Paradise Lost

It snowed a couple times in February, which is pretty much exactly what we deserve for wondering aloud if an entire winter could REALLY be this mild. Between that and my annual writing assignment, we had a bit of a hiatus from our usual weekend excursions. I guess that’s not totally true–we did go to Bernstein’s Bagels three weekends in a row, (and of course to four new-to-me pot shops so that I could write about them) and while the bagels are very photogenic, I think Paradise Point State Park is even prettier.

Sneakily situated under an interstate bridge, Paradise Point is about a 20 minute drive from our house. We stopped by once when we did the Clark County Scenic Drive but only took the time to hop out of the car, give a cursory glance, and drive off. At first, it doesn’t look like the park has much to offer other than a picnic spot and a slightly unappealing swimming/fishing hole but we read online that there was a waterfall somewhere in the park and we were determined to find it. As long as it wasn’t a very far or difficult hike, anyway. I’m not trying to win any awards or get any ticks, ya feel me? Also after taking a couple weekends off with no strenuous activity that didn’t involve the vacuum, I didn’t know how long I’d feel like walking.

The trail begins not far from the parking lot, and starts off easy enough. Eventually some stairs lead into the woods, and a narrow, rocky path guides you along the water. The path is built into a hill on a slight incline which is probably fine for the dogs, but my feet got tired of being crammed into the sides of my boots and I was relieved when we arrived to the set of stairs that descended back onto flat ground. We ran into another couple who were walking their dogs and they told us the waterfall was only another 15 minutes up the trail, so we kept going, back uphill until we heard water. Luckily Zach’s hearing is better than mine because I was about to give up–the walk was probably only 40 minutes so far, but I was getting cranky due to the growing rock collection taking up residence in my shoes.

There was a small viewing platform set up for viewing the waterfall, which I gotta be honest, was pretty anticlimactic considering some of the waterfalls in this town. It is even less impressive in photographs, but it was at least relaxing to take a quick break, a deep breath, and get the goddamn pebbles out of my boots.

After the disappointing waterfall (seriously none of the pictures are even worth showing you because you can’t even tell there’s a waterfall at all but it DOES exist) we couldn’t decide if we should go back the way we came (pro: we know where it goes, con: ugh that was a long walk) or try a new way (pro: maybe shorter, con: maybe longer), but a huge off-leash dog was headed our direction, so we went the opposite direction of the way we came. This ended up being a mistake, because all that trail did was go in a big circle, leading right back to the “waterfall”, and by that time I was SUPER ready to go home, and it was starting to rain. Of course the only option left was to go back the way we came, which at least meant walking at an incline the opposite direction, giving the opposite side of my feet some irritation. Perfect! By this point it was also getting fairly muddy and slippery, and more than one time I saw my life flash before my eyes as I slipped towards the water only to barely recover before tripping over a stump. Ah, nature, how I missed you. But not as much as I miss the couch when I’m away from it.

The dogs were thrilled to be on an adventure, I got to visit my favorite coffee shop , and I didn’t drown or break anything so I’d still call this trip a success.

Advertisements

2 Blessed 2 Get Dressed

Okay so this blog is called Clotheshog and I haven’t done any clothesblogs in a while. There are many reasons for this, some better than others. One big ‘un is that I don’t have to go to an office every day and therefore the obligation to get dressed is no longer a daily one, which is a huge victory for 4-year-old me who sorrowfully asked my mother, “You mean I have to do this every day for the rest of my life?” upon being told for the second day in a row that I would need to dress myself to go to school. Good news, little me! Not every day! You just have to make it to 2018 to reap the rewards!

Another factor is that it feels shallow as fuck to write about clothing, not that I am a deep or masterful writer. I originally started documenting my outfits in a misguided, if well-intentioned, attempt at contributing to fat acceptance. This month is probably the 6th year I’ve contributed to the #fatshionfebruary hashtag that has become popular on Instagram and Tumblr and at first it felt like an amazing way for fat folks to appreciate fellow fashionable people with large bodies. Unfortunately, it soon became obvious that the “beauty standards” we were supposedly “effing” by buying expensive outfits, wearing full faces of makeup, and adopting pinup style, only resulted in fat women’s perception as “boner killer” being upgraded slightly to “idk i guess i could hit that”. I don’t know about you, but my effect on someone’s hard-on is of little consequence to me. What I actually want is some goddamn respect–professionally, medically, and societally. I don’t want other fat women to feel shitty for not spending as much money on dresses as I do, nor do I want the world to think that fat people are okay, but only if we’re REALLY trying. As fun as it is to finally access the self-expression that my skinny friends have enjoyed for years, I don’t want anyone to think that freedom will come in the form of wiggle dresses and wide-width stilettos; I want all women’s liberation, not fat women’s equal subjugation.

That being said, though….y’all, I am only human. I am not into makeup, I refuse to do a goddamn thing with my eyebrows, but you can pry my cute dresses from my dead, unmanicured hands. I grew up as a medium-fat kid and blossomed into an actually-fat adult, and I had to wear the clothes that I could afford that also fit me, which meant a LOT of thrift stores, Ross, and hand-me-downs from my Nana. I honestly didn’t think I could wear a dress without being laughed at until I was 26 years old because I thought for SURE if I put one on, strangers would approach me to say “Excuse me ma’am but you know you’re not pretty, right? You can put a dress on a pig, but…”. I only finally bought a dress because I got too hot one summer day in Atlanta and thought I would actually die of wearing jeans, and the potential ridicule was still more appealing than dying in the South. After I realized a dress meant that I could be in public sans pants,  it was all over. I wore dresses like they were going out of style…at least in the summertime. It was still a couple years post initial-dress purchase that I realized fat women could also wear tights, if we could just find a brand that understood we wanted them.

