Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Worm Rescue

(this was an assignment for a writing class where I had to incorporate every tense) 

I try not to drive; instead, I walk. When I do, I notice things I never would have taken in if I were driving in a car or even if I had been riding my bike. But now, I see flowers. I notice signs and details. I hear quiet, even on our city streets. Most significantly; I think.

A few weeks ago, when the weather was still rainy, I saw a worm writhing in a puddle. I walked past, thinking it sad. Normally, I would walk on. And, at first, I did. But I couldn’t quite let go of the image and with each step, I felt guilty.

My son, four, is an animal rescuer. At his young age, his biggest opportunity for rescuing animal is when worms are trapped in puddles after a rainstorm. It once took us twenty minutes to walk three blocks to his daycare because he had to stop to rescue every worm, and there were at least twenty that day.

It was as if he was reminding me of this kindness when I came across this worm. Yes, I could walk on, or, I could, instead, choose kindness. No witnesses, no bigger meaning, just simple kindness. And choosing kindness felt to be a small triumph.

               I have been walking for a while now. I will have been walking regularly for at least six months. I will have walked at least a hundred miles by the end of summer. I will drive again, it’s inevitable. But, I am looking now. I will know that when I was walking, I was happier.  I will be able to say, “I have walked.” Because I had walked in both the rain and sunshine, I will have known that it wasn’t a phase.

             Perhaps I had been walking as a way to stay present. Perhaps, it was a way to stay connected. But, no matter what, I will be walking. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bumming Rides

Just when I thought I was going to get back on track ... spring break happens.

There have been camps and since I'm close to the camp, it only made sense for me to drive them. At least we did carpool with another family and I do want to do more of that. 

The thing is, because we do all have our own cars, we don't realize how ridiculous it is to all take our own cars separately when we are just blocks away from each other and CAN carpool. Again, I won't ask for rides it's if out of someone's way (because then it defeats the purpose of not taking the car), but if it is on their way, and they're driving anyway, then it's fine with me.

And it made me realize just how often we're all driving separately...together. Yes, having your car means you CAN change your mind and go somewhere else, or stop somewhere on the way. But most of the time you really don't need to.

So far the big obstacles I've come across when it comes to going carless have to do with the kids. There's T-ball that's a couple miles away and it crosses over Dane's schedule for his martial art class. I tried to get it coordinated so we don't have to take two cars, but haven't been able to manage it. Then I thought - Quinn has four or five classmate that go to T-Ball. Since they're classmate, they all live really close by. I don't imagine any of them being put out by having to give us a ride.

But when I mentioned that to Dane, he commented, "then you always be that person bumming rides." Better than bumming cigarettes, I thought. I don't see the issue.

Then I realized that was the issue. I can't do this alone. Dane has to be as invested as I am. He has to be willing to make the same sacrifices. And, although he's supportive in theory, I feel it's sort of "done" with it by now. It's fine being stoic on my own and being independent on my own, but I can't with kids. It's a partnership and it's agreement.

So now I have to figure out how to get back on track, and how to get Dane on track with me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Week Without - PART 2

Having the two cars let us all go to Quinn's T-ball practice. Dane was able to take off from there for his class.

It was a very different experience to have the car being on my own with the boys. It let me be more spontaneous. I don't know if that's the right word, I actually feel more spontaneous / less tied down when I don't have a car. But, it allowed us to be less planful.

We were able to go right from T-ball to the wilderness camp open house (which we wouldn't have been able to do if I didn't have the car). Reed started to meltdown at the open house so we were able to leave right then and there (another benefit of the car is having it when there are meltdowns).

After the weekend, there was the matter of the lost bus-pass. Luckily, as we live in Portland, some nice person found it at the bus-stop, went through the trouble of looking me up in the PSU directory (since the bus-pass is on my PSU ID and let me know she had it). So Dane picked it up for me and I got it - and then proceeded to lose it in the house somewhere.

So last week I drove the car to work. I called it an experiment - seeing what it was like with the car again after having time away from it. And, yes, it did help that it was cold and wet and hailing and raining and snowing and miserable all week.

