A Day in the Life: PDX

The Last Real Neighborhood: A Look at Portland in a Crossroads between Working Class & Gentrification through Observations in Food
The Last Real Neighborhood: A Look at Portland in a Crossroads between Working Class & Gentrification through Observations in Food

Writing prompts are a godsend when one doesn’t want to divulge too much about their day-to-day, yet exercise the thought connections – words, texts, paragraphs, brain synopses, how it all flows together. I’ve used Plinky previously, but their topics don’t always resonate. So, happily, I checked out WordPress’s Daily Post, Writing Prompt, and yesterday, this is what I discover.

Every city and town contains people of different classes: rich, poor, and somewhere in between. What’s it like where you live? If it’s difficult for you to discern and describe the different types of classes in your locale, describe what it was like where you grew up — was it swimming pools and movie stars, industrial and working class, somewhere in between or something completely different (See more here.)

Race Comparision, 2000 to 2010, where Portland remained predominantly white.
Race comparison, 2000 to 2010, where Portland remained predominantly white.

I followed a boy here, but he was just the catalyst. I had always dreamed about living in the Pacific Northwest. After watching Singles, I had this idea of perpetual fall – my favorite season – and if Michigan wasn’t doing it for me, then where else could I go? This boy afforded me the reason to move – we were in love. Well, the relationship didn’t last, but my love affair with Portland has.

I moved here in 2003. I was told I didn’t need a car because the bus service was amazing. I heard stories of a hippies paradise, and what I found was that I no longer had to argue about recycling. There were interesting things on every corner – Portlandia adorned a building that looks like a present, it rained blossoms in the springtime, there was art in the parks like Washington DC, and people even painted the streets to slow down traffic. The bus came, frequently, so I didn’t even own a car for the first 3 years I was here – relying on my feet, my seat (on a bike), the bus, or ZipCar (then FlexCar) to get me where I needed to go. I was in my twenties, and it was a dream. The independence I felt was triumphant, as I continued to go to school and work a full-time job, then about a mile from each place.

When I moved to Portland, I lived in three neighborhoods over the course of three years. I started in southeast, moved across the river to southwest (Corbett / Lair Hill), and finally have made North Portland my home, with my husband, who I met here.

In 2008, I started looking at my neighborhood in more depth. We had lived in Arbor Lodge since 2005, and in that short time, we saw many changes. The Yellow Line Max finished and started running, local favorite health store (New Seasons Markets) opened a store, and the development soured. The boy who brought me here liked to repeat that wherever MAX goes stores turn to gold. And the amount of development that continues to blossom is astonishing.

In 2008, when I was examining the changes in the neighborhood, the rose-colored glasses came off. No longer was I a 20-something who only cared about an organic garden and getting along with my housemates. Now, I was married with a baby. Now, our income reduced because of situations beyond our control. Now, we had to look at things in a  leaner light. And, we were surprised. In 2008, we made less than half of the median family income for the area, and we qualified for many services offered in the social safety net. Our housing related costs were 70% of our family budget, well over the HUD recommended for a stable family. But, what could we do? We had a house with a garage and a yard. If we moved we’d be getting a slightly less expensive apartment. So, we stayed, and we got by, and things got better. We stayed in our walkable neighborhood, where we would frequent King Burrito and Walgreens. We stayed in our neighborhood where I could still take the 35 to work, and as our income increased, we started to get more interested in buying a house.

The shock we found. We assessed our income and figured we could afford a $150,000 in 2009. So, began our real estate search. 3 agents later and a month of flea bites to torture my sensitive legs, we decided that buying a house wasn’t in the cards for us. Clearly, we are being priced out of the market since staying on budget was so important to us. The only thing we could afford wouldn’t qualify for a loan!

A look at housing values in 1999 and 2012.
A look at housing values in 1999 and 2012.

We waited, and the market changed. Circumstances adjusted so that in 2012, we started our search again. We found a compatible agent who walked us through house after house after house, over the course of about 10 months. We cringed. We looked beyond our price range. And we bemoaned the low inventory. Finally, all the puzzle pieces fell into place, and we found a modest home with sturdy bones, without fleas, that was in our price range. We haggled, we negotiated, we inspected, and we waited. And, on the day before Thanksgiving, we closed on what is now our first house. I know we got a good value for our home, based on the market, the walkability, the neighborhood, and the type.

