Gentlemen and Gentlewomen of the Vox Chaotica Council! Seven drafts later, I begin this post. You see, I have a lot of concepts, situations, and ideas I want to talk with you about—but as the seven crumpled-up cyberspace pages in my blog's trashcan clearly tell, the words to use have not yet revealed themselves to me. So let me instead share with you the recent joy of my trip to Portland, Oregon.
This was the first trip I'd ever taken completely on my own; I paid for it in its entirety with money I made at my job (gross), booked and reserved flights and hotels without help from anyone I knew (okay, so I did a deal through Expedia, but I've never talked about booking things with anyone. I still call it a win), flew, stayed and navigated the city alone, and only did what I felt like doing for the roughly five days I was there. I had plans to maybe meet up with friends, but like most half-baked schemes, those fell through. So my entire trip was me exploring a foreign locale for the first time.
As for the actual trip, there isn't too much interesting to tell. I hit up a few of the normal touristy places, Powell's City of Books, Voodoo Doughnut, the Lan Su Chinese Garden, and Trucker Dan from my flight there (one of the nicest people I've met on a plane) told me to definitely make it to Frank's Noodle House, which was good but not my favourite (notice how Chinese food is not really on my list). But mostly I just wandered around the city, inconspicuously catching Pokémon [Is there anyone else who still plays Pokémon GO?], trying to blend in (pictured below), and confusing the Stumptown baristas.
Actually, let's take a moment to talk about confusing Stumptown baristas. I work as a barista at a corporate coffee shop (hint: not the green straw, not the fluorescent straws), and in doing so, I have become something of a Coffee Experimenter™. And as my fellow baristas (and maybe foodies) can attest to, everyone has one drink (or food) that they use as a measuring stick for coffee shops (or restaurants)—for the longest time, I used Hot Chocolate, but now I use a cold brew cappuccino.
Yeah, that's right. Cold. Brew. Cappuccino. Before you comment full of disgust and confusion, read the rest of this post, then read my page all about the Cutter Videan Cold Brew Cappuccino Experience. But back to Stumptown. I asked for this drink a couple times, at a couple different locations, and only once did the baristas seem interested in it. The rest of the times, the person taking my order either looked at me with ill-concealed rage or just total blank-eyed non-comprehension. I mean, I totally get it's a weird thing to order, but I thought coffee was supposed to open your mind and boost innovative practices, not reinforce the walls we so often build for ourselves to "protect"from change. [Oooooooh Cutter's not making any friends with this one...]
In any case, it was a pleasant surprise when that particular pair of baristas were like, "Hey, yeah! We could probably do that. Is it good? Let me know what it's like—actually, I'll just try one tomorrow!" So here's to you, moustachioed glasses guy, and black-haired tattooed right arm girl from the 3rd Street Stumptown. You guys win.
And now that trainwreck of a tangent is ended, let's get back to something pretty. The Lan Su Chinese Garden was one of my favourite places, and if you want to see come pictures, head over to this gallery of things I found pretty there. It was one of the most serene, removed spaces I've ever had the pleasure to find myself in. While wandering around the many chrysanthemum displays, the giant lake, and the couple traditional Chinese architectural structures inside the four walls, I felt completely at ease for the first time in a long time.
Actually, let me type at you for a little bit about this feeling. I was in a completely different city, county, state, and climate, and I felt no pressures of the world on me at all. For that hour and a half of aimless wandering around, I was as purely me as I can remember—just existing and admiring the beauty of the flora around me. This feeling is the main reason I wanted to go on this trip. And at first, I thought this bothered me because no one asked about it, but really it's two deeper concepts: first, no one focusses on the why of a trip, and second, I was embarrassed to tell people that I mostly did nothing on my vacation because of the responses I thought I would get.
Let me unpack that a bit for you. To this day (almost exactly a month after my trip to Portland), I still haven't really told anyone that most of my time there was spent walking around, looking at the buildings in Downtown, ocassionally reading some Borges, and just enjoying being away. I had one, singular, planned thing to do each day, and the rest of the day I just did whatever I felt like. In my conversations with friends, family, and coworkers, the only questions were where did you go? and what did you do? My closer friends asked if I had a good time and actually wanted to know more about what that meant, but as soon as I started to try and explain my favourite times were when I was simply being, my conversation parteres would glance at their phone, or their eyes would drift off somewhere indistinct, or they'd ask about some other place I'd been.
Now, before you roll your eyes so hard they pop out of your head, I realise this just sounds like me being the stereotypical whiny high-schooler saying, "Why doesn't ~anybody~ understand me? :'( :'( :'(" I know people can't read my mind [please tell me everyone here knows what a bad situation reading minds is, and how terrible it would be for anyone to be able to read my mind], but it makes me sad that our culture places so much importance on the what rather than the why. It makes me sad our society believes that travelling to a place means you have to exhaust every opportunity you have there, and to cram your relaxation time with plans just so you can come back home to all your normal plans and work and friend/family obligations. I guess it mostly just makes me think whether it's a good idea for us to all be so preoccupied with being busy and filling our time here with things that we never take the time to reflect on them and on ourselves.
Wow. Alright. What a downer, am I rite, ladeez? Oof that one hurt to type. Anyway, I had an excellent time in Portland. Definitely top five trips of all time (including my trips to England, Australia, and New Zealand).
What trips have you gone on? Why did you enjoy them? And how about that cold brew cappuccino, eh?
tl;dr - Cutter went to Portland, Oregon for five days and basically just walked around the city and ate food that sounded good. He has a bunch of pictures on his Facebook and Instagram, if you wanna see more of him and his lovely pal Timber the Tiger. Then he tanked the whole post by writing about something "meaningful" ew, gross. And that's not even mentioning the Cold Brew Cappuccino fiasco he's started.