So what did I learn having the car? It lets me be lazier. I can run late and still get there in time if I take the car. If I'm running late and I'm taking the bus, I'm held accountable. For some strange reason, I like that. Also, I don't think about where I'm going or what I'm doing, I just do it. For some reason, I don't really like that either. I like the purposefulness of knowing how I'm going to get somewhere. It proves to me that it's worth going to.

But it also made me realize, that without the car, all the responsibility for the kids goes to Dane. Even if I'm helping getting them ready / get them out the door, he's stuck with picking them up. When I had the car, he could go to the gym and I would be the one to pick up the kids. I could offer. Now if I pick up the kids on the bus, I have to know ahead of time so I can plan for it. So me being carless puts a lot of pressure on Dane. He's been fine with it, but he didn't really sign up for it, just got stuck with it, so I don't feel so great about that. He's supportive, but to a point.

One of Dane's best talents is his ability to find things that I lose and on Friday he found my lost ID / bus-pass (that was in the backpack I looked through twice), so now I'm back on the lightrail track and off the wagon. And just in time, it's cherry blossom season and the path to carlessness is lined with cherry blossoms. Last year, I started riding my bike to work a week too late - all the cherry blossoms along waterfront park has dropped their flowers. It's only a few weeks that we have this time, and this time I'm not going to miss it.

A Week Without - PART 1

I took a week off from being carless. Yes, it happened to be during the worst weather of the year, but that's not why I did it, I just got lucky that way.

First I dropped my bus pass at the bus stop while taking Quinn to school on the bus. I had to pay cash for the trip, and I was short a dime, but the bus driver let me go (they always do). It was an exciting ride, in that we were watching the clock to see if we would make it to school in time. We got there just two minutes before the final bell, which turns out to be plenty of time when you don't need to find parking and the bus drops you off right at the corner of the entrance and then stops traffic so you can cross the street.

But, I mean, think about. Really, think about it. Think about the difference of your state of mind when you start your day out with fun, friendly and easy vs. being in the car, finding parking, running up to the school. It just friendlier taking the bus. Even the worry of not getting there in time is lessened on the bus, because then it's out of your hands. Same thing with going downtown or to the zoo. It's such a less stressful thing when you don't have to deal with parking. You get out of the max, and voila! there you are at the entrance. Lovely.

That weekend was Quinn's first T-ball practice at a school that's just over two miles away. I had spent the past couple days trying to figure out how to get Quinn to T-ball while Dane had his martial arts class and it just wasn't working out. We couldn't do both. We could take the van and Dane could take the bus to his martial arts class, but then he would miss all of t-ball. If we took two cars, we could do both. So while I was trying to sort out carpooling, or complicated bus routes so that Dane could get to the end of practice, Dane finally lost his patience with it and pointed out we still actually have two cars and can use them.

So I gave in. It was true. I do still have the two cars, and it's still just an experiment, I don't have to not use the car. But I didn't want to. And once you're off the wagon (or, in this case, back in the wagon that is the subaru outback), it's hard to get back on the lightrail track. And that was the start of the week without... (well, with, the car).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DANGER! Don't Text and Walk

Walking home in the cold sunshine that's so unusual for Portland, I heard the family "ding" that my phone gives me when a text comes in. I reflexively pulled my phone out of my inside jacket pocket and looked at it while crossing the street. Reading the text, I didn't see the curb coming up on me and went spat onto the pavement, phone skipping across the sidewalk so I could brace myself with my hands. Naturally, there was a car pulling up to the intersection as I did my performance, so I had to scurry getting up so I didn't have a nice Portlander asking if I was okay. As I got up and dusted myself off, the car slowly went on its way, and I kept my gaze down.

As I walked along with my scraped knee, skinned palm and bruised ego, I found I wasn't angry at myself for being stupid enough to read a text as I crossed the street, but at the texter. Or, more accurately, at the ghost in the machine that is the text itself.

There is something inherently rude about a text. A text interrupts whatever you are doing with, "HEY...THIS IS IMPORTANT!" though it usually isn't. I absolutely love texting for making plans, sending a quick update, or communicating with spouse while in a meeting. But, when I get a text that isn't something I need to check on immediately, I just feel...interrupted.

We all know addictive texters. I've had to ban my best friend from texting during dinner at our house. Some people seem to love the continual chime of, "HEY..." but not me. I want it to go away. At least during my walks. It's my thinking time. I don't want to be dinged in the middle of an almost revelation. I want the focus.

