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Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Animals Abound Downtown

I ran to catch up with my assigned group, holding a paper over my chest as the dress I was wearing was not downtown jogging appropriate. I was late to class on Friday due to the fact that I spent the morning figuring out how to pack far too many shoes for my weekend trip to California.

Our assignment was akin to a scavenger hunt downtown, but I found my head to be elsewhere. I had my Cali visit on my brain, but what was most immanent was making sure I made it to the airport in time to catch my flight. I figured this kind of distraction was acceptable in my travel writing class.

My group was committed to finding all of the items on the sheet of paper and I was just glad I chose to wear flip-flops. Having lived in Eugene for six or so years now it was neat to watch a fellow grad student experience parts of downtown for the first time.

“It’s kinda nice to experience this corner without the homeless youth yelling,” said an undergrad about the corner of downtown Eugene known as the Barmuda Triangle. “Totally,” I concurred.

The four of us snapped shots of art, buildings, and signs as per the assignment. I found myself far more interested in getting to know my classmates than whatever the purpose of the assignment was and decided that I will host a BBQ for the class at the end of the term.

We finished our scavenger hunt where we started: in front of the beauty of a building that is the Eugene public library. While crossing the street from the bus station to the library we caught our teacher (she insists we don’t call her professor as she does not have a PhD) stealthy snapping a photo of us. The five of us sat in the library café and talked about the assignment. We discussed the struggle businesses often have to stay open downtown, the homeless population, the first Friday art walks, and the assignment. (Which until this post I don’t think I really knew what the purpose was.)

And so as I sit here at my friend’s house in California and she stays asleep, I will read the paper quickly handed to me before jogging back to my car to catch my flight and see what this assignment is all about. And attempt to succeed at it via some images I quickly captured with my phone on Friday morning.

This is on the corner my classmate was referencing. I asked my group if they thought anyone has ever put their baby in the bear’s arms to snap a photo.

This lion scares the crap out of my dog every time we bike past it.

This raccoon seems much friendlier than the real ones I have encountered in my life.

Oregon Country Phenomenal aka OCF

“Amber must get a costume on! To the costume tent, Amber. To the costume tent with you!” said the woman I was just introduced to the Saturday night of the Oregon Country Fair. Being a newbie to working and camping at the fair, I was all over my day outfits but lacked in nighttime apparel. Saturday night I tried to get away with wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt. The people at the campsite in which I was technically crashing were having nothing of it.

I tapped into my inner summer theater camp child, as I participated in Star every summer growing up, and delighted in the giant red tent filled with costumes galore. Sequins, hats, boas, shoes, masks, you name it! Even a mirror to look into and declare: this is my outfit!

Ignore the blur, though it is quite apropos of the evening.

This post has been the first post in which I really sat down multiple times and attempted…and attempted. How does one capture the Oregon Country Fair in words and a few images? And in all honesty this is an impossible task. The OCF is to be experienced first hand and by everyone. I don’t care if you are hippy or Gucci, or a Guccihippy (as my ex titled me back when we first met). Everyone needs to make it to the OCF at least once in his or her life. I must point out that experiencing the OCF as the “public” (the people who purchase passes to come during the day) is a vastly different experience than working and camping at the fair.

Six fairs ago I worked the Bicoastal Café booth with an incredible woman I will call my soul sister. I met my soul sister the day after I moved to Eugene and we became…well, soul sisters. She was my mentor through my year working as a doula (childbirth couch), she married my ex and I when we eloped down by the kickball field at which we met, and she continues to inspire me as she is a woman that will go down in history books.

There happened to be an opening at the booth again this year due to a guy breaking his foot weeks before and my soul sister thought I might want to jump on said opening. Are you kidding me? It’s practically impossible to get in on working the OCF as once people establish a position they come back to work it ever year, even if they move to some far away land.

This year, though my soul sister was working the fair she now has a littles (baby), I was pretty much on my own. It. Was. So. Good. For. Me. I figured out the ins and outs of working and camping at the fair, made what I’m sure will be lifelong friends, met strangers that want to help with my birthday party fundraiser (details to come), had some soul searching alone time, and just ate the whole weekend up like the tasty gift it was. And I burned a ton of calories trekking all my stuff to and from my car. I got woman muscles and shit now.

