I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEER BLOG?
I know, right? It wasn’t intentionally meant to be list of grievances I have towards my friends, family and society but…it also wasn’t NOT going to be about that kind of dumb shit. I moved to Oregon because I wanted to be someplace more progressive, and specifically to be in the midst of the brewing industry. I never did get a job brewing, or even serving beer for wages. I’ve had a few delivery jobs now that got me out into the Oregon wilds, visiting retailers and bottle shops and other cities that I wouldn’t have been able to visit otherwise. It’s unfortunate that I have been unable to adjust my overall life approach and get my shit together while I have one of these jobs that I actually like. I was close, this time.
One of the reasons I’m still sane-ish is that I’ve had a wide range of places to occupy my time while unhoused. Spending tens of hours a day sitting in my truck isn’t exactly what I want to be doing now that I have unlimited free time and some money, so I spend the morning sitting in a coffee shop somewhere, and then move to a brewery or taproom to kill my afternoon. I can go anywhere in Portland and have been trying to not just stay in the one area near my storage unit in a very boring part of town, and there aren’t many ‘deals’ to find that would point me in any specific directions, either. Outside of your standard faux-divebar, beers are usually $5 to $7 if you’re not going for the $4 tallboys of natty or whatever they serve at that price point.
The best place to loiter, for a beer nerd like myself, is a bottle shop that isn’t too overpriced. I’ve spent a few afternoons at Johns Marketplace in Multnomah Village, just reading a book and sipping a pint off the tap. When I got bored with that decent tap selection (I’ve had thousands of different beers from over 500 breweries over the years) I went roaming in the isles and coolers for a suitable can.
It’s a multicolored nightmare, honestly, to look through a selection like John’s. Belmont Station is another spot in Portland that I’ve spent time in, and both would be a hard time for someone on a hard acid trip – the can art for craft beer is just intense now. Bright pastels and art, logos and designwork that span every conceivable style of graphic marketing that can fit on that little rectangle of a can, it’s all over the place. I’m always looking for the trends when I go deep, the ‘new ‘styles like cold and dark IPAs, this whole sour/slushie boom, and even (reluctantly) seltzers and N/A beers. When I worked, I would look at the beer coolers over multiple larger grocery stores and several smaller boutique style retailers and I’d end up with several cans of beer in my bag when I got done with my route. You might argue that I should’ve been saving money, rather than buying $5 cans of craft beer at every stop I made, but…like…it was all I had to look forward to at the end of the day. When the weather was nice and I could hang out in a park somewhere and read a book and enjoy a pint or two, I was content enough that I wasn’t able to focus that panic energy into the motivation I needed to fight past the barriers I have erected, in my own mind, against paying some asshole a ton of money to rent a room.
Among other things. The whole unhoused issue should have clearly been a priority but the depression/anxiety train had already departed the station when I was making these choices. I was also able to visit many dispensaries in any given day (but only needed to stop at one), so when it was time to clock out and find something to do, I wasn’t trawling the internet for a place to live right away. I wasn’t doing anything I should have been doing right away. I didn’t have anyone around to distract me or otherwise help me find other shit to do, so I just found a park or a taproom and tried really hard to forget what I should have been doing instead. It mostly worked. For a while. Those $7 pints (plus tip, obvs) add up over time. My former friend asked me once what I was doing with my money and it was hard for me to pretend his ignorance wasn’t intentional – he makes well into the six figures at a ‘local’ multinational sports company. You aren’t going out to eat in Portland anymore for less than $35 a person, unless you’re spending around $15 at a food cart. Remember, $7 pints plus tip. Two beers and a $15 entrée later and you’re not even satisfied, honestly. Just coffee and a pastry is going to set you back $10, so if I want warm food and to spend time in a warm place I could easily spend $50 a day. Of course you can find cheaper alternatives. Maybe I should stop drinking beer? I’m not even going to dignify that question with a response.
It’s hard to frame this in a way that makes any sense, but I do and don’t want to leave Portland, or even Oregon. Everyone everywhere talks about how expensive it’s getting but everyone keeps raising rates (record corporate PROFITS you guys…I mean, c’mon). My family has decided Massachusetts is the place to be for some reason, which isn’t completely devoid of beer culture and places to visit (touch of sarcasm, there is a ton of good beer in the region). I have no direction to speak of and a bunch of money that I will spend quickly if I don’t make a plan and stick to it. So somehow I’ve decided to leave Portland and the PNW altogether and move across the friggin country..?
