Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Colors of Fall… in PORTLAND


Let me give you some context for this piece:

Daren says “I want you to be a special guest on my blog.”

“Your special guest? What do you mean?” said Meghan

“I have changed the theme of the blog to our transition into Portland and I want you to write about your experience with the transition.” said Daren slyly knowing Meghan’s fear of people reading her writing.

“Well that is a pretty broad topic. And I don’t want it to be like writing in my diary! Could you give me a more specific topic to start with?” Meghan said teasing him.


Daren was surprised and said each word jokingly frustrated and channeling his teacher tone of voice “The Colors of Fall… in PORTLAND.”

“Oh…….hmmmmm……… okay. I could do that.” She said satisfied.

So ladies and gentleman, my first piece for A Lesson Learned:


The leaves are turning and falling to the ground, making the streets of Portland glittered with gold, vibrant red, and breathtaking oranges. I told a friend of mine that I feel like I am living in a nature calendar (specifically the one my Uncle gives everyone for Christmas). When growing up I was always in awe of the months October and November, and I even remember a trip my mom and I took where we were “Chasing Fall”. It’s hard to find Fall in California, besides just the wrinkled brittle leaves that fall into pieces and clog the gutters of the streets. Here in Portland Fall smacks you in the face, and distracts you from everything else happening the grey skies, fits of rain, an evil notes from your neighbor that you have taken their “assigned” parking space and are going to tow you. Let’s just say for know I see Portland as a delicious plethora of colors that satisfy my inspiration palate. I want to create anything with the fall colors! I can’t get them out of my mind!


Of course it is hard being away from home. I miss my family and friends and my Teen Center. I have been on a little bit of a rollercoaster of emotion: one minute I am filled with excitement over what is coming up and then I am screaming as I plunge down into the reality that we have moved here and don’t have jobs, and only a few friends. And then I am coasting, with out a care in the world, feeling safe and calm that we have made the right choice. I don’t mind the rollercoaster but it can be exhausting. I am always going to miss home, no matter where I am, but I still have to go and see and do, before it is too late and I can’t. My main reason for moving was yes the job situation, the cheaper cost of living, the awesomeness of Portland, but also I never want a moment later in life where I am haunted with the words “What If?”


So, here I am trying out the Northwest. There is so much to do here it is a little overwhelming. There are: so many places to see music, good music, and SO MANY GOOD RESTURANTS (some of you may not know I am little bit of a foodie), and the coolest movie theaters, with $3 movies where you can bring in beer and pizza to the theater and the most outstanding bookstore I have ever seen! The crafting community is amazing here and I’m excited to take my place in it. I see possibility here, even if things look a little dire on the job front. Which, I can’t even say that. Daren has had a sub job everyday this week and have a big ol’ list of jobs to apply to. At this point in my transition to Portland I feel: hopeful, excited and strangely…… comfortable. Even without a couch! Ha ha! Hopefully we will find one this weekend.


Listening to: The symphony of rain on my front windows, and a little Be Good Tanyas in the background.




Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why you ask? Well let Me tell you:

Over the last few weeks a lot of people have asked me why Meghan and I chose to move to Oregon.  It has, of course, made me reflect but also put me a little bit on the defensive, so here goes my manifesto:

The job market in Santa Cruz has not been very lucrative for educational jobs or any other jobs for that matter.  There are industries that are growing in that county, but most of the jobs come from either farming or UCSC, and there aren't enough.  It may be a sign of the times, but Meghan and I were not having much luck.

We did a serious analysis of some Bay Area communities compared to Portland and looked to see what the cost of living was and what kind of community we wanted to live in.  Many of the Bay Area communities were prohibitive because of rent prices and our parents places were less-than-appetizing. (Don't take offense to that mom and dad, you know how it goes)

We found, through the job boards that there was a lot of opportunity in education (my field) and in parks and rec and non-profits (Meg’s field).  So after some call backs, but much difficulty trying to get a job from a city 11 hours away, we decided we’d move up and see if our luck improved.  I was put on a few substitute lists and would hopefully be able to use that to get involved in the local school districts and have some transitional work. 

Meghan and I both decided that our energy would be much better spent paying less rent in the place that we wanted to work and live rather than paying an arm and a leg in place that couldn't support our careers.

