Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Portland

Hundreds of people have now been Occupying Portland (and Wall Street, and Seattle, and…etc) for almost an entire week. They are camped out at Chapman Park, closing off SW Main Street to all thru traffic. I found the initial march and protest affective and inspiring. It’s not often we see a movement take hold nationally and stick. The press has covered it here in Oregon in a positive way. I can’t help but think of the Arab Spring uprisings earlier this year. I’m grateful there are a couple stark differences between the Occupy movements and the Arab Spring movements…most notably the lack of violence and arrests. And the City of Portland has been working with the protestors, not against them, a fact I find hilarious for an anti-establishment movement.

I pass by the Occupy Portland camp each day on my way to work as I drive down SW 4th Avenue. I’m fascinated by the community that has been set up there…they have a library. Yes, a library. But now I’m starting to wonder: What’s next, occupiers? I agree with their basic cause for action. Big banks in this country are out of the control and the disparity of wealth among Americans is outrageous. I’m not now, nor ever will be a member of the 1% of the wealthiest faction of this nation, and there should be more equity. But is continuing to sit in a park for days on end the way to achieve this? They certainly have the right to do so, and I think a point has been made to both corporations and our elected officials. But I’m concerned the creators of this movement didn’t think past the “let’s march through the streets of our city” phase. The ultimate solutions to these issues need to be approached in a long-term, collaborative way. People are disenchanted and disenfranchised with government. I get it—government is bureaucratic and slow. But this is the system our founders created and put forth for us to use. The right to protest is vital and I’m glad to see it utilized. But what comes after the protesting? I want to do some research on this question, because it’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this in our country. I wasn’t alive for the last era of rebellion in the 1960s and 1970s. But I believe we have to work with our leaders in office to come to solutions and put actions into place. The waves of revolutions and civil uprisings in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, etc were triggered by police corruption, ill treatment, and an desire to overthrow the entire government regime. But it’s not the same here.

I’m still forming my opinion around these movements. I think it’s exciting, and I hope for positive change in the direction of equality and fairness. Our country is fraught with economic and social injustices, and I’m glad that citizens are engaging in the issues and voicing their opinions. I’m not sure what’s next, but I can’t wait to find out because I have feeling we are making history here.

An update in October

I am highly doubtful anyone reads this blog anymore because I post so infrequently. I have only myself to blame. However, I felt inspired this morning before I start making fundraising calls.

The next three weekends of October are very busy for me and I love it! This time of year is one of my favorites because the weather is crisp, leaves are on the ground, the decorations are festive, and we are still in anticipatory mode of the holidays. However, yesterday I was leaving work, got to the door to go outside and I kid you not it was a torrential downpour. Welcome back, crappy weather! I embrace you until February and then I’m through with you for another year. Unfortunately, I know it will continue to be rainy until July, which is why I continue to say that if I could have any magic power it would be to control the weather.

This weekend, I’m headed to Sunriver for the Democratic Party of Oregon Summit. This occurs bi-annually in the fall of every off election year. This will be my first time going. My only real goal for the weekend is to network the crap out of the thing and try to get hooked up with a great job since I was only brought on through October for the position I currently hold. I’m also curious to go to Sunriver, I have been there once or twice in my life, but because of the family alliance with Black Butte Ranch we never had a reason to go that far down Hwy 22. I’m looking forward to going for a weekend with really not much to do other than socialize and go to a dinner on Saturday evening. The keynote speaker is Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Should be an all-around good time.

The weekend after, I’m heading up to Seattle for the Oregon State/Washington State game at CenturyLink (Qwest is now CenturyLink) Field. Myself, Chris and Celia are all driving up together on Saturday for the 7:30pm game, and I am just hot to trot to go watch a football game under the lights. I went to Linfield, and have no real alliance to any PAC-12 team, but I know more true Beaver fans than Duck fans and have more OSU shirts, so I root for the Beavs normally.

The final weekend in October is Halloween weekend. I still haven’t figured out what to be…though I’m heavily leaning toward being Cher in the early days. I’ll need a leather fringe vest, bell bottoms, and a long black wig. I was watching Dancing with the Stars last night and saw her in the audience watching Chaz Bono do his thang. The woman doesn’t age! It’s weird and supernatural…or it’s botox and collagen, either one.

Over and out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Phase 4: Sub 1

Creeping up on two weeks ago, I started a new job. This is the first real professional transition I've had since I began Phase Four of my life, AKA post-grad. My new job is still in a political vein, but now I'm working to raise money and for an issue-based organization and potential ballot measure campaign.

