Monday, 28 March 2011

Virtual Reality: Smugness is a State of Mind

As an anonymous blogger whose identity is a closely guarded secret, I endeavor to share as little personal information as possible on this blog. In fact, apart from the basics such as my social security number, my bank account numbers, and all my PINs and passwords (all of which you can see by clicking here), I make it something of a de facto policy not to bore you with the minutiae of my everyday life.

For this reason, you may not have picked up of the fact that for the past few months I've actually been living in Portland, OR. Yes, the truth is I've been "burnt out" on New York for quite some time and not too long ago I finally "hit the wall" as they say. The the ludicrous cost of living, the constant kvetching about bike lanes, and the wily talking raccoons who fleece you in games of three-card monty at every turn all conspired to precipitate my move.

To put it another way, I could no longer hack it in The Big Arple, and so I've finally been "spit out the back" like a Cat 5 on a group ride. (Or, if you prefer, I pulled a "Prolly.")

I should point out though that I haven't physically moved. Indeed, my body remains in Brooklyn, and as you know since you have access to all my banking information, I live in "hardcore luxury" in a million-dollar Williamsburg loft:

(That's actually me with the lady sideburns.)

However, given the stagnant real estate market, I've been having quite a difficult time finding a buyer who possesses just the right combination of douchiness, financial solvency, and general naïveté to meet my stratospherically high asking price for my smallish drywall box.

So instead, while my corporeal self still resides in "hardcore luxury," I've transported my consciousness to the soggy utopia that is Portland. I've done this by transcending the material plane and by realizing that physical existence is merely a state of mind--or by completely deluding myself, depending on how you look at it. It was surprisingly easy, too. First, I created an artificial Portland habitat in my home by purchasing a humidifier which I fill with Stumptown coffee instead of water. Then, I set all my clocks back by three and a half hours. (Portland is an additional half hour behind the rest of the western United States.) Finally, I completed my microenvironment by making Bikeportland my homepage and pretending it was the local news. So instead of waking up to stories about how restaurants are now using the bike lanes for valet parking, I now awake to delightful morsels of smugness like this:

"Yaaah, that's aaahsome!," I exclaim as I take another pull from the humidifier. "Another win for bikes...?" (People west of the Rockies seem to draw out their vowels and phrase statements as questions, and so I've adopted this manner of speech as well.)

Once I became acclimated to my Portland biodome, I then decided to "take it to the next level" by finding a full-time job. Sure, working can interfere with your process of self-discovery, but keep in mind a full Portland work week is only 15 hours long, which leaves us Portlanders plenty of free time for extracurricular smugness.

Obviously the most coveted employer in Portland is Chris King Precision Components, which is why they're widely referred to as the "G*ogle of the Willamette." However, when I told the Animatronic Chris Kingbot 9000 who conducts their interviews that I wanted to work on the "espresso tampon" line he showed me the door. (It was anodized pink, said "King" all over it, and had a 10-year warranty.) So I picked myself up off the floor, brushed the metal shavings off my Cane Creek t-shirt (which has a 110 year warranty), and resolved to press on.

Next, I went to Rapha, which is an even better place to work than Chris King since you don't have to operate any machinery--unless you consider riding a bicycle and being photographed in black and white to be "operating a machine." I was certain I'd nail this interview, and I even went so far as to don my bespoke cycling suit:

Unfortunately, I totally failed the "epic" portion of the interview when I finished dead last in the "Rapha Prospective Employee Gentleman's Soup Cook-Off." I also managed to catch a glimpse of their HR person's notes, and I distinctly saw the words "mustache not insouciant enough."

After Rapha, I headed over to Vanilla Bicycles to see if celebrity builder Sacha White could use an assistant, but it turns out there's even a five year wait list over there to clean the toilets--which, I might add, are absolutely filthy as a result.

