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Sunday, September 14

a dizzying market crash

Oh boy. Where to start? At the beginning, I guess.

We left our cozy cottage at just shy of 5 am to get to Portland by 6:30, a time I was told to report "on the dot" in order to get set up as a guest. The staff opened the info booth at 6:50. In the interim, I tried and failed to find a restroom, even though a woman a few seconds ahead of me in heading to the locked bathrooms told me they would open at 9 and then pushed some buttons to open it for herself.

(OK, maybe it's just me, but if I had the code to the only restroom and a perfectly sane looking woman asked where she could find one, I would be unable to say coldly "I have no idea" as I unlocked the door. The woman turned out to be a vendor at the "scab" market of imported doo dads across the street. I was very relieved to learn she was not someone associated with the Saturday Market. But I digress.)

There were just a few people waiting for the staff and a few, obviously regulars with reserved spaces, setting up.

Eventually they opened the window and eventually they remembered that I was to be juried on site and eventually they found someone to do it and eventually they declared my work "lovely" and eligible. That put me on track to attend orientation and then wait to see if there would be a space for me to try to sell my lovely and now eligible goods.

Orientation turned out to be me and 2 others and the orienter, a woman named Castle. That name does not raise an eyebrow in Oregon, trust me. She flipped the pages of the manual, the same one we had only hers was on an easel, while she read it out loud to us. It was a replay of every boring class you ever had with a professor reading from the text while you drew profane doodles with your hi-liter. We even had the dreaded "all about me" participants who interrupted the little presentation with fascinating insights to their lives and questions that were obviously going to be answered. I say "obviously" because there was, after all, a manual and they've been doing this for over 30 years. The same folks were also worried that there wouldn't be enough time to set up. It was really hard not to leap from my little folding chair and encourage them to shut up. There was also a diva, who asked where the ladies room was (behind her) and emerged from said room with a look of panic announcing the sink wasn't working and where would she wash her haaaands??? I swear, this was delivered with the same panic as "Lassie! Timmy's in the welllll!" After she had been allowed to wash off in the kitchen, we proceeded downstairs for "the tour"

All around us, vendors were setting up and I could see the stress on the folks who were worried about time. They sold metal stuff and, apparently, had a bear of a set up. While they watched the seconds tick off the watches they checked constantly, Castle took us on a walk through the market, pointing out good spots vs bad spots (as if we would get much of a choice as "newbies") and recited a history of the place with pride. Soon, it was over and she handed me the keys to return and we were sent back to the info booth to await our assignments. Remember that at this time, we still didn't know if we would have a spot.

The guy in the booth was calling out numbers and names. "number 121 top of the tree creations, number 122 emerald city munchkins, number 123...). They would report and begin perusing a map of the market, eventually choosing one for themselves, intitialing the map and scooting off. Some folks took 30 seconds to do this, others brought up family, friends, neighborhood priest, to help them decide. One actually called for advice from her cell phone.

Finally, I heard "simplesong" and I took my place at the map, knowing damn well my choices would be between dark/ urine-smelling and so far away they'll need a GPS to find you. I actually would have taken the dark smelly spot if I had lights with me. As it was, I chose around the corner, at the back, behind the market, next to a woman selling spices, the aroma of which sent me right back to the info booth asking if I could be even farther away from any possible paying customer and my wish was granted.

I had a construction site behind me, nobody to my left, two cute guys selling edgy t-shirts to my right. I barely made expenses and it costs very little to do this market. Actually, I think if you factor in the gas to Portland, I may have taken a slight loss. And then the world started spinning.

All morning I was feeling very tired and slightly dizzy but I was really tired from the morning and also from hosting a birthday party for 10 the night before. This turned into a severe vertigo. I had stopped at the info booth to see about buying bags (I could picture mine back at the cottage, right where I left them) when a wave of dizziness so severe almost dropped me to my knees. I staggered back to the booth ( a staggering woman weaving haphazardly through the festivities did not raise an eyebrow. There were many many more folks more severely impaired wandering about) and told Russ I needed to get to the van to rest. There I found the one position I could rest in without triggering the waves of earth-spinning dizziness and I remained there til the end of the market, while Russ and Max broke down the booth and packed the car, while they made a stop to visit a friend in the area, while we drove back to Philomath. Once home, I could only walk to the door if my eyes were closed, the ground rushing up to meet me whenever I peeked. A fitting end to a dizzying day.

After a cautious night, I am much better, almost normal (or whatever passes for normal in my world). Thinking ahead to Eugene, planning a visit to my son, wrapping pennies for food. Hey, nobody ever said that making a living as a working artist would be easy or that the very term "making a living" would be appropriate.

A craft market may look like an art show, but it's not. You can put lipstick on a pig.....

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