Enter: We Love Colors. Women on the Fatshionista board had mentioned We Love Colors but I was still pretty sure I hated tights, my only memory of them being the heart-patterned pairs of my toddlerhood. Weren’t they just leg traps? Wouldn’t I feel constricted by a garment that covered my entire feet AND legs? Wouldn’t they just rip? And uh, why are they so expensive? I’m a bargain shopper and hate paying over $20 for any single item, and if a pair of tights rips on the first wear then $15 is way too much for a single-use item. But jeggings are still PANTS and I hated pants and loved the freedom of dresses, so I eventually asked my mom to buy me some tights for Christmas. That year (2012?!), Santa brought me three pairs of tights; yellow, red, and a funky blue tie-dyed pair.

After trying them on and getting over the initial weirdness of wearing clothing whose name describes how it feels wearing it, I was sold. These tights were thick without being bulky, stretchy without being saggy, and way more durable than the nude pantyhose I’d had to buy for job interviews. Reader, I bought MANY more tights after that. Many. More. I pretty much only wear We Love Colors tights because they’re the only brand that 1) fits and 2) offers so many dang colors! I have bought tights on Amazon and they’re okay but generally only last one wear. I have WLC tights that I’ve owned for literally years. They’re not in mint condition but they still have a lot of life in them, and I even machine wash & dry them (in a garment bag). They’re not indestructible or anything, but as far as tights go they’re probably as good as it gets.

Since WLC is my go-to, I tend to tag them in my outfit photos, and we have built up a bit of a friendship. They just sent me three pairs of tights to do a side-by-side comparison of, and while I doubted there could be much variation in one brand’s offerings, there was a clear standout. I decided to wear one dress three ways to showcase the differences in the three styles of tights. Of course “three ways” is a bit of an overstatement. Last Fatshion Feb someone commented on my photos that I didn’t so much have different outfits as I have one outfit with different permutations (only they said it in a meaner, stupider way and I don’t feel like looking it up). I think they thought they were being clever, but they were right–I have a formula and I stick to it because getting dressed is hard and I hate thinking about it. I love figuring out different ways to make the outfit work, within the constraints of dress/belt/tights/shoes/sweater/earrings, and I don’t wear pants AND I don’t like wearing a lot of shit at one time. Some people are really creative and layer shirts under dresses or dresses over pants, and I personally can’t imagine ever purposely wearing that many things at once. Tights are already a sacrifice, you know? My goal would be full-time nudity, weather permitting.

Since weather is not currently permitting, I put together a few different ways to wear this ModCloth dress I got on eBay last week. First up, here are the three pairs of tights I was tasked with testing. We’ve got Neon Pink in style 1023, Dusty Green in style 1008, and Yellow in style 1053. Sadly I already own most of these colors, but to be fair I own most of the colors, period. I might love colors more than We Love Colors loves colors.

For the test, I didn’t look up what any of the style numbers were so that I could formulate an unbiased opinion on the quality. Back when I was a new WLC shopper, for plus sizes they only sold either 100% nylon tights, or a nylon/lycra blend; I always ordered the blend because I’d heard they were more durable. It looks like the 100% nylon is no longer offered in plus sizes, and your options are an unspecified nylon/lycra blend, an 87% nylon/13% lycra blend, and a 90%/10% blend they categorize as being microfiber. I gotta be honest, I have no idea what makes something microfiber and why it wouldn’t be the one with the highest lycra percentage. Google says that microfiber is a fine synthetic yarn and I’m already bored, so let’s just get to the tights.

I tried on the Dusty Green/1008 first and my first impression was that they weren’t as stretchy as my usual WLC tights, making them a bit difficult to put on. They seemed less opaque than usual though they still had decent coverage. As I wore them they seemed to ease up, and overall they were a fine pair of tights. I wouldn’t beg for more of them, but I’d probably buy a pair if I needed them and these were the only thing available. I didn’t filter the closeup at all so you can see the color in natural light; these seem a bit more blue than green but I still like ’em. The rest of this outfit isn’t super notable I’m afraid. The belt came with a different dress, the shrug is from Ross, and the shoes are some cheapos I found on Amazon.

Next up, I grabbed the Neon Pink pair of 1023s. These quickly became my nemesis because they were a complete struggle to actually stuff my body into–they were awkwardly long, hard to stretch, and didn’t have the springiness that the last pair did–they bagged up a little and didn’t have as much “memory”. All of this felt especially insulting because they’re a 4x, and I normally wear a 3x in pretty much anything. A larger size is of course, not actually an insult, but it’s still hard to see a bigger number on a tag than I usually see and irritating that a size up from my usual size in this exact brand is still too small. If I’d paid money for these, I’d have cashed in my social capital with WLC to ask for an exchange or refund. Since they were free, I’ll probably toss or donate them. The neon color is AMAZING though; I didn’t filter these photos at all and the pink is obviously vibrant af. These shoes are by Chelsea Crew and they are foot murder disguised as adorable wingtips. The back comes up too high on my heel and each step is like a razor blade into my achilles. I knew this and yet I moved them 3,000 miles across the country because they’re so fucking cute, but I think I need to just trash them. Or include them in a donation with a neon pink tights, to someone I hate. The belt is from Amazon, and the sweater was a Zulily find.

Inadvertently, I saved the best for last. The Yellow/1053 were different right out of the package. While all three pairs are similarly textured, the 1053 has a wider waistband but a shorter waist. My usual WLC tights could easily come up OVER my entire bust (and sometimes I do walk around the house like that, because it’s funny), though I generally nest them under my boobs and bra, but this pair hit at my mid-waist. I find this preferable to dealing with a bunch of extra material because I’m just 5’5″ and my usual nylon/spandex tights end up pooling at my ankles over time due to my lack of vertical mass. These tights were easy to put on, and the most comfortable to wear. I didn’t dread needing to use the bathroom which is a clear sign of a good outfit–had I the need to pee while wearing the pink pair I would have just Hulk-ed them off my body and thrown them away rather than go through the struggle of putting them back on. But this yellow pair wasn’t a threat at all and now I’m afraid I’ll have to replace my entire collection with this style now that I know it exists. The cardigan is a ModCloth/Pinup Girl Clothing staple, the shoes are from Amazon, and I am guessing the belt came from It’s Fashion Metro (which is not a thing here and I miss it dearly).

