Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pajama Man

When one repeats something over and over for an extended period of time, certain consistencies will inevitably arise. If your heel is rubbing over and over again on a new pair of shoes, you will get a blister. If you lift weights over and over, you will get bigger muscles (so I hear). And, if you drive the same route to work over and over, you will begin to notice other people's routines, which is exactly how I have come to discover Pajama Man.

About a month ago I was driving along NW 22nd Ave. in Portland hurrying to get to work when I realized that the car in front of me suddenly stopped. Before I could utter the words "What in the..." a guy came from nowhere and hopped in the car. While I only saw him for a second, I was able to tell that this dude had literally rolled out of bed and come outside. He was in his 30's and wearing white pajamas with hair that was matted in about 13 different directions. Within moments, the car was moving again and I continued on my way, totally forgetting about the incident.

A few days later, I was driving this exact same route when I approached the same corner where the car had suddenly stopped before and there he was, Pajama Man, in all of his unshaven, pajama wearing, hair-all-over-the-place glory. While it was obvious this guy was not homeless, he almost looked like he could be. And let me just clarify - these are not your run-of-the-mill pajamas. They look as though they are straight out of a WWI Army hospital and I have no idea where one even finds such a get-up. Maybe he is having his early morning smoke? No...no cigarette in hand. Letting his dog out to pee? No...no dog. In the brief moments it took me to pass him with my car, I pondered his reason for standing there in his pajamas and then again, went on my merry way.

As days have passed and trips to work have continued, I have now encountered Pajama Man on the same corner, in the same pajamas morning after morning. I find myself staring at him with curiosity every time I see him and a few times he has noticed and given me a slight smile and nod. Every day he is in the same outfit and every day he appears to be doing absolutely nothing. It has left me asking the question, who are you Pajama Man, and what is your deal?

Well, yesterday I had a new Pajama Man experience that gave me a little more insight, for lack of a better term, into this man's world. It was after work and I was driving home. Slowly I was making my way back down 22nd Ave. when I started to pass the Pajama Man corner, as I now call it. The corner itself is strictly comprised of one large apartment building that has little balconies facing the street. For some reason as I passed the apartment building, I looked over and there was Pajama Man, still in his pajamas, sitting out on a second floor balcony. What made this more interesting to me is what was in the window behind him.

Each balcony in the apartment building is accessible via a sliding glass door. Most people seem to have some plants in the window or lamps - but not Pajama Man. No, no, no. His decor of choice are about 3 or 4 large, naked, plastic baby dolls along with various other little trinkets that I could not make out from my little drive-by. To say that the dolls hanging in the window are creepy is such an understatement. It looks like something out of a horror film that the victim would stumble upon right before their imminent death. But despite really weirding and creeping me out, it has only fueled my curiosity about this guy. Who is he? What is his deal? Why is he always in pajamas? Why, why, why does he have huge baby dolls hanging in his window? Is he crazy? Misunderstood artist? Lonely genius? What is it? I am dying to know!

I perhaps may never find out what exactly is driving Pajama Man in life or what accounts for his little idiosyncrasies that I have come to observe, but I do know that every morning as I approach Pajama Man's corner I will look for him and for possibly some sort of sign or indication as to why he always stands there. In the meantime, I will continue to let my imagination run wild with theories about him as a mad man who lives amongst the yuppies and youngins of NW Portland. Or as the heir of a billion dollar fortune who wants nothing more than to make his own way in this world and does so by looking like a poor, disheveled mess. Or as the scientist who is too brilliant that he cannot connect with other people so he pushes them away in his ultimate search to cure cancer. Whatever it is, I am intrigued and I hope to have more to report from the Land of Pajama Man as the days go by...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

YUM, YUM, YUM




All must make these banana muffins! Just in case you didn't hear me, I will repeat - ALL MUST MAKE THESE BANANA MUFFINS! They are soooooo yummy. Trust me on this one.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite websites www.allrecipes.com and it is currently the highest rated recipe on the entire site. With a resume like that, I just had to try them for myself, and they did not disappoint. They are soft and moist on the inside with a crumble topping that gives them just the slightest crunch on the top. Eat alone or with butter or with jam or however you darn well please - just promise you will eat them. 



The recipe can be found here.
Hope you all enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Best Way to Make Myself Feel Bloody Guilty

I just ate half a doughnut. It was delicious. But now the guilt of eating that scrumptious doughnut is weighing on my shoulders...or should I say my hips...and I am cursing myself. Extra work at the gym tonight I suppose.

Why do I do it? Why?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pretty Things

After the icky day yesterday, I was trying to think of ways to get my mind off of everything and go to my happy place, if you will. I remembered that looking at random pretty images usually helps, so I googled "Pretty Things." Here are some of my favorites that appeared:




Which do you like the best?


Monday, April 20, 2009

Hi Visa. My name is Jocelyn. Will you be my friend?