And so the following will be my best attempt at telling a fair experience using some pics and snidbits of stories from my OCF 2012. But please keep in mind that the magic of OCF will never be able to be experienced via anyone’s blog, in any paper, from any story told over a beer, or anyone’s excessive Facebook posts.

The people are my favorite part of OCF. From the great parents and their ridiculously cute kiddos…

Is she not the cutest? And her daddy isn’t too bad either. (For the record: I always ask if I can take pictures, especially when children are involved. And I ask if I can post them.)

My soul sister handed me her littles. Don’t worry, readers, I actually have littles loving skills.

…to the fun and creative costume sporters…

Loved these two.

…to the stranger I met while enjoying my morning artichoke who has a beer making business and is going to make a Wonder Woman Red and an Extra Amber for my birthday party (true story), to the booth co-workers I had never met before but because of them I had the most fun I have ever had working. (Well, close to it. I did get paid once upon a time to basically party…as long as at some point in the evening I removed an article or two of clothing.)

I randomly stumbled upon a booth in which you could decorate an intention cloth, for free, that is going to be strung together with the rest and brought to Burning Man to be burned.

And the outfits at OCF! Oh the outfits! People celebrate their bodies and their creativity at OCF in a way I wish they felt comfortable enough to do all year. Mine paled in comparison to many. The first year I worked it I wore a Saran Wrap dress, lime green wrap to be exact. I had a friend wrap me up as I spun around and then I put butterfly stickers over my nipples and my whoha. This year I went with an Oregon Ducks theme for Friday…

The itty bitty top I “wore” when I was a stripper, after home games of course, the rest of the outfit I have just collected. My entertainment reporter friend saw me walking around on my onesies and felt the need to cover me.

…a rainbow theme for Saturday…

None of this came from my box o’ stripper clothes, just from a good ol’ used clothing store. The 19-year-old male booth co-worker I asked to “tat” up my arm with the stickers decided to take some creative license.

…and a Wonder Woman theme for Sunday. I had people take pictures of and with me Friday and Saturday, and maybe of my ass hanging out of my far-too-short star skirt on Sunday unbeknownst to me. (Which, believe it or not, challenged my level of comfort. I am not a fan of my ass. It looks like a pancake that’s not quite cooking right. But I did make a point to wear red panties to match my ensemble.)

If you have ever been to OCF during the day, you know how much constant stimulus abounds and how enjoyable it all is. If you have ever worked OCF and camped there, you know that it really comes alive at night. Each night at OCF was a truly movie-like magical experience for me, but all very different. For the sake of your attention span, I will focus on the epic night that was my Saturday night. (Note: I may be leaving out some details as to not incriminate myself.)

After getting into my costume, my newfound fair pack and I followed a cauldron of candlelight into a meadow at which we stumbled upon a full amphitheater concert under the stairs. (True story.)

The cauldron holder had a bunny tail on.

After enjoying the music, the stars, and the crowd; the cauldron lead us to a silent rave. You read that correctly. We came upon a DJ laying down mad skills as ravers raved in the dirt and the dark. It was actually silent as everyone had his or her own set of baby blue headphones on. I quickly walked up to the DJ to get my inventive set. It was such an odd but cool feeling to be dancing and feeling the music next to strangers and my fair pack as an “individual” yet we were all listening to the same beats, at least I think we were.

Our fair pack made friends with another fair pack and sat at the one concrete slab at the fair and passed around Ninkasi beer, aka local liquid gold. I made a friend outside the Porta-Potties who joined my pack and then him and I climbed a tree house for the rest of the wee hours of the morning. Lunch shift slinging chicken wraps the next day was just a bit of a struggle, which is why I tapped into my Wonder Woman powers.

And these people, these hard working and oh so fun people that ROCK the Bicoastal Cafe booth, I will see you next year. With all new outfits of course, and hopefully some more lady muscles. I will want these lady muscles because in my old age, I enjoy being a hard worker.

Biking With Bobo

Approximately 17 or so years ago, I fell in love on a school bus. Yesterday I enjoyed the best date this love and I have shared thus far: a travel adventure in my neighborhood.

