New thing #28: Portland (Day 1)

IMG_5685First I want to say that I’m so glad I decided to take the train. I don’t think I had any movie-worthy train moments, and I didn’t get much sleep, but it was still pretty fun. I brought a backpack full of entertainment, and I barely touched any of it. I wrote a little, but I didn’t read. I didn’t watch the DVDs I brought. I barely listened to music. All I wanted to do was look out the window. I felt guilty even napping because I didn’t want to miss any good scenery.

When I first got on the train it was so packed that they were assigning seats, and I did NOT get a good one. I was on the aisle next to a guy who had the window closed. As soon as the observation and dining cars opened, I left to go enjoy some of the view and some breakfast. When I came back, some people had gotten off the train and I was able to finagle my way into a window seat, and I had the seat next to me to myself too! This was imperative to enjoying the ride. Can we all agree, that life is always better in the window seat?

I arrived at the Portland train station groggy but excited. Roxanne picked me up (reunited and it feels so good!) and our first stop was her apartment, where I met her two cats and developed huge feelings of jealousy that she lives in such a cute neighborhood.

Her place is within walking distance to tons of restaurants and shops, so we spent the day walking and shopping around her ‘hood. She took me to dinner at her favorite Italian restaurant, and for dessert we went to the city’s most famous ice cream place, Salt & Straw, where we waited in the always present out-the-door line. This was seriously some of the best ice cream I’ve EVER had. I mean, Oprah put this ice cream on her favorite things list, so… you know it’s good.

After that we stopped by one of her favorite neighborhood bars, then went to see a movie at one of the city’s many “view & brew” theaters. Portland is big on beer (they have the most breweries per capita of any other US city), so they found a way to include it with their movie watching.

Portland seems like a perfect city for a short weekend visit. Everything is close together, so you can see and do everything on your to-do list in a short amount of time. And the best way to see any new city it is with a friend (preferably one you’ve known for 20+ years who you are way overdue with catching up with) who can show you the ropes.




New thing #20: Ancestry DNA


As I’ll reiterate from one of my random “About Me” facts, I have been researching my family history on and off for a couple years. I started just for fun on a trial membership to, and the more I learned and the longer my family tree got, the more it became like solving a mystery or going on a treasure hunt. You gather facts, search for clues, make discoveries, and figure out how you are connected to all these people you never even knew existed. It floored me the first time I really saw on paper how many people are a part of my own makeup, however small that part may be.

My research has been on hold ever since I canceled my membership to (it’s too damn expensive), but I’ve been toying with the idea of buying their DNA testing kit for a long time. Today, I finally gave in and ordered it.

When you receive the kit in the mail, all you have to do is follow the instructions on how to send back a saliva sample, then within 6-8 weeks, your DNA test can tell you:

– Exactly what ethnicities you are. “AncestryDNA generates an estimate of your ethnicity as part of your personalized results page. Explore your results on a colorful, interactive map. View pie charts, graphs and explanations that can give you a glimpse into the story of your ancestors.”

– If you have relatives you may not even know. “Your DNA results include an ongoing list of DNA member matches with real-time updates, leading you to new relatives, ancestors and answers to your family story.”

I can’t wait to get the test and see the results.

Honorable mention new things:

– Had lunch with a co-worker I’ve never had lunch with, at a place I’ve never been to. It’s amazing what getting away from your everyday work routine will do for the rest of your day. Note to self: at least once a day… step far away from the cubical.

– Saw a new movie: opening night of Divergent. I wasn’t impressed, and no one who read the books will be either, or anyone who likes a good movie for that matter. Thumbs down!

New thing #14: Bay Street


This is another one of those places that I see every day on the way home that I’ve never been. Bay Street in Emeryville is a shopping area with a movie theater. I walked the whole complex and went into almost every store (I only bought one thing, see below), and then met Ria for a movie: opening night of the Veronica Mars movie!



So I thought of today as a collection of small firsts:

– Shopping at Bay Street

– Going to an AMC movie theater

– Seeing a new movie, and one that was funded by Kickstarter (if you don’t know the Veronica Mars movie story, click here)

– Bought my first TMNT shirt. As a fan, I think it’s important to have one.

I love how going to a new place, even if it’s only a couple miles from your office or even your own home, makes you feel like you’re on vacation.

New thing #5: The First Oscar Winner

Before the 2012 Academy Awards I decided to see all of the best picture nominees. I did it again in 2013, and then again this year. My dad and I have made a tradition out of it.

With this year’s Oscars still fresh in my memory, I thought about how interesting it would be to watch the first ever Oscar best picture winner (back then it was called the Outstanding Picture award), which was:



Wings  (1927)

Starring Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, and Richard Arlen

A silent movie

…and a whopping 2 hours and 35 minutes!

What have I gotten myself into?

Short Synopsis/Review  ***Spoiler Alert***

Jack and David are both in love with Sylvia. Jack is friends with Mary, but Mary is secretly in love with Jack. Jack and David go off to war and become best friends and ace WW1 fighter pilots. I’m into it so far.


They fly around and shoot at German planes for most of the movie, and they are starting to lose me. It’s much, much too long. I almost fall asleep until the scene comes on where the soldiers are on leave in Paris, and Jack gets so drunk that he is hallucinating bubbles for 15 minutes. I’m back in.

At the end, David’s plane is shot down, but he manages to survive the crash and escape. He steals a German plane, and of course encounters Jack in the air, who doesn’t recognize him because he’s in a German plane! We all know where this is going.

Jack shoots down David, who survives the crash again, but he’s only got a few more minutes to live. After Jack realizes he shot down his best friend, they have a tearful (and slightly homoerotic) goodbye as David dies in Jack’s arms. I’m bummed. Jack returns home and realizes he really loved Mary all along, and Sylvia is left to mourn for David.  The End.

Watching this movie is a good example of why I’m doing this new things project. Even when I just feel like staying home on a rainy night and watching a movie, I’m still escaping my routine by picking something I would have never chosen otherwise.