May 1, 2019

Downtown Portland with Mount Hood

Dateline: Portland, Oregon –

As promised, time to pick up the travelogue once again. I’m on the West Coast for a week, first at the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting in Portland, and then a few days in Seattle to catch up with family. Today was the travel day so not a lot to report. I left the house with minimal incident, other than discovering that I had forgotten to buy another bag of cat food and that the feeder was not going to last a week which necessitated an early AM run to the Piggly Wiggly prior to catching an Uber to the airport.

I must say, the Birmingham airport is one of the positives of living in Birmingham. True, you have to change planes at least once to get anywhere interesting, but it’s never overly crowded, the security lines aren’t too long and they have a Starbucks so it’s vaguely civilized. I inherited the ‘one must be ages early for a flight’ gene from my mother so I was there well before flight time, only to discover that my flight to Atlanta was delayed and that my connection time in Atlanta had been reduced to 35 minutes. Not wanting to have to rebook and do other crazy things, I chanced it, did the sprint through the Atlanta airport and made my Seattle flight with ten minutes to spare. I was worried about my checked bag but the gods of travel were with me and it made the flight as well.

I had splurged on the Delta Comfort ticket meaning I got about six more inches of leg room which made a lot of difference and I didn’t have to wedge my knees into my nostrils for five hours as I often have to do. Instead I watched a film so that MNM can get a column done this week., and read the first 150 pages of George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood, his epic telling of Tagaryen history – sort of like reading up on the Plantagenets in order to understand the Wars of the Roses. I’ve been on a Game of Thrones kick with the new season. I’ve been watching old episodes before bed and now this. It’s not terribly literary but he does tell a good story about medievalesque political backstabbing,. Now if he’d only put down the side quests and finish the main books. I’ve come to the conclusion that he never will actually finish them. I think he’s a victim of his own success and lack of editing and has written himself into such an intricate world, that he can’t figure a way out of it with any narrative cohesion.

My father picked me up at the Seattle airport and passed his geriatrician based driving test back into town. We caught up, had dinner with my sister and a friend of his and then I borrowed his car and drove to Portland where the meetings are based. I am now ensconced at a downtown hotel called the Porter and will get up and head on in to the convention center after breakfast. I’ve driven through Portland dozens of times in my life but it’s been about thirty years since I last stopped and spent any time here.

The Tony Nominations came out this week. No huge surprises to anyone who’s been paying attention this season. The three big contenders in the musical category all opened after my last trip to NYC so I haven’t seen any of them and will have to withhold judgment. The Tonys do, however, bring me to tonight’s story. This one dates back to me and Steve living in Sacramento in the mid 90s. It was the early days of the internet. The web had not yet become a big thing but there were a number of internet chat groups and listserves that were becoming popular. One that I joined early on was devoted to Stephen Sondheim and his work. (Big surprise there). One of the other members was a young Chinese man in Singapore, Stephen Chen who was bound and determined to make it out of Singapore. He finally embarked on a grand tour of the US and one of his stops was in California where Steve and I hosted him for lunch. We stayed in touch as he made his way across the country, eventually ending up in NYC where someone gave him a ticket to the Tony award ceremony that year. Much consternation. Black tie only. He didn’t have a tux rental in his budget. Never fear. He was roughly my size so I shipped my tux to my cousin in New York for him to wear to the show and then had it shipped back. So, while I have never made it to the Tonys, my tux has.

Stephen eventually emigrated to the US and Canada where he has had a very interesting career as a musician and avant garde film maker. Watch for his work. A lot of the other members of that listserve are still on my radar screen in one way or another. I need to find my parody of Arcadia set to A Weekend in the Country and post it. It was written for that group and is still one of the cleverer things I’ve ever done.

And so to bed…

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