Bobo, she will be called as that is what I have called her ever since I first got to know her sweet self, was five when I met her and I was 12. We rode the same school bus from down in the town of Gilroy up to the Buddhist affiliated private school in the hills of Mount Madonna at which we both attended. Every day I would sit with her and talk with her tiny-little-angel-of-a-self about school projects, family, Disney, girly things, the clouds…you name it. Weeks after meeting and falling for my little bus buddy, I wrote her mother a letter. I told her mother what an angel Bobo is, and how much I enjoyed watching their whole family of rugrats pick her up at the bus stop. And how I hoped that maybe someday I could come over and be a mother’s helper. Bobo’s mom came onto the bus the next day and shared her delight with my letter and jumped on the offer for a mother’s helper, as she had three kids under the age of five at that time.

That one letter, which I know Bobo’s mother still has, turned my offering an extra set of hands at the house into me being a full on nanny to the family after the fourth was born, to me spending almost all Christmases and Thanksgivings with them, and they are to thank for me being up in Oregon. (They had moved up to Oregon from California while I was in undergrad and I came to visit them winter and spring breaks and fell in love with Eugene. So when I went through what I refer to as my “quarter life crisis” (my schooling is done? Now what?), Bobo’s mom said, “Come up here, love. I’ll get you working in the childbirth scene.” I did and she did.)

Yesterday Bobo joined me on my latest travel writing assignment: to have a travel adventure and write about it. Her and I already had a date to go out to a winery and catch up as she is now 21 and goes to college in the paradise of a state that is Hawaii. Considering winery visits are something I do quite often and wouldn’t exactly be a new travel adventure, I proposed that we explore new things in my cute little neighborhood.

And so my sweet Bobo, Tucker, and I biked to three spots in my hood and had us a travel adventure date.

My dad made me get a helmet on his last visit. I went with the red and white polka dots, but I love that on the back it says: I love my brain. And you know what? I do! So I will always wear you, brain bucket.

Our first stop was Pacific Winds Music on W. 8th Ave and Blair, a place I pass daily but have never entered. The very friendly staff complimented my bike helmet within seconds of us walking in and one of them continued strumming a ukulele while swaying side to side. “My kind of place,” I thought.

This ukulele stand did a bit of a hula and the grass skirts flowed with each thrust of the stand. Awesome.

Our second stop was supposed to be a restaurant in my hood I haven’t tried yet, but because I always enjoy me some Laughing Planet and Bobo had never been there I figured it wasn’t totally breaking the rules.

She was a natural with that LP burrito. LP burritos are packed with such goodness that it is necessary to keep the foil on and peel back when needed. Smart girl.

The last stop on our marvelous afternoon was Hollywood Treasures & Reruns.

They moved into an old Hollywood Video building years ago but told us people still come in to return videos. I thought that was some funny stuff. Talk about a late fee.

It was awesome! As soon as we walked in the song from Adventures in Babysitting came on! The “And Then He Kissed Me” song.

The birds are not for sale, just rescues that kick it in the middle of the store.

Scored some treasures from Hollywood Treasures & Reruns for my home: an ancient schoolhouse chalkboard to write a silly something on each week, a gorgeous cobalt blue coffee pot, and a saucy baking pin up girl to go in my kitchen.

I just couldn’t bring myself to justify purchasing this find.

But the real treasure, the treasure that I have been enjoying for approximately 17 years now, is the connection I have with sweet, intelligent, beautiful Bobo. There is something about this girl and I am thankful that my 12-year-old self knew so right away. (High five, 12-year-old self!)

I let her ride Dorothy, my bike, as my roomie’s bike was far too tall for either of us really. She so kindly placed my goodies in the basket before we mounted our two wheels for the ride home.

Bobo, I am so proud of the woman you have become and I look forward to continuing to watch you thrive. And when my first children’s book gets published I will dedicate it to my Hocklets, which is what I called her and her three siblings back when I nannied for them. And you four Hocklets better be around when I have babies, and you too Hocklet momma. Thank you all for welcoming me into your family for all these years.

The inscription I wrote in a book I bought her to take back to Hawaii. Yeah, it’s a children’s book. But it is one I would have read to her years ago. The Magical Ukulele.

Dumplings Date

“Is that a pickle necklace,” the quirky food cart worker asked me yesterday when the firefighter I might be dating and I were trying to figure out which flavor of dumpling we wanted to try. “I wish!” I said after explaining it’s just the fine state of California. “The pickle state,” the firefighter added.