Since it was clear I wasn't going to land an A-list Portland cycling job, I figured I'd have to dip my metaphorical ladle into the decidedly non-epic soup that is the Bikeportland job listings, and fortunately I was able to land something in short order:
This is Portland's equivalent of a "Midnight Cowboy" scenario, as bicycle food vending is the male prostitution of the Pacific Northwest, but it's still totally "aaahsome" since they observe Cross Crusade races as religious holidays and so I don't have to work on those days. (I do have to prove I raced though by presenting my boss with a pair of muddy "shants.")

Anyway, now that I was a real-life (in my imagination) Portland food vendor, I knew it was time to find "digs" befitting someone of my stature. So I turned to Craigslist, which is known as the "New York Times real estate section of the Willamette." Fortunately, it didn't take me long to find the perfect home:

A new home in an old house, on SE 52nd Ave north of Powell. Available in the beginning of April (officially), if you've contacted us before and are still interested, please email us again.

We're looking for someone or a couple that is interested in being part of a little start-up urban farm community. We don't own this house, but treat it as if we do, and are looking for someone that will do the same. We're looking for a housemate that is as interested in the "community" aspect of living here. We don't have to be best friends, but friendly conversation over a beer or tea on the porch is what we're after. A good candidate will be as into the gardening, helping with the fowl, building, and bettering our community as we are. We want this to be a light-hearted sanctuary. A place where you feel good about having a friend over, you feel good about coming home to, and feel good about taking care of. We sure do.

Neo-Hippies? Yes, probably.

(now if that didn't scare you)

It is about a 1,530 sq ft house, two stories plus dirt (not-so-dry) basement and attic. (A good amount of storage space in the attic, and bonus, it's dry)

A total of 3 bedrooms, all upstairs.

The room for rent looks east out over the back yard, and is 11'x13.5' About 148sqft which will rent for $450 or $550/month, depending if it's a single or couple. Room has average sized closet and large old double hung window. (It's the blue room pictured below, sorry for the low quality picture. The room is unfurnished. The rocking chair and dresser aren't included.

1 good sized bathroom (also upstairs) with full bath and shower with a great built-in for storage. Then the living room, dining room, entry way, small laundry/utility room (w/d included), and medium/large size walk-through kitchen with pantry are all down stairs.

It's a charming old farmhouse with front covered porch, back uncovered porch, old cherry tree in the back yard and a fenced garden with raised beds :) A somewhat wild yard (front and back) just waiting to be tamed into luscious Oregon gardens (which we hope to do). We have brought the farm back to the house in a sense. By raising chickens and ducks, building a coop and maintaining gardens, we're in the slow process of starting an urban farm. Hopefully we'll build a greenhouse by spring to start our years veggies, and the gardening potential is endless, really. We compost, have hopes to collect rainwater, and have dreams of solar panels.

Gas range/oven, gas furnace, and gas water heater. No dishwasher, so be comfortable doing them by hand.

Now you know about the house, here's some info on the house mates:

We're two active males who live a leisurely, but very busy, lifestyle (not to be confused with lazy) looking to share this SE house with a like minded individual or couple. We're into hiking, biking, camping and backpacking, road trips and day trips, cross country skiing, white water rafting and canoeing. We enjoy preparing home cooked meals and barbecues. We're friendly to people and animals, and sometimes find humor in their (and our) silly behavior. People watching entertains us; we enjoy spending time with friends, and making new ones. Thrift shopping excites us. Gardening, plants, and trees strengthen our collective spirit. We consider our selves open minded with the ability to empathize with others. Sunday conversations with a pot of coffee keep us grounded. One of us is self employed as a people and dog trainer. The other is a Cafe Manager at a popular eatery. We're queer, hetero, omnivore, and 420 friendly. We occasionally enjoy a cocktail after work, but rarely more than 2. We travel with an 11yo canine, who is often described by friends and strangers as a very good dog, a 2 year old canine who is clean, mostly well mannered, enjoyable to interact with and loves to play, and a 2 year old, very chill, indoor feline who manages the family. (additional animals considered on a case-by-case basis, though adding another dog to the house is pretty unlikely) We take great pride in the manners, habits, and cleanliness of our companions, as well as ourselves. Neither of us are neat freaks, but do appreciate a tidy household.