What I don’t get is why collectively, we let it all get out of hand. We have known we live on a fine line between making it and not making it. We try to plan and budget to make sure we stay on the “make it” side of the line, but like many American families, we’re only a few paychecks away from needing to go back to that social safety net if something bad were to happen. In fact, Kaiser Health News released a report documenting how close we are to being eligible for premium benefits compared to the federal property rate. And, I had thought that we’d been moving forward over the last few years! Now, it seems we’re taking a few steps backwards.

The cumulative rate of inflation from 1999 to 2012 is just over 37%, yet housing costs increased between 45% and 130%.
The cumulative rate of inflation from 1999 to 2012 is just over 37%, yet housing costs increased between 45% and 165%.

The pundits have talked, since Mitt ran for president, about the growing divide between haves and have nots, and it seems that Portland is one of those key examples of how that divide is working. After considering this writing prompt, I’ve been digging through the census data and collecting some things that have been percolating in my brain for the last few months. And, this is what I found out.

Oh! How Portland has changed over the years! In my first observation, I considered that I moved here in 2003, into the home of a friend who bought her house the year before with her husband. They live in a modest neighborhood, that in the 70s earned the nickname “Felony Flats”. Their modest, 1,200 square foot, 3 bedroom home, with a tiny backyard, and intriguing shared garage increased in value by 35% over the last 10 years. A 35% increase in value seems outrageous to me. The US Inflation Calculator figures that there is a 26% cumulative rise in inflation from 2003 to 2014. So, my friends’ home increased in value 10% over the rise in inflation. Our new home increased 82% from the value of the home in 2003 and the value of the home in 2014 – over 50% higher than the cumulative rise in inflation!

Thinking about housing prices, made me consider income and who holds the wealth in the city. I was able to find a comparison between 1999 and 2012. In 1999, it looks like the wealth was distributed in a fair bell curve, with a bulk of the city’s wealth being held in the middle. In looking at the 2012 data, though, it looks like it’s beginning to distribute up, as if we’re on the beginning of a J curve, giving the haves more resources than the have nots.

1999 income distribution compared to 2012.
1999 income distribution compared to 2012.

That is Portland in a nutshell. You have neighborhoods that appear primarily working class, but the desirability factor continues to price existing residents out. The incomes are distributing away from the lower and middle class towards the upper class. Housing affordability matches the higher incomes. Houses are being torn down and developed into McMansions. The sustainability factor of Portland is decreasing because all the kitschy amenities that make this place great are disappearing.

So, a day in the life of PDX is interesting, because it is in the midst of this change – and I, for one, am not sure where the change will lie when it’s all over.

Resources

 

21 Drafts

I have 21 drafts right now. 21 unfinished posts of ideas that get fragmented throughout the days. My only drawback is that Siri doesn’t sync nicely to my WordPress App. I have drafts on parenting, politics, and run of the day things. But today, I’m not going to update any. Instead, I’m going to give you pictures of Levi running around Council Crest.

Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Portland. Cool, clear, crisp with a light wind. I drove back home from the chiropractor’s office and all three mountains were clear. It wasn’t safe to take pictures with my phone while driving around the I-5 curves, so Levi and I visited the park after Peter left for work. Here’s what it looked like.

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Commuting in 2012

English: Bus 2909 of TriMet, the public transi...
Image via Wikipedia

You may recall I’ve had a varied commute in all the years I’ve lived here, in Portland. 2012 marks the start of the 9th year I’ve lived here. Nine years. It’s a little surprising that I am working towards being here for an entire decade. While I was still living in Michigan, I was able to finally figure out my purpose, if you will. I wanted to educate people on the importance of a sustainable society. Once I got, here, to Portland, I began studying Sustainable Urban Development and living out my green dreams to the best of my ability.

I partook in regular bus commutes. I refused to own a car. I toyed with riding my bicycle. I bought organic foods and preached to others the importance of doing so. I bought recycled toilet paper. I ate more beans than meat. When I moved closer to work, I walked to work forgoing all fossil fuel options and using my own two feet instead.

Then, life changed. I got a curve ball. I got pregnant and married while still in school. What a humbling experience this has been! I used to eat arugula salads all the time, but then I found myself married to someone who’s taste buds hadn’t been acclimated to the slightly bitter green. Then, we found ourselves with a huge budget crunch: no income while taking care of a baby! Organic dreams went by the wayside. Always lurking in the background, but not something we could act on when we had $300 to spend, per month, on our total grocery bill (including the WIC and SNAP benefits allotted).

