Portland: Breaking News, A Literary Hotel & Defriend-o-rama

I've been to Portland a few times before, but this is the first time I found it truly charming. I had next to no time here, so I arrived Sunday afternoon and proceeded to walk around in the breezy sun, staking out my books in Powell's City of Books, admiring all the adorable cafes and wine bars and people with white teeth.

My hotel, The Heathman, is very cool -- I guess it's the favorite stay for writers. They have a lending library packed with signed books by all the notables who stayed here, and it's truly baffling. A cursory look evidenced Saul Bellow, Richard Russo, Sarah Vowell (it was very cursory. I was honored when one of the hotel employees knocked on my door with a copy of my book that the hotel had bought and asked me to sign it for their library. If you stay at the Heathman in Portland, Oregon, ask if you can check the Girl's Guide out of their collection. Or, actually, read Saul Bellow first.

I had the usual slew of television shows and a good radio interview. One of the TV shows interviewed me in the big Powell's which was very cool. However, during my first TV interview, the news of the Virginia Tech shooting came in and they went directly to a special report. I was sort of sad for the rest of the day as we followed the news in the car while driving from one media appointment to the next.

Tonight I "appeared" at another, more intimate branch of Powell's on Hawthorne for "Girl's Night Out," wherein a group of impressive women and I chatted about friendship, specifically defriending and how to do it. We came to the conclusion that returning emails and phone calls sometimes feels like a chore, as annoying as paying bills, which is rather sad. It seems like you could also lose a friend today if you don't share the same favored means of communication: she always sends long emails, you never respond because you prefer the phone; you are constantly texting or using MySpace, she wants to see you in person. The technology divide widens, you drift apart, a defriending occurs. Nuts.

These women had brilliant insight into the all-woman workplace and how unfortunately mean we can sometimes be.

She was hilarious and had a friend with her who claims she never returns phone calls. Girlfriend, listen to her. Call back.

Darling Portland resident, former New Yorker and old friend Otis met me after the reading and we went out to wine with these two very awesome women who admitted they'd thought my book would be "just another girl's guide," the kind I deplore, and were excited to find at the event that it's actually good (yay!). We went to a wine bar called "Noble Rot" that Kim had recommended to me in Seattle. I had a very good glass of Riesling, though not as good as the last one in Otis' flight. April, the one on the left, is opening a tea house in Portland, and her friend is starting a business in Tuscany. Very smart, very lovely.

I leave for Kansas City in about 10 seconds. I'm in a different city every day from here on out. As a girl who hates rising early, I'm gearing up for a challenging series of pre-dawn flights.

Tour, TourMelissa Kirsch