Friday, February 29, 2008

Second Impressions

I love it here. Love. It. Ottawegians, I don't suggest you google "portland weather." It will break your hearts.

It would be rude to tell you how few layers I'm wearing, but what I will tell you is that I pulled my tuque out of my knapsack today, looked at it in bewilderment for a moment, and then thought "Faugh, bullshit!" before tossing it carelessly over my shoulder. Fuck tuques.

Right now, I'm sitting in Powell's bookstore, which is so damn big you need a map for navigation. It's independently owned. Today, after I skipped out on the very boring afternoon symposia, I wandered over to a neighbourhood called The Pearl - full to the brim of amazingingly cute girls and boys. Wherever you go! Everywhere you look!

After doing a bit of grocery shopping at Whole Foods, I wandered along Oak St and marvelled at the independent cafes and bookstores, and again with all cute people, sitting around outside, unjacketed, having coffee and looking relaxed. Outside. In February. The place I ended up sitting was called Stumptown Coffee, and though at first I totally loved it, it started to irritate me after I'd sat for a while. Something too slick about it, too much studied indifference. The art was heavily ironic. Still, they made a fucking good soy latte.

And I got to *pick* it. It wasn't the only option. It was the one I chose to go to, out of all the independent cafes I passed on a 10 block walk of very short blocks.

It is going to be very hard to come home to Ottawa with its cold and cafeless streets, its long grey blocks, and its strangers with no smiles. Though I've been so fucking happy to be here, it may be that people are just smiling back.

Feels a bit anticlimactic to be writing so much after saying I was not going to be blogging cause I'd be all busy, you know, what with the work and the g-spot hunting. But the thing that I forgot about work conferences is that they're fucking tiring. By the end of the day, I don't actually want to talk to other people. I want to drink mint tea in the whitewash buzz of cafe noise and tap tap tap you out a missive.

The only problem with this bookstore is that the cafe bit is in the Gold Room, and the toilet bit is in the Purple Room, which does not seem to be very near the Gold Room at all.

Time for me to pack it in, take a piss, and head on back to bed.


P said...

Well, I appreciate hearing about it . . . it makes escape from this harsh winter seem possible.

Anonymous said...

this is where my lady friend is from! you two should have a chat about the joys of Portland. I hear this Powell's place is the wonder of wonders. You should also know that Bob's Red Mill and Stash teas are also based out of that general vicinity and have giant outlet stores. Nothing like coming home with a suitcase full of cheap organic flour. Potential customs implications though, dang it.

Tim said...

I have to admit I'm jealous. I'd love to be in Portland right now. Though, mentioning bookstores and the northwest puts me in mind of my favorite bookstore in the States (yes, in the entire country) -- The Elliott Bay Book Company.

Milan said...

I am now seriously considering fleeing to Portland.

jpdaigle said...

Ottawa isn't completely devoid of coffee shops (or did you mean caf├ęs?).

Bridgehead is the friendliest I know, and although you'll brush shoulders with a few weirdos from time to time (I certainly seem to attract them), most days you'll find a friendly smile returned. One of my favourite things about them: no two of their locations look the same on the inside.

Milan said...

I have always had a somewhat critical attitude about Portland because of the way the overhead highways rudely cut through large parts of the city. On the basis of your endorsement, I will need to give the place a more serious try.