At the same time, I got the best bus pass – ever. It was good for five years and was an all-zone pass. That’s right, I got the benefit of being the partner of a TriMet employee. While I got the best bus pass, ever, I stopped commuting! My husband drove me to and from school on the days I went. Then, I finished school and I stopped needing to go places save once a week or so. Then, instead of taking the bus, driving, or walking – I found myself driving an SUV!

Next, life changed again, and I got employed. The only problem was that I didn’t look close enough at the job description and the job was twenty miles away. I was looking at a 45 minute commute by car or a 90 minute commute by bus. I had to factor in day care, so commuting by car became my new norm.

Well, the beginning of this year has proven another change. The office moved downtown. Downtown! My commute decreased by 15 miles! Challenges remain, especially in regards to picking up Levi. However, I took the one bus to work. I walked. Walked! I listened to NPR, sent emails, checked my schedule — all while on the bus.

The ride home was a little more stressful as the bus was running late. I might benefit from changing my schedule a half hour on the start and end time to allow more flexibility with picking up Levi. We made it home though, not without complaint. And, my feet just aren’t used to walking fast anymore, so they need to be retrained. Tomorrow, I will try a park and ride option. This means, I will bus to work then home, and then pick up the truck and get Levi.

Commuting in 2012 will mean a driver’s license renewal. It will mean an all-zone, five-year bus pass renewal. It might mean Levi gets his own bus pass. (I can’t remember the age kids are supposed to have their own tickets.) Yes, 2012 will have changes in commuting. Here’s to less driving and more bus riding.

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Michigan Vacation 2011

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18 months from our 2009 adventure, we were able to travel back to Michigan. Experience has shown us 10 days is not enough, so this time we booked two weeks. It really looks like 12 full days when you consider one day you fly in and one day you fly out. This time, we traveled in March!

March! I’ve been living in Portland since October 2003. I think the last time I was in Michigan in March it must have been 2003. I didn’t realize how much I missed that crisp air, the chilly nights, the brown grass, patches of snow, and twiggy deciduous trees.

I do miss my home.

I am still glad I am here, in Portland. A point which my husband and I diverge. But, this post is about the vacation, not the time-line for moving back home.

This year, I did a survey of kitchens, bathrooms, and beds. My husband and I are always thinking about our dream house and if we were to purchase a house here in Portland, what would it look like. So, we are house hunters, no matter how cold of a prospect our Realtor should consider us. I am even more interested in how people organize their lives and what guests are given for their stays. Our house, currently, can only offer a lumpy couch.

I was amazed at the little things. The kitchens I most appreciated were open. No walls restricting vision to cooking surfaces, people in the kitchen, kids playing. My mother-in-law, cousin, and sister-in-law had the best laid out kitchens.

It was interesting to note who had the most intuitive organization and who did not. My grandmother’s kitchen was the most intuitive, but I could be biased there because that is my second home so I already knew where everything was. Next up was my cousin and mother-in-law.

My sister had the best guest bedroom. She even equipped the guest bathroom with amenities! Like we were at a hotel! Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste! Extra pillows, pillow cases, and blankets were stocked in the drawers and closets! And, my sister boasted the best guest bed. Although we only stayed one night in her house, it was the most comfortable sleep, for me.

My brother and sister-in-law had the best kid toys – likely because of the two kids residing there. So, the most fun was had at my brothers, for Levi, because he got to play with cousins! It’s really amazing to see the connection these kids have, when they’ve visited no more than 4 occasions in their young lives.

We did better planning this one, I think. I wanted to make a conscious effort to try to visit with people, but I wasn’t going to press any visits given how tired and moody we can get traveling. We had adequate naps and play times, so it felt balanced overall. The last visit we had was such a whirlwind, we all ended up grouchy by the end!

To capstone our trip, we were even able to move our late arriving flight to an earlier arrival. Although, Levi and I still took the next day off to transition from cousins to normal. Thanks to all the family for such lovely visit. Hopefully we can get back before 18 months this next time.

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I am an Urban Homesteader

Heated & whisked
Making HOMEmade chocolate syrup in my (urban) home(stead). Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I know what to do.

I know where the resources are.

I’ve written, somewhat extensively on the subject.

Today: I am an Urban Homesteader.

