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!