Eugene, Oregon, Dec. 12, 2014

This Place On Earth is the bedside reading that comes with my AirBnB:

Private Roundhouse…Enchanting!

An oasis of calm for two days in the backyard of writer–and former editor of Funny Times–Don Kahle. Eugene Diaries is Don’s column in Eugene Magazine.

Round House Interior

Round House Interior

Don understands the special needs of writers. For example, the floor is covered in pennies. No one but a Writer would be so penurious, and yet so Grand. Designed by Oregon Yurtworks and modified by Mindful Living Homes, The Roundhouse has four windows and a windowed door providing plenty of light. There is an occulus. Leaning back in bed to daydream and watch the changing sky is encouraged.

The Round House floor is tiled in pennies.

The Round House floor is tiled in pennies.

It’s about a two-mile walk from The Roundhouse to the U of O campus, straight up Hilyard Street. Turn right on 15th Ave and you’ll end up in the heart of the campus. Unfortunately, I hiked right past it all the way to Northwest Christian University.

WTF? Who knew there was a Christian University in the Home of the Ducks? That’s when it began to rain. It started with a warm, wet, chinook wind and then came the rains.

Rain by The Beatles

TrainintheRainOn an off and on, it rained all day. Walked all the way to the railroad tracks and then circled back, stumbling into a surreal scene from a nightmare. Oh my god, Ken Kesey, what have they done to your song?

Ken Kesey statue, just down the street from the U of Oregon campus.

Ken Kesey statue, just down the street from the U of Oregon campus.

Followed the crowds to the Lane County Transit station:

Took shelter in the bus station.

Took shelter in the bus station.

Took shelter there, but the rain showed no sign of letting up. I started out in the wrong direction, circled back, accidentally discovered the Eugene Public Library:

Eugene Public Library

Eugene Public Library

It was becoming all too apparent why Ducks are the mascot of this cool little college town. Having squared the campus, I headed off again, drifting uphill through older homes and fraternity houses and soon recognized the stately Georgian manor that houses the U of O writing program:

University of Oregon Creative Writing School

University of Oregon Creative Writing School

I passed by, soaking wet, hungry, and Jonesing for java, crossing the campus again, stumbling into a big shiny building:

University of Oregon Business School

Lundquist College of Business

Nothing like a cafeteria here, and the building and the students in it appeared interchangeable with upwardly-mobile business-minded youngsters across the land.

Couldn’t help reflecting on the relative difference in digs between the Writing School and College of Business. Put that in your MFA and write about it!

Dashed out, following students around a detour and finally into the back door of the student union / cafeteria:

University of Oregon Student Union

University of Oregon Student Union

The lunch rush was long over and just a few students deep in the throes of Finals Week. I spread my coat out over a chair, taking as long as possible to savor a 16-oz. French Roast and 6″ Subway tuna sammich with all the fixins’.

Big news on campus is the Adjunct Faculty are threatening to go on strike…and Marcus Mariotta and the Fighting Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl.

Rejeuvenated, and my coat slightly dryer, I headed out again into the downpour cutting across courtyards back to the stately Georgian Manor Creative Writing school and ducked inside. A faulty meeting was in progress and through the open door–aggrieved faces regarded me dubiously. I smiled, brandishing my Weber County School District shoulder bag–that’s my cover–I’m passing as a school teacher.

Digging my PR material out of the bag, I walked down a creaking hallway to the only open office, a bare room with a graduate student cramming for finals manning a plain wooden desk, dating from the school’s halcyon days of yore. Who knows, Ken Kesey might have propped his logging boots up on that desk long ago. The graduate student was clean-shaven, short-haired, professionally dressed, and helpful, suggesting I talk to Smith Family Books and to the public library.

Time enough for that tomorrow. Heading back to The Round House, I slogged across town through the rain and wind. Stopped at a Safeway and bought peanut butter, apples, crackers, and wine for dinner, paying five cents extra for the use of a paper bag which made it almost all of the way there.

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