We're not into a scene; we enjoy DIY projects, occasional gatherings of friends, and generally a healthy well balanced enjoyment of life and its experiences.

Happy to enjoy interviews over a beer or tea.

Admittedly, as much as I ply him with artisanal craft ales and Stumptown coffee, the residual cynical New Yorker in me still pipes up now and again, and so a few items in this ad did give me pause. For example:

We compost, have hopes to collect rainwater...

How do you aspire to collect rainwater in Portland? This seems less like a goal than like something that's almost unavoidable. It's like saying you have hopes to collect mosquitos in summer, or you have hopes to acquire a bullet in your leg at a rap concert. Have they not managed to muster up the funds to purchase a bucket and leave it outside for a few days?

We're queer, hetero, omnivore, and 420 friendly.

Thank smugness I can seek refuge from the judgements of society in their idyllic urban farm community that has not yet "gotten it together" to stick a bucket outside. As soon as I move in I plan to take up permanent residence on the couch where I will proceed to test every limit of their politically correct tolerance by perusing heterosexual pornography, watching RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo, devouring spare ribs and vegan barley scones by the bucketful, and taking massive bong hits off of a 5 foot bong in the shape of a phallus while dressed in drag. (None of this behavior will seem odd to anybody who's attended a Cross Crusade race.)

Clearly, in Portland, tolerance has doubled over on itself like a sexually omnivorous yoga instructor performing oral sex on shimself.

I also enjoyed this:

We travel with an 11yo canine, who is often described by friends and strangers as a very good dog, a 2 year old canine who is clean, mostly well mannered, enjoyable to interact with and loves to play, and a 2 year old, very chill, indoor feline who manages the family.

I always enjoy prospective roommates who provide far too much information about their pets who, they don't seem to realize, are not people. Just say you have a couple of dogs and a cat, it's enough. Maybe specify the breed. Otherwise, most of us "get" how dogs and cats operate. Anyway, none of it matters, because if any of them bugs me while I'm "getting down" on the sofa with my ribs and my dong bong then they're going outside with the rainwater bucket.

By the way, notice that despite including a complete personality profile on both the dog and the cat they don't actually mention the sex. I suppose it would be very un-Portland to start assigning gender roles to them.

Finally though I managed to quell the knee-jerk sarcasm that they injected into me when I was born (standard practice in New York hospitals back in the 1940s when the stork "portaged" me into existence), and I'm pleased to say our urban farming community is coming along splendidly. I even procured a politically correct bamboo bucket which is collecting water (and possibly some urine) as I type this. I've also come to appreciate my roommates' painfully overbearing political correctness, which is much better than the sort of racial insensitivity you'll find up in Seattle:

I spotted this "ethnic care" section in a drugstore while I was there for the Bike Expo, and I must say I found it rather offensive--though their prices on "ethnic cleanser" were positively unbeatable.

But you know what they say: "You're not a real Portlander until you've had a case of beard lice gotten yourself a bicycle," and thanks to Craigslist I've picked up a real beaut:

Date: 2011-03-26, 8:57PM PDT
Reply to: [deleted]

Handmade Chopper bike
It is in overall ridable shape. It has back brakes (the kind that engage when you push back on the peddles)
I do not know the maker of this bike, so I cannot guarantee the structural integrity of it, but everything seems to be in good shape. Currently the tires need air and I don't have a pump to fill them up.

Selling for $50 (firm on the price). I live in North Portland near Lombard & I-5 (couple blocks from the MAX yellow line Kenton stop)

(503) 4 2 1 - [deleted]

I don't know about its integrity either, but as for my own, as a make-believe member of an urban farm community in the second-most bike friendly city in Canada's licey beard, I'm sure you'll agree its positively unimpeachable.


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