As you might have guessed, I’ve been away. In more ways than one. Chris and I had planned a two day getaway long before the proverbial diagnostic fecal matter hit the fan. It was a good plan. I’m glad we did it.

We booked a room at the mid-century modern rocker rest stop called the Jupiter Hotel. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but I think they left a few out. One in particular was LOUD. The Jupiter has a club on the premises named Doug Fir. Many a “alterna-punk-pop-rock-a-rap-dj-beat seeker” has passed through their doors. So the Jupiter is p-a-r-t-y central, if you’re in your twenties and looking for a good time. We were indeed looking for a good time, just not that kind. As I always say … “You live and you learn. Or you live and you don’t learn.”

The Jupiter was conveniently located just across one of the many bridges from downtown Portland. Just a little trip on Burnside & there you are in “Old Town” or “a little further on down the road” and you’re in Nob Hill. My biggest problem with this groovy getaway was the adage … “no matter where you go … there you are.” You can take the boy out of Seattle, but you can’t take the diagnosis out of his head. Not that I was looking for a geographic cure, mind you, but I did think that maybe the change of scenery might help. It couldn’t hurt … could it?

Friday night Chris & I went to Typhoon & ate Thai for dinner. After dinner we walked around Old Town, went to Powell Books & roamed around there for a while. What’s a trip to Portland without a stop at Powell? We even stopped for gelato. All in all … a nice night with my honey. : ) I was even more impressed I could DO all that walking. My lungs didn’t bother me too badly. My ankles didn’t protest either. Miraculo!

Saturday morning we got up, ate breakfast at Doug Fir and headed off to the Saturday market. I wasn’t feeling too great when we left, but I figured I’d “tough it out” & see what happened. The market happened! The market, if you’ve never been, is just row after row of crafters, soap makers, candle makes, jewelry makers, clock makers, potters, etc etc ad infinitum. House this in the shadows of the Burnside Bridge and compound it with the noise and density of wall to wall people, and hot damn baby … I’m ready to FREAK! After being there for about 15 minutes I started to melt down … going into panic attack mode. Noise, people & bad art will do it to me every time.

Now mind you, Chris is having a grand old time. God love that man! Joe love that man too! : ) I know that he’s trying to show me all the cool things he discovered on his last trip to the market with his best friend Skott, sadly I’m in no space to appreciate it. But I’m trying. Even while my Velveeta-like melt down is going on, I’m feeling guilty that I can’t appreciate what he’s trying to show me. We made it through. All of it. Even the bad pottery. There’s a saying among potters & ceramic artists … and I paraphrase … “If you can’t make it well, make it big. If you can’t make it big, make it blue.” Let’s just say, there was a lot of blue pottery. On the other side of the spectrum, there were a few artist’s work that gave me chills. One in particular was a glass artist who made vessel forms & used very primitive “cave-painting-like” imagery on them. I was seriously tempted to buy a piece … but funds would not allow. Damn I hate that!

The only thing that I bought was a t-shirt. The t-shirt was hand silk screened with original art. Made by a young guy who drove several hours from Olympia that morning … all the way to Portland … just to sell his shirts. The image was similar to a skull and cross-bones. But for the bones replace that image with a two carrot cross & the skull with a bunny’s head with a black patch over one eye. It made me giggle. It had this Donnie Darko imagery about it … but it was humorous at the same time. Chris bought a couple of shirts as well.

Once we left the market my mood changed considerably. We wandered around downtown Portland. It’s so different from downtown Seattle. In fact it had more of a New Yawk kind of feel to it. We did some retail therapy, well Chris did, I only came away with a new pair of Gap flip-flops for $4.99 … and no tax. NO TAX! That’s one of the other great things about Portland. All in all what started out as a melt down kind of day, finished up rather well.

That night we ate at a very chic Italian restaurant called Pazzo. A fine dinner was had by all. A little insalata, red wine, great entrees and after … gelato once again. We even went back to Powell’s for one last multi-floor hurrah.

Sunday morning … load the 4-Runner … park it … and back to Doug Fir for fast breaking breakfast. Then back to the market. There were a few items I wanted to get that I should have bought the day before. A new wallet … and happiness. Yes … I was looking to buy happiness. The wallet was easy. It’s happiness that’s always a bit more elusive. There was a ceramic artist who was selling these tiny hand made bowls, incense burners, and necklaces. The necklaces were incised with Chinese characters. The one I was looking at was the character for happiness. We had looked at this thing a while the day before and I couldn’t decide. Then I spent a lot of time on Sunday trying to figure out why I always wanted to put “faith” or give power to something outside myself. I didn’t need something around my neck to remind me to be happy. Why would I give up my own power or put credence in some inanimate object. It was at that moment that I decided … thank you … no happiness for me. Well … the necklace at least.

After the market … we were on our way. Back up Burnside, and down MLK Drive & onto I5 for home home home. I wanted to be home home home, fast fast fast. Too fast. So fast that while driving past Olympia … you guessed it … Joe got a ticket. Seventy-six in a 60 mph zone. Woo hoo! That made my day. But hey … you do the crime you pay the fine. The officer was “nice enough.” No attitude at all. How could I be angry. I WAS SPEEDING and I GOT CAUGHT. End of story. So all in all this turned out to be a bit more expensive than I bargained for. But what the hell …. I spent a few days out of Seattle … and had quality time with my honey. What could be more therapeutic. : )

Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . apple computer consultant . residing in asbury park nj with his two cats rocky & rose & living to tell tales about it


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