Monday, August 16, 2010

It doesn't seem real...

It doesn’t seem real. That I will be leaving this home (I crafted here for myself with the help of the spoken word and writers community), in a shade over three weeks. I’ve lived in the Capitol / First Hill neighborhood for six years nine months now. And for the first four years, I was homesick for dry wheat fields, quiet places and dreamt (between open mics) about doing what I will be doing on September 16th, which is go back home to northwestern Oregon. Until then, I have an overwhelming amount of things to accomplish and figure out. Ideally, I would drive the Uhaul away into the sunset. However, I don't have a drivers license. Tomorrow morning (which is August 17) I am going to take the written test at the West Seattle DMV testing center. I must say that I am frightened by the prospect of being a licensed driver again and prior to moving up here I hated driving with a passion. The only time I missed it was when I returned to Oregon for a visit. I count letting my license expire on my 36th birthday to be the biggest mistake I've made save for perhaps passing Allison, the grocery store girl, a note asking her out. I was so attracted to her that my speech center short circuited and I became a fast retard. I was a little disappointed to find out her age. She was twenty-four then and I was thirty-nine. She later became a muse for the first song I'd ever written with words and all along with a dozen or more prose like compositions. I still find her attractive even though she's lost her girlish figure and is maturing into a beautiful woman, but I'm leaving now and there's no sense bubbling into spilt milk.
An offering to the gods at Summit & Pike Street

The biggest problem I'm having with this move is that I’m settling, for the time being, in Salem, which to the known universe, is an cultural dark hole. At least that was how I tagged it in my tweens till my mid thirties (when I moved from McMinnville to Seattle). Salem is an awfully big city to be so artistically retarded or challenged. Seattle's population was clocked at around 540,000 at the 2000 census. Salem on the other hand sports about 136,924 (from the same period). There are only four live theaters one at Willamette University, the Historic Elsinore Theatre (where I waited around the block to see Star Wars in 1976) Chemeketa Community College, and then there's the Pentacle which is a community theater. Although, Salem did have a professional theater for about six years called the Salem Repertory Theatre, but it died in 2009 to lack of support. It is funny Portland's population is around 529,121 and it supports 65 theatrical troupes and theaters. Salem on the other hand at approximately 3/4 the size of Portland can't support one professional theater. That is shameful in my book. Shame on you Salem!


I was hoping, when I returned to Oregon, that I would make a beeline for Portland. I've heard nothing but good things about Portland's writers community over the past six years. So, as soon as I get my drivers license and a car (hopefully a VW pop top camper bus) I will become the first Salemite (gag, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth when I typed the word; I am not looking forward to this move; my excitement fizzled like an erection slapping really cold water) to attend the Portland Poetry Slam. Also, I've grown accustomed to the liberal loonies who infest the First / Capitol Hill neighborhoods and I know that same personality type also has populated much Portland, which is why Portland is the bicycle bum capital of the northwest and has a model public transportation system.

However, Salem does have a few coffee stores with character in the downtown region. The Coffee House Cafe on 150 Liberty Street NE has that non-corporate style that is unique to Oregon and it hosts several poetry open mics a month. Whatever other culture there is below the event horizon (as far as spoken word poetry is concerned), I’m going to find it and most likely compare the individual venues to either the best or worst open mics of Seattle (and I’ve been to most of the open mics here). My two favorite places for poetry are the Seattle Poetry Slam and Works in Progress at the Hugo House.

Below are a few random images of the Capitol / First Hill neighborhood's taken with my trusty AT&T Pantech camera phone:

Charlie singing his trademark piece Ode to Sesame Street
Thursday's at the Blue Bird Ice Cream.

A random rider on a number 2 to Madrona

Mass at St James August 15, 2010


It just don't seem real that I'm leaving this home I've fallen in love with. When I stopped seeing that last lady I dated for a short spell I wasn't nearly this bubbly (but then again why would one be). I wonder if I'm doing the right thing? I wonder if Salem will become a crucible for me? Will it be a place or vessel of social and artistic isolation resulting in either the death of poetry in my soul or the realization of its true nature?

Hmmm...a dark night of the poem...


  1. Every community has it's creative element. It's a matter of finding it and tapping into it.

    Actually, both Portland & Seattle are relatively short drives from Salem on a once or twice monthly basis. Heck, find the right place to live in Salem and you can be in Portland within 45 minutes any night of the week (once you've got that license and wheels).

    So, I haven't heard the final decision. Are you moving or staying put in Seattle?

  2. I left for Seattle for Oregon August 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm. I arrived in Oregon Tuesday, August 30 at 1:50 am.