From now on, I'm silencing my phone and checking my texts only a couple times a day (which my friends will be surprised that I do it even that often. I'll hear the chime, think I'll go check the text after whatever I'm doing, and then forget about it). But between emails, voicemails, skype, texts, phone, I'm communicated out.

I miss letters. Real letters. On stationary, with handwriting. It's so rare now and I imagine a lot of young adults may have never gotten a real letter in their lives. But when I was fresh out of college and moved across the country, there were still some friends I would write to. I would literally take a whole evening to write a letter - about my thoughts and observations. Oh, guess kind of like the blog, huh?

The best part of this, is the irony. What do you think I'm doing as I'm writing this? Texting back and forth with my husband, Dane, about an owl. My son's kindergarten teacher sent us a link they're watching in school of a mother owl and her hatching eggs. She sleeps most of the time, and the newly hatched chick is god-ugly, but it's riveting to watch this new life, this other creature family and what their day is like.

I watch the mom on her eggs, sleeping so much of the time, and am sympathetic to how tired I was that far along in my pregnancy and how real nesting becomes even though we're different animals. The father came in, dropped off the day's kill as if it were a child support check, and then left again, (probably headed to the bar, Dane texted).

So, whatever, what do I know? It's love / hate. When it works for me, I love it. But when it makes me fall on my face - not so much.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Crazy Syncronicity

I came across this today after writing my "focus on art and writing" (goal) blog. Couldn't be more perfect!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Consequence of Setting Goals

Sticking to the goals is something that my boss taught me. He is a teacher, after all. Well, not taught me, exactly. I've done the 7 Habits, I know about setting goals. I've just never been really good at sticking to it. I get distracted. I make too many goals, or start off in a different direction. It's hard for me to stay constant on one path.

But every week when I meet with my boss, our top five agenda items are the goals he set for himself this year (oops, I guess I should be doing that with my staff too. But that would mean actually writing out the goals that we set at our retreat, which is one of my goals, so it comes full circle).

One day a couple months back, I was taking a long walk, and was reflecting on my workday. I had a great day - I was working on stuff that was totally not important for "work." I was designing plexi-glass panels for the laser-cutter, and I realized that when I do that - when I focus on what I like to do, even when it's not "important" - it tends to have a positive impact and, usually, I get rewarded for it.

That's one of the things I love about being carless. I walk. When I walk, I think. When I actually have the time and space to think, I realize things.

What I realized, is that maybe the "other" stuff that I do, when I'm supposed to be working, is what I'm actually supposed to be doing for work. Stick with me a moment. I'm supposed to do the accounting and financial tracking for my work. But, I'm also in charge of branding and space and design, even though they're not really part of my job (but my boss knows I'm capable and wants that for the department, so he asks me for it too.)

When I'm doing that work (that's not really necessarily "necessary"), I'm energized, and it rubs off on the rest of the team. When we're energized, we have more ideas. When we have more ideas, things develop. It might not have been what was on our, "to do list," but our excitement and passion and talent makes it successful and so it is then appreciated.

What am I talking about, you ask? A room. A silly room. It's not important to the grand scheme of things. One day, while walking around with the boss, we decided to take a space that was being occupied by cubicles and break down the walls and make it into a lounge space instead.

For some reason, facilities was more on top of things than usual and was ready to paint. We had to decide on a color. I saw great colors in another building on campus so the whole staff got up, closed up the office, and headed over to the other side of campus to check out Lincoln Hall to see the "orange" I was talking about.

We stopped at the facilities office along the way and discovered that although orange used to be one of the choices, it was no longer an option because it was too associated with another school (that have Beavers as a mascot). But, our student worker, Adrian, saw a deep red they had in Lincoln Hall and thought that would be good for the room. So we went with that.

I wanted to use the "whiteboard wallpaper" that we had bought and wrap the walls. It would tone down the red and make the space interesting. One of the researchers donated furniture. The new staff guy mentioned having little tables mounted to the wall. One of the other staffers then picked up little doors from IKEA to use as tables, but we had to put in something where the recesses in were so that it was smooth. The carpenter (who put up the whiteboard wallpaper) scored us some "extra" plexiglass from the shop and cut it to shape for us. Our lab manager dubbed it "20Lounge," like, "30-rock" he said, and he, being a real-true engineer, could use the nifty laser-cutter we have to carve drawings I make into the plexi-glass.