If it wasn’t obvious, the winner of the tights test was style 1053, which it turns out are the Microfiber tights. Who knew that those tiny lil yarns made such good tights?! 1008 are apparently my usual nylon/lycra blend, which I suspected but only after the horror of the pink pair. 1023 are the ones with the most spandex, which surprised me because I thought for sure mo spandex=mo comfort. How wrong I was! This is good news, because the microfiber tights are actually a buck cheaper than the ones I usually buy! I hope Santa is reading my blog.

So there you have over 2,000 words about clothes, which I am deeply ashamed of, but now you know a lot about fat ladies’ tights. You’re welcome.

Remotely

I’m pretty sure that somewhere back in time, I used to describe myself as a “people person”. If not in internet bios then at least in job interviews. I have basically always worked in customer service so admitting that I’m more of a me-ple person isn’t the best way to endear myself to a future boss. And it’s not that I don’t LIKE people or wish them the best! I like lots of individual people, probably even you! I just need ample time to recover from all the bra-wearing and inappropriate-comment-stifling that is required when I’m in the company of others, especially those I’m supposed to act “professional” around, because that’s not one of my factory settings.

My job has been through a lot of changes this past year, to say the very least. This past week my new boss was visiting from Very Far Away along with five of my coworkers, only one of whom I’d previously met. They rented an Airbnb in an amazing neighborhood and we worked from there for the week, singing along to our team Spotify list, ordering Thai food and cupcake delivery, and walking to the nearest coffee shop when we needed a boost. It was a nice change of pace to be around six incredibly smart women who understood my job all day long as opposed to sitting in my home office all alone and yelling at the computer for 40+ hours a week, but by the end of every day I felt like my bra would have to be surgically removed and a nice, dark, solitary cave would be a good place to spend the remainder of winter. I remember feeling this way even as a kid, after slumber parties or lock-ins or a particularly grueling six-hour school day; I just need a LOT of recovery time after being “on” for multiple hours in a row. I felt like a butthole because I skipped out on some of the more fun aspects of having coworkers in town (like a fancy dinner, ugh) and now that everyone is gone and it’s back to real life, I am sure the post-people blues will soon set in. Knowing my ever-fickle ass, by Tuesday I’ll be wishing I had someone in my own time zone to talk to, as opposed to somewhere between 2 and 15 hours away.

Since I’d felt cooped up all week, it seemed like a good day to hit up not one but TWO parks that have been on the list for a while. We’d driven by Lewisville Regional Park on the way home from many a weekend trip but always at a point that it was too late to stop. We had no idea if there was a particular feature that brought people to this park but it always looks packed, so our curiosity was piqued. One of the first things we spotted was a bathroom, and the welcoming beacon of an “open” sign adorning its door. That alone was certainly worth the $3 park pass we were finally guilted into buying (though I think this has inspired my new rule—-if they have an actual bathroom and it’s open, I’ll pay. Deal, Washington State?).

IMG_1883There were tons of parking spots, many picnic shelters, and LOTS OF PEOPLE OMG WHAT HAVE WE DONE. We drove towards the back of the park, where the crowds tend to thin out, in hopes of being more isolated. The park is named for the Lewisville River, which you can hike along, boat on, or fish in, or if you’re like me, you can just look at it.

We didn’t get too far along the river; the path was rocky and seemed to disappear when the terrain got rougher. The rest of the trails we saw looked to be in the woods, which are available pretty much everywhere around here so we skipped it this time. I’m at the river to see water, dammit.

Since the pass was paid for and I knew another park was nearby, we took off for Battle Ground Lake State Park in search of water-adjacent hiking. I actually took the dogs here a few weeks ago (not specifically to hike; there’s a new bakery in Battle Ground and since we were all the way out there I figured we may as well take a quick walk, but we only stayed 15 minutes or so) so I knew we’d have better luck. We chose the first path near the lake we saw, and made our way around the perimeter with Skeeter determined to lead the pack. The trail was fairly easy, and we made quick work of the loop without even tripping over one single root or being whapped in the face with a tree branch. Success! When we closed in on the end of the trail I asked Zach to guess how far we’d gone. Ever the under-estimator, he scoffed at my lowball guess of half a mile, so I had to call on the ubiquitous dispute-settler and ask Google, who informed me we had actually hiked 2.8 miles around the lake (and I’m mentally rounding that up to 3+ considering that wasn’t the only walking we did). Turns out if you’re worried about tripping, the weather is beautiful, and you’ve got a chihuahua to drag you around, a 3-ish mile hike isn’t too bad at all!

Bladders sufficiently emptied and legs satisfactorily stretched, we decided to call it a day. Zach and I changed clothes and went out for tacos, and the dogs held down the fort for us. I think we’re all gonna sleep good tonight—-these past five days have made one weak. (Sorryyyyyy!)

IMG_1888

Snow Motion For Me

Before moving here, I’d heard PNW residents mention “micro-climates”, and how the weather here can be sooooo different in areas that are mere miles or minutes apart. I thought they were just being braggarts like how they would talk about their fancy legal weed, and their artisanal fried chicken, and their naked bike rides (ok that one is not a selling point), but micro-climates are real (anecdotally anyway, and who needs more proof than that?) and they are spectacular (yes, YES, I still reference Seinfeld every day, okay).

