Archive for September, 2008

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Succession To The Throne, Part Three

September 23, 2008
(continued from Part One and Part Two)

Queen Erin
The Entertainer

Mistress Of All Things Teal And Gold
Duchess Of International Development

Erin and I met in September 2005 through a community on LiveJournal that we have both since come to dread (incidentally, we have also both left LiveJournal for better blog providers). I was looking to move from my increasingly expensive studio on PSU campus into a house share with some other like-minded individuals. There was a wee bit of interesting drama that happened with her and Jillian, her roommate at the time, and I recall sitting in the living room of the Skidmore house, meeting them for the first time, when I mentioned something about having the occasional sleepover with my boyfriend. Shortly after I moved in (and after Jillian unexpectedly moved out), Erin recounted that she had been surprised when I mentioned being gay. It would seem my Straight Boy Phase was still casting a shadow over my Inner Fabulous and she had misjudged my sexuality. I also learned rather quickly that she has the worst gaydar in the world. Nevertheless, we bonded instantly.

Our tenure in the Skidmore house with Carl—the pseudo-separated 30-year-old with an 18-year-old girlfriend on the side—was cut to an abrupt halt when the owners decided to renovate and sell it, and Erin and I found ourselves frantically pilfering through craigslist ads for a new place. Carl, on the other hand, got back together with his wife and got her pregnant. Now he’s a stay-at-home dad that plays World of Warcraft all day while she brings home the bacon. But that’s an entirely different story.

That’s when the Salmon Street Dynasty began: January 2006. Erin and I found a reasonably priced apartment nestled between Hawthorne and Belmont Avenues and made ourselves a home. Over the next year and nine months we kept our social life active. Erin and I organized and hosted a plethora of parties, each of them predicated upon elaborately conceived and designed invitations. Rock Stars, Willy Wonka, Hipsters, The City of Portland, The Letter ‘P’, and more. Our living room was defiled by the likes of Freddie Mercury, Alanis Morissette, The Scissor Sisters, Posh Spice, The White Stripes, Governor Tom McCall, Blazers players, proctologists, pedophiles, and Mayor Bud Clark. While I was able to lend my creative and culinary expertise to these events, it was Queen Erin who was the driving force behind their execution and the [inebriated] glue that held them together.

It was never a dull moment with Erin around. We often found ourselves chatting online (separated by only a wall and six feet of space) and simultaneously holding entirely separate conversations by yelling back and forth. Some days we just found ourselves holding spontaneous photo shoots in our underwear or holding contests to see who could create the best cat macro from photos of Portland’s mayor, Vera Katz (LOLKATZ, we called them).

Then there was the day that Erin tried to teach me how to properly apply lipstick. “Open your mouth like you’re suckin’ a cock, boy!” The riotous laughter that ensued only made the matter worse, and it was another ten minutes before my lips were actually painted. To this day, I still can’t properly put makeup on without reliving that vibrant moment.

Everything we said or did turned into an acronym, to the extent that anyone new to our social circle was confounded by talk of MGS, BAMF, PBR, CTRF, IPSH or OMGWTFBBQ24MILES. Our neighbors and landlord were each given personality-specific nicknames and And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the inside jokes ran rampantly out of control. Giant gold cubes, VIOLA!, and “Look at my a-hole I’m gay” are just a few.

My 25th birthday rolled around last year, and despite my extensive week-long celebration plans, the weather turned our river-floating trip into a no-go. Completely bummed out and ready to mope in bed all day long, I asked Erin to find something fun to do indoors to keep us celebratory. No less than twenty minutes later, she cried out “Eureka!” and made some phone calls. Three hours later we were at IKEA on a ridiculously entertaining photo scavenger hunt. It was so popular that two more episodes of the scavenger hunt have already been exacted since.

Erin has an affinity for baked goods; a talent that is reflected in her ability to craft the world’s most vibrant rainbow cupcakes and all manner of delicious cakes and pies. She also had an admirable will to eat nutritiously. I fondly recall perusing our modest cookbook library for healthy gourmet meals and planning out a week’s worth of dinners. Her distaste for beer allowed me to cultivate my taste for wine, and I cannot look at a bottle of Captain Morgan’s Private Stock without envisioning Erin, ear cocked toward the bottle, gently pulling on the cork until her favorite sound in the world is made. PTHONK!

Some of my most emotional times were witnessed by Her Royal Highness, a friend who was quick to lend her ear and a shoulder, some sage advice and laugh-inducing joke that made everything feel better. I cannot fully express the love that I have for this girl.

In August 2007 she announced that it was time for her to move into her own apartment, and September ushered in a new face and a new roommate. Erin made frequent visits to the apartment through July 2008, at which point she headed East to pursue a Masters degree in International Relations at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University (with concentrations in Middle Eastern Studies and Development Economics. Did I mention she’s brilliant?).

Our three-year history is tightly weaved together, and even though she has since moved off to Washington, DC, I know that every time I see her from here on out will be an adventure to be reckoned with, and a memory that will last forever. Erin has left a legacy as a hostess and friend of the highest caliber, the embodiment of all that is magnanimous, gracious, and sexy.