I just started a travel writing class that will for sure change my life and my first assignment was to immerse myself in a food cart experience and then blog about it. The firefighter and I already had a date set up and so I thought why not kill two birds? (I really shouldn’t use that saying. It seems so morose.)

The date started like all great dates should, with a visit to my favorite lingerie shop in town. (Note: I buy lingerie for my own enjoyment, if the guy gets a kick out of whatever I pick out that is just an added bonus. It’s all about feeling sexy, ladies.)

This is actually a new buddy I made at the fair, and she was ever so helpful. She will be called my laugh same because she has a similar laugh. Can you all believe it? We will be getting our laughs together again soon.

Within minutes of showing up at my house the firefighter felt it necessary to fix my fire alarm that had been beeping randomly, but then we were off to one of my favorite places in the Eug: Ninkasi.

You mean, pulling it off the ceiling so it could hang by the wires was not the right way to go about the beeping?

At the haven-of-a-brewery that is Ninkasi we were able to sip some craft beers, enjoy a spectacular conversation with each other and strangers, and hit up the nightly food cart so conveniently placed right at the entrance. Last night the food cart du jour happened to be Dump City Dumplings.

Dig the sign, but not the name.

Cheese pizza dumpling? No thank you. Spicy bacon mac and cheese? I think my stomach churned just imagining that one. Chinese style pork? Okay, that seemed like the winner but he was out of it when we first ordered so I went with Pad Thai. I figured the Pad Thai dumpling was the least likely to upset my tummy considering I have been watching what I have been eating lately. The manly firefighter on the other hand, I believe, ordered practically one of every flavor. And I don’t know what it is about watching men eat but it has always been a turn on for me.

The cart worker was a real character and seemed to be having fun with us. He undercharged the firefighter who of course had to make sure to pay the right amount and tip well.

Anywho, I wasn’t impressed with the Pad Thai dumpling and the coagulated peanut sauce I squirted on top was far too sweet. We finally got our plastic forks into a Chinese style pork dumpling that was actually pretty tasty. I had enjoyed one of the pork dumplings before but it was months ago at 2 a.m. downtown after a night of drinking and dancing and at that moment it was the tastiest clump of food I had ever put in my mouth.

Not a very attractive food item.

There came a time during the date where I just sat back and enjoyed…and stopped taking pictures… Let’s just say, I am one happy girl.

As far as Dump City Dumplings goes? Not a huge fan. I LOVE Ninkasi but the next time I plan on going there and partaking in the food cart experience I will plan on another night of the week as they switch up which food carts are there, or I will order one of the food item staples they always offer in the tasting room.

Happy eating to you and yours!

Stripper Q & A

Since coming out of the used-to-take-my-clothes-off-for-money closet, a lot of people have been asking me certain questions. So before I blog about the Oregon Country Fair and an update on my three goals that will for sure make the world a better place, I will address certain inquiring minds.

1.) Name?   Charity. When I stumbled upon stripping, yes it fell into my lap in the form of a stripper offering me a job while she was on stage and I was seated at the stage as a customer with some friends, I was working full time for the American Cancer Society. My ex came up with Charity. I told customers that everything they gave me was tax deductible and often wrote a receipt on a bar napkin.

2.) Favorite song to “dance” to?   Fuck Her Gently by Tenacious D. Oh so much fun and spinning around the pole with a precarious landing at the end was always a crowd pleaser.

3.) Favorite outfit?   One night I wore a bikini top and little bottoms and tied a bunch of colorful balloons to them. When on stage I handed customers a poker and had them pop the balloons. Some of the balloons had chocolate kisses in them. I don’t remember the song I chose, but I’m sure it was quite girly.

*First post without a pic. #sadface

Dating Professors, Beer Soaked Toys, Colorful Mustaches

No, I haven’t actually dated any of my professors but when my father was in town for a visit I did set up a “date” with my three favorite professors. I credit a large portion of my success thus far and any success I will enjoy in the future to these three: my photojournalism professor, my interview and story development prof, and my reporting one and writing about the arts prof. Each of them have really gone above in beyond in helping me and I will forever be grateful. In fact, I want to be a life-changing prof just like them someday. (I will be a professor in the future. I just want to focus on getting some solid experience in the field before I go back for my PhD and continue freelancing.)

