Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Portland -- excitement and openness, that's what I'm feeling!

Portland streets are deceptive in the way that they all seem overly large and everything on the side too much stripmall, but inside there's such vibrancy and excitement, outside too with everything growing growing growing because of the rain I guess and someone just mentioned volcanic ash in the soil that makes sense too. But architecturally there are a lot of pretty old houses but otherwise it's not so inspiring, especially with all of the hideous new condos stretching block after block and especially downtown where there used to be just warehouses and a storefront here and there now it's huge towers with multilevel windows or even balconies like diving boards high up on one and after dark streets are empty like the suburbs except the buildings face flatness inside and out.

But Portland, where there are so many food coops and health food stores it's insane almost a different one for every neighborhood and I can't help but admit that I love food coops and health food stores and then the reading, yes the reading it's totally packed and all of these people I recognize from my last reading in Portland, plus a bunch of people from Eugene, including Johnny who drove up with a few friends and John who moved back and came to the reading on his birthday with his sister and brother! A lot of queers with fun ragged haphazard clashing outfits that kind of reming me of San Francisco before it just became fashionitis or maybe I'm just romanticizing something I don't know as well but you know how I love fun ragged haphazard clashing outfits but mostly I love packed readings and so much excitement and openness too that's what I'm feeling.

Thea is brilliant, reading about gender discovery and transition and when your desires clash with your feelings clash with your logic clash with your hope and when it all comes together, there are a couple places when really I could cry these beautiful scenes of self-determination and throughout a critique of the medical establishment and a hesitation to offer support without accountability, I love that. It's great to see these pieces I've heard before in different surroundings amplified here with a different audience and all the emotion this brings.

There is a comfortable and uncomfortable juxtaposition between the pieces that Thea and I read, Thea’s more essayish and mine with a different focus on form I mean Thea’s are focused on form too but with a particular destination in mind they are more issue-driven I think and I do get self-conscious at one point because of the difference in style I think but also that's what makes the reading so great. We are not looking for a singular affect or effect.

The microphone at Powell’s is great, not too sensitive or distorted like it so many places, and I enjoy playing with my intonations and rolling the text and pulling it back in and that's what I love about reading. Afterwards the audiences quiet for such a large group, first a question for Thea about how people in her communities respond to her critiques, mostly Thea says people are supportive and they also check her on certain things and make her work stronger. A question for me about how I developed the style of So Many Ways to Sleep Badly and here I get to talk about fibromyalgia and challenging form and everything else so much fun.

Then lots of great people coming up to us to sign books and chat and it turns out one of the people I recognize is from Olympia, I mean we met in a few of my readings there and he gives me a sweet note inviting me for tea in the Bay Area over the winter, yes I love propositions! And Johnny gives me a gorgeous heart painting and says dinner in the Bay area as well, actually he says do you do much socializing I say no not really not in public but dinner one-on-one, yes to one-on-one!

Afterwards, I'm trying to figure out a good place for late-ish vegan food with a group of people and at first we can't think of anywhere but then luckily someone suggests the Red and Black, an anarchist café open ‘til 11 pm and the food is cheap and great and it's quiet there we get a big table and talk about the sex parties they’re planning and right after the reading when I crashed I mean after the signing I started to think maybe I shouldn't be going anywhere, my body hurting especially the front of my hips I think because I stand so far forward when I'm reading and then I did some stretches in the bathroom and went on a walk outside the Red and Black and then I go inside and everything feels calm.


debbie rasmussen said...

sorry i missed it; my day blew up in my face. happy to hear portland treated you well! yay for anarchist collective cafes and rainforests.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of queers with fun ragged haphazard clashing outfits that kind of reming me of San Francisco before it just became fashionitis or maybe I'm just romanticizing something I don't know as well..."

I have only been to Portland once but I loved it for this reason. It seemed like what San Francisco once was and could still be except for the rich white gay gender nazis and what not.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Debbie, and I missed you! We must catch up sometime soon -- and indeed, yay for anarchist collective cafes and rainforests!

Ohthehorror, so it's not just me... and yes yes, San Francisco has problems problems problems...

Love --

Mark said...

No darling, it's not just you. Portland is fucking RAD. When I was there last year, people kept telling me it was like SF in the 80s. I thought that was a weird thing to say, but I did have a lot of fun. And there were people and music everywhere. It was all interesting. I have been trying to talk myself into moving there, I'm just afraid of how small it is. I love living in the bigger city.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Everyone loves Portland! And it is small... and spread out...

love --

annaham said...

I'm sorry I missed your reading in the Bay Area several weeks ago (October 8th?); however, I am glad that your book tour is going well!

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Thanks, AnnaHam -- I'll be back in the Bay for more events in January -- hope to see you then!

Love --