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*profile |ˌproʊˈfaɪl| : Jessica Portwood

Name: Jessica Paige Portwood
Occupation: Full-time Student
Current City: Seattle
Connection: Roommate

1) I heard that you’re flying South tomorrow.  What 3 items must be in your carry-on for a cross-country flight:

  • A good book (Crime & Punishment)
  • My knitting/crocheting supplies
  • My iPod

2) Speaking of your iPod, put it on ‘shuffle’ mode. What are the first three songs that play?  Any special meaning?

  • Hootie & The Blowfish: Goodbye girl.  “I don’t even know what that song sounds like.”
  • Ray LaMontagne: Carry me.  “Eh, kind of reminds me of my ex-boyfriend…”
  • Ben Harper: Roses from my friends.  “I’d say that was one of the first songs that ushered me in to loving good music.”

3) What’s your favorite kitchen utensil?

  • A ladle because I like the way they’re shaped and they scoop things.

4) Holiday Plans?

  • I’ll be in Knoxville, TN with my family and spend New Year’s in South Carolina.  I’m having a Y2K 10-Year Anniversary party.  We’re going to create a myth to hype everybody that the world is about to end.  Everyone has to bring non-perishable items, which we’re going to donate to a food bank.

5) Tell us a joke.

JP: Knock, knock.
MB: Who’s there?
JP: Dwayne.
MB: Dwayne who?
JP: Dwayne the tub, I’m dwowning!

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*Eeeewwww!!

Eeeeeeeewwwwww!  Look who I found in my blackberries this morning!

*If I were a car…

…I would be a Jeep.

(An analogy.  Scroll down for more).

I have an amazing talent for doing everything in the longest, most difficult, and most complicated way possible.  Sometimes it’s intentional.  In college, I often turned the 4.5-hour drive home into a 7-hour trek, taking back country roads the entire way, enjoying the beauty of the “scenic route.”  (I thank my dad for that one).  Just today I realized that I could drive to my student’s house in 20 minutes.  Instead, though, I took the bus, (three buses, really), making this an hour and 20 minute trip instead.  For me, riding the bus is more enjoyable, interesting, and relaxing.  Plus, I had extra time.

Sometimes though, it can be frustrating, both for me and others.  I have a vivid memory from elementary school; I must have been only five or six.  I was wearing a blue and white striped dress that had small white buttons down the center on the front, all the way from the top to the bottom.  There must have been at least 20 buttons.  After lunch, my teacher took the girls to the bathroom.  I unbuttoned the dress, did what I was there to do, and then tried to re-button the dress.  At that age, those buttons were more than my fingers could handle.  I remember getting frustrated and starting to cry, and then finally asking my teacher for help.  She took one look at me and immediately exclaimed, “Melanie!  Why did you unbutton the dress in the first place??”  The fact that it was unnecessary to unbutton even one of the buttons had never even crossed my mind!  Instead, as always, I made a simple task into something difficult and time-consuming.

In college, printing out design projects never failed to be a disaster.  By the end of the viscom program, I made a point to finish all design projects at least six hours before they were due, to ensure I’d have plenty of time to go through the hassle of getting them effectively printed and matted.  No one else in the class ever seemed to have this problem!  They finished the project, printed, and pasted.  Easier done than said.

So, what’s the point?

This afternoon as I rode through downtown Seattle on my way from a coffeehouse to my student’s house, I thought about how much quicker and easier it would have been to drive from door to door.  I could have walked from my front door to the car door, parked a few feet from my destination, avoiding the bitter cold and the hassle of chasing down the bus.  (I took a total of 7 buses today; I raced at least two of them, trying to take a short cut to get to the nearest bus stop before they did)! I thought how this stubborn commitment to bus when possible was just one of the many ways I made life more complicated than it need be.

However, I also thought about how, by taking the bus, it was simple to spend some time downtown before tutoring.  I didn’t have to look for parking, and I didn’t have to pay to park.  Instead, I could spend some time reading and day dreaming in one of my favorite coffeehouses.  Also, it was really easy to go from the coffeehouse to a bookstore downtown.  And from the bookstore, it was only one bus to tutor.  The bus rides were enjoyable; I chatted with the bus drivers and enjoyed listening to music while looking at all the Christmas decorations downtown, without having to worry about crashing my car or hitting a pedestrian.

Yes, the long scenic route can be frustrating at times.  Often, I think I’d prefer to take the short, simple, direct way to get from place to place.  However, I guess that’s just not how I was made.  While I may not always (okay, rarely) do things in the simplest way or take the most direct route from point A to point B, I suppose I might as well learn how to enjoy the ride and see what there is to see on the way.  And although the road may seem long, messy, and complicated at times, I’ll just have to be confident that eventually I’ll get where I’m supposed to be going, and there will always be a lot to learn on the way.

*Ballard, Adventures at Goodwill, and Thoughts on Thankfulness, part I.

