Eugene was a good place for me, and I keep enjoying my visits. The big reason I go is the lady I call the "F.S.O." -- the Former Significant Other (I like how official that sounds) -- named Alicia. We hung out yesterday, and had a low-impact visit. As usual, I had a bag thickly filled with books for her to borrow, including three Poppy Z. Brite books about Rickey and G-Man, the script book for the radio episodes of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an eclectic mix of books I got while, um, in college (yes I still have plenty of them; yes I'm a packrat), even Caitlin R. Kiernan's Frog Toes and Tentacles and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I once found out that she didn't even know the term "lolita," and I've read the book and know that it's a great novel, though I warned her that it's, by design, a very uncomfortable book. (I summed it up as a story about "a very smart man who does a very stupid thing and attempts to justify it.") She was glad to know it was fiction, and not a nonfiction account of abuse. It's a bit of a reach, letting her borrow it, but I'm willing to take the chance. If she's too uncomfortable with it, she won't read it.
On a more purely happy note, we ate and ate well. I took Alicia to lunch at a restaurant good for both carnivores and vegetarians called Studio One Cafe, which has movie posters and press kit photos all over the walls. Later, we walked from her apartment to a dessert place called The Sweet Life, and I had my first slice of vegan raspberry-and-chocolate cake. Partly for health reasons, Alicia is researching going to a mostly-vegan-with-some-vegetarian diet -- she's getting versatile with soy milk, for example -- and has been seeking substitute food and treats. "Now, am I deprived if I get to eat this?" she said, smiling, during dessert.
(From the News-To-Me Dept.: I had thought Alicia didn't like chocolate. Turns out she does, but as she put it, "the chocolate is healthy; it's the butter and milk that's put in it that I don't like." Now, it's mint she doesn't like. It's as if mint was put in this world specifically to piss her off.)
Before and after our visit, I toured other Eugene landmarks, mainly around the University of Oregon. Since I've been reading the book about former UO track coach Bill Bowerman (who coached Olympians and over a dozen sub-four-minute-mile runners, then went on to co-found Nike), I stopped at Hayward Field to appreciate the history that happened there; I also looked at the new dorm complex across 15th Street from the field (it's located where the tennis courts used to be, next to Earl Complex, if you know the UO campus). After seeing Alicia, I made sure that House of Records, a music store I frequented 10 years ago, was still there. Not only was it there, I found out that it's been around for 33 years. I happily gave the place some business: Johnny Cash, Tom Waits's Rain Dogs, and used copies of a Simpsons song collection (Go Simpsonic with the Simpsons) and James Horner's score to Glory. The clerk even checked to see if there were used copies of the two new CDs I was buying.
I have several reasons I'm glad I went to Eugene yesterday.