May was marked by a feeling of newness: getting acquainted with post-graduation life, a new city and newsroom, and the wonderful people I’ve met here. June offered much of the same, except I was able to make it home without incident when my phone battery died during a meandering bike ride in an unfamiliar part of Portland. My sense of direction may have failed me a couple weeks prior.
It’s funny to realize how some of my college tendencies followed me here. I still eat the same dinner several days in a row, iron my shirts on the corner of my bed, watch TV on an iPad and keep a growing stack of unread magazines and newspapers on my desk.
I’ve started running and reading books again, which is good. And I don’t eat off-brand Cheez-Its or fruit for dinner anymore. That too is good.
It’s been hot here, really hot, so I’ve been opening the windows of my dorm at night and closing them in the morning. Two fans occupy my small slice of Portland real estate, for the time being.
Summer days are passing faster than anticipated, weeks flashing by like short weekends. Each offers something new and unexpected. Each is ripe with opportunity.
My June travels were mostly to Mount Hood National Forest, which is about 60 miles east/southeast of Portland. The national forest, which spans 1,674 miles, is home to the stunning Mount Hood, pristine lakes and miles of trails and rivers. My first of two June ventures into the national forest was a 10-mile hike to Cast Lake, which occupies a small opening in otherwise dense tree coverage at about 1,500 feet. Later in the month, I went on a five-mile hike to a bluff at about 4,500 feet that overlooks Mirror Lake, a smaller body of water not far from Government Camp, a small ski town at the base of the mountain.
I’ve also reported from Astoria, Eugene (twice), Rainier and Sweet Home. Each trip helped me get better acquainted with Oregon, and I enjoyed seeing new parts of the state. I’ve posted more photos from my iPhone here.
“He’s acted like an adult for so long, maybe continuing to play a young man’s game is what he needs right now.”
— The Oregonian/OregonLive, on a high school athlete who has helped his mother battle cancer
“There, just as he remembered him, was a bronze version of the man he hadn’t seen in 50 years. There was the dimple on his left cheek. There was the greased hair, always slicked to the left, the rimmed circular glasses and the bow tie. There was his father, James Reeb.”
— The Casper Star-Tribune, on a man traveling to Selma, where his father died in 1965
“The way you wear your hat is essential to others’ memories of you, and the look of a ball cap’s brim communicates tribal identity more meaningfully than the symbols stitched across its front.”
— The New York Times, on baseball caps
“Maharaj sinks the rake’s tines into an ankle-deep thicket of dirty diapers, hypodermic needles, crusted food, hot sauce packets, broken Tupperware and cockroaches, living and dead. A South African immigrant of Indian descent, he never expected that his piece of America would look like this.”
— The Los Angeles Times, on San Bernardino, a “broken city”
“My hands are tied on your sentence,” he said. “I’m sorry. This isn’t up to me.”
— The Washington Post, on a federal judge wrestling with congressionally mandated sentences
“Baseball offers a thousand paths to the majors, but none looks quite like this.”
— ESPN, on a high school MLB prospect who was deported during his senior season
“From a distance, at a time of urbanization and connectivity, rodeo and ranching may seem anachronistic notions — quaint and sepia-toned from an America that no longer exists. To the Wrights, rodeo and ranching do not represent the past, but the present and the future.”
— The New York Times, on rodeo
“It was one of the mattressiest weekends of the year on one of the mattressiest stretches of the region.”
— The Washington Post, on Memorial Day mattress sales
“Charlie Troop came home to high school classmates who had gone to college, gotten married, had children, bought houses. Charlie Troop had taken on the Taliban.”
— The Los Angeles Times, on the National Guard and returning to America after serving in Afghanistan
“I didn’t even realize when it happened, when I stopped playing roles. I wore my New York clothes to class, on the street, to clubs. Nobody cared that my jeans had a nine-inch rise. I no longer looked over my shoulder in the dark.”
— The New York Times, on leaving home and becoming “you”
I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman) and The First Phone Call From Heaven (Mitch Albom) this month. The former became wilder as I flipped pages, sneaking farther away from what I expected and thrilling me all the while. The latter was wonderfully structured, steadily rising to a page-turning crescendo with three chapters left. I recommend both.
You should listen to this This American Life story about two high schools, three miles apart, in the Bronx.
As always, thanks for reading.