Life: Anatomy of a Week: A Time Capsule

November 15, 2010

Author’s note: I wrote this post a few weeks ago, and then shunted it into a shameful draft state. I felt like it was too self-centered or rambling: it is a blog equivalent of feeling a lack of confidence. I’ve decided to publish it. It provides a summarized glimpse into my life and I’d like to keep it around for posterity.

It is the eve of my 33rd birthday, and I was recently reminded that I never blog about myself anymore. Allow me to fix what isn’t broken and give you an extensive time capsule of a typical week in my life. This past one seemed relatively pleasing and should serve as a good baseline.


Monday is long enough ago that I don’t really remember the specifics. It is likely that I strapped on my typical workaday shoes and stumped down to work while listening to Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom via on my iPhone. The novel is possibly the best thing I have ever read (heard is more accurate) and also completely emotionally eviscerating. Probably I arrived at the office somewhat after nine still brutalized by a miasma of fictional heartbreak and longing.

Is this the right mood to preface watching my esteemed coworkers play ersatz sysadmin on someone else’s server and make excruciating performance tweaks on one of our own? Or the right frame of mind to rewrite a chunk of a Drupal mobile-detection module to account for the unexpected complete rewrite of another upon which it depended? Perhaps not, but, risking sentimentality here, I love my job and I’ll be damned if Franzen’s authorial genius in wreaking devastated characters is going to detract from my coding bliss. I’d spent a goodly portion of the preceding Saturday rewriting the server end of a mobile application to account for a client’s change of mind and had that self-satisfied got-a-lot-of-work-done-this-weekend-and-look-at-the-happy-customer! glow.

Lunch at Olympic Provisions, charcuterie extraordinaire, on the ground floor of our building. As somewhat typical, I didn’t eat anything, too keyed up by the thought of broken APIs and the promise of the future. Or at least the afternoon’s workload.

Stomped home again. David at the door with a glass of Malbec. He was reading Chuck Palaniuk’s wild and weird Fugitives and Refugees, a quasi-guidebook about odd things to do in Portland. We got bored around six and so went to the Hawthorne district to go to Science Pub at the Bagdad Theater, where we were joined by our friend Carl. It’s a good thing we went early because the place hit capacity. It’s a tellingly Portland situation that a geology lecture on the Ice-age Missoula Floods could fully pack a cavernous, beer-serving venue. The talk was given by Professor Scott Burns. I saw a variant of the same presentation about 12 years ago, in Professor Burns’ geology survey course at Portland State University, and it changed my whole life outlook. For some time I considered garnering an advanced degree in geology, for the sole reason that the subject is fascinating.

After-lecture munchies and three-way esoteric argument about the relative depravity/vapidity of expensive jeans at the Bridgeport brewpub down the street.


Lunch at Olympic Provisions with my goddaughter Kea (she’s 2) and several other people. Glad I had my Matchbox variant of an Audi R8 in my purse, because Kea presented her blue Audi TT and asked after it.

Reviewing a lease agreement marked up by everyone’s lawyers, ours, theirs, whatnot. It’s time for Cloud Four to move to a new office; our lease is expiring at the OMCC building and, well, trust me, it’s time. Re-generated a provisioning profile for an iPhone app. Scoped development of another application for other mobile device classes. You know. Like you do.

Cocktails and two-dollar butternut squash gnocchi at the Heathman.


I work from home on Wednesdays. This particular one was distractingly sunny and full of waits on other people’s broken APIs. Debugged something scary that turned out to be over-aggressive caching. Fixed something to do with cookies, made something faster.

My father swooped in for a brief visit in late afternoon; a quick trip to Floyd’s Coffee up the street and much opining about various things. He was in town for a dinner with other old-school television news types: he used to be the executive producer of the news at KOIN in the 1970s. High-tailed it on foot to Noble Rot at the Burnside-Sandy ninth circle of horrid intersection to meet Autumn on their heart-catching rooftop bar. We both stared at the incredible view—not like any other in town, and surprising in its mere fourth-storey-ed-ness—while it went sunset then gorgeous autumnal dusk. It was a good conversation, and Autumn was happy. All was happy.