Initially, the plan was to drive to Swift Reservoir and I dunno, look at it? We usually don’t have a strict schedule since we’re in it for the journey and that has panned out pretty well for a few months now, so we’ve stuck with it. If there’s a bit of a hike, great, and if not, well even better! I am perfectly happy to just look at nature from the confines of the climate-controlled vehicle with some dogs in the backseat and an iced Mayan mocha in my hand. At home there was a slow, light drizzle but the weather was otherwise manageable and the roads were clear so we struck out around 10:30, hoping to hit the ‘voir around noon.

PacifiCorps runs a series of parks along the Lewis River (I assume because they have to but hey! Parks!) so we’ve been sort of doing a tour of them as they appear on our route. We passed some familiar destinations. and kept on driving, as the fog got thicker and the temperature dropped. Lewis River Rd is gorgeous but intense–driving it is almost a physical workout compared to the speed and straight lines of highway driving. When a wild Yale Park appeared, we figured we’d avail ourselves of their facilities and add this to our PacifiCorps Parks checklist.

IMG_0777

IMG_0778

IMG_0779

When Google Maps declared we had reached our destination, we were basically nowhere–no placard, no sign, no parking, no nothin’–so we kept going until we saw anything that looked official. About 20 minutes and 10 degrees later, we found one sign and a small staircase leading to an underwhelming boulder and a path downhill. We grabbed the dogs and trekked down towards the sound of rushing water and were not disappointed.

IMG_0781

IMG_0782

IMG_0780

Undeterred and reinvigorated, we decided to keep on keeping on, just in case the Swift Reservoir did indeed have somewhere to actually visit, and because once you get going it’s so hard to turn around. I wonder if Lewis & Clark just meant to take a quick hike but got carried away once they got started. Next up was a sign for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and we are huge suckers for national forests these days (I can’t decide if that’s depressing or awesome but it’s much better than only being interested in cheese which used to be the case), and by this time the rain had dissipated, so when we saw a “road closed due to snow” sign, we thought it was lying…even though OKAY FINE, we did see a little bit of snow.

Thinking that if the road were truly closed we would have had to stop by now, we just. Kept. Going. The downed trees blocking lanes, the chained up snow plow, the two snowmobiles just past that, and the increasing snow didn’t really convince us because we are smart city people. We were way beyond any area with cell reception, so we were relieved to find a scenic overlook and fresh tire tracks. I flew to the heights of ecstasy when this overlook had a bathroom (and shortly thereafter flung to the pits of despair when that bathroom had a “closed for the season” sign on it), and the dogs were clearly suffering from mental whiplash with this rapid change in our environment.

IMG_0787

IMG_0786

IMG_0785

At this point it was 2 pm, we were hungry, I had lost track of where the last actual bathroom was, and we decided it was time to turn around. We still got a little off-course since we had no maps (though one is being ordered, promise), but once we were back to snowless ground we heaved sighs of relief.  We made it! We did not have to eat each other or pee our pants (though I did have to use a very unfortunate Honey Bucket).

IMG_0789

Today I probably won’t even leave the house. Just in case.

So I Creek, Yeah

My mom has a beloved quote, “Every step of the journey is the journey.” As a lover of endings and a hater of middles, the lesson of that quip has eluded me until very recently. Zach and I have been taking off to fill up our eyeballs with beautiful things for the majority of the past dozen weekends, and these road trips have basically become necessary for my mental health and are mostly, honestly, more about the getting there than the arriving. Sometimes we’re in the car for upwards of 4 hours total just to walk around for 30 minutes, but it never feels like a waste because we also got to see things and hang out for the whole ride in the car, too. The landscape here is so vastly different from Atlanta, and even from mile to mile, that I could just look out the passenger window for a couple hours and consider that a trip well-spent. Our house is only 5 minutes from downtown Vancouver, but travel 15 more and you’re out in the country, driving past vineyards and cattle. It’s wild to think that I moved here because I wanted to be close to the city, but I spend all my free time getting as far away from it as I can. WHO AM I?

Saturday we checked out Panther Creek Falls which I located by the now tried-and-true method of just looking on Google maps for something blue and hoping it’s a body of water large enough to justify the existence of a park. We’ve gotten used to the intense twists and turns of the Lewis & Clark Highway after a few visits out that direction, but the route to PCF takes off north after some miles down the highway and then goes pretty far off the beaten path from anywhere we’ve previously been. The narrow road to the Falls was strewn with boulders and rubble, and lacked any barriers between the road and the vast drop-off into the creek. Zach’s a safe driver and I’m always (mostly) game for an adventure but when we encountered a passing vehicle I nearly shat myself worrying we’d be edged off the road–this drive was SERIOUSLY the journey, y’all. The signs claimed the road went on for 30 miles and when I thought we must have gone half that distance I looked over at the trip odometer and saw we had gone only one, single, solitary mile. I was 99% sure we would die if we had to go 29 more miles, but after just one more we saw a cluster of other vehicles (including an RV, which…those people are insane) and figured we must be at the right place. The signage is minimal and the path down to the falls is hidden–we would have completely missed it if not for this handy message.

Image-1 (1)

The well-worn trail isn’t too physically challenging but it’s a mental minefield for clumsy anxious fat people, personally speaking. The way down is perilously steep and narrow, if not a long distance. I wore my trusty Crocs rainboots and felt like a real outdoorslady, but then I saw a woman in a denim miniskirt and knee-high heeled boots, so uh, you could probably just wear whatever and stroll right down if you’re a physically capable person.

There’s a wood decked viewing area and some security ropes, but this waterfall is about a zillion times less commercial or crowded than Multnomah Falls and I would say it’s possibly even more impressive in person. The hike itself was a little outside of my comfort level due to the incline and the isolation; when we’re somewhere without cell signal I start getting antsy, and since this particular park is basically just in the wilderness, the amenities are lacking (i.e., non-existent). We saw a few people with tents set up along the way, but there were no bathrooms (UGH) or even picnic tables, making this one of the more rural trips we’ve done. The drive-to-payoff ratio was sorta skewed on the “drive” end of the scale so I’m not sure if we’ll be back here any time soon (unless I buy a GoGirl–the road trip sized iced latte + the gushing waterfalls were a poor combination) (and unless you visit and want to go–I will totally go with you!) but I’m glad we went.

