, and relaxed.

Grendel's Coffee House (get your website together, guys!)
Across the street from the hotel, and another lovely find. We went here for two light breakfasts, and they offer drinks, pastries, and sandwiches, a variety which makes this a flexible option. The food is simple, slightly above average in quality, with and special attention paid to little details like veg*n alternatives and tea variety. The atmosphere is what sells the place: low-key and off-beat, with friendly staff and interesting patrons, it's a good place for a nice long chat over coffee. This is the sort of local coffee shop that I wish I had in my hometown.

Old Wives' Tales
We came here for a light lunch, and I wish we'd been able to come back for more. Extensively vegetarian- and dietary restrictions-friendly, I love the ethos of this restaurant as well as its relaxed atmosphere. I had the Greek Melt half sandwich with a tossed salad—the salad was good but unremarkable, but the sandwich was lovely: again hard to eat, because it's served open-face and the ingredients are chunky, but the classic combination of Greek flavors in the feta, artichoke hearts, olives, and herbs was just delightful and everything was cooked to perfection. I only wish I'd had the chance to try their Pumpkin Pudding, because it sounds divine.

Café Umbria
Picked as a random choice within walking distance of Powell's, this was a nice little café. Selection is limited, which made for only one vegetarian sandwich—but it's hard to go wrong with a mozzarella/tomato/basil panini and this one was far above average: it was perfectly cooked, the bread texture was wonderful, the ingredients were fresh, and best of all a touch of balsamic vinegar brushed on the bread gave it a punch of flavor that I don't usually see in this type of sandwich and really enjoyed. The staff seemed a little harried—perhaps it was a busy day—which dampened the atmosphere, but the food itself was quite satisfying.

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juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
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