During our staff meetings, we would meet in the evolving "20Lounge" and came to realize it was becoming an awesome space. We all contributed ideas, we all went with our instincts even if they didn't seem practical (red walls, doors as tables, wallpaper for whiteboard), and it turned out great.

It made me realize that's what I want to do for work. I don't know what "that" is exactly. But, it's creative, it's inspired, it's being goofy and instinctual and going with it, and inspiring the rest of the team to do likewise. I'm good at that - whatever "that" is. Now I just have to figure out what kind of job that actually is.

As I walked and reflected on the day, I realized I would no longer disregard "that" as unimportant. I was going to make "that" a priority. The closest I could come to naming it was "art and writing." From now on, my focus would be in art and writing (with creativity and humor). Even if I had skills and interests and was being drawn into other areas (my distractions) I would keep focus. In the same way my boss would evaluate how to spend his time and check to see if they were part of his "goals." I would check what I was focusing on at work and see if it met "art and writing."

That didn't mean I wouldn't do the "real" parts of my job. Those are necessary and unavoidable. But, when given a choice, when given time, I would choose to focus on creativity.

What this ended up resulting in, is me quitting my job. Not my real job, but my extra job. I wrote about it in my other blog, "ReunionEyes" because I discovered that I actually followed through with it. I made writing a priority. So, unwittingly, the example my boss set in goal-setting resulted in me stopping my work with him. At least on that project.

I wonder where the goals will lead next.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The expense of time

My husband, Dane can't imagine taking public transportation downtown to his martial arts class twice a week. The cost would be about the same - $4 parking, figure another dollar or two for gas (it's only five miles or so). Trimet is $2.40 each way. But, it turns out the time is the difference.

He's been super-supportive of my somewhat random decision to stop driving and has been helpful in trying to adhere to my self-imposed rules (only one car in use, not driving out of the way to drop me off somewhere, walking if there's time, not driving if it's not necessary). And he allows me the time to do it. It seems crazy to say he allows me the time, but it's a big difference when there are two kids that need dropping off and picking up and so on.

I've been trying to gently ease him into going along with these things with me. We had a surprise date a couple nights ago (my fabulous friend Felim stopped by around dinner time and offered for us to go out while he put the kids to bed). Dane and I walked to the bar rather than driving, which is what he would typically do. And, really, once you start walking, you realize how ridiculous the habit of driving has become. The bar that's our "local" is only seven blocks away. It seems obscene to drive there, even in the worst weather, but you just get in the habit.

The one thing that's been hard for him to break is the twice a week he goes to his martial arts class downtown. While the cost is about the same, the time is at least a half hour extra each way (45 minutes vs. 15). And, at night, vs. rush hours, if you miss your bus, you're waiting awhile. For him the difference of getting home at 9:30pm vs. 10:15pm is the difference between having time to have a snack and watch a show and relax vs. just getting ready for bed.

But for me, it's the difference of 45 minutes that I get to enjoy vs. 15 minutes I really, honestly, don't enjoy at all. I'm okay with getting home late if I'm enjoying my time getting home. I don't see it as "commuting" time, like I did when I was driving. To me that was time wasted out of my life, taken away, spent doing something I hated (being stuck in traffic). Now, instead, it's like getting gifted with 45 minutes of free time. I can read, write, work, knit. No possible demands during that time (I won't talk on the phone except quick conversations to make plans), no one competing for my time.

Maybe that's part of what's gotten me into making bread lately. I like it specifically because it takes so much time. I like having to work at it for fifteen minutes, and then let it rest for a couple hours. Work it for another five minutes and lest it rest again. Come back and let it have it's final rise. There's something satisfying in it taking so long, as long as 24 hours if you really want it to be the best it can be.

