Monday, August 31, 2009

Dating the new Old Fashioned way

I did something a few weeks ago that I said I would never do; never in Atlanta, never anywhere. With one exception. I would only do this if I were the new girl in town.

Now I am. So I did … ONLINE DATING. 

Everyone’s doing it and if they’re not doing it, they know someone who is. Plus, there are hundreds of online dating sites out there. I chose to join, mainly because I came across a 30% off coupon for it. Let me tell you, walking into this dating scene is a little bizzaro; you’ve got all types of people swimming in the same pool, from the divorced… the widowed… or the never married “but been in a committed relationship before” type of guy.

One thing is certain: I’m getting quite the education. 

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. I’m in unchartered waters.
  1. Everyone has a viewpoint on “who pays when” etiquette
  1. Dating in my 40s versus dating in my 20s & 30s is a completely different experience; if a guy isn’t into me, I’m okay with that. Next…

With only a few hiccups, the experience has been fun. Dates have included a concert at the zoo, breakfast at the “original” Original Pancake House, a french pastry shop, and the Canby, Oregon Cruise-In, featuring old model cars. 

I no longer think the pain and pleasures of plunging oneself into the dating world has to do soley with geography but more to do with state of mind. My month long membership is up in a little over a week. After that, I go free agent for awhile. Should be interesting. Meantime, I have plenty to occupy myself with, like putting away the gypsy lifestyle I've led the last 9 months and settling into a new house as a renter. Single girl + new town + new home = Bliss. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Subaru & Sexuality

I went on a date last week, my first in Portland. I still laugh thinking about him telling me how challenging it is here for men, how they “compete with straight guys and lesbians.”

My date restores old cars as a hobby and he had just driven in from Olympia where he had picked up a ‘63 Studebaker. I, on the other hand, met him in my reliable yet slightly beat up ‘98 Subaru Forester. Naturally the subject of cars came up and when I mentioned what I drove, like others before him, his eyebrows raised up ever so slightly. And just like that I found myself once again defending my love of Subaru as a straight girl.

The more I thought about this stereotype that only lesbians drive Subarus, the more I realized of all my lesbian friends I only know one who actually drives a Subaru. Of all my straight gal pals, five own a Subaru. I did however do some googling and binging and found a website geared toward gay women calling the Subaru Forester the #1 car for lesbians. How they qualify that is beyond me ... and what if gay women around the world don't like this label? Ever thought of that? But all this got me thinking, maybe it’s time to declare the 1998 Subaru Forester the #1 car for Lebanese women? I am, after all, 100% Lebanese.

And “Suby” has been excellent in getting me to where I need to be when I can’t ride my bike. That includes a great show at the Oregon Zoo a few days ago. JJ Grey & Mofro opened for Susan Tedeschi. All were fantastic. Right before a show the zoo releases various birds. On this night they released a red tailed hawk, a bald eagle, and a bird that hails from Africa; a great start to a really nice evening. In fact, a great weekend. On Saturday I hopped in the car with three gal pals and we headed to a farm to go fruit picking. Of course, we veered off course for a few hours to hit up some yard sales, but it made for a well rounded day of shopping.

And it just occurred to me that my married friend Lara who drove that day did so in her … Subaru.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Be Careful what you wish for...

Portland is a city with attitude. And not the bad kind either. From a bumper sticker reading Keep Portland Weird, to a window sign stating The American People vs. the Oligarchs, Portland has a distinct voice and isn’t shy to show it. Walking around a neighborhood you might find the most random things like a brightly painted blue mailbox standing on a street corner, its sole mission: to act as a book exchange for any interested passerby.

Portland has a forest in the middle of the city. It’s called Forest Park and covers more than 5,000 acres making it a nice walk in the woods. Hikers, bikers and runners can all be found on its various trails. Just watch out for those big, fat, juicy slugs. 

I had been wishing for rain for a while now. On August 11, after 30 straight sunny days, the clouds parted and the raindrops came down. Ever since, it's been a mix of sun and clouds further solidifying the belief “be careful what you wish for”. Though on the flip side, wishing for friends can be a good thing and that’s certainly starting to happen. I like being the new girl in town. There’s something fresh about being a newbie anywhere, whether it’s at work, at a school, in a new town, or hey, even prison.

