Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Woes of Adventure

With the much-awaited arrival of summer, I found myself (of all places) at the library looking for books to devour. Nothing makes me feel pleasantly peaceful like sitting on the patio, in the sun, with a good book and a cup of coffee complimented by Trader Joe’s soy creamer. That is why I anticipate summer with such placid fury. With summer, I finally have time to sit and read, or sit and listen to music, or sit and watch a movie, or sit and watch the wall. But today my plan was to sit and read. I left the library armed with three books: Watership Down by Richard Adams, Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith and The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

I read (well rather, skim-read) the introduction to the Motorcycle Diaries and quickly informed myself of Ernesto Guevara. Guevara was an Argentine-born spirited revolutionary and doctor-- specializing in leprosy. He met Fidel Castro, became a communist, witnessed Bolivia’s revolution, led an international mission to the Congo to support a liberation movement and was murdered in Bolivia in 1967 (presumptively by CIA-supported rebels).

But before all that, Ernesto was an adventurous young adult. One day a fiend and him were lazily lying around—conversation began.
“Why don’t we go to North America?”
“North America? But how?”
“On La Poderosa, man.” (La Poderosa is their motorcycle).
And hence, adventure commenced.

On the first day of their adventure, they crash…nine times.
Then they get sick and have to lie in bed at a stranger's house whilst they recover.
They get labeled as leprosy experts in some small tow in Chili and are even featured in the local newspaper.
They sleep on floors, mooch meals off strangers.
They are constantly fixing some broken part on La Poderosa.
The motorcycle breaks down, this time for good.
They become standard hitchhikers.
They hide themselves on a ship and after several hours of being at sea, off the coast of Chili, present themselves to the captain as “stowaways,” thus having to earn their journey.
They meet a destitute communist couple that work in a copper mine.
They lose their only water bottle in the desert and become miserable…
They make it to Peru and work in leper colony.

But all this vicarious adventure has got me thinking about youth and adventure. The two go hand in hand. These two whimsical guys have or little money and things are constantly going wrong, in fact, for a good deal of the time, they’re downright miserable. Riding on some partly-broken-down-motorcycle for eight hours a day, crashing several times, sleeping by the side of the road and frequent visits from hunger doesn’t sound comfortable at all. Adventurous? Duh, yeah!

After reading this fantastic book in a mere two days, I have come to realize that adventure does not equate to comfort. So, whilst you’re planning your next adventure, prepare for mild discomfort. You might get sick, miss a train, get stuck at a border, lose your money, get lost, have some language barrier issues, lose your luggage, or be forced to sleep in an airport due to having missed a flight because a taxi driver decided to play “con the tourist.” Lesson to be learned: Be prepared.


On Thursday, I got the call from work saying that they didn’t need me that evening. Oh, what to do with a spare evening… But then, SUDDENLY, I got an e-mail from Friend and he was wondering who was interested in going to see the Portland Timbers play against Puerto Rico’s Islanders in a fierce soccer match. Me! I’m interested.

So, I watched my first Timbers game. Someone outside the stadium was giving away horn noisemakers and I got one. Any good person can't pass up a chance to make some noise. However, I could pass up an $8.25 beer and a $3 red rope.

We got close-up seats near midfield. The first half gave us little excitement. However, Puerto Rico did score, their five fans went wild and threw orange streamers. The rest of the stadium was crushed.

For over 90 minutes the Timbers fans screamed, sang cheers, wore green, let of smoke from some smoke machine and threw streamers. They didn’t cease their screams for a minute, seriously. They waved banners saying “GW out!” One has to advance their political platform and get their message to a big audience. What better place than at a stadium? They threw about a dozen pink pigs at the Puerto Rican goalie when he was arguing with the ref. Then Mr. Goalie got irritated with the Timbers fans and had to throw all the pink pigs off the field. All that fanaticism must have left them exhausted and with hoarse voices

But, it isn’t easy being a fan. You might think that us moderate fans have it easy up there in the stadium, but it’s rough for us too. I had to stand up out of my seat at least five times on those near scores—very stressful. And, they kept having near scores. It was like being bi-polar, high one moment and crushed the very next. I had to crank my neck to watch the fight that broke out between on of the Islanders and one of the Timbers (yeah, that was cool). I stood up and screamed when Timer Jim (the mascot) walked by in his lumberjack clothes. He revved his chainsaw; I screamed louder; I got out my horn noisemaker; I clapped my hands.

After the game, I too, was a little tired out. But, you will see me next week at the game. This time I’m going to paint my face green (green is very becoming) and wear a Timbers scarf. Maybe I’ll sit by the fanatics this time—I like them.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Etiquette of Cursing

There are some things in life that one becomes quite accustomed to but don't actually indulge in on a regular basis. For me that "thing" is engaging in vulgarities.

Now, I have felt this way for quite some time. Back when I was a teenager (many many years ago) I had a teacher who had sign posted on his podium. The sign read this: "Profanity is a weak mind expressing itself." Now, at the time, I probably rolled my eyes at that; swearing is very hip amongst the teenage crowd. In fact, many youths (particularly long-haired ones) define themselves as "rough" or "thug-like" and to verify their lifestyle of thuggery, they engage in excessive cursing.

However, what I have witnessed in the years since I have departed from teenage youth is that many individuals still feel the need to validate their "gangster" ways by cursing well into their twenties, or even thirties. But, no, not I.

In fact, on the occasion when I become quite cross, I have been known to utter a curse word. People drop whatever they're carrying, turn slowly with a mouth wide open in disbelief and exclaim, "Alissa, did you just swear?!" I have given them a great shock. It is very liberating to give people a great shock.

Instead of constantly using swear words, I have the power to still invoke shock with their use because it isn't a common everyday thing for me. It shocks people to hear such garbage come out of my mouth.

But, back to the quote about profanity being a weak mind and all that. I find cursing to be degrading. It portrays a lack of creativity. Instead of insulting someone (most likely behind their back) by calling them a f*cking b**ch, why not say "I can't stand Lucy Bangle-Bangle, also known as Little Miss Insecurity Cow." That might get a laugh, because possibly, you have hit the nail on the head. Perhaps she is an insecure heifer. Excessive swearing is so unoriginal.

Expressing oneself in an uncreative way using the aid of swearing sounds far less intelligent than to express oneself using their brain; imagination and creativity sounds (and is) so much better than the trivial swearwords the masses are so accustomed to. Plus, if you don't swear and then on occasion do, that illustrates the shock involved with swear words, which then makes then less trivial. Now, wouldn't that be nice?