Is it just me, or does this grid seem to be artificially assembled? However perfect it looks, it’s essentially RANDOM! These images are in the original order that they appeared in Audreality:
If someone out there in internet world could help me capture this grid in a single image, I’d be greatly appreciative! Meanwhile, you’ll have to check it out via the link above.
I didn’t build the grid – it’s simply every picture I’ve ever uploaded onto twitter, chronologically organized, at once.
It’s been another tasty month in Audreality, featuring a visit by Becky Jean, the celebration of “Juice Day” (in honor of a former Grant HS student, killed by gang violence), the Shamrock Run (where a few pals and I ran the 15k as bandits), and the ever-festive Shamrock Run after party. There were also a few choice moments from the Beer Relay and spring’s opening game of kickball.
Beer Relay rules are simple: You have to drink 5 oz of beer, then run a lap around the track in 2 minutes or less. Repeat the process until either you throw up, or you can no longer run a lap in less than 2 minutes.
Only went to watch, but of COURSE they cajoled me into participating. Ran about 5 or 6 laps and quit. It might sound easy, but it’s agony! My friend Graham – who won – ended up running over 30 laps. That’s a lot of beer in the belly. Insanity!
When the pyramids aligned with the planets last week, for the first time in nearly 3,000 years, nothing seemed unusual. Except the internet was down at our house, which meant – for all practical purposes – the world stopped turning. Frozen in hyper-space, those of us who survived the household internet blackout, were obliged to forget about status updates, LOLcats and perusing the news. We were unplugged, forced to think outside the… 2-D screen. Then something else happened for the first time in as long as I can remember.
Dad and I went out for breakfast.
We chose Cricket Cafe, halfway between home and the other destinations on his nothing-else-to-do list.
“Sit wherever you like,” said the server, in a typical Portland-esque fashion: indifferent (if not, slightly irritated) with glasses, plaid shirt and a beard.
Several small tables were open. But the nearest spot was a big booth by the door, basically where we were standing. Dad wanted it; we plopped right in.
With furrowed brow, the server asked, “Are you expecting more people?”
I shook my head, no… while Dad explained, “We’re bi-polar, so it’s like there are four of us.”
The server, not amused, went away and came back a few minutes later, wondering if we wanted something to drink. Dad was immersed in the menu, other things on his mind, entirely.
“Do you have poached eggs, with corned beef hash?” He asked.
They awkwardly discussed a menu item that sounded like a match. Dad returned to intently reading the menu, while the server hovered, in silence.
“He wants to know if you want something to drink, Dad.”
Eventually looking up at the server, Dad said, “No, I’m going have something to eat.”
The server was exasperated. (Dad gets a kick out of playing the Old Person Card. Very convincing.)
Laughing on the inside, I told him, “I’ll have coffee, please. Dad’s fine with water.”
Steaming out his ears, the server left us.
“That could have gone better,” I said, glad it was over.
“What?” Says Dad, oblivious.
“He was having a hard time figuring out what you wanted to drink.”
The poor guy never came back. Instead, it was a blonde woman who returned and took our order (which went smoothly). For me, the veggie scramble, for Dad, a benedict.
Suddenly the door opened, with a whoosh of cold air over us. Dad wasn’t having it. He eyed a small open table across the room… I resisted a little, but when the door opened again with a fresh burst of cold air – there was no debating it. We made the move.
Great, we are the customers from Hell.
“This reminds me of Grandma Rose,” said Dad as we settled into our new table. He was reminiscing about my namesake, famous for being a difficult customer. She died before I was born, but I’ve heard the stories… Every time I find myself being picky at a restaurant, I know I’m channeling my Great Grandma Rose.
“She would never buy something without returning it,” Dad explained, “Never.”
Grandma Rose kept the tags on everything, because there was always something wrong with it. She once bought an air conditioner, had it installed, then thought it would be better in a different window… so she had the appliance man come back to move it, only to realize a few days later that the previous spot was, indeed, more suitable. He came out again and moved the air conditioner to it’s original location. A few days later, she had it sent back for a refund.
Fast forward one week, when lo-and-behold, Dad and I wound up getting breakfast AGAIN. (And the internet wasn’t even down this time!) We took a risk, and got lucky, hitting Pine State during a rare moment with no line.