We had some sandwiches in the car so we stopped at the Bonneville dam again on the way home and made use of their picnic table (and bathroom, PHEW).

26758411_10155410430997842_6512789595320461699_o

Skeeter says “Life is dam good!” And my sanity is extended for another week.

 

Round and Round

You may recall that our move here was fraught with many obstacles. I’ve seen multiple friends make similar moves before us, and still more have come after, and none of them have come even close to dealing with the level of bullshit that we encountered. It’s sort of the Scootee secret power–we can Worst Possible Outcome every scenario despite our best laid plans! You’re welcome friends, your move now looks easy by comparison! Since we’ve been in our house for a whole entire year now, things have settled down slightly. I have managed to stay employed, our house hasn’t been robbed yet, and Skeeter has been found every time he’s gotten lost–all positives! Zach was able to quit the airline he had worked at for over a third of his life because he got a local job, and I was feeling pleased with our fully-immersed west coast life (ok ok I still have a GA driver’s license, so we’ll call it “mostly-immersed”). Until, after about a month at his new gig, this happened. Yeah, everything sucks and people are terrible and capitalism is a shit system and basically I’m back to being in Panic Mode, not that I ever really access my other settings.

Overall though, and I don’t want to jinx it, things are pretty….good? I used to feel like I technically met all the specifications for Happiness but the promised outcome never materialized. Maybe I missed the “terms and conditions” checkbox or something when filling out the form? Or my popup blocker caught the CAPTCHA and I was just staring at the page waiting for something to happen that never would? I had amazingly talented, clever, beautiful friends and a dreamy job for a company that people would kill to work for. I had a cute house in an okay neighborhood and an entire extra living room I didn’t even use. I had love and laughter and even a few people to buy weed from. But my underlying feeling was one of bitterness and dissatisfaction–I didn’t like living there and it permeated everything I did and felt. I was always too hot, cockroaches and crickets outnumbered Waffle Houses, everything was always too far away, and since I grew up there but didn’t have any history beyond my own there was this awkward intimacy/unfamiliarity dichotomy that was always present. While I could always drive past my old preschool, I couldn’t go further back in time than that and it felt stifling. When I’m on the west coast, I feel like I’m surrounded by my grandparents’ stories, by my parents’ childhoods, and by shared memories that I don’t really have but can cobble together through snippets and stories and pictures. Every time I pass Mt Hood or see St Helens in the distance, it’s like I’m in the backseat of my grandparents’ peanut butter-colored Acura Integra (I told you they were cool) again, being chauffeured on another adventure. Pretty much every weekend for the past few months, Zach and I have taken off down the twisty roads to see some beautiful sight that I have wispy memories of. If I had a bag of puffy Cheetos and the Big River soundtrack (one of the few albums Nana and I agreed on) (ugh I just clicked my own link and now I’m crying, GREAT) it would be a near-exact recreation of one of our road trips to the beach or Flathead Lake.

Last weekend we settled on Round Lake, which is actually connected to Lacamas Lake, and shares a parking lot (or maybe we were lost, who’s really to say). I can’t remember if someone told us about it or if I just looked at the map and picked a lake (which is a thing you can do here!) to drive to, but it’s about 25 minutes from our house so fairly easy to access. I am not a hiker by any stretch of the imagination and would hesitate to even call myself a “walker”. I am mostly a clumsy tangle of chubby limbs loosely connected to a lumpy, rotund base, and occasionally I can propel myself forwards if I really concentrate on it. Hiking always seemed to be an idiotic hobby because you have to spend the whole time scanning the ground for pine cones and exposed roots, hoping you don’t get impaled on a stump or choked by mossy overgrowth. Why go somewhere beautiful just to stare at the ground if you’re lucky, or tumble down a ravine if you’re not? It turns out that if you go places with actual trails, in a region where it’s not always a balmy 300 degrees, and there are waterfalls everywhere, taking a slow amble through the forest isn’t painful at all. The dogs aren’t great at being out in public but the annoyances are worth how tired they are later. Or, okay, how tired I am later. They’re probably still annoying and I just don’t notice because I’m so pooped.

image1

Round Lake has the potential to be a 6 mile hike according to one sign we saw, and my immediate reaction was a loud “NOPE”. Our SOP is to walk until I’m halfway to wanting to die (it’s tough to measure, usually I just start worrying about how I’ll eventually need to pee and will likely be stranded toiletless in the woods, and then like magic the need actually arises and we have to turn around!) or until Joey starts lagging behind. Sometimes I think she can tell I’m tired and puts on a fake limp for my benefit–dogs are very intuitive that way. It was a pretty short trek from the parking lot to a scenic waterfall that I absolutely could not capture with my dinky iPhone. We’ll probably come back here again since it’s so close and doesn’t require a trip into Portland–we only got about 1/4 of the way around the lake (if that, I’m a very generous estimator) so there’s likely a lot more to see. The path was easily navigable even in my thin-soled rain boots and there were many excellent dogs so I would rank this as one of the better parks we’ve visited.

image2 (1)

So, it’s 2018 and sometimes I go outside on purpose to do things besides eat. Today is my one year jobiversary, and I like what I do and the people I work with. Things are hard sometimes and life is far from perfect. But now when I take the self-administered Happiness survey, even if I don’t check all the boxes (Loads of friends I can call up every time we have too much dinner? No, not really. But we have like 6 friends and they’re all really amazing! A job at a company that was just featured on the cover of a magazine? Well, no, but I didn’t really fit in there… A big mid-century house close to the DeKalb Farmer’s market? Not exactly, but sitting on the porch swing and being able to bike to the pot shop is actually a million times better!), the results bear the conclusion that I am, actually, really fucking happy.