A highlight of this past week was a visit by an Atlanta friend who now lives in San Francisco. My friend Lisa and her boyfriend Chris drove through P-town on their way back from Washington and we spent an afternoon and evening hanging out in some of the neighborhoods including The Hawthorne District. Hawthorne personifies funkiness and trendiness from nonstop vintage thrift stores lining the main drag, to jam-packed cafes and restaurants. We ate at the Bagdad Theater, a movie theater & restaurant with delicious food and plenty of locally brewed beer. From there we ventured to the Space Room, an old-school drinking establishment that draws all walks from the hoodie crowd to the preppies. We ran into some guys who had just come off a race presumably requiring costume. They had decided to wear super short shorts and cutoff shirts. I think it’s safe to say, never a dull moment around this town. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time Flies!

It’s officially been one month since I arrived in Portland and wow how the time flies. It seems like so long ago that I left Atlanta – Toledo – Colorado, Utah, Idaho… and finally Oregon. Without question this was the right move for me, right now in life. Friends have asked “How’s Portland?” Well, PDX is a good fit and if life stays as is, I will continue to bring in new elements: biking more instead of driving, eating mostly organics, and keeping the motto ‘walking on faith”. By the way, the farmers markets all over town pretty much everyday = pure happiness. I have loved this time off I’ve given myself. It hasn’t been filled with a lot of plotting and planning of  the future like I initially thought. Instead, I’m just living in the moment. In fact, I’m going to keep trying to live like this as long as I can even as I “get down to the business of Lila business”.

One adjustment so far is accepting that things are slower in the Northwest. Slower as in driving. If the speed limit is 50 mph, people tend to drive 50 mph. And the trains … whoa. The one I caught the other day was slower than molasses. Really. Molasses. At the same time, I kind of like this pace. Plus, I figure I’m saving money on gas.  

Temperatures in the NW are back to normal with highs in the mid-70s. It makes for great hikes and this week was spent on a new trail in the Gorge: Wahkeena Falls. The trail I took was the Larch Mt. trail and it was a 3 mile hike, straight up. It kicked my butt but the sites were glorious and luckily the trail wasn’t filled with hikers. I ended the week pet sitting for my friend Lisa and family. Her pets are funny and her hot tub was just what the doctor ordered. All this hiking and biking has resulted in sore muscles and a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to feel good! 

Monday, August 3, 2009

Staying Cool in a cool town...

With 3 weeks of living in Portland under my belt, I'm finding "laid back mode" is possible. I'm just not fully there yet. That may take another month or two, possibly longer. And to get there I might need to stick to my bike instead of my car since I'm finding traffic here isn't always the greatest. Not only that, but there are smog alert signs on the freeways! I thought I had left that all behind in Atlanta. Luckily, so far the traffic on any given highway at any given time seems to last only about 5 minutes and the air quality hasn't been bad. 

Last week’s record breaking heat wave has come and gone but it reminded me of my first summer in Atlanta driving a Dodge Colt with no air conditioning and living in Inman Park, also with no air conditioning. This time my Suby has air but like many homes in Portland, my friend’s house does not. Air conditioning isn’t really needed here. But during last week’s scorcher, the house inside was, at times, hotter than outside. Everyone in the city did what they could to stay cool. 

I did find a house and it’s not the neighborhood I thought it would be. Instead, I am renting a friend of a friends’ home in a popular area called The Hawthorne District. Like a lot of houses in Portland, it’s 100 years old with a lot of character. It’s on a cute street just a few blocks from Hawthorne's shops and restaurants and a few blocks from Mt. Tabor – great for hiking, running, and biking. Portland has an abundance of parks; they are everywhere, in almost every neighborhood. There’s a Rose garden park nearby where I like to run or ride.

A final thought: One thing I haven’t seen in 3 weeks is television. I don’t miss it; though that theory may be tested once Project Runway’s new season begins. Instead I have started an even deeper love affair with, getting my fill of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report; and discovering I have a fixation watching a new Lifetime show online called Drop Dead Diva.