16 August 2004


Wow, I can't believe it was just barely over a week ago I was in Portland. I timed my visit to escape some of the hot summer heat down here in south Orange County, but, ironically it seems I managed to escape the summer heat waves in Portland.

It was a good visit over all as I was feeling a little homesick. I was glad to find Portland exactly as it was when I left. But was I the same? Well, I guess that's up to you to decide, but, here are a few things that happened that made me feel a little Californified:

* Turned cold water tap and discovered water was actually cold (as opposed to merely "tepid")
* Happily surprised when daylight lasted until 9pm instead of only 8pm
* Gasoline prices that started with a "1"instead of a "2" felt like a bargain
* Summer sun was pleasingly warm. Didn't feel as though it would instantly induce cancer
* Felt like a stud instead of a slouch at kickboxing class
* Was shocked when friends lit up cigarettes indoors. Had to be reminded smoking in bars was legal
* Scared Chevron employee when attempting to pump own gas. Had to be reminded that was illegal
* Saw at least 200 John Kerry stickers which is 196 more than I'd ever seen before
* Smell of 100-year-old apartment building was nostalgic
* Weather became overcast and was compelled to go home and take a nap

I know I'm setting myself up for some harrassment here, but, I have to say, it's good to be back in California. Though Orange County is perhaps the epicenter of conformity for the entire west coast, I don't feel pressure to be anyone but myself. Moreover, I feel like I've become a kind of ambassador of subculture. The mormon grandma who sits next to me has gone veggie, the rocker guy in purchasing is into Mirah, and I've rallied the movie club at work to go see the new Zhang Yimou film Hero.

Am I going to stay here forever? No. It sure is beautiful here, and I feel more optomistic than I have in ages, but, lets face it, there aren't any bars with wood panelling on the walls and Journey on the jukebox and free mystery soup after 11pm. For now, I'm exploring and doing something new just about every week. But one day, maybe in a year or two, I'll have done just about everything there is to do in southern California and it will be time to move on again.

Until next time . . .

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