And, really, that's the difference in time isn't it? You can do something quick, but it won't be as good, or you won't enjoy it, and then what's the point? Somehow doing things that are taking me longer time feels like I'm getting more time, instead of losing it. So, for all it's worth, I'll take the time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Change of perspective

The weather was beautiful all week, and I was stuck with a cold. A perfect week to ride my bike or just walk, and any effort that was more than slugging up a block was too draining. Still, it was an easy adjustment - all bussing rather than walking. But, when it came to the weekend and we were due at my friend, Katie's house who lives less than a mile from us (probably only 15 blocks max), I had to ride bikes with my 5 year old.

He was awesome. Though he hasn't ridden in a while during these winter months, he still rides perfectly after just having learned to ride without training wheels this last summer. He handled the hills that I had feared without issue. It's one of my favorite activities to do with him. Though I have to say, now that he's getting older, there are so many activities I love doing with him - drawing, hiking, playing chess, reading Harry Potter. And, I'm able to write how much I love him because I am also able to go out to the wine bar to write for the night!

What struck me about the bike ride, was that I had never realized how close I really live to Katie. And I realized my perspective of distance is totally different as an adult vs. as it was when I was a kid and rode my bike everywhere, and it was the opposite of what I expected.

As a kid, a bike is one of the first significant freedoms after being allowed / old enough to cross the street by yourself. Suddenly, you're able to go wherever you want, some trips just take longer. So distance was not really an issue. Just about everyone I knew in the world was in biking distance (and a lot were in walking distance). As my circle of friends grew, my riding distance grew without much notice.

Also, things that I consider significant issues now - steep hills, busy intersections, were nothing to me then. I rode at the bottom of a really steep hill, so wherever I went, it meant riding uphill before I got anywhere. But, since I wanted to get places, it wasn't an issue. It was just a hill.
Riding my bike to my friend’s house and seeing just how close it really is by bike, made me feel really silly that I ever drive there. I looked back on all the  I drove to by default, because they seemed just far enough to be able to justify driving. Now they seem silly.

It made me realize how much of life is defined by how we travel it. We have created rules to  how much we drive - having groceries, having your gym bag, needing to pick up the kids, not knowing where you'll be meeting someone. Even something that's so engrained in my psyche like, "women can't walk late at night" seems like an utterly silly rule after doing it for a while (after all, the neighborhoods I'm walking in aren't like the ones I grew up in in Jersey - though then I rode my bike past the Projects and hooting men without a second thought).

And I realized, I like life a lot better when I feel so a part of my surroundings. I have a sense of belonging that leaves us when we take to a car and suddenly can drive wherever we want. The same freedom that gives me such a feeling of belonging on a bike leaves me feeling detached and alone in a car - I can just drive around and be totally isolated the whole time. Walking or riding a bike is the opposite - you're a part of your surroundings, and that changes your perspective.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Driving Days

I had two screw-ups this week - one because I left my cell phone at work, and one because I missed the damn bus - two of them - with a three year old in tow on a snow-day where I was already two hours late to work. So, all in all, I maybe drove three miles this week?

And all the walking has me losing weight, and having lots of time to think,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Week One without Car

So it didn't all go smoothly, but I feel it all went well.

It started last week. I meant to write about Reunion, but my walk to the wine bar (where I write), and earlier walks that day had me so inspired that I decided to give up my car then and there. I was free! I wrote about it on my Reunioneyes blog.

I decided would go without driving (in our two-car family) for six months and if all went well, I would sell the car and we would go from being a 2-car family to one car and me mostly biking, bussing or walking. Here how week one went:

Thursday nights I go to my friend's house to watch Grey's Anatomy (I know, I know - it's a terrible show. I got hooked on it just after I had Reed and he would be awake for hours in the middle of the night - I would rent Grey's and watch them one after the other to keep me going while Reed nursed or blobbed around on the floor, just being awake. Besides, it's really just an excuse to get together and drink wine and chat). My friend, Katie, only lives a half-mile away, and I really don't have a problem walking in my neighborhood at night, so I figured I'd walk.

Only Dane was taking the boys to a hockey game and they were going to take Max, so I figured I'd drop them off, take the car and then pick them up when they were done. My rule is the family only uses one car, and doesn't drive needlessly. This seemed like a good try. It was a good lesson learned because when we got to the max stop, there was plenty of parking and my taking them wasn't necessary. I was going to take the max back and leave the car there, but I forgot my pass. Lesson learned.