In 2008, I self-published my first of two books with Dr. Deborah Tolman. With her knowledge and know-how, my writing, editing, graphic design, and web skills – and with support from several other friends and colleagues, we self-published the Tolman Guide to Going Green. We published one for Portland, Oregon, where we both lived in 2008 and one for Asheville, North Carolina, where Deb has sustainable connections.

We took a systems approach to sustainability. How do you encompass natural processes at home? How do you make going green accessible in a way that the apartment dweller with the smallest income can still be green?

Also, in 2008, it was discussed by Kelly & Eric at Root Simple.

Shannon Hayes takes a feminist approach in Radical Homemaking.

It’s cliched and made fun of in Portlandia.

Cities, towns, neighborhoods all over the world are participating in Urban Homesteading.

What does this cheesy cliche even mean?

It means, take your home and make it green by thinking in full cycles, like homesteaders used to do.

Would you throw away that tin can if it would make a great Christmas Tree Ornament? No? Well, you just saved something from the landfill. Go green! You are an urban homesteader!

Would you mow over that grass or would you bag it and take it to the curb? What, your time is limited, and you don’t want to spend the extra money for the bag attachment (or you don’t have a bag attachment because you’re using a Reel Mower)? Well – congratulations! You have just participated in grass-cycling! You are an urban homesteader!

You (attempt) to grow your own greens all around your small urban plot or your apartment? You are really keeping it local! Go green! Congratulations you are an urban homesteader!

What, you make your own laundry soap because it costs less than a penny per load and your family must be frugal with those limited dollars coming in? Congratulations! You are an urban homesteader!

I suppose our cultural ideas of Intellectual Property say it’s okay to trademark words. But, I think it’s a terrible idea. Trademarking ideas in this day and age of collective consciousness is simply another way to make a game out of doing good. Sure, a part of me agrees that rules can force us into creativity and better answers to our world’s problems, but sometimes it’s just gone too far. Trying to trademark a name for something that was already published as a book? Can this even be done? Wouldn’t the copyright law on the book trump the trademarking of the concept? And, how close are we to Big Brother when we try to enforce this collective consciousness? Seriously? In this economy? Don’t we have better things to do?

So, today, sponsored by Take Back Urban Homesteading and Crunchy Chicken, is a day of Action. It’s a day to Take Back Urban Homesteading. Write about what makes you an Urban Homesteader in the hopes we’ll jam the blogosphere with our collective consciousness.

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Portlandia

The Portlandia statue on the Portland Building...
Image via Wikipedia

I am very thankful for Hulu right now. I love this city. I do. But, with all the transplants (yes, like me) and our ideals and our fantasies and our 300 steps away from reality, this is good fun. Thank you Fred & Carrie.

I moved here in 2003. In 2004, I believe, a native Portlander wrote into the Oregonian as a guest columinist, asking Portlanders to get over htemselves. she argued that in this green archiplego, Portlanders forgot that there is a wider world out there. She claimed with exmaple after example of how Portlanders don’t realize not everyone in the country wants to go green, eat organic, or boycott Wal-Mart. As sad as it might have been to read, it was refreshing because it’s true!

So, this is the first Portlandia episode, the show that lovingly makes fun of Portland, the place where we want to know the name of our chicken but might be afraid to see the farm.

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I’m in a Food Club

December Frontier
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

A what? I haven’t really blogged about it. It’s central to my life. It’s been important to me for several years. And, still I haven’t written about it. My family knows. My friends know. My new friends all know that I am in a food club.

So, what is a food club? A buying club, in its simplest form, is a group of people who buy wholesale, together. A food buying club is composed of people who buy food wholesale, together. A group, acting like a business (some formal, some informal) guaranteeing a supplier of a minimum order in order to get discounts. The labor is distributed, then, through the club. That is, the club’s members sort the orders, organize distribution, and collect and arrange payments.

A few years ago, I found myself in a completely different reality than I thought I would be: I was a wife and mother and could no longer afford to shop exclusively at farmers markets. I was priced out. The single lifestyle was suddenly replaced with diapers (cloth and disposable), onsies, insurance, and another person’s very different tastes. I was, like many moms I now know, just getting used to single life when I was surprised with change. I was getting my organic, local ideas figured out when I entered the world many already struggle with: how to balance those single dreams with family realities. In my case, it was “single, organic, local, sustainable” dreams with family ideals and budgets.

Portland Oregon from the east. By User:Fcb981
Image via Wikipedia

I am not unique in this query. The path I chose to find a solution might be a little different, but here in Portland, Oregon it is gaining traction (so much so, it’s now mocked, laughably, and boy I cannot wait to see it, in Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein‘s Portlandia).

