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.

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