Aside from all of that Meghan and I have been flirting with Portland over the last few years.  We have some good friends here who have shown us what an amazing city it is.  Portland has the lowest cost of living than any other city on the west coast and for that reason it draws creative types like us.  It has a vibrant and non-traditional art scene.  The music scene in Portland is the envy of much of the US.  It is one of the most well-educated and well-read cities in the country, along with that is the amazing Powell’s city of books.  It promotes bike usage as a main source of transportation along with public transit; it is possible to be car-less here.  The mountains and forest surround the city on all sides.  Although it lacks some of the Bay Area’s Diversity, it is decidedly a progressive city that encourages thinking and conscious growth.  It is a city, but it is not as gigantic as some of the other cities in the west (pop. 550,000), along with the downtown, it is  a city of neighborhoods and (we hope) community. 

We are young and idealistic and feel like Portland is great match for us both.  In times like these, sometimes we must go out on a limb to succeed and I hope that both of us are able to do that here among our creative, left-wing brethren.  I realize that this transition will not be easy, as people in all states in all cities are dealing with the recession and its repercussions.  There is also the difficulty in changing locales.  We must deal with social changes, geographical changes, and weather changes (read R-A-I-N).  With all of these things hopefully moving in our favor, we hope that Portland allows us to grow and individuals, and as a couple.  We hope that we are able to overcome some of the inescapable difficulties that a recession brings.  We also hope that friends and family of whom we hold so dearly are able to take the time to come visit us (we have  a second bedroom) and help us to explore this new realm.   We also hope you continue to read our blog and share our experience of transitioning to a new city, a new state, and a new life(sort of).

Listening to: some lame new-agey music on the local radio station

Moving to a New Land

Being that it was much more difficult than I thought to leave so many family and friends in the San Francisco bay area and the Monterey bay area, I thought that it might be fun to document our transition from Santa Cruz to Portland through a blog.  It will be a good way for me to reflect on all of the changes that happen and it will be good for people who are close to us to see what we’re up to.

I am still trying to decide if the blog will have a separate address or if I will just use the platform of Lesson Learned.  I will try my best to get Meghan to post a few guest entries as well.  We’ll see how that goes.

I think Ill start with the present and work my way backwards.   There is a ton of great entertainment here, but being that we are not in the most ideal financial situation, we will have to choose wisely.  Today I picked up the Willamette Weekly to see what was going on tonight.  I was surprised to see that a band made up of a few of my favorite musicians was playing downtown.  The band is Monsters of Folk.  Unfortunately we would not be able to both go due to the price.  So we looked a little deeper in the weekly rag and found out that Michael Chabon was reading at Powell’s books. 

Chabon has written a number of books and stories that I have just loved.  He wrote The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay about a Jewish refugee living in New York, The mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, and well the list just goes on and on. 

He was great.  His first story was about the difficulty men have carrying wallets, phones, keys, etc. in their pockets, yet carrying a bag robs them of their manhood.  Although it was focused on the infamous “murse,” it was really an essay about the societal pressures of being a man in a society where masculinity is changing, but only slightly.  We thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to enjoy more from Powell’s.

Prior to our night of entertainment, we’ve really just been adjusting to the move-in and the change that is the Pacific Northwest.  We drove our moving truck over a number of mountains and it took longer than we thought.  Then we arrived and had a hard time remembering what our apartment even looked like.  As it turns out we have a spacious apartment with two bedrooms, room-specific heating, and stylish 70’s brown carpeting.

We haven't really met any neighbors, but our immediate neighbor looked a little scary.  She came out in her bathrobe in the middle of the day to yell at another neighbor. 

It seems that very few people in the complex have cars, probably because they walk everywhere.  We hope to meet them soon.  With the weather as cold as it has been, a BBQ is sort of out of the question.  Maybe we’ll host a pot luck, or maybe we just wont meet them. 

Moving to a new city is always  a bit of a social challenge.

Listening to Bela Fleck Beethoven's 9th symphony

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunrise over an empty ocean-

Fall in Santa Cruz

Early in the morning, when all is quiet on West Cliff Drive, and all one can hear is the lapping of un surfable waves on cliffs is when I feel most at peace.

This morning was absolutely gorgeous. The air was cool from fall slow resurgence on the central coast. But the sun was shining and slowly warming me and all of the early morning revelers. I went to check the surf, and although it was unrideable, the morning was brilliant. I will miss the way the fall and winter bring a magical ocean to my backyard.

There is nothing quite like breathing in the ocean air just after sunrise.