Stumped at Stumptown

I am in Portland by myself and I have come to find myself.  This is the fourth time I have come to Portland in the last three years.  I like it here but maybe I should start looking for myself somewhere else because I can’t seem to find anything here but coffee and books. Don and I were talking the other day and to paraphrase, because he said it nicer, “There is nothing to you anymore.  You just react to whatever is going on.”  It didn’t even make me mad because he is correct and like I said he said it nicer. I feel like a mouse (a really cute one) and Don and the kids are cats that bat me back and forth across the floor and I am just waiting in fear until they tire of the game and  pounce on me and eat me.

I am not sure why I don’t have much sense of self.  It doesn’t help that  my kids are very difficult and extremely willful.  They will never be mice and I admire that about them.  I want my girls to, as CEO Cheryl Strayhan says to “lean in”,  but they are leaning in so much they are knocking me over. My fault not theirs.

I have realized that the times in my life I was the most content and felt the best were times I was on the road or living out of the country.  Hence my need to travel alone now to try to recreate that feeling.  It was so simple and straightforward. I just went to work and went home.  I couldn’t look for another job. I was not worried about paying bills.  I felt more secure being who I was because no one really knew me.  I was a stranger in a strange land already different so it didn’t matter.  The only problem I ever had to deal with was the occasional producer who would ask me to work on my “attitude problem”.  Whatever.

Now,  how to recreate the feeling of well being and sense of self in my own world.  The only thing I seem able to recreate easily is the attitude problem.  Whatever.  I’m not sure how I am going to do this but you can be sure I will let you know when I figure it out and I will pontificate about how you should do the same thing.  On that subject,  never listen to anything I say.  Example: do not go off your anti-depressants or throw away your bathroom scale, at least not at the same time. It was a really bad idea.  Whatever.

Tripping Alone

Two or three times a year I go on a vacation by myself.  I am able to do this because I am married to the best husband in the world who takes care of the kids, dogs, cats, fish, kids and house for the time I’m gone.  It’s not a time he enjoys, but he sucks it up and faces his fear of our children because he realizes the alternative is far more terrifying.  The alternative is that I don’t go anywhere and I become a danger to myself and others- mostly others.  He is a smart man and really the best husband I have had so far.
I may have mentioned once or twice that the last year has been a little difficult.  I have managed to rid Sofie of mental illness, get Addie and Sofie into new schools, get Sofie on the Cheer Squad at her new school, and cure Peggy’s cancer.  The only thing I failed at is getting Don’s show picked up.  I tried, but he needs to be home to babysit anyway.  Having accomplished all this I felt I had earned a few days away.  I decided to go to Portland and I had visions of going to yoga, walking three miles a day, and eating a lot of vegan food to return home rested and healthy.  Six days before I was supposed to leave I began a taper off of my latest benzodiazepine addiction and two days before my back went out.  Also, I forgot to pack my  “lady pills”.  By my second day in Portland I was a hormonal walking hot flash in Ativan withdrawal, barely able to take three steps without my back going into spasms.  When I would leave the hotel I had to be really careful not to wander into traffic. It was 60 degrees outside and raining yet I was wearing a slip and flip- flops.  I really did look like a crazy person. In case you think this ruined my vacation and deterred me from having a good time, it did not.  I was not deterred!  I have had a really good time.  And, I have to tell you it is easier to feel like shit when you are not home taking care of kids.  It didn’t matter if my back went out or that I was hallucinating because I would just find another coffee shop, prop myself up against a wall so I wouldn’t fall over and have some more caffeine.
I love Portland.  I have seen two movies at The Living Room Theater, which I like to call The Smarty Pants Theater, and spent an entire afternoon at Powell’s Books.  I have shopped in a lot of really cute little stores, eaten VooDoo Donuts and Vintage Shopped my heart out.  The interesting thing about vintage stores is they are filled with a whole bunch of stuff my family used to have.  I was in one store today and the music they were playing was a hauntingly beautiful Scottish Medley.  All of a sudden it was 1966 and I was in my living room in Garden Grove.  (My parents listened to weird music.)  I even went to a consignment shop and while vintage stores have stuff my family used to own, consignment stores have clothes I used to own.  It was there realized a disturbing and rather expensive pattern in my life.  I spend a lot of money on clothes, give them away, and them buy them back ten years later at a fraction of the cost.  Hmm.  Anyway, today I bought a Snoopy T-shirt from the 70’s and an old T-shirt with Buddah on it.  I’m pretty sure this qualifies me to be a drummer in an Indie Rock Band.  I am that ironic.