We stood at the register, where Dad thought about what he wanted to eat. Immediately, a long string of hungry patrons formed in our wake.
Did my best to help expedite the process. Our next challenge would be finding a table.
Despite blowback, the hype over Pine State is well-earned. There are those who don’t like it, but they seem to be the sort of people who LIKE to dislike popular things. (To which I say, “Don’t hate for being great!”) The fact that we didn’t have to wait to order, in a line going out the door, was lucky… But that we scored a table? It was a miracle.
Not the best table though. Dad found it too small. After about 10 minutes, a family vacated a 4-top next to us and… you already know what happened next.
We moved over.
Noonish: Becky Jean & I are celebrating the one-year anniversary of our friendship this week, wishing we didn’t live on opposite coasts. Promise I’ll be back to New York City.
Hit the market for our usual – the salad bar. (Not just any salad bar, it’s the Ultimate Salad Bar.) An elderly lady thinks my Whopper Stopper sweatshirt is cool.
Beaming a smile, she says, “Goooo Whopper Stopper!”
We are giddy and giggling, recapping events of the previous night. There were so many cute boys, I couldn’t keep them straight! No clue what the guy’s name was at the end, who tried his hardest to steal me away.
“They just don’t want to take no for an answer,” I say, feigning dismay.
Becky Jean says she thinks one of the guys in her group has a crush on me. ”He was looking at your butt in those blue pants… and he said you were sexy. He never does that. He’s not easily impressed.”
Pretty sure I know why, “It’s totally the magic pants.”
Stop for hazelnut coffee, to go. Then back to the apartment, rest & regrouping.
4:15pm: Walk to Williamsburg, crossing the bridge at sunset. Get a stranger to take our picture in front of a mural that says, “FANTASTIC NOBODIES”.
“We’re gonna change the world,” muses my girlfriend.
My reply, “One smile at a time.”
5:30pm: Stalling. The friend we planned to hang out with in Williamsburg, is running late. We find ourselves in front of a charming French cafe. Dip inside for some sangria. Lady date!
6:15pm: Meet Becky Jean’s friend, Brandon, and a couple he knows, over a mound of nachos. Brandon is an actor and his buddy, Chase, is a director. They’ve recently worked together and have plenty of catching up to do. Gather useful tid-bits about the business: Getting chosen is less about what you do on camera, than whether or not the people running the project want to hang out with you on set all day. Also, having a complete film that you’ve written, directed and starred in, is kind of a big deal.
Brandon reminds us, “Some people are out here, still trying to build a reel, or make it with a headshot and resume.”
Since Chase and his girlfriend have just moved to NYC from Florida, we ponder the 2012 election debacle, which means diving headfirst into the separation of church and state. Chase expresses relief to be able to discuss such taboo topics in public.
Let him in on a secret: “Depending on how far ahead of the curve you are, you’ve got to get used to being surrounded by idiots.”
Chase nods. He almost seems a little saddened by the notion.
To soften it’s impact, I go on, ”Everyone’s a product of their environment, so they can’t really help it. But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. The key is to ask the right questions, let people build their own connections.” Chase agrees.
8pm: Don’t want to leave. We’re torn, because we’ve accepted a fancy dinner invite, but we’re nowhere close to being ready. Besides, we’re having fun here!
“A girls gotta eat,” says Becky Jean, pouting a little, “but I’m not hungry yet.”
9:30pm: Fast shower and wardrobe change. Feast at opening night of the Arlington Steakhouse. Drink whatever we want, as long as it’s made with Grey Goose, Bombay, Patron, or one of the whiskeys (didn’t hear which). Food arrives family style: fluffy cheese rolls – crispy outside, perfectly doughy in the middle. Then sushi, scallops, lobster salad, pastas, a couple potato dishes, a variety of fish, and two 42oz porterhouse steaks, medium rare. Drool.
The man across from me has big a diamond in each ear. He’s clean-cut, young, built, and good-looking. Sounds like he’s from Jersey. I almost choke when I hear he’s NYPD. Talk about New York’s finest!
11:45pm: Short on time, we are forced to make an abrupt exit. Thank our hosts and hail a cab. Meet the gang from the apartment at SL. Our table gets a bottle of champagne that’s four feet tall.