Walked home again listening Die Antwoord, which whom I have a bizarre socio-linguistic and overawed obsession (beyond the scope of this itinerary). Found David early-sleepy, which left me pacing and restless. I decided to drive around and listen to music, which, yes, is something I do and in fact have done for half my life during moments of wistful ennui. The iPhone mounted and providing sound; that life-sweetening curve from I-5 north to the top deck of the Fremont.

During this looping drive I saw my friend Akshay check in on Foursquare from the Roseland Theater. And, holy mudcakes, his check-in claimed that he was there to see DJ Paul Oakenfold. It had escaped me that Oakenfold was in town, either because I am inattentive or I’ve learned to tune him out just a bit (I’ve seen him live probably half a dozen times). Though I consider him increasingly irrelevant, that increasingly irrelevance mirrors my own. I first saw him just about ten years ago at Godskitchen in Birmingham (UK) at a New Year’s Eve show that permanently imprinted itself in my psyche as one of the Most Monumental Nights Ever (not diminished by the fact that several of the folks most important to me, including Mr. Pencil himself, were there). His continued existence reminds me of the shape of my own senescence.

Ten-thirty on a sober Wednesday night, alone in a Subaru WRX wagon, is a strange place to make impulsive decisions, but one was made and I decided to head downtown to see if I could procure myself a ticket. Before I knew it it was 2AM and I’d successfully enjoyed myself and avoided most of the heavy groping and elbows-to-the-jugular of a particularly enthusiastic and overtly male crowd. I do love dance music. I do. And it was redeeming to validate that I even still love it sober.


Exhilarating to wake after too few hours and a loud concert to find oneself not at all hung over and ready to throw oneself into another fabulous, Wild West day of mobile Web development. That’s not sarcasm: I really mean that. Spent an hour being debriefed by our developer B about the iPhone and Android branches of an app that I might (gulp) have to take over the Blackberry portion of. Phone meeting with client about launching something enormous that we’ve been developing (I took lead development on this project and cannot believe how much I’ve learned; worried about hubris on this one).

After “lunch” (too amped up over work things to eat) I had to go buy a Blackberry Torch for testing. Buying devices makes me feel ever so slightly bad ass, which is probably really silly. But there you go. Clerks at mobile phone places always raise an intrigued eyebrow. But maybe they’re just excited about the commission. Back to the office and then whirlingly back out again to walk through an building in the Pearl, a maze-like, eerie, magical and empty place that beckons to us as a new place to do business from (this is all I can say at this point).

By the time I got home I was quivering with exhaustion, hunger and things to think about. I weighed myself: eight stone and barely any remainder. My fingers almost felt too weak to click in some delivery from the East India Company via I quick-mulled some wine (wine, a bit of water and sugar, cinnamon, herbal teabag, lemon juice) and read some of Tom McCarthy’s novel C and stared into space and worried slightly about something and checked my email obsessively and ate my enormous and necessary Indian feast and then went to bed early.


So, shit launched. That is, the go-live of a particularly huge thing we’ve been working on. One of those projects that you kind of gape at, you can’t believe it’s in some fashion done with. That meant frantic phone calls about small bits of brokenness and mad, urgent QA on various test devices. Three, four hours so quickly disposed of while you type and commit stuff to the repo and pull it back out again on the production server. Rapid-fire delegation, moments of snappy frustration.

Lunch at Olympic Provisions with the other co-founders. An important decision to make. Done.

Awkward afternoon I mostly can’t tell you about, to do with aforementioned decision. This awkwardness even more awkwardly was misconstrued as referring to a different awkwardness altogether. This plus a misconstrued statement I made about more awkwardness led to extraordinary hilarity and awkwardness at such a level that I blushed for the first time in, I believe, years. All good.