Washington Park Rose Garden
I have to go now.  I am going to the Smarty Pants Theater to see a French film about police in the Child Protection Unit.  Sounds cheery, n’est-ce pas?  Au Revoir.

Art in the Wasteland

Time to go home. Just how many book stores, gardens, art galleries, massages, yoga, and pilates does one person need? I guess I need a lot. The trick will be to find a way to keep doing these things when I get home. Now that I am a Stay Around Mom I have e few extra hours a day and I hope I don’t fill them playing games on my IPad.

The truth is it is very difficult for me to be creative and feel good about myself in Los Angeles. When I am away from the City of Cranky Angels I don’t spend hours of every day thinking about how old and fat I am. Sometimes I even feel good about myself. LA is tough man. It is a young woman’s game and those who aren’t so young anymore are desperately trying to hold on to their size 2 jeans- myself included. It is so fricking exhausting and it takes up all the space that any creative energy or even dare I say, happiness, might creep in. Not to mention that with very few exceptions Los Angeles is a cultural wasteland. It is hard to create in a fear based atmosphere and people in LA are very afraid. This is why most television and films suck. Fear from the top of the industry down. No trust in the artist whose idea it was in the first place. I have watched it happen a million times (not really a million but a few times a year) a really good idea gets thrown like a stuffed animal to a pack of dogs and if it survives at all it is handed back to the writer barely resembling the cute little bunny it started out as with the declaration, “Now that’s a show!” When it becomes apparent that America does not want to watch a torn up stuffed animal the pack of dogs slink off to their master and say, “Must be the writer’s fault.”
I just got really distracted there. This isn’t about me at all! This is what my husband goes through every year. He’s even learned a few tricks to handling the pack of dogs. Some of them aren’t very smart so if you throw them a cookie first they might leave your stuffed animal alone. I don’t know how he does it. He has extreme discipline, does’t drink or do drugs and he still creates scripts that are wonderfully funny and deep. Art in the wasteland.
Now back to me. This is not the Don Todd blog. Can’t think of a thing. See you in LA. I’ll be the woman with the newly auburn hair, henna tattoo, wearing her glasses. I will still be wearing makeup- let’s not go overboard. Thanks Portland, I needed that.
Later: I want to add that while I consider Los Angeles to be a cultural wasteland I know many talented artist that work and thrive here. They are way cool,too.

In Fellowship

I am in Portland. I arrived yesterday, ate from a food truck, went to Powell’s book store, a three story block long stuffed with books haven (where I would like to have my ashes spread) and saw a foreign film in a theater that uses real dishes. Fabulous. I was planning on taking a vacation at the end of September, but I got a job that starts September 9, so I took it now.

I was offered a Fall Fellowship from Obama For America. Basically, I will be organizing my hometown, La Canada, land of the Republicans. I think I was offered the position because I was the only one in the San Gabriel Valley who applied. There is just one teensy problem. Besides the obvious issue of not having even one viable alternative candidate, I am not real sure why we should reelect Obama. Now, I realize this attitude is not going to send people running to the poles voting Obama, but I don’t think I am alone in my feelings. If I, DeAnne Todd, the person who stood screaming from the roof top of the Mirage in Las Vegas,” Hope! Change!”, is reluctant imagine how the less enthusiastic people in the middle who voted for him must feel. So, I am hoping to learn the reasons why I should be excited again at the training next week. I had two phone interviews for the job with people I am pretty sure were around Andrew’s age, 23. I get why they are excited, they are not as tired. But, tell me why I, a fabulously young looking married 50 year old with children and more pets than animal shelter should get excited about Obama. Can you believe they hired me? Don’t get me wrong, he is still my guy. I have faith, but even the faithful need to see the water turned into wine once in a while. At least now I won’t drink it all.
I am off now to explore Portland, but first I am going to do some yoga with the the yoga kit they gave me when I checked in and then I am going to get some coffee. I hope I can find a coffee shop in this town.