2am: Wow. I’m not sure what you’d call it when a person, out of the blue, grabs you in such a way. Flirting? Sexual assault? Maybe it’s his way of saying hello. Grrr.
“That’s the guy who has a crush on you from yesterday,” says Becky Jean.
“No kidding. He just came up and grabbed my crotch.”
Laugh it off. What a perfect cue to make an exit. The handsome man who I gave my card to last night is at a club around the corner, called Rendezvous. He’s expecting me.
2:45am: Dodge a few more crotch-grabbing attempts. Becky Jean’s phone is dead, so I find her roommate, Sara, in the bathroom to trade numbers. She’s adorable.
“Give me a kiss goodbye,” she says. Kiss. I’m gone.
3am: Walk to RDV. Doorman asks another guy if they should let me in. A quick nod says yes. Someone tells me the person who I came to see, just left. Apparently, wasted. Check my phone, look up, and suddenly he’s in front of me. Handsome as I remember, but angry. It takes a while to figure out what the problem is.
Earlier, Becky Jean suggested that I find out if he’s a promoter. Promoter, a dirty word. We never talk to promoters. She wanted me to be sure that he was inviting me out for the right reasons. Tried explaining that she means well, but he was deeply offended. On top of that, it’s late – he’s been waiting. And worst, I’m going home tomorrow.
So he is angry, but he doesn’t want me to leave. With reluctance, I consider going back to Becky Jean and the gang. Weigh my options: Return to the crew (and deal with Mr. Grabby) or stick it out with this handsome/drunk man?
Intriguing. His beautiful blue eyes and dark lashes with furrowed brow, emote a fury that I haven’t done enough to deserve. I want to know what’s wrong.
5am: Going to his apartment, in Harlem. Cab drops us off by a sandwich shop. Must be friends with the shopkeepers, because he’s completely belligerent and they aren’t kicking him out. After calling the owner and clerk both fucking assholes, everyone has a chuckle and he tells them he’ll be back to pay for it tomorrow.
6am: Falling asleep on the couch, his emotions dissolve into sadness. Eyeballs jiggling, he’s still smashed. Learn about his recent heartbreak. He doesn’t trust women anymore, but he doesn’t want to be alone.
8am: Departure day. A town car to takes me back to Becky Jean’s place. Sleep till 11.
Noon: Brunch at the market.
1pm: Part ways with Becky Jean. Lots of love.
Arrive two hours early for my flight. Bump into Kris again, the same hot/Nike guy who I ran into (in Portland) on the way here. Get drinks.
6:30pm: Board. Make friends with my First Class neighbor, Lee. Discover he is also my neighbor-neighbor; he’s staying with his parents, a few blocks down the street from me!
9:21pm: Land in PDX on time, ground steering breaks down, sit on the runway 15 min until we get a tow in to gate.
Midnight: At last! Cozy in my own bed, 10 solid hours of sleep… Glorious.
9:19am: I’m in bed. Our room at the Hudson is a tiny cave, with walls of dark wood and one window. Raised the blinds a few minutes ago – flooded with sunshine. It’s going to be a beautiful day in New York City.
11am: Today we are tourists. We go for a ride on the subway, exploring. Have lunch: lentil soup, chicken caesar salad & wine. Ride the Staten Island Ferry, see the Statue of Liberty. We stroll through Central Park, visit Times Square, and see the holiday tree going up at Rockefeller Center.
7pm: We have some of the best pizza ever, at Angelo’s (same building as Letterman studios), where every song reminds me of high school. It somehow makes things a little awkward with my Miss Travel friend, who doesn’t know any of them. We go back to the hotel and watch Truman Show. He falls asleep while I am getting ready for a night on the town with Becky Jean and her crew.
10pm: Don’t have time to finish Truman Show. Grab a cab to meet Becky Jean in the Meatpacking District, for dinner and dancing at Catch. Find each other outside, wait together for the rest of her group to arrive.
11pm: Our table is over-loaded… mountains of salad, sweet & sour deep-fried shrimp, green beans, french fries in truffle oil, salmon, and stuffed chicken breast. Everything tastes amazing. Soon the food is cleared and replaced with (more) bottles of champagne, vodka and mixers.
Midnight: Dancing commences. Our table is surrounded by models, and two dudes. A few additional friends come and go. Everyone’s stuff is in a pile, nearby. When I see a random chick take a seat by our belongings, I keep an eye on her… Must’ve blinked for a moment though, because suddenly my purse is wedged behind that broad and the wall. And I can see that it’s open.