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Succession To The Throne, Part Two

September 23, 2008

(continued from Part One)

“Well, at first I was daunted at the thought of responding to your posting. How could I ever measure up? You even have a celebrity endorsement!!! Then I realized that if I were chosen to live with you it would only be exciting.”

—Jesse, Theater Tech from Boston, MA

“I would have copied and pasted the email that I’ve sent to all the craigslist postings, but I cannot, because you are special, and I must live with you.”

—Malia, Graphic Designer from Bellingham, WA

“Despite being mildly intimidated by your ad on craigslist, I shall endeavor to reply. Not in MLA format. Thank god.”

—Rei, History Wonk fresh from Montréal, Québec

“So, I think we should move in together.  I don’t generally write that, but I think it would be pretty awesome.”

—Soren, Ridiculously Traveled Philosophy Major from San Francisco, CA

I always admire flattery and self-confidence, so who was I to argue? I had successfully weeded out the uncommitted just by posting my novel of a classified ad and intimidating the weak of mind. My first contact was with Malia, a recent graduate from Western Washington University with a BA in Graphic Design and a minor in Business. In her words:

“You should choose me as your perfect 500 words or less because we have too much in common to not get along well.  I’m a designer and artist as well that dabbles in photography and carpentry.  I love to be subjected to elaborate gourmet meals and I will pipe in on your rants about bad typography, drop shadows, gradients, and the overuse of flourishing collages (although they are my guilty pleasure). I saw the first season of BSG this spring and I’ve been [dying] to watch more, so hopefully our mutual addiction to the show won’t hinder our ability to get out.  Apples To Apples is the only game that my family can happily play together, and for Christmas my wish list consists of subscriptions to Print, wallpaper*, GOOD, and a few others (suggestions?). Other things I like are hiking, biking, skiing, and camping.  I love the outdoors.”

She also included a link to her online portfolio, which made me giggle with delight. When I met with her in person, my heart went all a-flutter and we spent nearly three hours together talking about everything from design to cooking to Belgium. As we were about to part, I said to her, “I want you to know that you’re the first person that I’ve met with, but I feel like you would be a really good fit here. I don’t want to make anything concrete yet, because I want to be fair to the others and give them a chance…”

Right there she cut me off and said, smiling, “Oh yes, absolutely. You never know. You just might meet your long lost twin, and I totally understand that.”

“Wow, how very adult and MGS* of you! I’ll let you know by next week.”

And, as she walked out to the street, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew it was meant to be, but I couldn’t bring myself to commit that immediately. I promptly scheduled meetings with the other three, knowing full well that not only had I pretty much made up my mind about letting her move in, but I was determined to meticulously analyze each of the others and measure them against her as the gold standard.

I really don’t know why I even bothered. Soren turned out to be an entertaining but riskily nomadic geek that exploits glitches in MMOs to make money and fund his travels. Rei’s intelligence overpowered her social prowess and lost major points when she told me she had “never successfully thrown a party.” And Jesse—a man whose email painted the picture of a young, energetic gay man—revealed himself as a thirty-something theatre nerd that wears a jester hat wherever he goes. Not quite my cup of tea.

Throne of MGS

And so, without further deliberation, I named Malia as the successor to the Great Throne of Magnanimity, Graciousness, and Sexiness. The nomination has been accepted, and the coronation is in place for the First of October.

But how can I speak of the successor to the throne without acknowledging those who have gone before her? Stayed tuned for the next chapter, in which the reigns of Queen Erin the Entertainer and Queen Megan the Acquaintrix are honored with reverence and gratitude.

 

*MGS means Magnanimous, Gracious, and Sexy—a phrase coined by Queen Erin to represent all that is worth pursuing in the world and qualities we should all aspire to embody.

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Succession To The Throne, Part One

September 15, 2008

This time around it was going to be different. I’ve had enough dealings with flaky and unreliable people on craigslist in the past, especially when it came to finding people to live with. And, given that I had more than a month to locate the next best roommate, I had every reason to craft the most amazing want ad for a new roommate as possible. After all, I could afford to be picky this time around. With two fabulous roommates like Erin and Megan in my history, I couldn’t not strive to find someone to round out the trio perfectly. I even had three friends proofread the bugger to acheive maximum bang for my verbal buck.

On Wednesday of last week, I posted the following in the rooms/shares section of Portland’s craigslist:

Designer Seeks Successor In Dynasty Of Awesome Roommates

I’ve had two absolutely splendid roommates in the last three years, but their next adventures are leading them around the world and I can’t go with them. Come October I find myself a sole occupant again, and you might just be the one to fill the void. 

Let’s start with the digs, shall we? It’s a two-bedroom townhouse-style apartment nestled in a quiet neighborhood in between Hawthorne and Belmont Avenues. There is equidistant access to two major bus lines and if you have a car then you have a reserved parking space. The downstairs and kitchen are most entirely furnished (I’ve lived here for over two and a half years now) though a new sofa wouldn’t go amiss. 