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon.
Image via Wikipedia

Portland is known for its food snobbery. It’s known for modifying everything when it comes to food. “I would like my triple espresso, non-fat, organic, fair-trade, dark-roasted, single-origin mocha please, served in ceramic or my own reusable mug.” Local, organic, vegan, fair trade, Certified, sourced, vetted, heirloom, non-GMO are all words of norm in this food world.

It’s mystifying and interesting and eyebrow raising, all at the same time.

I want access to whole foods. Probably, not too far off, but certainly not too far into, a Nourishing Traditions menu plan. I tend to think of things a little simply (in my mind). We’ve been eating a certain way for 10,000 years: bread, meat, fruit, vegetables, animal milk in cheese and yogurt (and more). We’ve grown seeds, cultivated seeds, saved seeds, and processed them fairly local until about 300 or so years ago when our lives changed quite dramatically with the Industrial Revolution. I am not a fan of vegan fair because from what I’ve seen it ventures too far into processed-food land, which is ultimately what I think I (we) should be moving away from (and into a more wholesome whole food way of living).

Chicken Leftovers
Chicken leftovers. Sure, I should have picked a prettier picture instead of the what yielded 7 cups of shredded chicken, but this was a meaty bird. 7lbs, 7 cups of leftovers = lots of leftover chicken fried rice = YUM. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

But, what does that mean? My husband and I try, every year to tend a garden. Every year we learn something, fail at something, and succeed at something. We are no where near being able to sustain ourselves from our own toils and labor in the land. So, we need to outsource. I would rather not outsource overseas. My sustainable studies have taught me in order to have a secure food shed I need to source my food locally. Anyone ever consider a 100-mile diet? Some folks in Vancouver, B.C. did – and they found it’s HARD. Compromises have already been made, banana anyone? But, how can we make these compromises friendlier to those who produce food and to those who consume it?

By knowing your farmer. By knowing your distributor. By ceasing to rely solely on the supermarket and taking your (my) dollars direct to the producer. I was interested in more organic spices, personal care, and grain. Bob’s Red Mill is in Milwaukie, Oregon, the next suburb over, in the same Metro region, within the same Urban Growth Boundary. I called and found out they work with un-incorporated groups. The catch? We had to meet the minimum: 500lbs. I can’t store that much grain. One 50 lb bag of flour will last 6-8 months, so I couldn’t do basically 3 years worth in my house! But, if I found some people who would buy with me…

And the seed is planted. In 2008, I knew I wanted to build a food buying club.

The urban growth boundary edge at Bull Mountai...
Image via Wikipedia
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SAHM Transport

Sideview mirror
Image by Lottery Monkey via Flickr

My favorite mode of transportation was walking to work. I enjoyed slowing down, seeing snakes, smelling flowers, and collecting my thoughts. Now, as a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM), I drive our SUV when I drive and the bus is saved for a special occasion. This change is a little bewildering, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.

In 2005, I walked to work, took the bus to do errands around town, or reserved a Flex Car. I was in school, worked full time, and ventured to my evening classes. Sometimes, I would ride my bike to get around, but mostly I took the bus. I loved taking the bus. One of the reasons I own so many large bags is in part due to the bus riding I’m accustomed to. I need my planner, my phone, a book to read, a water bottle, and random toiletries to get through the day.  So, my bag was my survival kit. I didn’t often bring food except for easy fruits like apples or oranges. Maybe a few snack bars, like Clif, if I’d purchase them through Trader Joe’s. I ate out a lot more then, too. Now, we eat out once a month on a good month. Then, I ate out several times a week.

How life has changed as a SAHM. So, I’m no longer in school, so the need for gargantuan bags has decreased even if the use hasn’t. We bring a small person around with us, so the contents of the bags changes. It’s gone from notes, notebooks, books for classes, research topics to diapers, snacks, and changes of clothes. We used diaper bags for a while, but the transport is mostly around a car to places that aren’t very far away. So, daily “errand bags” aren’t as necessary. And, our daily events now work around nap times. So, afternoon trips are rare. A three year old requires fewer packing items than an infant, so the bag has even shrunk. Although, church on Sunday requires a certain number of cars and/or books.

