Portland State of Mind

pdx state of mind2

Transitioning to a new life, in a new city, at times, has left me feeling out of body:  Observational, but intimidated; Curious, and unsatisfied with answers; Patience, only leading to frustration; Built up excitement, then unimpressed; Incognito, but lonely; Surprised yet torn; basically all conflicting emotions that can happen were my experiences.  When I decided to “Jump in,”  “Carpe Diem” and “When in Rome” cliche it up and to Facebook-style exaggerate what is happening, I tucked my tail and went running back to my comfort zone.  Those approaches were not me.  All the million, trillion suggestions people asserted were not me either.  I had to surrender to the change and whatever catastrophe came with it.  Even if that catastrophe meant I had to slow my life down and concede that moving and transitioning to a new city takes time, its not just a romantic idea thought up in a single moment.

So, while browsing through an adorable Portland vintage shop, because that what Portlandians do, the owner offered me half price on the 2013-2014 Chinook Book because it would soon be expired.  chinook2 The contents of my Chinook Book include coupons to ONLY local grocers, restaurants, shops, entertainment, rentals, and transportation. Trying to fit in by conversing and observing and taking infinite amounts of recommendations was OVER!  (Ugh!  Finally!!)  I would take this coupon book and I apply whatever food, shop or entertainment Chinook threw my way.  No more thinking, weighing, mapping it out, discussing, deciding, comparing and contrasting agony!

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Chinook  gave me a coupon for this local, sustainable, green convenience store, not far from our home.  Using my coupon, I decided all purchases must be Portland local goods, it was a fun, new, grocery store game. I stood baffled in front of the fill your own growler Kombucha tap, and sampled fresh picked strawberries that were teeny, tiny and full of flavor like the ones I grew in my community garden in Denver.  Eventually, I took Tillamook Ice Cream, whole wheat pancake mix, single serving of Kombucha, Portland made ketchup, Stumptown cold pressed coffee, and wild caught salmon to the cash register.

juice pressProudly presenting my coupon at the register, I used my ninja-teacher-questioning techniques (also known as Bloom’s Taxonomy), to focus a conversation completely on this man’s love of Unicorns.   He didn’t mind there were people waiting in line, he just needed to express his knowledge of unicorns to me.   Filtering myself carefully, I asked the young adult, “Why on Earth did you decide to tell me about unicorns, today?”  “Because you just look like someone who would appreciate them,” he answered.  In fact, I once loved Unicorns, too!  As a child, I had an entire shelf of porcelain unicorn statutes and as a 3-year-old, I dressed up as Rainbow Bright for Halloween, complete with unicorn horn added to my pony on a stick.  Both costume and statutes were sold in a garage sale almost 20 years ago.  This guy has plans for a chest tattoo of a winged unicorn to match his sleeve of more unicorns and wizardry accents.  I took his statement as a compliment, but politely declined his offer to smoke pot with him.  Kombucha tap and unicorn conversations, still makes me smile at the odd memory.

Chinook showed me a lot of great Portland spots.  We do our fruit and vegetable shopping at the Farm Stand called Kreugers.  If we want it fresh from the farm, all we have to do is drive 15 minutes with a basket and pick it ourselves.  We have sampled several mushroom varieties in effort to learn our local mushrooms.  Chantrelles sauteed in garlic and butter are divine!  We have enjoyed more fresh caught, wild seafood like scallops and salmon!   Other enjoyable food adventures include marionberries, Blue Star Donuts (Voo Doo donuts are a sham!!), kale chips, Salt and Straw, Papa Hayden’s, Slappy Cakes and McMennamins mustard.mushrooms

I enjoyed more interactions Chinook brought me, and took note on language especially.  Now, I say things like “Oh, ‘Southeast’…errr..” and “Yea, the ‘food cart pod’ on Burnside/ China Town/ Lombard.”  I usually reference “Sauvies, Forest Park or ‘The Pearl'” when describing my weekend.  I learned to ask questions important to Portlandians, like: “Is it local?” and “What do you recommend?”

StumptownCB1Here in Portland, I learned that barista, bartender and shop girls take ownership, pride and embody their respected careers.  Also, many Portlandians enjoy careers best described as “Hustler for Life!”  ‘Hustlers for life,’ work a job, but are really an actors, musicians, artists, writers, OR (like me) teachers, etc.  One Portlandian friend I have from my rugby days is combination of paleo baker, grower, caretaker, but really she’s a rugger.  Perfect example.  Now, when people ask me what I “do.” I reply, “Yoga pant sales and professional parallel parker, but really I’m an educator.”  I keep a straight face, it’s really what I do every. day.   blue star

Many other restaurants were visited and shops were perused, but the best part of Chinook was it made me learn on my own.  At times I  felt like I knew where to find the best of something, and now I am a part of the conversation.  I can contribute a review, a recommendation, or give directions to a popular spot. Other times, I failed.  It was my own failure, not one that someone or google maps led me to with anticipation.  I recovered myself from failure and laughed at the story because really, I was learning.  I’m not any good a coupons, and by no means a coupon lady.  The value of the Chinook book is not monetary.  It is the waterfall of new ideas, getting out of my comfort zone, failing, accepting new changes, and figuring out the city of Portland in my own way.