Rent is $375 a piece on a month-to-month lease (though I’m not opposed to signing on for six months) with a $250 refundable deposit and a $25 background check. Cable internet and electricity average out to about $50 a month. Coin-op laundry resides on-site and there is a small storage unit in the basement. The complex is pretty small—only eight units in two buildings—and the neighbors are relatively respectful. No smoking in the apartment, and no pets allowed. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cats, but the landlord won’t have any of it. 

If you are chosen to live here, you would have the pleasure of living with one of the most fabulous people of all time. You may think I’m tooting my own horn, and I admit it—you’re absolutely right. But hey, I’ve got to sell myself somehow, right? Who says we can’t afford to be discerning individuals and seek out the best that life has to offer us? Is that cocky? Yeah, sure. Am I okay with that? Absolutely. 

My day job is with a big ugly corporation, but in the evenings and on my days off I enjoy being a designer and artist, dabbling in photography, blogging, jewelry-making, and any number of other creative things. You would no doubt be subjected to elaborate gourmet meals on occasions, and you could expect to hear rants from time to time about hideous design and the scourge of hipsters that has invaded the city. 

Truth is, I’m a big nerd. From discussing the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica to scouring the latest design journals to shredding on Guitar Hero, there is passion in what I do. My favorite mottos in life are “Pay Attention” and “Give A Shit”. If you can’t type a full sentence without any spelling or grammatical errors, then we might have a problem. 

I prefer wine over beer, enjoy sipping whiskey while watching a movie, but don’t smoke or dabble in other forms of drugs. Drugs are bad. I get a kick out of being a host to my relatively close-knit social circle, giggle while playing Apples To Apples, and I will never turn down the opportunity to plan a themed party. 

My ridiculously handsome boyfriend makes regular appearances at the apartment, but he’s not around every night and has his own place that I frequent just as often. I hardly ever watch broadcast television, but Netflix and the internet are my friends. 

I want to be your friend, not just a co-habitant, but I’ll respect your space, your privacy, and your property. Ultimately, I want us to mesh and create a happy, healthy living environment conducive to creativity. Naturally I expect you to pay your bills on time and keep any drama to a minimum. 

But don’t take my word for it, check out this wicked awesome celebrity endorsement and see what one roommate has to say about me! 

“Had it not been time for me to live alone, I would still be roommates with Isaac. He is kind and funny. He is clean; he has good hair and may share his stylist with you if you need it. He is a great snarker and friend.  Isaac’s morph into dad humor is well on its way. His preferred jokes include bad puns and wordplay. He has good taste in media and design. If Isaac weren’t gay, we’d be married, and he would make me waffles on Sunday mornings (oh wait, he used to do that and I didn’t even have a ring on my finger). One of the only things I regret about leaving Portland is not being roommates with Isaac anymore. You should be so lucky to live with this magnanimous, gracious and sexy man.” 

– Erin K., int’l development wonk, East-Coastiest West-Coaster, excellent judge of character 

If you think we might hit it off then shoot me an email and in 500 words or less, tell me why I should choose you to be my next roommate. Proper capitalization and punctuation are a must, but MLA style is not necessary. Bonus points if you can differentiate between a hyphen and an em-dash or make me spew coffee all over my computer screen (though I will send you a bill for the cleaning). 

My current roommate suggested we hold an elimination-style game show for all candidates, and I’ll be honest, I loved the idea, so prepare yourself for the worst. At a minimum, if I like your response then we’ll meet up for coffee and go from there. Users of Comic Sans and Papyrus need not apply.

Within two hours I had six responses, each composed with more care than I’ve ever seen from anyone on craigslist, and I knew that it had worked. Put a lot of yourself into something and you get a lot back in reciprocation.

Within six hours I had fifteen responses, only one of which was monosyllabic and boring.

And by the next day I had at least ten more in my inbox.

But despite the flood of emails, I pared it down rather quickly to half that were worth considering.

This email is confirmation that your application for consideration as successor to the throne of Isaac’s roommate has been received and is being taken under consideration.

Contestants will be notified of qualification within 3 days, at which point an initial round of interviews will take place to weed out the weak of character.

Thank you for your patience and good luck!

And from there I picked the brain of our Norwegian houseguest and had her weigh the pros and cons behind each candidate to decide if they were worth meeting in real life. Ultimately, four were chosen—two girls, two guys.

Congratulations! You have been selected to move onto the next round of exciting and friendly competition to be my next roommate! Here’s how this will work. We shall set up a time over the next few days to meet up and chat about what makes us tick. You’ll be given a tour of the apartment and be given the opportunity for a general question and answer session.

And then I’ll make my decision. I just might throw a round of Apples To Apples in for the whole group, since you never know—only one will be chosen, but who’s against maybe getting a new friend or two out of the deal?

So polish up those verbal CVs and practice your verb-noun correlations. This is going to be fun!

Our contestants?

Jesse, a theater tech from Boston, Massachussetts.

Malia, a Graphic Designer from Bellingham, Washington.

Rei, a History Wonk most recently from Quebec.

Soren, a Ridiculously Traveled Philosophy Major from San Francisco.

The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last…