29before28

Portland Summer

Having made the Rose City home for three years, I am admittedly bias toward the idea that this small city (roughly half a million) indeed has a magical quality. Sure, it’s quirky and not without issue, but also jam packed with possibilities, fun, and a foodie/outdoor scene that leaves most with a watering mouth and penitent to become the next Bear Grylls.  It is amazing how much one can find to amuse herself, both the tried and true, and the new, especially during the bewitching months of summer when the days lengthen and temperatures allow for river floats while the sun shines and campfires and sweaters once it sets.  A few of my favorites….

Carts…

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Disc Golf and Deschutes at Pier Park; new to me this year, introduced by the lovely Jed and Alyssa…

The Alberta Last Thursday… I can fully empathize with the Alberta residents’ request that the monthly street fair be better regulated (parking is mayhem and permits are not required; the outcome can be less then ideal for the neighborhood) but am hopeful that a good solution can be found to keep this quirky event part of the Portland neighborhood scene.  My personal favorite was bartering a 5,000LL note for a one of a kind poem, created on the spot.

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Salt & Straw… Oh.my.goodness. I’m hooked. There are two main locations, one in NW, one in NE, and a cart on SE Division.  The ice cream is heavenly and the owner takes personal pride in concocting perfect flavor pairings. Loved the salted caramel.

Slow crawls through favorite neighborhoods… Such as the NE 26th and Burnside area.  At one end is Pambiche, amazing Cuban food that I spent way too much money on while in grad school, and at the other is Crema, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, and small, local shops such as Artemisa, an atrium builder, or anyone who appreciates pretty things, haven. In between are numerous eateries, the Coca-Cola plant, Bakery Bar (Love this place! Especially when they stayed open at all hours during the World Cup to host games. Their Apple-Bacon scone is perfection.), a mix of traditional Foursquare-style houses and new eco-friendly designs, and the iconic Laurelhurst Theater.

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I took an afternoon to finally explore the Portland Art Museum as well. Not too shabby and a nice way to escape the heat.

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Gatsby, ink, and Roman ruins (29B28 Update)

A 29 item list, I’m finding out, can be a bit daunting.  I’m looking forward to what I’ve penned as goals for this year, but progress is incremental.  An update…

Done and done.

13/ Moonlight Hike

15/ Take at least one Arabic class at Saifi (I completed two)

22/ Visit Baalbek

24/ Officially become a client of Monica Lauritsen Photography.  {I’m lucky to have such a talented friend! even luckier to now own a few of her pieces! Check out her work at: monicalauritsen.com}

In process:

4/ Add to my tattoo: in keeping with ink wisdom, several ideas are now posted the the ‘fridge. If I still love ‘em in a few months time, I’ll be adding ink over the summer.

10/ Traveling with Jamie and Landon last fall got me half way on this one (Bucket List: to travel internationally with each of my siblings is a must). Now to sort the other half…

17/ I suppose at least having a copy of The Great Gatsby has me a little closer to this goal.

19/ The photo projects are sorted! Stay tuned for more details and initial shots.

And those that wouldn’t be…

So far only one goal slots into this category… Oregon had no snow when I was home at Christmas so #26 (to snowboard with Travis, which I haven’t done in far too long) has gone the way of the bin, …unless Hood has a good glacier pack this summer, which might mean resuscitation could be in order…

Anaa ba3rif shway 3rabi

“I know a little Arabic”; a little as in barely enough to legitimize such a statement.

My PNW, small town upbringing meant Spanish was the main secondary language a school might offer. Larger school districts branched out into American Sign Language, German, Japanese, and French but even ten years post-graduation, I’m yet to hear of a high school making Arabic a language offering.  I’m pretty sure most major universities offer it though I couldn’t say conclusively if UO did while I was there for undergrad.  Yet I took a job in a Middle Eastern country where the primary languages are Arabic and French (and English though any distance from Beirut makes it less and less useful).  Hands down one of the more popular questions asked after I accepted the job, that is after folks made sure they’d heard me correctly and muttered something about safety, was if I would make it a point to learn Arabic.  “Yes,” was the answer, “at the very least enough to be polite.”

My mother has always valued language.  From a young age I was learning basic Spanish and friends would gawk when, in high school, my mom and I would have rudimentary conversations or give each other a hard time in Spanish.  Two years of language in both high school and undergrad were graduation requirements, and so I studied Spanish formally for a total of about five years.  Perhaps due to my mom’s influence, I’ve enjoyed the idea of learning other languages even if I haven’t always actively done so.  I took a year of German in undergrad, while also taking my final required year of Spanish (my exasperated German 101 professor very patiently dealt with Spanish-German translation errors and default Spanish responses to her German questions for the first few weeks of class) and studied ASL for a few terms so I could communicate more effectively with a housemate who was deaf.  I don’t claim fluency in any of those three languages, and none come close to the realities of Arabic.

Right to left orientation for reading and writing, a completely different formation pattern for letters, and sounds that I’m not even sure my throat and mouth can make, yet I want to learn it, as much as I can anyway.

I started with the “enough to be polite” concept.  It’s something I strongly believe in; if someone is going to travel, she needs to at least take the time to learn common greetings and pleasantries.  I can appreciate those who would say this isn’t enough, and I would agree, but it’s at least a start, and better than nothing.  Some of my more irate travel moments have been when other Americans pompously assume that those in other countries should know English so as not to inconvenience them, the traveler.  (I think those tend to be the same individuals who bitch and moan about immigrants and travelers to the US not knowing much English… Evidently they don’t look in mirrors too often…)  But enough to be polite, to say “please” and “thank you”, “good morning” and “good evening”, inquire about someone’s well being is, I think, a must.

In the pell mell busyness of last year, a once a week, somewhat informal, class offered by a Lebanese colleague laid enough groundwork to reach this goal, more or less (she seemed a little taken aback when I asked to be taught swear words but one too many times of students popping off with something inappropriate in Arabic thinking that made it okay or because they figured the ajnabii (foreigner) wouldn’t get it seemed to legitimize this request).  I still freeze up a bit when responding to the “how are you” question and have to really think about if I’m using the correct masculine/feminine notation but I’m finding I can pick up words in conversations, comprehending a bit more than I can actually speak myself.  My students, and a few colleagues, seem to find it amusing when I use phrases like “yalla” (hurry up) and “shuu” (what?) and when I answer with “la” and “aye” instead of “no” and “yea”, but then again I find it amusing too so at least we’re all laughing together.  As one colleague pointed out, working in the environment of English instruction, it is easy to not learn Arabic and get away with it, and at the same time, as observed by my brother-in-law, to live in Lebanon for several years and not learn it would be ridiculous.

I’ve been very appreciative of Lebanese friends and colleagues who are patient with my lack of understanding, and hope to eventually get to the point where maybe I can hold my own and the concessions won’t have to be made.  So with a sort of basic foundation in place, here’s to an added layer to this year - learning Arabic, removing the “shway”, getting to “anaa ba3rif 3rabi”.