Keep on Roake-in’ in the Free World

One of the things I most hated about living in Atlanta was constantly being assaulted by nostalgia. Only, it wasn’t really nostalgia because nothing ever went away and neither did I? Like, sometimes I would drive to Whole Foods for their stupidly addictive and expensive smoked salmon dip, but as I puttered down N Druid Hills Rd, I’d be reminded of how I used to see the exact same church, the same Mellow Mushroom sign, and the same Post apartments, when my parents stuffed me into my car seat (or I guess back then you could just go in the trunk of the car; the 80s were a simpler time and the only safety measure was a “baby on board” sign) and drove me to preschool. Throughout my elementary, high school, and adult careers, I drove the same roads and passed the same things. And sometimes there were fuzzy fond memories, but mostly it felt like a dream sequence in which the signs were all making fun of me for never leaving the city where I grew up. I could practically see the “Taco Bell” sign morph into “TOWNIE!” when I drove past. So I guess it’s ironic that now that I live on the west coast I seem to constantly be on a quest to relive some of my happiest childhood memories. Since my grandparents aren’t here to reminisce with, Zach has to be my captive audience and pretend that my murky memories are entertaining.

Portland summers stand out as some of my favorite memories, even though if I think about it REALLY hard I can definitely remember spending those weeks complaining on the phone to my mom that I’d rather be at home with my friends and then acting like a complete asshole to my entire extended family (sorry everyone!). From the moment I stepped off the plane, my grandparents treated me like royalty. We’d head to their house where they’d fix me my fave (chicken flavored ramen noodles with two ice cubes and copious hot sauce). In the following days, Nana would take me back-to-school shopping and buy me whatever shoe du jour I begged for (I long for the green Adidas Sambas we found in Nordie’s back in ’95), then to the salon for a fancy haircut, and later Papa and I would head somewhere to people-watch and read trashy books. My grandparents loved traveling and were adventurous eaters who I have to credit with my decades-long love of Sriracha. They ALWAYS had the red rooster-themed bottle in their fridge as far back as I remember, definitely before Texas Pete made their own take on it and every regular grocery store stocked the Huy Fong necessity. My first pho, my first injera, and my first massaman curry are all thanks to my grandparents, and to Portland’s dynamic dining scene. It wasn’t ALL adventurous eats though–Papa was a big fan of the basics, and couldn’t say no to a hot dog. One summer he took me to Roake’s for a Coney and fresh-cut fries, and I’ve been dreaming about them ever since. There’s just been SO MUCH else to do we never made it out there until today.

Upon arrival, you’re greeted by the trademark Roake’s checkerboard sign and a steadfast menu board that has rarely seen an update. It looks like they’ve added mozz sticks and jalapeno poppers since my last visit in the 90s, but everything else appears to be pristine, save for the sheen of grease. We wanted to sample a few things so we got a long Coney, a classic dog, a bacon cheeseburger, topped it all off with a chocolate Oreo shake. If you thought I was going to have some sort of New Year’s Resolution to eat less junk, well, you must be new here or very dumb.
The shake arrived first, with a straw whose sole purpose was decoration, and a functional spoon. The shake was thick with crunchy cookie pieces, and despite its indulgent ingredient list, it was well-balanced and not overly sweet. The burger was built with precision; a fresh sesame bun sandwiched a crisp-edged patty, lettuce, pickles, onions, cheese, special sauce, and expertly-done bacon. The Coney’s namesake sauce smelled of oregano (maybe? Zach wasn’t taking notes but it was definitely herbal and reminded me of spaghetti sauce and this recipe backs me up) and was surprisingly well salted. The chopped onions could’ve been diced smaller and I wish cheese was involved, but overall it’s a fine specimen. Zach had the classic dog all to himself and had no complaints, but we both were majorly impressed by the burger and how balanced all the flavors were for a roadside hot dog stand.
Since even liberal wonderland Portland has a no shirt-no shoes-no service policy, I had to wear clothes to visit Roake’s. I know how to drive most places without Google mapping them these days, but I still haven’t mastered getting dressed since moving here over a year ago (!!!). I got a few pairs of rain boots and I finally bought an actual rain jacket (ok my mom bought it for me, but still) but I have not yet come to terms with the fact that I look absolutely ridiculous in them and none are particularly my ~aesthetic~. It’s hard enough being fat and shopping for dresses, but looking for functional outerwear that also doesn’t make me look like I added sleeves to a garbage bag is a pretty difficult. I also haven’t done much shopping since moving here for a number of reasons, all of them boring, but it means my getting-dressed paralysis is worse than usual because I have existing-outfit blindness, an entirely disgusting first world problem to have. Luckily it wasn’t actively raining during lunch, so I didn’t have to wear any rain gear so I just grasped blindly at a thing in the closet and made myself work with it. Wah, my life is hard.

 

I got this dress on Gwynnie Bee ages ago and it’s stretchily perfect to go eat junk food in. Tights are, as always, We Love Colors. Boots came from Amazon and are Bussola brand. The belt is also an Amazon find, the earrings came from Burlington More-than-just Coat Factory, glasses are Zenni, and the cardigan shrug thingie is from Ross.

image1
 I’m gonna go forage for vegetables and eat some Alka-Seltzer now, but talk to you later probably. Bye.

Take a hike, 2017

Oh, hey. I haven’t visited WordPress in so long that I had to type in the ENTIRE url and not just a w, or even “wo”, or even “wordp”, which is pretty embarrassing. I loved bloggin’ for a while there but then people at my job started following me on the social meeds, like even people in HR, and that makes me supremely uncomfortable but I guess if you’re writing on the internet you’re supposed to be pretty PG-13 but also who knows if anyone in HR even actually reads this? Surely they have better things to do, like resourcing humans. I have missed writing things besides emails to customers about how to stop spamming people and figured here is as good a place as any to get some words out, and maybe this will be a good excuse to buy myself a new phone because everyone has better cameras than I do and my screen is pretty smashed up anyway and isn’t it good to have hobbies and a justification for everything?