Oooooh – I am pissed. Giving her my meanest stink-eye, I pull my purse from where she’s hiding it and make a break for the restroom (for an immediate inventory check). My money is still in the back pocket, caught her just in time. The restroom-attendant isn’t surprised that I was almost robbed.
“Not everybody goes out for the same reasons,” she says, deeply. ”Last week a lady lost her purse and we later found it in the bathroom stall, completely empty.”
With a sympathetic nod, I tell her, “It’s sad.” Suddenly I realize, “She must’ve been after my secret stash of dark chocolate! Good thing she didn’t get it, or we’d have to fight.” Shake my fist with a grimace.
More drinking and dancing ensues.
2am: The crew moves to another hot spot, SL, not far from the first place. Drink, dance, repeat. Then things get fuzzy…I only remember lots of brightly colored flashing lights. Grab a cab back to Hudson, pass out.
Noon: My Miss Travel friend is going home today. We have a simple lunch, go for another walk in Central Park, pack our things at the hotel and part ways. Cab it to Becky Jean’s.
2:30pm: Becky Jean’s place is a 3-bedroom apartment, occupied by a bunch of models, one dude, and a little dog. Oddly enough, the Truman Show is on. It’s close to the end, exactly where I left it back at the hotel. Watch in awe. Model-roommates come and go, a wide variety of darlings.
I’m in one of two bunk beds in Becky Jean’s room. We have a much needed de-briefing of my stay with our new Miss Travel friend: He was very generous and never pushy or intimidating. I felt no pressure to get outside my comfort zone. He was a rare find, a true gentleman.
5pm: Becky Jean and I get dinner at the market, pick up socks, look for the nearby street vendor who sells perfume. When she sprays her signature scent I ask, “What is it?”
She replies elusively, “It’s what every man loves, because it reminds him of his mother.”
7:45pm: Rolling out to meet Becky Jean’s friend, Thatcher, at a tequila tasting event, on the top floor of some fancy hotel. I am wearing my blue velvet (magic) pants and a black top with a red cumber bund.
One of the girls in the apartment (and former Top Model contestant), Sara, gets a kick out of my magic pants. She says they look great!
“They’re even better to touch,” I say, “Go ahead. Help yourself.”
Pause while she touches my leg.
8:45pm: Arrive at the tequila party destination, meet Thatcher, discover we are at the wrong place entirely. The tequila tasting is at a nightclub called Hustler, which I realize is a strip club. But Becky Jean and Thatcher have no idea. And believe it or not, neither of them have been to a strip club before! We don’t stay long.
Thatcher has a dinner to get to, he splits. Becky Jean and I bop around Meatpacking District, me taking baby steps – feet achingly tired of wearing tall shoes. The rubber nubs on my heels have worn down to the nail, so I sound like a pony! Trit-trot-trit-trot. We gallup over to a spot called Key, where there’s a beautiful blonde lady, very glam, perched on the bar, flapping big, baby-blue feathered wings. Watching her is hypnotic.
The most handsome guy I’ve seen here, is across the bar, looking at me. Heading toward the exit, his cohort invites us to join them at another club. He introduces his friend, who kisses me on the cheek. He smells exotic and delicious. Give him my card.
Midnight: Becky Jean and I reunite with the rest of her gang outside the next club, called Darby. It’s got a honeycomb decor – like we’re inside a beehive! We drink, we dance, we make merry. Game on.
2:30am: Migrate to a bigger, louder, more crowded club, 1 Oak. I’m having a blast, playing Spot the Hottie with the girls. We don’t have NEAR this kind of selection in Portland. I’m a kid in a candy store…
4am: Make our way back to the apartment. Stay up until long past dawn, humoring a few of Becky Jean’s friends. One of them is rolling on the floor, basically in tears laughing.
I take it as a compliment.
4:29am: Waiting for my alarm to ring. Already packed, quickly I get dressed, make coffee, and head for the door. My roommate, Zach, is riding shotgun, and Peaches dutifully comes along too. Hop out at the airport, give Peaches a kiss and hand my keys over to Zack. I’m on my way.