I am an introvert. I’ve taken those web-based Myers-Briggs tests several times. Consistently, I test as INFJ. It has some different names, ranging from Counselor to Sage, (the tests acknowledge the wisdom I have I suppose). Introverts need refresh time away from intense social interactions. Those bus rides were my time to refresh. The bus rides were my time to reflect (and sometimes nap). Getting that refresh time is very different now. Sure, if Levi and I have errands to run, we usually drive quietly and listen to some classical music pointing out the important things like the white train house. This transport, though, that was one major way in which I organized my day. And, now, I still struggle with how to organize my day.

A friend shared an article that appeared in the Washington Post three years ago. Carolyn Hax explains to a reader what Stay-At-Home-Moms do all day. I often can’t put into words the exhaustion I feel, daily. Not just physically tired, but emotionally drained. I still can’t fall asleep at night because my brain whirs with all those thoughts that pop up during the day. Hax, though, puts it wonderfully when she explains what SAHMS really do:

When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It’s constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It’s resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone’s long-term expense.

It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything. (Hax, Caroyln. 2007 (May 23). The Washington Post, “Tell Me About It.

Transport. Touch. Talking. Now we drive the (paid off) gas-guzzler for our errands. One reason is for the kiddo because he can see out the windows better. We often listen to 88.9 getting in our relaxing classical music fix. I love my husband, I love my son. But, I had no idea how much parenthood and wifehood would affect my needs and where I put them. I miss my transport, I miss my bus, I miss my reading/napping time. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I miss it.

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My Commute (in 2005)

I wrote this in 2005 for the Portland Transport blog for the “My Commute” series.

I moved to Portland nearly two years ago. The trip across country took our trusty van as a sacrifice for making the distance in Missoula, so my ex and I arrived without motor powered wheels. Since I wasn’t willing to drive the beast we named Bert, this was not a concern. Especially given the fact that Portland’s transportation system is leaps and bounds beyond Michigan’s, another one of those places where you must have a car to get around.

I have lived in Southeast, Southwest, and now North Portland. All places have given me different aspects of commuting to work (next to Willamette Park) and other areas of interest, whether it be a party in Gresham, school at PSU, or seeing a friend’s band (Port Authority) play at Kelly’s or Porky’s.

I have most of my frequently used stop IDs memorized (1152, 11812, 3619, 4466). Recent living without internet has familiarized me even more with 503-238-RIDE (7433); press one to pick your bus stop. Navigating Tri-Met’s website is old hat.

Living in Southeast and now North Portland has brought me back to transferring, which I prefer not to do. Living in Southwest was less than one mile to work, so I walked every day, generally on Macadam. I am elated to learn of Metro’s desire to study the travel from Lake Oswego to Portland, since Macadam is smelly, noisy, and not pedestrian friendly.

I took the bus to school after the 8-5 quota is over, and generally the bus home, although riding my bike was about the same amount of time as waiting for and then riding the bus (10-20 minutes). Work pays for my bus pass currently because it is school related. But, this too comes at a discount (summer all zone for 2 ½ months was $75).

I haven’t ridden my bike much this summer, but it is another form of transportation I use. I love the exhilarating rush I get when speeding down a hill at 25 or 27 mph, the wind in my face, and the fact that I created that rush with my feet, the pedals, and the bike I partially maintained myself.

Flex Car fills in when I need to be somewhere very soon or a planned event: moving across town, last minute trips the ocean, dinner with a friend who is going to where I came from; emergency Vet visits to Dove Lewis; grocery shopping when carrying laundry detergent, food items, and TP just doesn’t quite work on the bus. Flex Car spending ranges from $0 to $200 a month, since my uses for it have varied incredibly – but do not forget that covers maintenance, gas, insurance, and the car’s depreciation.

Although the commute is now back to around an hour (50 minutes is the best bet, but I get to work at 7:15 instead of 8), I wouldn’t trade it for waiting in rush hour traffic. You can’t read a book while waiting for the stop and go to cease. You can’t let your mind wander at a red light that’s about to turn green. You can’t ponder effectively the days upcoming events while paying attention to other cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

The more I slow down my transportation, the more I notice which new store is coming up, which one left, the garter snake scurrying out of my way, and the many slugs Portland has to offer and other bugs you must step around. Don’t forget the beautiful flowers I now have time to stop and smell. I step outside of my reclusive box everyday to familiarize myself with strangers on public transit with all of its glory – the smiling bus drivers to that odd urine smell. I won’t trade that for rush hour and an air conditioned cage.

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