Maybe you’ve heard there’s going to be a solar eclipse.


But really, there is. And a million people will be coming to Oregon over the next few days, by car mostly. Some perspective: Oregon has a population of 4 million people, and 2.3 million live in the Portland metro area.

Our Monday morning traffic already sucks, so let’s add a million tourists to our snarled freeway system and see what happens.

It’s going to be awesome.

No, not really. Pandemonium. We can’t drive in rain in Portland, and it rains most of the year. Keep that in mind, visitors. Also, you know how annoying Oregon drivers are when they visit your states? It’s not just then–we’re like that all the time!

So why wait to freak out? Portland’s already loony. Full moons have nothing on solar eclipses. From being advised to stock up on supplies (no, the world isn’t going to end but just in case, you should have three days’ worth of food and water, say the experts), being told endlessly not to look at the sun without eclipse glasses (in case you missed that day in second grade), it’s getting a wee bit annoying. (I’d been planning to take pH to the path of totality, then decided I didn’t want to be stuck in a car for 12 hours, either before or after–99.x% is close enough for me.)

Thank you, Multnomah County Library, for the free glasses!

Then there’s the other oddness. It’s been kind of is-there-a-full-moon strange for a while, but it’s gotten worse.

Today I took pH to the pool. I grew up swimming in municipal and neighborhood pools, although by her age I’d long started biking with a friend, or even myself…not here. There’s a police station across the street for a good reason. In any case, one of her swimming instructors pointed out that maybe I should take her to the pool for fun, not just lessons. (Good idea. Whoops.) So now we go about once a week.

Today. Dear God, today.

It was awesome when we first showed up. Almost no one was there compared to almost every other day we’ve gone.

And then the first group arrived. It was a group of older kids with special needs, primarily autism. Okay, that’s fine. We can cope with that. I can handle my stuff being rearranged, getting yelled at for sitting on a chair that looked like all the other chairs, but apparently it was the wrong chair. (“He has a thing about corners,” the carer said.) I was less gracious about my stuff being tossed into the pool, but I handled it. (“Did you accidentally drop it?” pH asked. “Something like that.”) Then there was the guy who was talking to himself about violent things, and no one seemed to be assigned to him (I can understand why). Then wave after wave of campers filed in. And finally, pH’s stalker lady (when she first popped up, it was scary but also a relief because pH remembered the danger code words we’d established) showed up and we packed it in. For the record, I made it almost 3 hours and did I mention indoor pools are my special hell?

“We should go by the store,” I said to pH on the way home. “After all, the world is coming to an end, and I want a roast beef sandwich before that happens. Plus, we can charge the car at Fred Meyer.” (Oh, yes, our car has decided to not charge at home anymore, which is not convenient for an electric car.)

We parked at the sketchy Fred Meyer, I got everything set up, and a security guy came up. He was very nice and very interested in electric cars. He was kind of too enthusiastic, I thought, but okay, it’s Portland, we have the eclipse coming, and everything is weirder than normal. He was nice, not too weird, but I had the feeling something else was up. And yes! Something else was up. He was keeping us from walking up on the police making an arrest about 20 feet away (around the corner). That was downright chivalrous, and I thanked him. (I also asked him if he knew why there was a homeless guy 10 feet away standing and staring at us–not moving–for the last ten minutes.) I locked the car carefully and we went inside. We only saw one shoplifter (a plus), I didn’t have to jump up and down at the deli counter to get anyone’s attention (a plus) and we had a nice checker (another plus).

We came out to a different homeless guy standing 10 feet away and staring at our car (it’s really dirty; maybe that’s the fascination).

But we did add 12 miles to the car, which is great. (If we’re driving in city traffic, which as mentioned is awful, we barely use any miles; 12 will last days.) We got home, unloaded the car, did swimming-related laundry and ate roast beef.

I am not going anywhere until  Monday afternoon.

(Admittedly, the eclipse makes for good science small talk with strangers. But who likes to make small talk with strangers?)