Yes, Virginia, there is a Portlandia.

This Friday, Toby and I removed the two crates of picture books on tape from the back of my car to accomodate our duffle bags. He picked me up at Wildwood right after class ended, marking the FIRST TIME in several years that he’s stepped inside a school with children still around. (He had a chance to meet the illustrious Anthea Brown, who is no longer a mini-Shannon because she is so much more centered this year as a wise third-grader.)

After hitting minimal Tacoma and Olympia traffic, we crossed the bridge into Portland and settled in at our favorite PDX hotel, Hotel DeLuxe. This is where we’ve stayed every time I’ve run the Portland Marathon, and we’ve had nothing but excellent experiences there. This time, there would be no running. Just WordPress business. I’ll talk about the practical WordCamp side of things later this week, but for now I just wanted to share neat Portland stuff, most of which does fall into the Portlandia laid out in Fred Armistice’s series.

—Can I just break my narrative for a moment to address how painful it is for me to write this knowing there are so many stylistic changes I want to make to this site? I wish I could write and “code” (I put the word in quotes because for me, coding still means clicking frantically, then asking Toby to fix everything) and clean AND write lesson plans AND take care of National Board business, but alas, my manic phases are significantly calmer these days. So please know that I’m trying to figure out what to do, but Toby is busy and I don’t have the $50 an hour it would take to buy his expertise.—

Anyway. We were hungry, so we headed off to Clyde Common, which mistakenly I thought I had read about in the New York Times, and which Toby ate at last year. Ordinarily we stop by the stunning Driftwood Room (pictured above) for a bite, but it was crazy-crowded so we left.

Clyde Common was lovely, local, and tasty, but it also rubbed me the wrong way just a squeak. The waitress warmly touches my shoulder after she takes our order for popcorn and hamburgers. The biking gal in the blue polka-dot dress stops to talk to the dandy gents on the patio in shirtsleeves and vests. Bird tattoos are everywhere. I feel crazy-guilty for ordering meat. Evvvvvverything is meticulously marked as vegan, gluten-free, and so on. It’s Seattle’s Local 360 on steroids — organic ones. It feels… I don’t know, like everyone’s trying so hard that if someone started yelling and stopped being all PNW mild-mannered yet passive-aggressive, the whole building would collapse.

But back to food. Toby’s been on this kick where he gets an egg on top of pretty much every sandwich he eats. I discovered he’s not the only one.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/nacin/status/115615261247287296″]

Nacin is one of Toby’s WordPress man-pals I finally had a chance to meet in person. The guys (the gender split at WCPDX was roughly 50-50, but I mostly talked to gents) were pretty fantastic on the whole. I met Jon Hoadley‘s doppelganger.

There were lots of Andrews, Matthews, Aarons, Kevins, and the like. Most people seemed about my age.

As I said, I’ll talk more about the conference itself later. After the first day of sessions, we crashed briefly, then joined up with Matt Mirande and his rad significant other, an art teacher, for food.

Unlike Clyde Common, The Leaky Roof was neither pretentious nor crowded. The food was solid, the drinks tasty, and the company enjoyable. Much more my jam.

We parted ways after a conversation that left me wanting to own a synthesizer more than ever, and crashed for the evening.

This morning, we made our pilgrimage to Powell’s. We encountered a larger-than-life hipster on the way.

Many books were purchased (although I kept the tab below $100! Shocking!), and then we decided to head home because I realized I have a GATE PLC tomorrow, which will make my Monday much longer than I originally anticipated.

The only disappointing part of my Portland experience was that ALL THE VINTAGE SHOPS WERE CLOSED ON SUNDAY. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Although I suppose now I won’t have to suffer the long-term disappointment of increased debt.

Now I’m back to reality. I analyzed my spelling inventories tonight so I can begin word work this week. Boy, do my kids need word work. I’ve also added about 20 new books to our class library, and I’m about to answer a few Letters to Ms. Houghton. As much as I talk about how I miss Michigan and how much I want to travel more, it feels good to be back in Seattle.

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