6:30am: My direct flight is delayed, now boarding at 7:30 instead of 6:45. No problem – I just ran into my friend Kris, a very fine specimen of a man, who works at Nike. We catch up on the latest greatest, and share our travel plans (he’s going to explore in the Middle East). There was even time to show him some of Audreality.
7:30am: Board. But something is wrong. Wait a half-hour for the engineers to fix it… Then, they tell us it will be 9:30 before they have answers, and kindly suggest we de-board. They say the same thing a few moments later, this time with more dreadful assurance: the flight is cancelled. Luckily I’m in the front row – off without further delay.
1pm: Run into a second Portland friend, named Tyler, this time in the SLC airport. He was on the other plane as well (headed to Memphis for work); his connecting flight is next to mine.
1:30: Board flight to New York. By me (again in the front row), sits a woman named Deanne. She is pretty, petite and blonde, with a stack of papers in one hand and some white wine in the other. I also have a glass. Well, a few. This flight is nearly four hours long, so we chat intermittently while she reviews her document, and for the rest of the flight too. Told her about Miss Travel. She’s impressed that I’m ballsy enough to fly cross-country to meet a stranger, yet she seems sure it’s going to be a great time.
8:45pm (East Coast Time): Landed in JFK. The car service takes me directly to Becky Jean’s apartment in lower Manhattan, where I meet a few of her model roommates. Cool pad.
11pm: Caught a cab with Becky Jean to Hudson Hotel, where we meet my Miss Travel host. He’s about 15 years older than me, a diplomat for the US State Department. He’s just gotten in from a few months in Pakistan, where – you can imagine – it’s not easy to meet ladies. Work on breaking the ice, with drinks at the hotel bar. I have a wee bit of a headache setting in.
Midnight: It’s Veteran’s Day, most of the businesses are closed. We find a place nearby to have dinner, lovely. It’s difficult to eat (and impossible to drink), because my headache is now splitting. When it gets to the point where it’s so unbearable that there are tears in my eyes, we decide to call it a night. Becky Jean gets a cab home, and I stay with my new friend at the hotel. On our way to the room, the yellow-green ambiance lighting (which seemed like a neat touch earlier), is agonizing to look at. I’ve never had a headache like this before…
4am: Impossible to sleep – I’m laying in bed in this tiny room, just groaning in pain, crying a little. Finally, I get nauseous and vomit a few times, which makes me feel a million times better. By 4:30 or 5am, I’m asleep.
9:15am: Working on logistics for the day, in bed. My friend and I take turns showering and get ready.
12:30pm: Walk down to the Jon Stewart studio to get in line for tickets. Stand in line from about 1pm-2:30. Meanwhile, Becky Jean joins us. We briefly stop at the hotel, where I transition into my dress for the evening, and we get a few drinks at the bar. Back in line at the studio by 4:30, for seating.
6pm: The audience has just been warmed up by an opening act, a comedian named Paul Mecurio, who is rude, crude and hilarious. Jon Stewart arrives, welcomed by roaring applause. He takes a few questions from the crowd. Raising my hand, he calls on me.
“I’m visiting from Portland, Oregon,” I say, “So what do you suggest we do – besides this of course – to have the most authentic New York experience?”
Stewart replies, “Go piss in the subway. Also, you can roll-a-drunk. And go to Central Park to buy some weed that’s laced with kerosene, so you can wander around all night feeling like you’re about to die.”
6:45pm: The show is over, we grab a cab to Cipriani’s (a gorgeous building, with tall ceilings, enormous pillars, and a lobby, full of well-dressed attendees for the event: The 6th Annual Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America Heroes Gala. With Brian Williams as Master of Ceremonies, we hear from a handful of deeply moving speakers, including the woman who created Sesame Street (!!!), and a man, Cpl. Arron Mankin who tells his heart-wrenching story of losing much of his face in the war. We have an amazing steak dinner and hit one more bar (a hurricane relief party, hosted by one of Becky Jean’s friends) before heading back to the hotel for the night.
The biggest lie taught to our children is the one surrounding the old, familiar adage, “don’t talk to strangers.” It’s difficult to express what a colossal mistake this is.
Without strangers, life would be dull.
