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Monday, February 25, 2008

If It Weren't For Bad Luck I'd Have No Luck At All

Got back from PDX late Saturday evening, and was fairly wiped most of Sunday. Still trying to eject the last clinging bits of the bug that hit two weeks ago - and people are telling me now that it might hang on for a couple more weeks before I feel completely back to normal. Tenacity, thy name is "rhinovirus".

Going back to the old "home town" (I wasn't born in Portland, but spent some of my most formative years there, and that, in addition to the large number of relatives who still live there, grants it hometown status) is always a bit of an adventure, and once again she didn't disappoint.

I got into town about mid-day on Friday, after a longish train ride down from Seattle, where my day began at the unconscionably early hour - for me at least - of 5:30 a.m. Managed a bit of a nap on the way down, and actually felt pretty alert by the time I disembarked. Our soon-to-be-ex-Portland Exec met me at the station, and we drove over to the office in SE PDX for a few hours of orientation, getting the lay of the office-land, where things were kept, etc., etc., all of which I'll need to pass on to her replacement - once they're hired. After getting down all the particulars, and taking a quick trip to the local bank branch to arrange a few details, she dropped me off at Powell's for an hour's worth of book nirvana while I waited for my hotel room to be readied prior to check-in.

Once safely ensconced, I headed over to "old town" for an early dinner, courtesy of the expense account, then started mapping out plans for the evening. I don't know that many people in Portland, aside from the relatives, almost all of whom were themselves out-of-town this weekend, so whatever I ended up doing, it was going to be solo. Fortunately, Portland has a lot to offer for a smallish-sized city, and I actually had a bit of a quandry deciding between a couple of musical groups I've followed for a few years, and going to see something in the way of theatre. I finally opted on going to see a play at a small theater not too far from my hotel.

That's one of the great things about Portland, it's a fairly walkable city, even though it's a lot more spread out physically than Seattle, for example. Being as I was on the northern edge of "downtown", just south of The Pearl District (a neighborhood that didn't even exist when I was growing up there some 35-odd years ago), I was nicely situated about equal-distance from several of the spots I was contemplating, and figured I'd walk to the theatre, and if time permitted, I could always grab a cab for a short ride to one of the music clubs.

Unfortunately, that turned out to not be feasible, since the show ran nearly three hours with intermission (and was a fine production, just longer than advertised), so I would have missed the two bands I wanted to see, even if I'd exercised that option.

By this time is was after 11:00, so I figured I'd just head back in the direction of the hotel and grab a late snack on the way. Not knowing exactly what I'd run into in terms of late-evening dining options, I kept going until I got a couple of blocks from my "home base", and decided on a pseudo-Irish joint called Jake's, which had a fairly substantial late-night appetizer menu. Since I was by myself, I figured I'd just sit in the bar, since there would be no waiting for a table, and as I wandered in, I was rather amazed to make eye contact with an actress I know - from Seattle! Turns out she, and a couple other mutual acquaintences had trekked down to see some other folks we all know in a show at another theatre, and had popped in for some aprez-theater libations and chit-chat.

So, I sat down with them, ordered a couple of snacks and a beer, and we were casually chatting away, when I glanced out the window and spied - yet another actor-person I know who lives in PDX. "Is that Olga?" I asked one of my table-mates, incredulous at the thought that we had all suddenly and synchronistically gravitated to the exact same location at the exact same time. Sure enough, I ran out the front door, and dragged her in for a brief reunion, after which, everyone went merrily their own way, shaking our heads in bemusement over what was truly a bizarre set of coincidental meetings.

But then, that's the sort of crazy thing that happens in Portland, and another reason why I still love the place so much.

I had originally set Saturday aside for family visitations, and purposefully booked a late return, but with nearly everyone unavailable, I really only had my grandmother on the schedule for the day. Unfortunately for me, she had recently moved to a residential home-care facility out in Gresham, and I had only the vaguest notion of how to get there. So, after a late "continental breakfast, Portland-style" consisting of a cup o' Stumptown coffee and a Voodoo Donut "bacon-maple bar" (!), I walked the four blocks down to Pioneer Square, where I caught the "blue line" light-rail heading eastbound.

And that's when things started to go very, very wrong.

Now, by "very, very wrong", I don't mean anything traumatic, or violent, or unsavory - just - wrong, as in "not at all according to plan". First off, it took far longer to get to Gresham than I'd anticipated, roughly on the order of an hour, and by this time it was already 3:00 p.m., and I knew I needed to be at the train station by about 5:30 to check in and what-not for my 6:00 departure. Secondly - I missed the bloody stop! Totally my fault, no excuses. I simply misjudged where I was, and ended up getting off two stops beyond where I needed to be. By the time I figured this out (not being able to locate the transit center was a BIG clue!), and finally demeaning myself by asking where the heck I was, then getting back on a west-bound MAX to the appropriate stop, THEN locating the correct bus stop, I'd wasted another 40 minutes.

And of course, the bus was running late.

So, by the time I got off at the nearest stop to my grandmother's it was about 4:00, meaning at best I'd only have a few minutes to spend with her before having to haul out back to downtown.

Which would have been the case, if I hadn't gotten completely turned around getting off the bus, and walking in the wrong direction to where I was supposed to be going. By the time I clued into that, I was about 4:20 p.m. and by my best, and decidedly uninformed estimate, I was more than a mile's walking distance from my intended destination. Needless to say, by this point I was starting to get a bit desperate, not to mention achy from having lugged an overnight bag laden with an extra 15 pounds or so of recently-purchased used hardback books on my back (in addition to a thick sheaf of documents I needed to bring back to Seattle) for several hours.

By the time I'd retraced my steps back to the bus stop, I calculated I had just enough time to get back on going the opposite direction, and catch the last possible MAX back to the City if I wanted to make my train. Calling my grandmother to let her know I wasn't going to make it after all was terribly disappointing; she was very good about it, and we had a pleasant phone conversation nonetheless, but I was mentally kicking myself the entire time for not having allowed more lee-way, and for not having brought along a map or at least more specific directions than the one's I'd downloaded a couple of days earlier - another reason, if people haven't already figured this out from their own experience, why one should never completely trust online mapping software.

So, that was a disappoinment, but for whatever it's worth, I did manage to make it to the station with a few extra minutes to spare before my train left.

Once we were underway, I was able to relax a bit, and the trip home was decidedly, and mercifully, uneventful. Got into town about 10:00 p.m. and cabbed home, where I managed to hit the hay by 11:00 after a rather frustrating day.

But of course, the run of questionable luck wasn't quite over, as I somehow managed to snap the throttle cable on my scooter yesterday afternoon - yes, the same one I just replaced about a month ago.

So far today, I seem to be - - out of the woods in terms of unfortunate and frustrating occurances. However, there are still a few hours left to go before I get to an "all clear" point.

Wish me (good) luck.

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Posted byCOMTE on 12:16 PM

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