I don’t feel quite ripe for writing about an entire subject yet (or maybe ever!) so I figured I would show you my corny top 9 ‘grams for the year and say hi and then maybe if anyone cares we can talk about food and clothes and the great outdoors. Usually when people say things like “If you would have told me [x] years ago I’d be [doing y thing], I’d [be really surprised but in a colloquial phrasing]!” I’m like “lol okay, I’ve been exactly the same person for 35 years now and will likely never change but have fun, bye!” but this year it turns out that I went outside on purpose, lots of times, and actually walked around when I was out there. ON PURPOSE. I didn’t wear pants or anything, don’t get crazy. I would never bore you with a hiking blog (probably? writing about walking seems even more boring than writing about clothing but it’s possible 2018 Alison has different opinions) but maybe sometimes I will show you places we walked around before I Yelped for a new coffee place or burger shack.

I have to go and hide with my dogs in the downstairs bathroom because people are already celebrating the new year with explosions a mere 4 hours before the clock actually strikes 12 and I think Skeeter’s heart might actually explode. Here are 9 pictures people on the internet liked the most out of all the ones I posted this year! Maybe I will actually put on an entire outfit again sometime soon, but also maybe the sun will stay out past 4 fucking pm so that I have time to get a picture before it’s just nighttime 15 hours a day!

image1

See ya next year, suckers.

Drivin’ & Cryin’

The very first car I learned to drive was my dad’s green 1993 Mercury Villager. As a 15-year-old, I found the vehicle appropriately embarrassing (i.e., when my dad was driving it, I would duck down low hoping to avoid peer detection, but when I was behind the wheel it may as well have been a Maserati, or–more desirable to teenage me–a VW Beetle), but it did teach me the useful skill of navigating an oversized auto, and I was eventually able to parallel park that behemoth like a champ. Or, at least well enough to pass my driver’s test on the first try, which is all that really counts. By the time I was 16, I was hopeful that my dad would gift me his van, just like parents do on TV all the time. My parents are much more pragmatic than TV parents, and my dad needed the van to, you know, drive his own self to work every day to pay for my braces (Twice even! My teeth were very high maintenance!), so I ended up buying my own car. My mom’s friend Nancy had a 1986 Honda Civic wagon that she generously sold to me for the now-paltry but at-the-time-exorbitant amount of $600.

Side note: Nancy was younger at the time than I am now, and I can’t imagine being like “Sure, friend’s kid, you can buy my COMPLETELY FUNCTIONAL car for an amount of money that is actually not very much at all, you idiot”, so if you’re reading this, thank you Nancy, Oliver was a very good car. I later sold him for $500 which in car economics is basically making money on the deal!

After the wagon, I drove a series of small cars: 1989 Toyota Corolla, followed by a 1997 VW Golf, then a 2001 Beetle (a long-time dream finally realized!), and most recently a 2012 Fiat 500. Before we moved, we traded in both my Fiat and Zach’s Cobalt to get a Honda Pilot. We figured a bigger car would maximize comfort and minimize risk. (I saw one of those exposés about Uhauls 15 years ago and have been scared of them ever since, so I didn’t want to ride in one for thousands of miles with all my stuff–I kept picturing us going out to our truck in the morning at a seedy midwest motel, the door ajar and all of our shit stolen, or us careening off a mountain road somewhere because the brakes weren’t serviced.) Zach drove pretty much the whole way here, but these days when he’s gone during the week I get the pleasure of driving this bus-sized monstrosity around. Portland is rife with parallel parking options, and since the Pilot has a rear-view camera I have been doing pretty okay at parking. Unfortunately, due to my long string of tiny cars, my Villager-borne skills are long goners and I’m a great embarrassment to decent women drivers everywhere.

Today I had to stop off at the Adidas employee store to return some shoes I impulse-bought earlier this week. I made a wrong turn and ended up in their employee parking garage instead of the guest parking lot, and I had to either have a parking pass, or make a tight three-to-six-point-turn. Since I did not have a parking pass and there was no person manning a booth to let me in, I went for the turn. I thought I was clear and on my way out when I heard a horrifying sound. The poor Pilot is now a scraped-up casualty of my clumsiness. I wish I could say she’s alone in that distinction, but I cannot. Earlier this week I was walking, which is not my forte, and I stumbled and fell, and now I have a huge case of road rash and a burgeoning purply-blue bruise. You would think that practice makes perfect, but after half my life of driving and many more years than that walking, I still can’t do either one with any skill. I’m not sure if I should get my own, smaller car, or just give up trying to drive altogether.

As I am wont to do, I bought myself a treat after returning the shoes and texting Zach to tell him his wife sucks at driving. I stopped in the adorable Kenton neighborhood at Prince Coffee to pick up a latte, and to use their dang bathroom because the one at the Adidas store required security clearance. I said I wanted something iced, sweet, and coffee, and the barista (who I think is also the owner) suggested a latte whose name I didn’t catch because I am the worst blogger and for real I had to pee. I chose the 16 oz. and it was $5 even, so pretty regular pricing. The milk:espresso:flavor ratio was a little on the milky side (oh ew that is not a good band name at all) but the flavor (whatever it may be!) was perfectly sweet and slightly spicy, like cinnamon and brown sugar (which, if the menu I found on Yelp is still in rotation, makes me guess it might be the “stroop” flavor since stroopwafels are those flavors). I didn’t try a wafel–they were out on the counter really close to where a child or even regular person might try to breathe or touch them and no thanks. The neighborhood was easily walkable and Instagrammable, so parking up the street and strolling a few blocks was enjoyable, even with my stupid aching leg.