We grabbed a bev with my photo j prof. The same prof who, when I met with him to basically re-learn everything about how to use the fancy cameras I rent from school, said, “You are cute as a button, but dumb as shit.” Gotta love the guy. It was eerie how well him and my father got along, and now my dad wants to be buds with him.

He has three boys all a bit younger than me. When I asked him what it would have been like if he had a girl, he said, “Well, I bet she would be like you.”

My photo j prof taught me, among other things, journalistic picture taking. So all of you who get a tad annoyed by me constantly snapping shots with my phone can thank him.

We grabbed coffee with my interview and story development prof at a charming coffee shop in town. Being a radio personality as well, my prof did well with my talker-of-a-dad and knew when to gently try and get a word in edgewise. And he didn’t seem to mind that my dad felt the need to sing the song he sang at my wedding, even though I begged my father not to.

I finally got my dad to sit and listen and I asked my prof to tell his marriage story. He said, “There’s not much of a story to tell. I met her in a bar, we got in a fight, and then got married two weeks later.” The pair just celebrated their 38 year wedding anniversary while traveling back from a trip to Europe.

My interview and story devlopment prof taught me, also among many things, a writing trick that I may not want to reveal… And he’s been on The Daily Show and touched the hand of one of my big celeb crushes, so I make an effort to shake my prof’s hand as often as possible.

It just so happened to be my reporting one and writing about the arts prof’s birthday when we offered to take her to lunch. I brought her a card and a cookie, and was surprised to learn the age she was turning.

When I told her I was surprised to hear the lovely age she was celebrating, she said, “That’s because I’m wearing a Horton Hears a Who shirt.” My father felt like if he covered his mouth he could say anything he wanted to my esteemed professors.

My reporting one and writing about the arts prof taught me, also among multiple things, WordPress and Twitter. So any hate mail about my blog should be sent her way.

My father and I threw a party so his visit could go out with a bang; literally, there was a piñata. I had so much fun that I was unable to bug people with my constant picture taking and then borderline exploit them on Facebook first and blog second.

My deck the morning after. Tucker is investigating his toys, which are normally all cattywampus like that, and wondering what to do about the beer that spilled on them from the intense rounds of Flip Cup. Momma’s got a washer, yo. Don’t cry over beer soaked toys.

Introducing my new little roomie…

New roomie (well it’s not solidified yet), she will be called, is actually related to my previous roomie (who is a leaf in the wind right now and may or may not be coming back to the Eug). New roomie came with me to drop my father off at the Portland airport and we decided to have a slumber party at the hotel.

The robes were the hotels. The staches we brought, of course.

When walking Tucker alone to potty in downtown Portland in the outfit pictured above at midnight, I met a French friend on the street corner. He pointed at my robe, stach, and noted the midnight walking of my big black dog and asked me (in his very French ascent and broken English): “Is this America?”

Introduced him to bloodies in the morning. He said, “You guys drink this in the morning? It taste like soup.” We ordered sparkling wine next.

On that note, I hope you all have a lot to cheers to these days and that you take a moment to thank the people who have made a difference in your life. And not that I believe any of you read my blog for the occasional “thank you for a read” gift I send out, but this next one is “late” due to the fact that I hope it ends up being the $100 gas card I get when I wrangle 12 people into donating blood at Alton Baker Park this Monday. Be warned, blood owners, I am coming after you.

Blog posts to come:

-Oregon Country Fair-nomenal (Get It? It’s A Play On Phenomenal.)

-A Little Bro And Type O

So Much More Than Who Cheated On Whom

People always ask: who cheated on whom when you tell them you are getting a divorce. It wasn’t that black and white in my case. Many of you know about my friend who passed away a year ago, the definition of luminous, T.J. Reed. Well, T.J. changed my life.

T.J. and I met downtown three years ago and hit it off right away, chatting life stories and philosophies till the wee hours of the morning and him sharing his documentary with me. (My ex and another new friend were a part of that whole evening, in case you were wondering.) We became fast friends and enjoyed dog park trips, walks, coffees, and some delish Pizza Research Institute pizza. Toward the end of our friendship I realized that I loved T.J. but just wasn’t ready to leave my marriage. (For the record: T.J. and I were only friends and always appropriate and he was also friends with my ex though when we invited my ex to go do things with us he always said no because he would rather watch some show or something.)