More intensity around launch of above Major Project left me bleary-eyed and somewhat underwhelmed with myself at around 5:15. Most of the others had decamped. Pouty and lacking the satisfaction I normally glean from launches, I stumped off toward downtown on foot, in boots, to meet Girls at the Gilt Club on Broadway. Listened to the new Underworld album while striding across the Burnside Bridge. As it turns out, this slightly long foot sojourn had its repercussions.

But first, drinking with my friends (Aileen, Autumn, Emma). The Gilt Club turned into Davis Street Tavern (free dessert courtesy of Aileen’s third or fourth check-in there on Foursquare), the Tube (briefly; its former futuristic airliner fuselage motif has morphed into extreme post-apocalyptic punk dinge, making Aileen tweet that she felt like a “Bladerunner Extra”. But really, it is kind of like those B movies in which a formerly-swank hotspot in Manhattan is now where the ragtag remnants of humanity barely keep themselves alive by burning things in oil drums); then XV (cheap pints of PBR) and finally Bailey’s Taproom on Broadway, which is owned and run by Emma’s boyfriend, our friend Geoff. By this time I’d carefully downgraded to a mere glass, not a pint, thank you. Then, tacos next door at the place that shares its bathrooms with Mary’s (classic Portland strip joint). All well and good, but by this time, my heels, courtesy of weak anatomy and long walkings, were definitely suppurating.


Heels bleeding, the rest of me in relative hangsies. Our film editor friend Doug was in town from New Zealand, so we met him and Erik (currently famous for thinking my sister was me recently) for brunch at Accanto, that is, the cheap side of Genoa. Food was super. Got into one of those frenetic, intense conversations you get into with people with whom you share a paucity of time but an excess of shared interests. Doug needed to get shots (still and video) of natural stuff in and around town; I was feeling remiss for my lack of photographic interest of late. We decided to go exploring

We drove down to Elk Rock Island, the eroded neck of an ancient volcano in the middle of the Willamette River that is connected to the east bank during the dry season by a rocky and puddly land bridge. It’s a distinct little ecosystem of Pacific Madrone and oak that feels drier and weirder than the surrounding areas (as it turns out, my hunch about its biological uniqueness is actually correct) . In the early 1900s a dance hall of ill repute operated, but burned down under mysterious circumstances. During our visit, I saw the largest dead fish I have ever seen. We spent several minutes arguing as to whether it was bigger than I am.

Elk Rock Island on Flickr

Elk Rock Island

Home again, invited our friend Mike over to help, and madly cleaned our four-story house and its immediate surroundings for the next few hours. I cleaned four out of five toilets (not bad!). Watched some Deadwood and then I turned in early.


O! Sunday! The New York Times in its double-blue-bagged package, blessing our front stoop! Woke up lazily, pleasantly, read the paper, saved the Book Review and the magazine for last, as always.

It’s cider season and the weather was perfect. Sun! We drove to Sherwood, the actual old, town part, and I had a grilled cheese in big old brick bar. It had a Kelly green ceiling, shamrock decorations and a lot of slogans about the Luck O’ the Irish but in other ways didn’t seem to have any Irish connection whatsoever. But lots of football on TV. We drove into an unsigned orchard farm and David wheedled five gallons of fresh-pressed cider out of the owners. It had been UV-treated, rendering our Campden tablets unnecessarily. A discussion about what sub-genre Kid Cudi falls under (I’m going with “Emo-hop”). At home, the usual hubbub of locating and sterilizing carboys and Cornelius kegs, calling and organizing batches with friends.

Getting Cider on Flickr

Getting Cider

A quiet afternoon of cross stitch, Franzen, guilt about not working, catching up on old Mad Men episodes to prepare for the season finale tonight at Bagdad Theater, which, so disturbed by Don Draper’s philandering and business stress in what we watched, I bowed out of. David is there now. I am…done with this week.

One Comment

  1. Linden says:

    Wow. Your world is very different from mine these days. It’s hard to believe that we once shared a house!

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