April 17, 2004

So I got my IRA today. I went to the bank armed with all sorts of official documents, but I didn't need any of them. Since I already have accounts with this bank, all I had to do was transfer money into a new IRA account.

I felt like jumping up and hugging the customer service rep when I signed the final forms. I expected her to grin and say "Congratulations! You are on your way to a secure future!" and then for people to run out with balloons and accordions. Instead, she said "Will that be all for you today?" and I said "yup, thanks" and left.

To celebrate, Sam and I went off to spend (his) money on things for our house. We decided to renew our lease in September for another year and so, goshdarnit, the time had come to get curtains for the windows. And so (hello gender stereotypes), Sam dropped me off at Pier One to pick out curtains while he went to Home Depot to buy a drill.

Walking into Pier One with money to spend was like crossing the gates of Mecca. Though I sometimes deny it, I am a consumer. This fact, coupled with my ardor for making my living space look spiffy, makes Pier One a paradisiacal garden of heavenly delights. I wove my way around brightly embroidered pillows and shelves of candle accoutrements and tall antique-y wooden giraffes for about thirty minutes, slowly formulating my plan of attack. By the time Sam came to pick me up, Dewalt drill in tow, I had accumulated a pile of glass vases and bottles, hanging picture frames, and candles. But no curtains. And so, after Sam plead to be released from his version of hell (shopping of any kind), I dropped him off and proceeded to Northwest Portland.

NW 23rd is an especially trendy street, replete hip little shops and cafes. I found my way to Cost Plus, a global market warehouse neat kind of place, and purchased curtains and curtain rods there, as well as new pillows and some really good chocolate.

My house is shaping up. The living room is now a cozy little place. The walls are blue and there are pictures hanging all over the place and bright pillows on the couches and a paper lantern in the corner. There is a green and white jute rug under a perfectly-sized coffee table. There are paper daisies and green glass bottles. And curtains. White valances with embroidered flowers. It's lovely.

On our way to Pier One and Home Depot, we passed a really great dog. I yelled to Sam, "that's the kind of dog I'd love to get!" and so he hung a u-ie so we could say hello. The dog turned out to be a German shepherd/lab/Australian shepherd mix. She was average size and slender and she had eyebrows that went up and down up and down. The girl holding onto her collar had found the dog playing in the street, called the owner, and was waiting for the hand-off. Sam and I decided to wait with the girl, and get in some good dog-time. It wasn't long before a man with a big beard, shorts, and an aviator-like skullcap came up to us, with a wildly hyper little terrier at his heels. The terrier was manic about saying hello to the shepherd. She was so excited she was baring her teeth, which was really a sight to see. The man, a gruff street-wandering type of guy, began talking to us, and it went something like this:

"Well hi, this is my Marybell. She's just so excited she wants to give your dog a kiss. She loves other dogs. Loves to give 'em kisses. Now calm down, Marybell. Calm down. Daddy's tellin' you to calm down. Are you gonna listen to Daddy? Look at those teeth. Isn't she funny? I clean her teeth. You want to see 'em? I clean her ears too. I put olive oil in 'em, just a few drops every couple of months. I don't go in for that pharmaceutical stuff. What is it, honey? Uh-oh! Daddy's got your tail! What are you gonna do, Marybell? You want to go get some meat? Huh? Does Daddy's baby want some meat? We're gonna go get her some organic roast beef. She really loves that stuff. I feed her only the good stuff. Geez. You'd think after two years she'd cool it a little, wouldn't you? Marybell, chill out honey. Take a deep breath. Daddy's tellin' you to take a deep breath. She's got her own cell phone. It says Marybell on it. You wanna see? People call up and say "put Marybell on" and they talk to her and she kisses the phone. Hey, your back tire looks a little flat. Looks like it's about 27 psi, it should be up to about 35. You should get it checked out. It's riding a little low. You should see her at the park. She rolls around with all these big dogs. But some of them think she's too hyper. They snap at her. This leash is a Godsend. It's saved her life, you know. She don't know what's best for her sometimes. Tries to give a pit bull a big kiss. No way. Don't know what's best for her. Huh, Marybell?"

We all stood on the corner and chatted, and we didn't know each other's names and passer-by's would stop and talk and then move on. Portland is great like that. Everyone talks to each other. Everyone is just so nice and friendly. Eventually, the dog's owner came ("I was unloading groceries and she ducked right under the garage door!") and we all parted company.

Later in the day I was waiting for the bus when a car came and splashed a puddle all over me. It was so perfectly preposterous that I didn't even get mad. The other people waiting for the bus laughed along with me, and we all thumbed our noses at the retreating car. When the bus finally came it smelled of graham crackers and all of the people were smiling and everyone said please and thank you to the bus driver. I love this city.

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