I spent close to two years working for a State Representative, Former Speaker of the House and House Democratic Leader (so many titles), and I must say I've emerged from the experience a different person than when I began. This is quite a relief for me, as I'd be concerned if I hadn't changed in the last two years. My worldview has expanded, and my network in Portland has ballooned. More than that, I've had opportunities to experience upclose democracy, government, politics on the state level. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

"Politician" has become a bit of a dirty word in today's culture. What comes to mind are not revered men and women of history and democracy like Abe Lincoln and Eleanore Roosevelt, but instead much more slimy and disliked public figures like Anthony Weiner, who should have never hit "send" on THAT text message, and the Sarah Palin/Michelle Bachmann talking heads that really just make a mockery of the whole thing. I can understand the disenchantment many have with government and their elected officials. It's not the most streamlined process in the world, and relatively fraught with red tape. Getting a bill passed in the Legislature takes time, multiple conversations and hearings, and certainly some deal-making. And most of the time, the bill won't even make it out of committee. Sometimes for legitimate reasons, and sometimes because there's one person in the capitol building with the right amount of power who can put the kabosh on the whole damn thing. But hey, this is the system our founders set up, right? If it was easy to get an idea ratified into law, I'd be worried, because in my opinion, democracy shouldn't be easy. It's supposed to be hard, and we are all supposed to participate.  But now I'm getting off subject...

The point, my friends, is that I'm starting a new sub-phase of Phase Four. The one where I take new jobs, negotiate a higher salary, and start gaining some sturdier footing in what I want to do with  my life. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Day that Defined Us

Sunday marked ten years since the morning that changed the face of our nation forever. The events that occurred on September 11, 2001 and the decade that has followed has shaped who we are as a people. It has defined my generation.

Like everyone else, I have my story of the moment I was told what happened. My mother walked into my room to wake me up for school and told me that a plan had hit one of the World Trade towers. What? Ok, Mom, I thought, I need five more minutes to sleep.

Before I got to school, I didn't understand the weight and significance of what has happening. I thought it was an accident--surely it couldn't have been on purpose. Who would do such a thing? And to America? I thought everyone loved America? At 14 years old and growing up in a suburb of Salem, OR, I didn't have a concept of the global landscape. Once I got to school, all we did was watch the news that day. I saw teachers and administrators crying, stunned, jarred by what they saw happening on the television screen. Slowly, I realized that what I was living. What we were experiencing would be the material my children studied in their American history class. These attacks were the most horrific thing to happen to our country in my lifetime. You know how our parents all know exactly where they were and what they were doing when they learned that President Kennedy had been shot? It's the kids will ask me where I was.

It's important to understand that for my generation, September 11, 2001 was the  first taste of how complex the world is. We grew up in a time of economic boom, jobs were aplenty, and going to college meant that you could get a great job and prosper and live the American Dream we hear so much about. We grew up in a world where the United States was at peace, where war was an antiquated thing of the past that our parents lived through, but not us.

The decade following 2001 has been rocky. There's been economic crisis, global and social upheaval, and political turmoil. Words like "terrorist" have become dirty ones, and our airports will never, ever be the same.

But above the pain, tradegy, and war, I hope we remain optimistic as individuals and as a nation. I hope we continue to remember the way we came together in a time of need. How people would all of a sudden let others cut in front of them on a highway, or stop to say hello to a neighbor they usually ignore. The wounds of 9/11 have not yet healed, and some of them never will...but we are closer than we were yesterday.

I will invoke our Presidents of today and in the past when I say, may God bless the United States of America.

My Friend is HIGH-larious

Laura Strahan is awesome. If you dont believe me, just read her blog: OR take a gander at the smattering of photos of the two of us I'm putting on this post. I just read the last couple posts over my morning coffee at work and nearly choked...twice...on the caffienated brew while reading her quips and anecdotes about life, love, and everything inbetween including reality television and elementary school hot lunches.

2008 - In Prague on the Charles Bridge. We spent some time abroad in college. Me in Ireland, Laura in London. We hurrahed in the Czech Republic!

2009 - Cutting our cake at our domestic partnership ceremony. Just kidding.
2007 - Tegucigalpa, Honduras. On a Habitat for Humanity trip over Spring Break.

She's also my roommate (and has been since 2006) and we've spent an inordinate amount of time together in the last about seven years of our life. Wait, really? Seven years? Did I count right? 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011...yep, that's right! Laura would understand that I couldn't fully depend on my mental math skills because one of our initial bonding moments was in our first week of our freshman year of college when we both FAILED the math placement exam. As a result, we had to take a class titled "Great Ideas in Math," where we learned about things like infinity, and mobius bands, etc. It was basically a remedial math class for students that really should never have to get within coughing distance of numbers, fractions, or anything else that requires the use of the left-side of the brain. We are more creative types, which is why for our final project, we teamed up and changed the words to "Love Shack" to talk about mobius bands and danced in class. The professor loved it, A's for us!
Senior Year - Christmas party. 'Nuff said.

Anyway, read her blog. It's friggin-awesome. And she can do backhandsprings. And she uses terms like "mega chump" in relation to Kim Kardashian's newly-minted husband, which I LOVE.

Over and out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Plug for Brad!

I don't think Brad reads this blog...likely because I'm so manic with my posting frequency, but he's one of my best friends and a pal for life. He's also a talented artist who just graduated from U of O's Allied Arts Program this spring. Currently you can find him grilling up a mean burger and other various foods at the Rogue Brewery in the Pearl.