If I still had a job I wouldn’t even be considering moving. But since I’ve got to start over again, completely, and need to probably have a job before I can actually get a place to live (because PEOPLE MUST MAKE MONEY OFF YOUR SHELTER, why not) no matter where I go…This makes sense to me. I’m afraid the people I’ve talked to about it are just agreeing with me while also sort of not really, but not enough to say that obviously this is a shitty plan and why would I move to fucking cold-ass Massachusetts? As I mentioned in previous installments, my cross-country moves have almost proven disastrous. Even my in-state moves have been enormous fuck-ups.
……..but then I go to all these places and talk to people and try to have human contact and there’s nothing tangible from all of that time I’ve spent here in Oregon. The people I know here are so self-absorbed they’ve never – literally not once – reached out to me for any reason if I didn’t contact them first. Some older friends can’t be bothered, either, but that goes back to why I left Fakebook a decade ago. Passive observers abound but none find enough merit in my existence to take an active role. There’s a reason I withdraw when I get depressed and it’s complicated but the outlines are pretty clear – I’m just constantly let down by other humans. So I probably wouldn’t even trust their advice if I happened to have any friends on the ground here.
I went to 3 concerts by myself while I’ve been unhoused, and left without having any tangible interaction with the people around me. I tried. I handed out a half dozen pre-roll joints at the Atmosphere show in Bend (it was outdoors). I even got contact info from a couple people…but none of them replied the next day. I was in Bend overnight every week or every other week, and could have made a standing date to hang out, smoke out, drink some beers or whatever but I guess nobody had the time. I even had some favorable interactions with female humans of about my age (gasp!) but we live in an age where nobody wants to let anyone else in. Or maybe I’m just so desperate for basic human companionship (let alone anything more) that they can see it in my eyes. For a few months this summer I though I might be past that but these events have basically erased those feelings. For just a little bit I had some confidence back. Doi.
The conclusion of all this is that I can go anywhere, nobody really cares if I come towards them or anywhere else, and I’m about as likely to find and make as many friends as I have in Portland literally anywhere in the country since that number is literally zero. Not figuratively but literally.
Uhhh yeah this was supposed to be about beer. Why don’t I try to get a job at a brewery here, and find a place to live here, and stop being such a whiney little bitch about life, and just pretend I’ll be fine LIKE I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN living alone and on the edge of society. I realized a long time ago that there really wasn’t a comfortable place in this world for me, not among the normal people. I thought maybe the freaky side of Portland would be familiar, a place I could find company, but that’s been a fading dream since I got here. Some of that is my own fault, some of it is circumstance, some of it is real. But it won’t be any different anywhere else. People are people and I’m going to stop there. No need to slander the entire human race just because most of it is greedy, ignorant and malicious. Who am I to judge?
Probably too much right there, I’m sure people think I probably crossed a line, while forgetting I’m depressed and alone and these feelings are natural and probably normal among unhoused people who are trying desperatly to hold on to their feelings of ‘being human’. The guy walking down the street at 3AM this morning screaming at the top of his lungs at the world – boy howdy, did I want to join along. A few weeks ago I spent an entire night sitting in an empty parking lot doing the same thing. But the thing is, his pain is his own. I’ll fight his demons, his wars, once I get done with my own struggles, and fuck if that isn’t going to be a while. For the first time in a long time, I felt, for just an instant, that I might be on the verge of some success…just for a couple of weeks this summer. That window between when I decided to move to Portland, and when I actually tried to complete the process, a few weeks where sleeping in my truck was a novel inconvience and a pragmatic approach to relocating just 100 miles inland from the coast. I thought about taking on some other responsibilities to the humans of this world. For a little bit.
I still want to write about beer. I still have a list of deep-read topics I want to research and turn into multi-part stories. There is an entire community of ‘beer writers’ and awards and the whole universe of other opportunities but I’m stuck, always climbing up from the bottom rung as my life keeps getting reset over and over again. All of those conversations I’ve had with people I’ve never seen again at the hundreds of breweries and taprooms I’ve sat in, there should be something there but it’s all just put on hold forever until I can get my shit straight.
And oh geez it’s already 2pm and I’ve been sitting in this coffee shop for 4 hours already trying to get my life in order. I have made zero progress. It’s time to relocate to a proper beer-themed establishment. I bid you adieu.