Gelato, Salman Rushdie, Phad Thai, and Pushing Through

[EDIT: Several people were curious why I would be so depressed this weekend, so I will direct you back to the final paragraphs of "He Knows the Hour and the Day" where I discuss my daughter moving away with her mother.  On Friday evening, I dropped my daughter off, gave her a hug and a kiss, and then cried with the kind of grief I can't put into words once I was out of sight. The following morning, before the sun came up, my daughter flew out of my day-to-day life for the foreseeable future.]

Twice in the last seventy-two hours I’ve started writing up a new post, only to eventually discard and DELETE them because they were so friggin’ depressing that unleashing them on the internet-at-large would very likely cause a depression singularity, collapsing all happiness in the universe in on itself, thus creating an actual swirling black-hole-OF-SUCK right here in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

As I don’t want to be remembered as the man who stole the smiles from all the children in the world and made all the chocolate taste like charcoal…I’ll do my best to keep this a bit less doom-and-gloomy.

It’s funny, when I know something really suck-worthy is coming up, I never actually plan for the time period when things are actually sucking.  Somehow I think I expected to just get up on Saturday morning, throw open the curtains, smile at my neighbors, realize that I was naked, and spend the morning laughing about the whole thing with the nice policemen that showed up to explain “decency laws” in the Municipality of Keizer…

I did NOT wake up on Saturday with a smile.  In fact, I gave serious thought to just not waking up on Saturday at all.  Fuck Saturday.  Hell, fuck any day that ends in “y” or is recognized as a state or national holiday (because I don’t want to give Thanksgiving or Christmas a free ride here).  Father Time can go shove sharp objects in his favorite orifice and call it macaroni for all I care.

I know depression.  I can smell it on my skin and in my clothes.  I can taste it in my mouth.  I can hear it’s trademark absence of sound everywhere and nowhere.  I know this dragon.  I know him well.

At first I was almost incapable of acknowledging him.  I almost just turned my back and went back to sleep.  “Let him have me” I said, “I. DO. NOT. CARE.”

“Really?” he asked.  “Not even a little?”

“NO” I replied, squeezing my eyes shut.

“That’s too bad.  You’ve always been too tough to really devour easily and you’re a bit too bitter for my tastes anyway…but a job’s a job and a meal’s a meal I suppose.” And with that the gloomy thing wrapped it’s cold coils around my throat.

I didn’t really fight it.  I just slowly, gaspingly, stumblingly lurched from menial task to menial task as the weekend wore on.  Slowly suffocating under the thing’s horrible weight.

Until today.  Today, I went to work.  And at lunch time, I decided to get lunch.  This is noteworthy because I NEVER get lunch.  Unless there’s a team activity or a customer engagement, I never eat lunch.

I drove down to Bridgeport Village, which is a sort of open air shopping center where people with six-figure salaries (and more often the spouses of people with six-figure salaries) go shopping for the books, baobabs, over-priced designer label clothes, even MORE overpriced one-of-a-kind designs, tech toys (an Oregon Scientific AND an Apple store, natch…), and everything else that the upper-upper-middle and lower-upper classes waste spend bestow their ridiculous amounts of discretionary income on.

As I qualify for the Bridgeport Village’s target audience, I guess it’s just natural that I gravitate to a place where the open air piazza and the surrounding architecture look like the Disney interpretation of an Italian village populated entirely by people who drive Range Rovers, Hummers, Mercedes Benz’s, Porsches, and more pristine late-model Harley Davidson Fatboys than you can possibly believe.

Hollywood would never include a place like this in a movie about semi-rich people.  They’d assume everyone would think it was just too fucking pretentious to exist.

I love it. I don’t know why, but I love it.

It has shops I just can’t find anywhere else within driving distance.  For example, there’s a paper store that carries the largest selection of fountain pens ON EARTH.  Ok, probably not ON EARTH…but for at least 300 miles in any direction from here.  AND THEY LET YOU TRY THEM OUT!!!!!

COME ON PEOPLE!  You know you want to use a $400 fountain pen on $12 a sheet paper with ink that’s sold BY THE GRAM.  OMG…squeeeeee…ahem…anyway…

So, I start my adventure with a trip to Zao Noodles, the best noodle bar in Oregon.  Period. And I ordered my favorite, Phad Thai with Shrimp and Deep Fried Tofu.

While my order was being prepared I wandered over to Borders and found two things that simply HAD to be purchased.  First was “The Enchantress of Florence” by Salman Rushdie and second was “The Court of the Air” by Stephen Hunt.

People, if you title a book “The Enchantress of Florence” I’m gonna buy it.  If it’s by Salman Rushdie and it won the Booker Prize, I’m gonna pay full price in hardback.

If you write a book in the style of Dickens but use steampunk and gloom-fantasy tropes…I’m gonna buy that too.  If it’s from TOR and I know who the editor was, I’ll pay full price in hardback for that too.

Eight minutes (six of them in line) and fifty bucks later…I’m now really excited to read something.  Excited is good.

After fetching my lunch, I decide to grab something to wash it down with and some dessert at Tutto Bene.  They had my Orgina beverage and “Chocolate Birthday Cake” flavored gelato.  OMFG.  Chocolate.  Cake.  Gelato….Oh HELL yeah.

So now, I’m sitting at my desk, stuffed full of Phad Thai, consuming frothy ice cream flavored like cake batter with the smallest spoon EVER and reading the first few pages of the first good book Salman Rushdie ever wrote (oops…did I say that out loud???).

“Turn the page,” the dragon says to me, “I want to know what she says next!”

“Fine, but I need you to lighten your grip a little, you’re making it hard to swallow.”

“Deal.” he says as he readjusts on my shoulders. “You were always too bitter to taste any good anyway.  So, does that really taste like Birthday Cake?”

As a little aside, to those of you who sent emails over the weekend out of concern that I jumped off a bridge or just needed a shoulder…your emails were sometimes the difference between my giving a shit and my just not giving a shit anymore.  Ever.

You will never know how much that meant to me.  I love you guys.