Last night, one of this pieces was featured at Church!, an event that happens the last Sunday of each month in Portland. It was a lovely evening of good local food (gorilla meats), good beer (Hef and a Widmer IPA), sweet beats, and awesome art. Brad was one of three artists featured. Below is a picture of his installation, which I won't take away from by trying to tell you what the greater mean was behind. But there was one, and it was awesome. You should ask him.

He'll probably be a famous very sought-after artist someday. He also makes stickers...if you ever are in need of that!

My Weekend Camping

I went camping this weekend with Chris, Celia, and Russ. Oh, what a time we had! We roasted hot dogs, drank heavily, floated on Detroit lake, slept in tents, rummaged the forest for fire wood (and sequentially made a, pretty good fire), rented a fishing boat and boated on the lake, etc. etc.

The weather was perfect, the company was superb, and I look forward to doing it again soon!

PS- A Bota Box is a kind of boxed wine I HIGHLY recommend. It was four bottles in ONE box, is easily mobile and delicious. Beats the hell out of Franzia.

PPS- On this trip, for the first time in my young life, I killed an animal while driving. Actually, Chris killed the baby bird while driving, but it was traumatic for me nonetheless. But murderous story doesn't end there! After driving over the bird and mourning for the appropriate amount of time, which I deemed to be 3 minutes, I went on with the evening. Then, when I woke up the next morning and went to the car, I saw two tiny birdy feet and some feathers peeking out of the bottom of my license plate. Yes, my friends, the bird had gotten stuck under my license plate. It's like the universe wanted me to REALLY feel bad about the road kill we had created. Next time I'll know--3 minutes isn't long enough to mourn.

And some pictures!

Weirdos. At Mongold State Park eating lunch.

Sorry Chris, you weren't read. But I'm posting anyway!

Another Birthday--Beats the Heck Out of the Alternative!

Birthdays. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it happens to everybody once a year. I’ve always been a fan as I think it’s nice we celebrate someone on the same day each year by showering them with presents, eating a piece (or three) of cake in their honor, and singing them a Happy Birthday song—the same song that has been sung for generations. Now that I think about it, I have no idea when the “Happy Birthday” song originated, but I’m going to say generations because I feel it evokes sense of tradition I’m trying to get at here.

Sometimes I wonder: “Hey, why am I buying you a present just because you were able to continue to live and breathe for another 365 days?” And then I remember…because it’s just what we do, and I scold myself for asking these questions, which of course have no suitable answer.

My birthday is in the smack-dab middle of summer—July 16th.  And each year on that day, my mother will tell a varied version of my day of birth 1987. She’ll regale me with the details of when she went into labor (early in the morning), not to mention our house was being re-roofed and the downstairs bathroom was being remodeled. I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details.

 This just-concluded birthday was the big 2-4. 24 years went by much quicker than I thought. This year I went home, spent time with my family, and went to Salem’s Art Fair at Bush Park. The Art Fair is an annual community event and one I hold in high regard. Though I’ve never actually bought art at the art fair, I have purchased my fair share of sno-cones, greasy noodles, and beer. 

The next weekend I celebrated the big day with my friends in Portland, where the highlight of the evening was seven women (that’d be us) went to a parking lot of an empty office building and set off fireworks.  Unfortunately, there’s some skiddish folk among us who got too concerned about a potential noise complaint and we cut off the ‘works at about 10:30pm. Call it an aftershock and/or muscle memory from high school—AKA authority is scary.

Oh! On a final note, I got a crock pot as a b-day gift. Can’t wait to make some crocky-rocky meals.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Blog of the Living Dead

It’s been about seven months since I posted anything on this blog. Seven months is a long time…seven months ago Osama Bin Laden was still alive, the WikiLinks thing was a big deal, and Justin Bieber had not yet hooked up with Selena Gomez. I’m positive that anyone who read Notes from Phase Four has left it for dead, deserted in the hot and dusty desert of the Internets. Alas, here it is. It’s baaaaack--the undead!

I’m coining my hiatus as the “Sabbatical for Session.” Indeed, for the last 150 days or so I’ve been commuting each day to the state capitol in Salem to carry out my job as a Legislative Aide for a certain awesome State Representative during the 2011 legislative session. State politics is an interesting beast, and it's too soon to tell if I will look back on it with positive thoughts. As for session, I enjoyed the opportunity to affect change (however small it was) and to be a part of the democratic process. Plus witnessing the policy debates and conflicts between parties, chambers and legislators was never boring. I'm such a glutton for gossip.

I have one or two—-nay—a ten or twelve thoughts on what I did not enjoy. However, I’ve decided to not discuss any them in this very public space. Why, you may ask would I deprive you of my thoughts? Because I'm paranoid, that's why.

But I digress. I’m going to start blogging again, just in time for summer in the great Pacific Northwest. It's very exciting. Don’t expect too much too soon though…I’m just getting my bloggers feet under me again...