Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I really don't see my city very clearly on a day spent out and about if I am alone. I am lost in my own thoughts. Visitors to the city view things that I see as perfectly normal in a different light.

Take, for example, the fact that young people dress up in costumes, get on our mass transit and go to Pioneer Courthouse Square as someone else. I see it as perfectly normal but if you are from another part the country or the world, you may see it as beyond weird.

This last week we had visitors from out of town and we took the Max Line downtown to see Saturday Market and shop at Nordstroms. Pioneer Courthouse Square was our stop on the Max Line so we waited for the next train there. An event sponsored by some big athletic company was being set up. Just at the edge of the stairs two young girls dressed as English school girls with faces painted white as though they were about to appear in a Johnny Depp movie were waiting for the action to begin.

My visiting friend turned to me and asked where the play was. When I told her there wasn't a play and that, in Portland, this was just what kids did, she found it very hard to believe. As I think about it I can see why. It is a bit unusual to say the least. When she wrote me a thank you note telling about their trip home, here is what she said:
"At one of the rest stops I saw a girl with full face makeup like a cat...I waited to see if the car had an Oregon plate but it was Washington."
I suspect those people were on their way to Portland or had just moved away.

I asked "what's up?" when the girl boarded in the orange costume at the Pioneer Max stop. She was puzzled until she realized I was asking why she was dressed like that. She said the Elmo-like costume symbolized the Don't Hug Me...I'm Scared song lyrics and that she did it for fun. Interestingly enough people all around me got out their cell phones and took pictures. They were wondering too. Lyrics from the YouTube video go like this:

Now when you look at this orange,
tell me please, what do you see?
It's just a boring old orange!
Maybe to you, but not to me. 
I see a silly face! (wow!)
Walking around and smiling at me.
I don't see what you mean.
'Cause you're not thinking creatively!

videos produced by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling

I don't know how "normal" this is but I do know that I think I know why these young people do this. Wouldn't we all like to hide behind a mask sometimes. Considering the angst and misgiving teens live with, I suspect that they feel somehow braver and strong when they go out in disguise. The song video, Don't Hug Me..I'm Scared that the teen loved promotes creativeness but I think the title says it all.

I like that young people do this. It brings the creative vibe that this city possesses alive. It is very alluring.

Anyway, Portland rocks. Keeping this beautiful city weird makes us more tolerant of all cultures and lifestyles. In fact, it may keep the city young and vibrant. Isn't that wonderful.

Have a wonderful day.



  1. One of the reasons I love Portland is its refusal to be completely "normal." It is an exciting, vibrant city that never fails to captivate me. My wife and I hope to spend a few months there next summer.

    1. My husband and I are hoping that you do just that!

  2. If I didn't live in Seattle, Portland would be a very tempting residential choice.

  3. Replies
    1. Roz,

      Yes it is. It took me a long time to figure out what the whole "Keep Portland Weird" was all about. Then I saw the city through someone elses eyes. Now I get it.

  4. Spent three days off of Alberta Street. Family wedding in Mt Tabor park. My extend family were all a jitter. My group of six just looked around and said, "glad there is someplace where people can still have fun!"
    Alberta street, before dark, is one of the most family friendly places we have been in a long time. Don't look for conventional, keep Portland weird!
    (Go to the Hibiscus House and have some of the best Swiss food we have had since being stationed in Germany many moons ago!)

    1. Thank you so much for commenting...I love to hear someone from the great beyond talk about the city. I had never hear of the Hibiscus House and must try it one of these days.

  5. Hi Barbara! I haven't spent much time in Portland but what I did I liked. Okay, so I appreciate unique and unusual so how could I not. About the only thing I can't handle is a cloudy sky and/or rain. I think I need to stick to visiting. ~Kathy

    1. We go south in the winter but you do adjust...people in Portland wear shorts when it gets above 50!


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