Bussed it to work and back. It was fine, but I have a tendency to miss my bus. If I know the bus is going to arrive in 10 minutes, I leave the house in 10 minutes and miss the bus. But, I got a lot of good walking in, and it doesn't really matter if I'm late to work. And it gives me time - time to think, relax, and just walk. I decided that rather than trying to time myself to leave when the bus was supposed to come, I would leave when I was ready and see what bus was coming. If no bus would be coming within a few minutes, I'd just walk instead. That decision has led to probably 10 - 15 miles that I've walked this past week! I'm sure to a runner that's nothing, but to me, who wasn't walking or doing anything special for exercise lately, it is awesome.

Dane had martial arts class, so I was with the boys. We talked about going to the library, but just hung out and had friends over that night.

I had to work, and rode the bus in when usually I would drive. Dane went with the boys to see his mom at the hospital and came back in time for to get Reed to a birthday party and Quinn to the rock gym. I met them at the gym (from the bus) and Dane took Reed on to the party. Quinn was a super-star climber, and then he and I tried to take the bus home - but missed the first one and the second one drove right past us. Dane called when he was coming back from the party and just swooped us up. Another lesson learned - make yourself REALLY obvious at the busstop.

Worked late, really late. 9:30pmish. Spreadsheets, which suck, but it's part of my job and had to get done. I left and went to text when the next bus time was, but my phone was dead. A bus came so I hopped on and took it to downtown center (Pioneer Courthouse Square). I saw the max coming so I jumped off and ran for the max and made it just in time. I settled in and did my knitting. I noticed there were streets and shops I hadn't noticed on the ride before. Oops - got on the wrong max. In my rush I wasn't looking. And, unfortunately, it's the max to a sketchy part of town, as far as that goes in Portland. And it was pouring rain.

I got off of the wrong max amide lots of neon (The Alabi tiki lounge area). I thought there would be a bus line there that would get me home, but that far north the street wasn't a main street anymore (Prescott). So I checked the max back - 16 minutes. Bummer. So I walked, in the rain, to the next stop and checked out the seedy motels and bars along the way. I put it in perspective - the kids were in bed by then, all I would be doing when I got home was watch TV, so this was fine.

I got the max back to the next transit center, only the max changed from yellow to blue along the way. I thought it would be going downtown, so I got off, only to realize it was going east to my stop. Too late, I was already off. So i went to see if a bus was nearby - no, taking off as I got to it. The next max wasn't supposed to be there for a half hour so I didn't know what to do, but then a max came and i had to run for it. Got home around 11pm.

The crazy thing is, that even though it wasn't a great night, it felt like an adventure. I had no phone to call anyone, nothing to do but figure out my own way. It was energizing. As a mom with a stable job and a stable home, it was actually kind of exciting. Sad, I know, but I'll take whatever excitement I can!

Walk, bus; bus, home.

Wednesday, today:
I missed my bus so walked to the max. On the way, I noticed one of the nice houses in the neighborhood which had the "I am the 99%" sign out front - it was the second one I noticed in that "nice" neighborhood. Although my initial reaction to those signs was a harumph - these people weren't suffering - I got their point. Even though they're doing decently well, they're still not rich and that the "rich" and so far beyond that it's crazy. There was a woman coming out of the sign house and she looked at me, smiled, and said, "I'll walk with you!" No, I didn't know her from Adam and that's one of the many many things I do love about Portland.

We walked together about eight blocks and chatted about her sons, and my sons, peace corps, engineering, working and school and figuring out life. Then she went to the gym and I went to the max.

When I got to the max, I realized I, once again, forgot my badge with my transit pass, but since I live one stop away from the free rail zone, I risked it. Dane brought it downtown for his meeting, took me to my meeting and the rest was just like last week - wandering to pick up Quinn from school, but this time with the end in mind.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Carefree Carlessness

My first post on Carless Commuting first appeared in my adoptee blog, Reunioneyes. I'm moving it here to keep it better organized...

Walking, biking, busing; anything but driving. After eleven years driving in hell-traffic to-and-from Beaverton for my job at Nike, I just can't do it anymore. I don't want to drive. Anywhere.

Soon after I got the job at PSU, I got a bus-pass and left driving to-and-from work behind. I enjoyed it. It took away some of the stress of being late (which I usually am) because once I got to the bus-stop, time was out of my control. All of a sudden, I had a full-hour a day to do what I wanted - knit, read, journal, work, whatever.