Some days are not what you expect them to be. Some days dish you up a heaping plate of cold, stinky and mushy reality before you even knew you were sitting at the damn table. Today was one of those days.

My stomach was in knots all morning as I waited for my appointment with the immigration lawyer. Dan and I carefully prepared every document down to the very last detail. We had copies of passports, birth certificates, emails, letters, photographs, cards from loved ones, tax forms - you name it, I was ready with it all this morning. 

"There is nothing to be nervous about," Dan kept telling me in his ever-calm and logical tone, "They are working for us."

Us. Yes. Working for us. That's right. WE are paying THEM. Our dollar is just as good there as it is anywhere else. By the time I arrived at the office of my newly appointed lawyer, I felt confident and ready to hand her any and every document she asked for. Names of family members? Got it. History and proof of you as a couple? No problemo. Criminal history? None. Nada. Zilch. 

"Now, we cannot guarantee that this will be a successful process as that is left in the hands of the government, but from what I can tell so far, this is going to be a pretty straightforward case," the lawyer told me while she swiped the credit card. 

"Great," I replied, relieved and at ease, " I was so nervous you wouldn't say that." 

Paperwork was filled out. Questions answered. Contracts signed. As I realized that we were getting close to the end of the session, I quickly opened up my notebook that contained some carefully prepared questions. 

"I do have one question," I interjected. 

The lawyer looked up at me as I had distracted her from writing. 

"If he were to come and visit me in August, would this be a problem?"

Before I had even finished my sentence, I realized that she was slowly shaking her head. Why was she shaking her head? Uh oh. Not a good sign. 

"Uhm - I actually very strongly advise against that, " she replied, "If he were to visit here on a tourist visa being engaged to an American, that would send up some red flags at customs and they would almost definitely send him back on the next plane out of America."

Uhhh....what? Como? Comment? Repetez s'il vous plait? No - this was definitely not good. Images of us doing wedding planning and having picnics at the Rose Garden on warm Oregon summer nights flashed through my head. No. No. NO!

"Uhm, so, are we not supposed to see each other for 8 months?" I managed to utter while simultaneously clenching my teeth, fighting back the tears that I knew were packing their bags for an extended vacation on my face. 

"Well, I know it is not what you wanted to hear, but I strongly advise against it. You can visit him, but he cannot come here."

The last few minutes of our meeting was a montage of the lawyer telling me the next steps of the immigration process with me nodding on the outside but trying to keep my shit together on the inside. As soon as I left the office I called Dan. As is often the case with me and news I hate, I started crying before I could even tell him. 

"You can't come to America until we have the visa," I managed to blurt out. 

"What?" he said. Gee - I wonder why he couldn't understand me. I repeated the message. 

He heard it this time. 

As is usually the case with this amazing, diplomatic, wise and undeniably  logical man that I have fallen in love with, he had a great attitude about it. 

"Okay, so we make a new plan now, " he said. God I love him and his ability to rationally cope, unlike myself who so quickly feels the walls of the world crumbling around me. "This is going to be okay." 

As Dan and I ended our conversation, I felt calmed by his confident and assured manner. Going back to my desk at work I was left with an hour and a half to get worked back up again, which I did - ever so grandly. (Thanks pooks)

It is now 7:37pm and I am sitting on my porch, drinking a glass of pinot gris and mulling over the advice I have received from friends and family in the last few hours. No, this is not what we wanted. Not by a long-shot. But, it is what it is. We have to follow the rules. We have to play the game. Nothing in my life has ever been more important to me or more worth my time. We will take this day, and tomorrow, and the next like we have every other - one day at a time. This is yet another example of how life sometimes has other plans and how we must adapt, conform and head back to the drawing table. With that said, I am still not happy about it, but I have no other choice but to keep moving forward. 

In the words of one of my favorite heroines, Scarlett O'Hara, "And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all...tomorrow is another day."



Friday, April 17, 2009

A ring by any other name would look just as sparkly...

"Why is it that men can be bastards and women must wear pearls and smile?" ~Lynn Hecht Schafren

Okay - so the quote above really doesn't have anything to do with this post, but I just liked it and I find it true on many levels.

While I generally try to stay away from J.Crew because I think they have an exceptionally inflated opinion of themselves and charge ridiculous prices for only okay clothes, I found myself aimlessly wandering around their website today when I found this:






For some reason, this ring caught my attention. Isn't is great? I must admit, there is a small piece of me that thinks it is hideous, but that is part of why I love it. It's so...it's so...it's so out of my price range at $65 - but a "financially restricted" gal can dream, right? What do you ladies think? Fab or flab?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome to My Blog

Hello hello! My first official blog post, well, well. I am feeling really excited about this blog, if only for the selfish desire to have an outlet for my thoughts. My hope is to make this an honest and real reflection of my world and of the world around me. These have been extremely interesting times in my personal life and in the life of people all around the planet and I feel as though everyone everywhere is trying to find their place in this new world.