Monday, I’m taking a trip to New York City to meet a stranger. We met on MissTravel.com, a website designed to help generous males meet females who like to travel. At first blush, it’s assumed that there will be strings attached, but experience has shown, with a careful screening process, it is possible to find a man who doesn’t have any intention of taking advantage of you. (Some are probably more scared of me than vice versa.) Rest assured, it’s not the first time I’ve traveled with a stranger. And 99% of the time, they are great people.
Let me tell you about my cat.
Buddy is wild. He has an identical brother, named Slasher, even more wild. Both cats are jet-black, each is missing the tip of his right ear, a signal that they’ve been neutered by the Feral Cat Coalition. Despite identical looks and shared upbringing, they are very different.
It’s not hard to see, animals have unique personalities. They vary in one critical way:
Slasher is driven by fear, in a constant state of panic and aversion, while Buddy has discovered the rewards of courage and affection. As they have matured, the pair of inseparable kittens became two distinct individuals:
Slasher is a creature of the night – he prefers to stay unseen, trusting no one. Meanwhile, Buddy spends most of his time within earshot of the house, so whenever I come outside for a cuddle, he is there for me.*That unconditional love and devotion feels good. I can always count on him for comfort when needed.
I’d wager a bet that his life is more enjoyable than his brothers’. Since making friends with a human, Buddy enjoys primary access to food & shelter. If they weren’t neutered, I have no doubt that Buddy’s kin would be better-off. This is an example of how the development of social intelligence is an important step in evolution, no matter what species you’re a part of.
In my previous post on relationships, I received one comment, to which I’d like to give thanks, and reply. Vijinho made some great points, reminding me there’s still plenty of ground to cover.
The Back Burner Special is one of my favorite terms to describe people who are, publicly, in exclusive relationships, where either partner remains on the lookout for the Next Best Thing. It covers a countless percentage of people in “monogamous” relationships, who are unsatisfied, pretending, hopelessly waiting for the partnership to collapse. Depending on the level of deception (and/or willful ignorance) in regards to the other side, the partner who is having the Back Burner Special, is stuck without a healthy option until he or she decides to Dump the Lump. If someone is under the unshakable perception that being in a couple is a requirement of life or happiness, the idea of dropping their unfitting baggage is frightening. Because being alone is quiet, cold, lonely or boring… a LOT more unpleasant than settling for the Back Burner Special.
But that’s not true, is it?
This syndrome is what my friend, Vijinho, describes as a “common illusion [with] seeds of mental illness.” It’s due to a perceptibly “strong need to pair up,” which gives some people the feeling that we are “lucky to be with someone, anyone… In their mindset, if you are single, there is something wrong with you!”
Funny, for people in these unfortunate relationships, my math says, often BOTH can do better. Given that almost nobody works to their ultimate potential, I’ll go out on a limb and say if these people take the most obvious steps required to improve themselves – development of Emotional Independence being critical – they will then be capable of attracting a superior quality of mate. Simple math, folks.
It might seem like a dark abyss, the thought of being single. But I’ll tell you why the grass is greener on this side. Instead of binding yourself in empty promises, you can enjoy a little bit of everything. And do it without shame, nor any need to hide. Your field of options is enormous, worldwide. You don’t have to limit yourself. Why try?
This is where I usually say, “Everyone brings something to the table; I want a feast!“
This is Compartmentalization. Dad told me, when I was still trying to understand my parents’ divorce as a kid, why he had so many other relationships: We have certain people who we like to smooch on. There are others who like to see movies with. And there are only a few with whom you’ll talk politics or news. Here’s where I like to add to the list: there are also special people we work out with, perhaps others we go to lunch with, and others still we who we may seek, when we have the blues.
While you’re out there, nourishing yourself, becoming accustomed to the sound of silence, and learning to appreciate the affection, camaraderie and bliss of having a cornucopia of friends, you may discover that you don’t need anyone. That often, it’s too much to ask, expecting one person to be our everything. That the time we spend in broken relationships is only ours to lose.
Time is a valuable thing, once you learn how to spend it.
During the last weekend of August each year, runners of the Northwest (and beyond)
band van together, in teams of 12 (six in each van) leapfrogging their way from the snowy top of Mt. Hood to the gorgeous Oregon Coast. There, only for a short time, where the entire stretch of beach from Seaside to Astoria is crawling with some of the world’s most gung-ho runners, every motel, hotel room, and beach house is booked, well in advance.
