sooner or later

The original plan was to have an electrician come a year ago – but there were a lot of house-related Original Plans that didn’t quite come to pass on schedule. In any case he’s there right now as I write this. He is installing outlets and re-routing wires so that by the weekend there will be smoke detectors and a bathroom fan and places to plug things in. The bedroom lightswitch will no longer be in the dining room. Marvelous.

I was also supposed to make reservations several months ago for a conference I’m attending in Seattle in four weeks. I finally got around to it this morning, and it turns out that several of the area hotels are running specials. So instead of staying at the conference hotel, full of conference participants and twenty dollar a day internet, I’m staying down the street at a five star place for six dollars less per day. It has one of those workout rooms where the treadmills have personal televisions. There is a lesson here about procrastination, but probably one you should ignore.

Did I mention that I was also in charge of getting firewood for the far away winter? It’s cheap in spring and then gets more expensive each month until fall, and then sometimes you can’t find any at all. I wrote down numbers from Craigslist half a dozen times and never called a single one. Then last week my coworker told me he was cutting down some trees, and two cords were mine for the taking. The thick rounds are drying in my drive.

Similarly procrastinated with fruitful results was the booking of the trip the AD and I were hoping to take in September. We couldn’t decide on location and then we couldn’t decide on dates, and with each week that passed it seemed less likely our frequent flier tickets would still be available. And then on Monday the tickets we had looked at over and over inexplicably dropped in price, and we picked up a pair of seats to Buenos Aires for less than ninety thousand miles. Buenos Aires!

And this is my summer so far: one unexpected, poorly planned success after another, a string of unrequested gifts out of nowhere, ever since the rain stopped. My tomatoe plants are bursting with tiny tomatoes, my friend is on her way north from Los Angeles to see me, and in October a Portland theater company is doing Stephen Sondheim. I am not waiting for anything.



I still feel bad from time to time about the directions I gave more than a year ago to the German tourists – the two middle aged couples who stopped me on the street downtown at night looking for a brewery. They wanted something casual and reasonable with good beer, nearby, and I didn’t know what to tell them. There are lots of good breweries in Portland but not in that neighborhood. I wanted them to like the place I sent them and to like my city.

The only thing I could think of within walking distance was City Sports Bar, a spot I’d been to only once before for a game – a spot that had fused in my memory with the also nearby Rock Bottom Brewery. Neither is a place I would go out of my way for. But both have beers and cheap food. It was the best I could do with what they needed.

I didn’t know the exact corner so I sent a quick text off to Google, and Google returned an address. I wrote it down for them and sent them off. But I realized two blocks later that the address Google sent me was for City Grill, not City Sports Bar. City Grill is a fancy restaurant on the top floor of an office tower. I imagined the couples going up there in their casual walking clothes, confused at why I would think this was what they wanted, out of place, and at a total loss for what to do next.

And maybe after that the City Grill maitre d’ gave them directions to just what they were looking for. Or maybe they decided to splurge, and had a fine meal looking out across the city. Or maybe they passed a pub on the way and ducked inside, and had the best night of their trip. I have no idea.

So I don’t know why it comes up in my memory from time to time, when I am passing one of those restaurants or giving directions downtown. I don’t know why I remember it at all or why that memory bothers me like a bad decision. Recently I have been trying to let go of certain pieces of the past, and it surprises me sometimes which ones will not go gently.