When T.J. died, which I never thought would happen, I was so mad at myself for never being able to tell him that I loved him. And I thought, “T.J. was so different from my ex, why the heck am I with my ex? And I want to live like T.J. lived!” And so, about a month and a half after T.J. passed I told my ex that “this” wasn’t working.

Last Friday I went to the anniversary potluck of T.J.’s passing and I finally got to hug his sister. T.J. and his sister were incredibly close and I had always wanted to meet her. I didn’t want to bug her at his funeral as it seemed like there were about 500 people there and she lives in New York. I Facebook emailed her telling her how I loved her brother and that I really would love to buy her a drink the next time she was in Eugene. She responded with a sweet and genuine message but wasn’t planning on coming to Oregon for a while. Anywho, got to hug her on Friday and it was truly therapeutic. She said I smelled like roses.

Wore a yellow dress to his funeral, because he was the brightest light I have ever known. Sported the rainbow headband and bright colors to the one year anniversary pot luck of his passing. Picturing him partying it up on rainbows. Miss you, TJ, big big.

First Steps And A Photo Essay, If You Will

Before I can register to donate marrow, I must find out what blood type I have. (If you haven’t read my post titled 3 Goals in 3 Months Before Turning the Big 3-0, please do!) The incredibly friendly staff at Lane Blood Center will be pricking my finger Tuesday morning AND they got me uber excited about volunteering for some blood drives. And get this, readers! If I get a certain amount of people to come down and donate blood than I will get a $100 gas card which will be my second “thank you for a read” gift! How perfect is that? (Unfortunately, I can’t donate blood till January because of a spontaneous tattoo I got in San Fran last January.)

It’s a free love bird. For the record: it’s always a good idea to decide, post bloodies and pre-mimosas, to cab from the silly Bachelorette Brunch with your high school besties to the tattoo shop for a tat or two.

Got my hands on the massive Writer’s Market book to get me “the in” for goal number two: to be published in a national publication. This brick-of-a-book has every magazine known to man, their style, their guidelines for pitches and submissions, and contact information. I wrote a piece about a month ago about one women’s truly magical birth story despite drastic changes in birthing options in Lane County that I will pitch to as many appropriate publications listed in this book.

Thank you, Professor Dan Morrison, for giving me your copy! Flipping through these pages is like freelance writers porn.

Ooh la la, I just came across the description of one publication I will be pitching to next. Skirt! is all about women-their work, play, families, creativity, style, health, wealth, bodies, and souls. The magazine’s attitude is spirited, independent, outspoken, serious, playful, irreverent, sometimes controversial, and always passionate.” Ummm…I’m pretty sure I have a piece or two to send their way.

Left a message for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lane County, received a message back, and have not been able to return said call yet. D’oh! Probably not a great first impression, but will be calling today and I promise to be a far better Big Sis then I was at returning this last call. (Update: returned call and have an interview to be a mentor on Tuesday. What shall I wear? Snoopy shirt for sure!)

And now for a photo essay, if you will, of my evening last Monday night:

My roomie caught me stealing some of her eggs for the cookies I was baking for my new buds: the entertainment writer and her fiancé. Yes, those eggs are kept out of the fridge like they do in practically every other country. And I have this new found obsession with aprons, even though I don’t really cook and rarely bake. But how can you pass up an apron with pink cupcakes on it?

Tucker is a talker. And apparently my new friend speaks Tucker.

This, my new “go to” vino, led to…

…bringing out the Eugene Weekly cover from 2009, aka my modeling debut. When asked to be the model on the cover, it just so happened the photo shoot was scheduled for my 27th birthday and I took the day off work from the American Cancer Society. When I asked my mother if I should do it, she said, and I quote, “You should! You might not look that good in leather when you turn 37.”

And more vino led to the taking out of my old stripper outfits. Yes, I stripped once upon a time. Stripping was the bridge that allowed me to go to grad school, and helped my ex husband through grad and part of law school. So there’s that… (This post will be the real test as to whether or not my dad reads my blog.)

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