Every year, I land on a mystery team, thanks to craigslist or facebook. It’s not hard, especially if you wait until the last minute, when teams are scrambling (due to an inevitable number of cancellations and injuries). I’ve been on fast teams, slow teams, a men’s team (which can have up to two women), and a women’s team. (Actually, a team of moms!) It never mattered who I was with, because once we got to the finish line, there was nothing but possibilities. Usually, me and the teams split there.
Last year, I found a team that was mostly empty, so I was able to fill it with my friends. We camped together at the beach in a giant tent, almost the size of a living room. This year, we didn’t have the luxury.
This year’s team was originally going to be a returning group. Ranging in age from about 28 to 74, we ended up being a hodge-podge, half of us new to the team. In Van 2, we were mostly strangers to each other. Turned out, I couldn’t have dreamed of better van-mates…
9:30am – Van 1 takes off from Mt. Hood. The wait is on.
2:15pm – First transition to our van, at the Safeway parking lot in Sandy, is complete. During the van-decorating process, we named ourselves “Scraps-R-Us” because so many of us are random additions to the team. The back of our van says “Scrap-tactular”.
Runner #6, Nick is up first. The team captain decided it would be optimal if #6 rides with us (making us carry seven runners, while the other van has five). He thinks it will help us get through the bottleneck at the busy exchanges…
#7 is Kristen, from Seattle. This is her first Hood to Coast, and she’s a doll. Big thanks to Kristen for about a dozen of the pictures included below!
#8 is Carissa, a freshly implanted Portlander. She moved here a month ago, for nursing school and figured doing her first Hood to Coast would be a great way to meet some people. Smart cookie.
#9 is Jaime, a friend from Miss Triche’s workout classes. She was on the team of moms I was on, back in 2010.
#10 is Brian, a long-time veteran to the team, who rarely says much (but I can tell he’s content) until we get to the coast, and his girlfriend arrives. Much more detectable, outward displays of happiness then. Cute couple.
#11 is me. You know me!
#12 is Tom, a southern gentleman, who lives in Seattle, but never lost his southern drawl. He repeatedly had us in stitches with his “isms”. The one I heard most-often-quoted by the ladies, was something like, “If a chicken lays a square egg, it’s still gonna have a sore ass.” I don’t get it. Tom tried to explain the context of this little gem at one point… but all I could make out was something about how, “the moon’s not made of cheese.”
My first run was about 4.5 miles, around 5pm, under beaming hot sun. Aside from being stopped at FIVE red lights along the way, it was quite zippy. Lots of roadkill, and no one passed me. Soon we had a break, while Van 2 ran their second legs.
Our second legs were in the middle of the night, so I slept in the van until it was getting close to my turn. At about 4am, I was dumped out of the van, as it sat in gridlock traffic on our way into the exchange point. I ran to the handoff area, where Brian was already done running, waiting there for several minutes (an unfortunate/frequent occurrence during Hood to Coast). Knocked out that second leg: another speedy 4-miler, roadkill, roadkill, roadkill, and quickly got back to sleeping in the van.
In the morning, we got out for a while at my favorite massive van exchange. There’s a farmhouse where people sell burgers and espresso out of their garage, and in their vast yard, along with lots of honey buckets, they have a couple of horses. Every year, I look forward to seeing those horses, especially the big brown one. I bring him plenty of treats, apples or carrots. He loves me!
For most of the day, we were running our last legs. Mine was 7.2 miles on a remote logging trail; the only people I saw were the ones left in my dust along the way. Roadkill.
At the end, the team captain handed me a key to a beachfront motel room (overlooking the finish-line) where the ladies of Van 2 made ourselves at home. Then it was shower-time, and off to the beer garden for a fun game of Spot-the-Hottie. We laughed, danced and enjoyed the fireworks, took a quick splash in the ocean and a couple of us even snuck into a nearby hot tub, pool and sauna. Nothing to see here folks, no trouble at all.
The morning after, I woke everyone early (except for Tom, who was already up, cleaning out the van) so we could beat the crowd at the traditional H2C breakfast spot, Pig’n'Pancake.
Held each year in August, along the grassy slopes of Mt. Tabor Park, the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby caters to the kid in all of us. It’s a can’t-miss event, words only go so-far to describe.
What do we do instead?