Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Oregon Trail

Most hotels offer wifi now, and godblessthem for it. My eyes are all overexposed from the screen-light causing me to squint at these words. Thank goodness for the keyboard back-lighting as I sit here typing in the pitch dark next to snoring baby and hubs.

Hello from the Oregon coast! Or actually, factually, we are now on the northern California coast in Crescent City which sits right above the Redwood forest. But we spent the last two days more or less on the Oregon coast and boy was it yummy. In this moment I hear a lighthouse horn that should be more romantic sounding than it is and the churning humming of the mini-fridge that makes maxi-mum noise but that makes it sound bad but wait! I misrepresent. I'm peaceful, I'm content and actually a little sleepy from a sunburn thanks to an amazing hike through white dunes (see pic to right). But the main feeling running me now is that I couldn't be further from home.

We've been gone so long away from the smoke and madness of LA and in the meantime have gotten all woo-d by the beauty of the pacific northwest. If I hadn't already lived here before and felt the unrelenting sprinkling rain, low-flying gray and bone-chilling cold of the winters we would have already put in an urgent call to a moving company to pack our place. But September is Chamber of Commerce time for Oregon and Washington and I WON"T BE FOOLED DAMMIT! As tempting as it is. And do you want to know why this land is so damn delicious? It's the trees.

On the drive up we found ourselves going into the evenings more than once and the night we drove into Ashland well past the big-headed baby's bedtime. Thankfully he'd drifted off to some quality sleep in his car chair (aka the bucket) and I sat beside him in the backseat as we drove along in silence through the dense siskiyou trees. Now I'm going to risk you guys thinking I am nuts (oh really Jane? Like this is new?) but I am telling you these trees were talking to me. Or better said, stroking the side of my face with their gorgeous green, cool softness. Stoic and statuesque, they loved me from rooted solidarity in the dark. The moon was amping up the magic by providing back-lighting and ghostly suggestions.

Oh lawd I tried getting all poetic on you people. So sorry, but... don't hold you think I have a future?

Anyway. I'm just here to tell you that if you take the 101 South through Oregon you will become a conservationist and get better at only using 3 squares of toilet paper or okay 4 but no more than 5 for a special day and only 1/2 a paper napkin with your turkey sandwich and god forbid ever print anything again. It's devastating to realize that we are all such giant consumers of these amazing creatures. You can see in this picture the thick gorgeous fringe of trees on the roadside. But what you can't see is that right behind them more often than not is nothing. Speeding along you can glimpse through the fringe a graveyard of churned up earth where trees used to be. It's land chunked out by clear-cutting or perhaps you'll see a little tiny army of baby trees on their way up.

I couldn't help but think of those one walled sets that you see on backlots in hollywood. It's a great looking storefront or what-have-you but it's literally one wall with empty nothingness behind it. I think these NW Chamber of Commerce troublemakers keep that one or two layers of trees by the 101 so we don't see the insidious tree-killing going on the back room.

What's a tourist to do. The world is so full of troubles but at least we got to eat ice-cream at Tillamook creamery, right? And while this trip has been such a reprieve from the banality of it all and I will readily admit magical Northwest has soothed my singed little self, it's best to tell you the whole truth. While I started this post with a big ol dose of contentment and yum we should probably round out those emotions with some serious paper guilt and a little bit of sadness for the trees.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Road Trip

Or a better name for this would be head trip. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

As you likely know, LA is burning. Again. And if you don’t live in LA you’re probably thinking. 'Whatev’s'. And that’s fair. When you have floods that take out all of your cows and tract housing I think, 'Aww. That sucks'. And then proceed to order my venti decaf cappuccino and obsess over how they never get the foam right instead of doing the right thing and sending dollars over the internet to your flooded plains. So I get it.

But the burning hill-line (like skyline) was so unnerving to me this time around. And I attribute that to my new status as protector-provider-procreator-person. And as that person, I, along with my teammate (aka the dad, hubs, cute husband) decided that the proper thing to do when you can see flames from your house is run. Sure the flames were 10 miles away and really the likelihood of them getting to our particular place of residence was pretty darn low. Yet I still got a new sticky sensation of unease that sent us packing. Of course that sticky sensation might have come from how freakin’ hot it was. But I’m talking about something else.

Parenthood has me right out on the precarious edge of reason and normalcy. I’ve heard friends reference this in the past and of course I just couldn’t understand it. When I was pregnant at a Christmas party last year (you know, cute pregnant? Not cankles and giant-face pregnant. That came later) my step-brother said to me, ‘Get ready to be terrified all the time’. Huh, I thought. This big guy is afraid? How cute. But yep, now I get it. It’s like a combination of a constant low-level adrenaline buzz spiked with a splash of irrational fear the imminent, untimely exit for my immediate family unit as well as everyone else I hold dear. How many times a night do I check to see if the wee one is breathing? Shoot this week I woke up cute hubs worried that he wasn’t breathing. I don’t know if this gut-bomb of anxiety diminishes over time, but here at almost five months in I’m still on the razor’s edge.

Plus the smoke was really bad. Here is a picture I shot last Saturday as the fire really kicked into gear.

Ominous, right? The real trouble came when our AC units were not doing their job of closing the vent and our place was filling with smoke. With watering eyes and hurting lungs I turned to our DEAR dear friends who had just came down from SF on Saturday to stay with us and meet the BHB and said. “We gotta go”. My lungs are big and they hurt, this is clearly not okay for the tiny-lunged dude. Thank god they not only understood, but they also gave us the key to their place is SF. So we home swapped. Not as interesting as wife swapping but just as weird.
Or it sure felt weird when we were driving out of town…did we just leave some of our BF’s ever in our smoky house? Did we just dump our sweet still-cone-headed dog on them to care for? Are we really passing up a flight to Seattle in favor of driving all the way there with a five month old? I ask you. Now that is nuts.

Unfortunately the ominous feeling of those towers of smoke and the smell of national forest burning didn’t fade when the image left our rear view mirror.

That dark feeling of doom trailed us north on 1-5 and didn’t actually shake off until we arrived in Seattle four days later. The trip was long and strange, we took it really slow and only did about 5 hours worth of driving per day – not that we only drove five hours mind you. More like eight - which is a heck of a lot of time to think.

The good news is that the big-headed-baby has been an unbelievable pleasure of a road-trip buddy. On the way up he was just a sweet, cooing, drooling, smiling, foot-waving rockstar. We rotated sitting in the back having face time with him with his adorable grin and then tried to have a little grown-up time in the front when he napped. The miles rolled by and the trees got bigger, our car dirtier and the baby farts funnier.

But we finally made it. Today we’re in Seattle which is our previous home. It’s beautiful here. There is nothing like early September in Seattle, it’s pretty much ideal.

I’m feeling better being around many dear friends but I am told by the same dear friends that the new fear-factor running my show doesn’t go away. Sure the first year is precarious and there’s lots to worry about, but it’s only just begun.

Anyone have any advice for coping mechanisms for this new cocktail of feelings? I think the recipe is part fear, part anxiety, largely overwhelming, heartbreaking love that is shaken And stirred. Do tell if you’ve found any chasers. Oh and despite my fun with the martini analogy here since I don’t drink booze anymore please don’t tease me with how you get it done that way. Please tell the other ways, if they exist…