I worked Sunday through Thursday last week and was looking forward to a three-day weekend. So imagine my delight when I realized Memorial Day was coming up too. Just like that, I had myself a string of four days off from work.
I won’t lie. It felt good. Like a mini-vacation without going anywhere. Sometimes low-key is good, though, and these past four days certainly fit into that slot.
Friday morning I met Lori for breakfast at a favorite neighborhood restaurant, Cadillac Cafe. That evening I used our outdoor grill for the first time this year — and bombed. The salmon was dry; the mashed potatoes were tasteless; and the grilled asparagus wasn’t quite done. Thankfully, I redeemed myself two nights later.
Saturday afternoon I went bowling at Interstate Lanes. Must have timed it just right — or just wrong — because I was literally the only one bowling for a time. Halfway into the first of my three games, somebody else started in on another lane. Couldn’t help but think of the Robert Putnam’s 2001 book, “Bowling Alone,” where he describes how Americans have become increasingly disconnected from each other and social institutions have disintegrated.
Sunday afternoon we headed downtown to see a matinee showing of “Iris,” a documentary about a 93-year-old fashion icon from New York. Didn’t get in. The Living Room Theaters are great because they provide an intimate space, but the flip side is that it doesn’t take much to sell out their small auditoriums.
Instead, we saw “Clouds of Sils Maria,” a French film we knew nothing about going in but which I found appealing (more so than Lori, anyway). Juliette Binoche stars as an acclaimed actress who agrees to appear again in the play that launched her career, but this time as Helena, an older actress cast opposite 20-year-old Sigrid, the character she played years earlier. Kristen Stewart, who caught my attention as Julianne Moore’s younger daughter in “Still Alice,” is even better in the film as Valentine, a personal assistant to Binoche’s character, Maria Enders.
As Val and her boss two go back and forth from rehearsing the dialogue for Maria’s upcoming role to real-time conversation, the line between the script and real time becomes blurred and marked by tension. When the two women meet Jo-Anne, the spoiled but media-savvy starlet chosen to play Sigrid, things get more interesting. Maria clearly sees this up-and-coming actress as a rival and a threat and perhaps as a reflection of her younger self.
The film, shot in Switzerland, reminded me of “Birdman” in that it told a multilayered story of what it is to be an actor past his (or her) prime, dealing with issues of aging and insecurity. In this case, Binoche takes us through a gamut of emotions — uncertainty, jealousy, resentment, acceptance — as she comes to grips with who she is and where she is in her career.
Monday morning I took a run at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, one of my favorite spots. On the way back to the parking lot, I followed a trail that led me into the shade of Sellwood Park, a great neighborhood park not to be confused with Sellwood Riverfront Park, which is right on the Willamette.
We had Lori’s brother, Jim, and our sister-in-law, Judi, over for dinner Saturday night. Always a good time with those two. And Lori killed it, as usual, with a baked chicken dish.
I made up for my disastrous salmon dinner on Sunday night. Put together a dozen enchiladas, filled with ground beef, sour cream and olives, and topped with cheese and homemade sauce. Yum.
Two bike rides Saturday and Sunday took me in opposite directions. First, all the way out to Kenton in North Portland and then over to Willamette Boulevard and the Skidmore Bluffs. Then, straight out Tillamook Street to 82nd Avenue. So relaxing.
Caught up with some reading and some mundane computer tasks, did miscellaneous chores and spent some time with our dogs.
All in all, a four-day weekend that came as a nice respite. And now it’s back to the salt mines.