For many, the last year has provided a massive shake-up/wake-up call/etc., etc. as home prices have plummeted, jobs have been lost, retirement funds depleted and the world of "I can have it all" has turned into "I could lose it all." But have we really lost it all? Could there be a silver lining amongst all the doom and gloom?

My personal life shake-up occurred about 3 years ago when life as I knew it took a huge detour. I was living with my college boyfriend of 5 years while working at an insurance company when one day I came home to find that he no longer wanted to be with me. We spoke for about an hour when I got up to go to the bathroom for some tissue. By the time I came out of the bathroom, he had left, and that was the end of that. A few days later he moved out and that was it. The path that I thought I had laid out so nicely was in fact not the path that life had in mind for me. Within a matter of a few days I was single, living with my parents again and not even able to comprehend how I was going to pick up the pieces. I lived life cautiously and slowly as I tried to come to terms with what had happened. Days went by in a blur - I felt lost, heartbroken, confused, angry and devastated. I felt like I had lost it all, but I could not have been more wrong. I never would have believed it at the time, but that break-up would be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

One cold and miserable Oregon spring afternoon while working away processing insurance policies, my cell phone rang and for some reason, I answered it. As a child of the technology age where information is instant and necessary, I rarely answer calls of numbers I do not recognize, but for some reason on that day, I did.

"Is this Jocelyn?" the voice on the other line asked.

"This is she," I replied.

"Hi, I'm calling from Laika. We have had your resume on file and are looking for a production runner for the film Coraline," said the girl on the phone.

Laika. Laika was calling me. Almost exactly a year prior to this call I had packed my little Saturn sedan full of all my belongings and made the familiar trek from Orange County, CA back to Portland, OR. After having done this 22 hour drive countless times, this was the one I was most excited about because this was the final drive. I had lived there for 3 years while I got my B.F.A in Film Production at Chapman University, but I had decided long before that Southern California was most definitely, without a doubt, unequivocally NOT the place for this Northwest-bred girl. I left California that day and never looked back. Soon after I arrived back in Portland, I sent my resume to a film production company called Laika. I had been tracking the company for a long time and it was, I thought, my best chance and justification for finding work outside of la-la land. After not hearing anything for almost a year, I had given up hope.

The girl on the phone continued, "Now, you will be working 50 hours per week and you will be on a 4 week trial period which means that we will reassess the situation after those four weeks."

My mind was racing. This was the company that I wanted to work for! But, I had a really good, stable job with a lot of room for upward growth, good benefits and a 37.5 hour work week. Crap - do I have to decide this now? What about money? What about job security? I DON'T KNOW!!!

"Well, this sounds really great. Can I have a few days to think about it and get back to you?" was all I could come up with. Brilliant. They are sure to want me now. Sheesh.

In the days that followed I took advice from anyone who was willing to give it. Looking back, it was such an obvious choice - but at the time, it was a HUGE risk for me. I would be making significantly less money. Significantly. I was only promised a job for 4 weeks. I would have no health insurance. I had just gotten an apartment with my sister and had living expenses. This completely went against my planned and logical nature, but after days of mulling it over in my head, I decided to go for it after having a girl's night.

"Joc, if you don't do this, you are going to hate yourself. You HAVE to do it. We won't let you not go for it." After that night, my decision was made (thanks ladies, you know who you are).

Working for Laika was great. Over the course of my 1.5 years on Coraline I was promoted from runner to Production Assistant to 3rd Assistant Director. I was able to use my degree but learn a TON in the process. I worked long, long, long hours. I found myself challenged daily. I often felt like I was a very small fish in a very big pond - but it was all worth it. The people I met were amazing and the experience as a whole was exactly what I needed to get me out of the funk I was in. Most importantly, I met the man of my dreams. He was brought over to Portland from England to work on Coraline and there was an instant connection. After a year of being really good, annoyingly flirty friends, we started dating. Then, after a year of dating, he took me to Paris and proposed, to which I said, YES, YES, YES!!!! Our wedding is planned for April of next year and I could not be happier. What a change from 3 years ago. What a glorious, exhilarating, fabulous and perfect change.

As I sit here today, I can honestly say that sometimes when you think you have lost it all, you have really just won the freaking lottery - it is just not always that clear. While there are people who truly, truly suffer and who have dealt with far worse than I have, this is just my own little personal story and life lesson. Things right now are so hard for so many people. It seems that person after person is losing their job. Morale is at such a low. Money is tight and patience is even tighter. But we all have to remember that you never know what good will come out of any situation and even when you think that you have nothing left, you have to keep faith that a major change could be just around your corner. In my saying this, I do not in any way want to pretend that I am always able to live by these ideas - but I know in my heart of hearts that they are true and that there is a silver lining to every cloud. Hang in there everybody! Times will get better.


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