Part I: Ballard.

Disclaimer: Long but  no real point, just thoughts on Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Yesterday was cold but sunny, and I had a few hours on my hands between the morning service at church and a meeting there in the evening.  Planning to take a Sunday nap, I ended up back at my apartment in Seattle.  However, before I had a chance to climb into bed, I noticed a missed call from one of my best friends, Caitlin.

Caitlin and I hadn’t chatted for a few weeks, but on Friday night while at ToST in Fremont with some friends, she had received a few random texts from my phone, written by my friend Brian, pretending to be our friend Jared (also at ToST).  Jared, Caitlin, and I had all gone to high school together, so the texts weren’t completely random, but Jared and Caitlin haven’t actually talked in years!  Some clarification for the texts was needed, as well as a good talk with a great friend, so the nap was quickly forgotten.  Instead, I decided to walk down to Market Street to buy some gloves and a cup of coffee, and then take a stroll around Ballard and catch up with Caitlin.

Although I was thoroughly expecting to enjoy conversing with Caitlin, I was also pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed just being out in Ballard.

My apartment is only a few blocks off of Market Street and the walk there, as usual, was uneventful.  The day before it had actually been more interesting, as the small lawn of St. Luke’s had been full of church members caroling and offering hot apple cider and BBQ to passersby.  I had stopped for the cider and to chat for a few minutes that day, but yesterday I continued on, the church quiet and peaceful as it often is.

I headed straight to Market Street Shoes, planning to stop in only long enough to get a pair of gloves so my hands wouldn’t freeze while holding the phone.  I had noticed their hats and scarves before, so I was suprised to find they didn’t sell gloves at all!  They sent me across the street to Market Street Athlete, assuring me I could get gloves there.

I headed that way, but instead of crossing the street at the crosswalk as I should have, I decided to turn down Ballard Avenue and head the other way instead.  I was so glad I did, because it turns out that Ballard Ave. is quite the street!

The Ballard Sunday Farmers Market was just winding down and there were lots of people milling about.  I walked down the street slowly, peering into store windows and checking out the numerous coffeehouses, bakeries, restaurants, pubs, and boutiques.  I wasn’t quite sure how I had lived in Ballard for over three months (and Seattle for over two years) and not discovered this wonderful area yet!

Eventually I realized I had been here before, if only once.  One of my first friends in Seattle was a guy named Stephen who I had met through the “New to Seattle” group on facebook.  Sharing an interest in traveling, we had gotten together a few times to swap stories and explore the city a bit.

Shortly after meeting, he had two couch surfers from Sweden, Mirja and Anna-Maria, crash on his couch for a few days.  The four of us, as well as his friend Anthony, had gone to a pub in some place called “Ballard.”  At that point, I was still perpetually lost in the city and had no idea that this “Ballard” neighborhood bordered “Fremont,” the neighborhood that Stephen lived in.  (I was still living in Beaux Arts/Bellevue then).  I had really liked the pub that we went to, and have been searching Seattle for it ever since, but to no avail.  I could vividly remember the inside of the pub, but not the name or location.  Yesterday, as I peered in window after window, I found myself staring in at the very table we had sat at, more than two years ago!  The pub’s name is King’s Hardware (only slightly misleading), and it is on Ballard Avenue.

After re-discovering King’s, I wandered in and out of a few stores, still searching for the gloves before calling Caitlin.  I never did find a pair of gloves, but I did discover a few interesting stores, and have a growing list of places to eat and drink.  Eventually I sat in Marvin’s Garden Park (which makes me think of Marvin Jarman, for those of you from Greenville) and called Caitlin and then my Granddad.

As I walked home, I thought about the things that I like about Ballard, and Seattle.  I love being able to walk around, without a car, meandering in and out of stores, people-watching, and finding new, fun hangouts to try with friends.  In fact, this ability to walk in and out of shop and restaurant with no need for a car is one of the things that I love about Europe.  Here, in the US, I feel like it’s the exception rather than the rule, whereas in Europe, driving from shop to restaurant to home is almost unheard of.

Even more that that, however, is the ability to do this in a place that is surrounded by the beauty of water and mountains.  Ballard is super-close to Fishermen’s Terminal, which is full of picture-perfect boats.  And, on a clear day, all you have to do is glance up and to the west to see snow-capped mountains glistening in the sun.  It really is a wonderful place to be.

This morning I went for a run through Ballard, and down Ballard Avenue, again perusing the shops and restaurants.  Now, I sit in Ballard’s Caffè Fiorè, enjoying the atmosphere of one of Seattle’s best coffeehouses and an espresso doppio while reading, writing, and surfing the Internet.  As the quarter has come to an end, I have a little extra time to enjoy Seattle before flying South for Christmas.  I’m looking forward to being home, but I’m also excited to continue exploring Seattle and Ballard before I leave.