What have you done that helps the transition from your home to a new city?

What I Thought I knew about Portland

keep pdx weird What do you think of when a friend or family member mentions Portland, Oregon?  For many, the knee jerk reaction is…. “Rain!”  Other close seconds, like coffee culture, weirdos, bridges, food carts and green scenery might come to mind. Perhaps an outsdoors(wo)man thinks first of the bicycle friendliness, then Mt. Hood, the scenic Columbia Gorge, Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens, Crater Lake and the proximity to the ocean and water sports.  Maybe the business minded folks think of the Nike Headquarters, Intel Manufacturing Plant and the steel and logging industry.  If you’re an artsy type, the local artisans and music scene might be familiar to your lifestyle.  My first thoughts were of these big players as well. pdx sign During my two and a half months of living here, many Portlandians have welcomed me into their beloved city and asked me , “How are you liking it here?”  To their disappointment, I reply, “It’s a big transition….”  Wilting smiles means they all take the time to carefully explain how they fell in love with Portland and promise that I will too.  In return, I statistically deliver, “I’m coming from 320 days of sunshine to 300 days of clouds.”  From here the advice flows freely, “Get outside everyday, even if its raining,” “Take trips during the winter to sunny places,” “Invest in good rain gear,” “Buy a vitamin D lamp and use it everyday.”  One former Coloradan told me, “I just think of how brown and dry it looks in Colorado and how green it looks in Portland.”  Problem is, I love brown… deadgrass was the color of my Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Sailor, before we got Ivyn.  I’m listening Portland, and I’m grateful your friendly faces to share so willingly.  Still, the answers and advice aren’t replacing my beloved native land of Denver, Colorado. st. john's bridge

Leaning on my boyfriend, DB has a knack of many different sorts: movies, menus, physics, geology, geography and finding places to live.  He did it once in Argentina, again in Denver and, for the hat trick…Portland.  He wisely chose the safe and convenient area in Buenos Aires called Palermo Hollywood, in Denver we loved our location in Mayfair and now we live in the neighborhood known as “St. John’s.”  Still coming out of its “hood” days, there are trendy, new shops and next to decrepit, abandoned spaces.  Brand new homes (like our rental) standing next to very old homes with stray cats (our neighbors).  There are still a lack of nearby restaurants and liquor is state owned out here, so only one liquor store to server an entire peninsula.  We are on the peninsula of the city: 15 minutes from downtown, 30 minutes for DB to get to and from work, 45 minutes from farm/ wine country and 90 minutes from the beach.  An excellent neighborhood, full of fun opportunities.  DB, Ivyn and I miss Denver very, very much.  However, our home is with each other, and we are in Portland.

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Challenges of a new culture, new climate, new geography, uncovering the rules that go unsaid, but everyone else knows, faces me each time I step foot outside of my home.  For example, the drivers out here will stop any time for pedestrians.  In the middle of a busy street, the green light, the highway!  The rules for driving aren’t the ones posted in street signals or traffic signs, they are unspoken and we experience frustration for not knowing the invisible rules.  To maintain some balance, I Yoyoyogibegan my ritual of yoga in Portland and was met with different styles, none of which matched mine.  My employment applications in the education field or the flaming rings of fire while performing a monkey dance, baffled me into a time-out.   For months, my license sits in an electronic pile waiting for processing.  My boyfriend from Cheyenne, Wyoming, walked into a colleague frenzy with the large capacity of employees.  Small town kid grows up to be a lone researcher, then (poof!) a line worker in one of the highest producing plants in the world for a company that is “more stick than carrot.”  With our work so incredibly changed, our lives seem so distant and different to what we had in Denver.

I thought I would be sampling tasty boutique beer or coffee in a pair of patterned rain boots after pedaling through some mist over a bridge.  I thought every weekend would be jam packed with coastal adventures and discovery in the forest.  Mostly DB and I work, making the transition to a new city with only some time to explore.  Each evening DB claims his “5 hours of freedom,” with rest, dinner and time with our puppy, Ivyn.  The weeks go by and the work gets done, the challenges of learning a new city and life balance and  goes slower than I want.