Once we changed our schedules to try to pick up the kids after school, I had to go back to driving to work after a year of being away from it. I felt ridiculous for how much I hated it. Aside from being expensive to park downtown, it was stressful and boring at the same time and I just hated it. No longer free to bike, hop from train to bus or, having missed my bus, walk, I was contemptuously confined.

Now that the boys are back in full-time, I'm free. I turned in my parking permit and got my transit pass back, and cheered in the PSU transportation office when I did it. Today, I was back to my completely unpredictable, free, un-routine routine. I got the kids organized and ready to leave and then left Dane to drive them to school while I walked around the corner to the bus. I got to work late, but that's okay.

This afternoon, I realized I had an appointment at 4pm, but I only had to leave five minutes earlier than when I was driving to get there in time. I didn't know what I was going to do after my appointment - I had planned to go back to work, either at a coffeeshop or at work itself - but by then I didn't feel like it. So, I wandered. As I wandered, I realized I was on the street of Quinn's school (albeit a mile south), so I just kept wandering there and surprised him by picking him up. After a couple blocks walking, he was tired, so I texted the bus and found out it was coming in two minutes and voila - we were home. By the time I got home, I was more driving if I can help it.

I live in Portland. I don't need to drive. I really don't. Almost all the places I need to go to I can get to, easily. And I can use a zip-car when I need one. I had gotten all jazzed about being car-less last summer, but my friends reminded me it was summer after-all. So I figure I'll try it for six months of Winter (because, in Portland, January through June is really all the same season chilly wet season of Winter) and if I can be carless during that time, I will sell the Subaru and we can go to being a one-car family.

Tonight, I walked to my writing-date (which I often do anyway). In total, I've walked almost three miles today, LOVING it (rain and all) and only added maybe a half-hour to my over-all commuting time. Meanwhile, I got to share my love of carlessness with my son (who shares my enthusiasm for public transportation and enjoys "bus-surfing" - balancing hands-free standing in the bus, which I probably should discourage but instead coach him on best practices-feet shoulder-width apart, one in front of the other, hands at the ready for a jolt...).

I had so many revelations during the walking:
  • I never want to drive unnecessarily again
  • Even if  were rich, I wouldn't want a big, fancy house - it would be too much pressure, and I already can't keep up with the Joneses. 
  • I love that Portland is more focused on being outdoorsy than by how you look. I am prioritizing my wardrobe by what is comfortable to wear walking / biking in rain rather than what is good for work. 
  • I figured out what everyone on my staff should do with their lives.
  • I figured out what I should do with my life:
    • I want to spend as much time as possible on art and writing while being able to support my family. This actually helps me prioritize work immensely. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful boss who appreciates my talents. I am more fortunate that he values my art and writing over my operations and business skills and is willing to let me delegate the things I don't want in my life to others. So, if I purposely focus on art and writing, I can delegate, or let slide, the other things that aren't as priority to me. It also helps my career planning - focus on art and writing and hope for the best. I can make a good enough living with the skills I have. Focus on what I love and fuck the rest. 
    • This gave me the inspiration to write out my perfect job scenario. I would love to stay with PSU. I love the schedule, the flexibility, the focus on growth and education, the anti-stress (I stress myself by my corporate training, not by the work-schedule). It would be doing communications, design and operations for the college as a director and make significantly more money than I do now (but with all the time-off and laid-backedness as I have now). So, I'm going to propose what I would love to have to the Dean and just let him know, if it ever comes up, that that's what I'm good at and what I'd like to do, and if he'd like me to do it - here I am. And see if he has any advice on how to position myself for it. 
    • In the meantime, no worries, just keep going with the the focus on art, writing, and operations and see what appears in the horizon as I go (this came up because we have an employee that we love and we are trying to mold the position around what she wants. She doesn't know exactly what she wants, so we mold as we go. It got me thinking that I should do that for myself - put out to the universe what would be my best-case scenario and let everyone know...and see what happens). 
We'll see how it goes, but I'm eager and excited to be on a new track - whether it be by bus, bike or bipedal or by the thoughts that are inspired by the wandering.