As you may have noticed, I don’t generally wear flat shoes, and even less frequently do I wear anything that could remotely be considered “athletic”. In my youth I was more inclined towards jeans and casual men’s footwear, and I used to looooove Adidas. I had Sambas in both green & black, Superstars in at least 3 different color combos, and some name-I-can’t-remember retro running shoes I found in a Salvation Army in one of my summer Portland visits as a kid. My cousin’s husband (my cousband?) works at Adidas and very generously got some friends and I into the employee store earlier this week (hence my ill-fated return trip), and I went a little crazy. I nearly walked away with 4 pairs of shoes, but limited myself to two since I can’t even remember the last time I went out in public shod in footwear with flat laces. I scored Gazelles in both blue and red, and actually wore the blue ones for the rest of the day. I was so comfortable, I spent most of the day dreaming up ways I could marry my love of sporty footwear with my passion for pantless fashion, and I came up empty. And then I fell down, probably because my feet don’t know how to be that relaxed and just gave up entirely. I tried to wear the new red shoes out yesterday, but they were a half-size smaller than the blue ones so they weren’t going to work out, and I was relieved because you guys, Adidas on my stumpy canks is not a good look. Exhibit A: my Retrolicious shark dress, red We Love Colors tights, these comfortable-ass shoes, and Bea’s Kate Spade bag which she is kindly letting me borrow. Today at Prince Coffee, two women were like “Love your bag!” and I said, “Oh it’s actually my friend’s, so I guess we can’t be friends anymore. I think I’m going to delete her number.” Because seriously, that is how cute this bag is, I would abandon my best friend for it. (JK Beasus, you know where I live and this purse has never bought me Chick-fil-A.) I keep bidding on them on Ebay but they go for $800+ and while I love spending money, I do not love it quite that much.

IMG_4864.JPG

Hey look at that, I finally blogged after quite the procrastination streak there. Too bad I’ve exceeded my latte allowance (a-latte-ment?) because my treat meter is once again empty. That’s how all adults cope right? Not just me?

Fatshion February Recap

First of all, the country is still bonkers and I am still struggling with how to be a sane person and stay informed. I read a lot of blogs myself, and I find myself annoyed with nearly all of them. There’s one food blog I read who recently posted a few politically-charged paragraphs, and I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking “Yeah yeah, get to the recipe” but then another one I love has said NOTHING about 45’s first month, and it enrages me. So, rest assured I care that the country is run by someone who LITERAL NAZIS support, but I will not go on and on about it because you already know and are similarly upset and we’re all agreeing to be frivolous for a few minutes together here. Deal? Super.

Last month was Fatshion February on many social media platforms–originally celebrated on Tumblr (or maybe even LiveJournal during the Fatshionista years?) and now I think people primarily post to Instagram. I’ve been partaking in posting for a few years now and I even met my best friend (WHO NOW LIVES HERE!!!!1!11!!1!!!) through the hashtag. I love seeing other peoples’ outfits, mostly because many other people wear terrible clothes (not YOU though, you are perfect). This year wasn’t that great, for me, because for some reason I don’t understand, a LOT of not-fat people post their outfits using that tag. Maybe they’re all body dysmorphic, but it feels like one of those attention-grabbing things insecure young people do; call themselves soooo fatttt so all their friends say “no ur not ur beautiful”. I still enjoy posting though, because I really like attention and I think I’m about at the max number of followers one can have before people start being mean. One time someone messaged me to say “Wow you are really large!” but I obviously wrote back to him and was like, “omg thank you! I’m actually considering a tattoo that says ‘SOME PIG’.”

The whole point of that, obviously, was to provide some background as to why I will be sharing a shitload of outfits all at one time, pretending it was on purpose, and not because I started this blog entry two weeks ago and now it’s an entirely different month. At all. Our house is mostly unpacked and decorated but we don’t have a desk yet, and for some reason I am really hung up on the idea that I’ll be a good blogger if I just have a real desk. But you see, shopping for a desk pretty much sucks. We’re not poor anymore, but the only levels of furniture appear to be Ikea and Rich People Shit, so I keep refreshing Overstock and hoping they’ll miraculously have a desk and chair that are fancy enough for me to want to sit in, but PH-balanced for a solidly middle-class-but-stingy person. Which is to say, maybe one day I will blog with regularity when I have a decent place to sit but for now I start on the couch, decide it’s not working, move to the kitchen, decide those chairs aren’t relaxing enough, move to the floor where the dogs bother me, and then I’m like “Netflix requires nothing of me but open eyeballs” and I give up. Also I have reached next-level bath nirvana with this combination: Lavender epsom bubble bath AND bath oil, a nice indica, The Great British Baking Show on the laptop (propped up on a folding step-stool), a huge glass of ice water, the butt heater on, aaaaand maybe a snack because even though I don’t know what half of those British desserts are, that show will still make me hungry. Also the bath tub = easy cleanup so there are really no downsides. Well except in the morning when Morning Alison has to drag Night Alison’s chocolate mousse spoon back upstairs. But still, #worthit.

Here are all 14 outfits I wore in February. I wasn’t nude the other half of the time but a few days’ photos weren’t good enough to post, and yeah okay, some days I don’t get dressed. If you would like to subscribe to that newsletter, it will be $99.95 per month.

For 2017 (which I guess is now 1/4 over somehow?) I would like to 1) Get a better camera than my iPhone (like say, an even newer iPhone), and 2) learn how to edit photos using a method other than Instagram. These appear to lose a lot of quality between my phone and the internet, and I need all the help I can get.

I have to go pick Zach up at the airport and then I have to have a huge panic attack about tomorrow. I’m going to visit a customer IN PERSON and tell them why their emails suck, and while I look forward to bossing them around I am also very scared of getting yelled at. I’m bringing doughnuts though, so they can’t yell at me while they’re chewing. Bye.