Posts Tagged ‘ public transit ’

Why I Love Living in Portland.

I know it’s old news by now, but I live in Portland. What I may have failed to mention is that I recently moved into Portland itself instead of living out in Lake Oswego, because I like Portland. Therefore, I have compiled a (very short) list of the things that are making me fall in love with this city.
  • The Coffee
As far as I know, most places in the country (and indeed the world) you can get coffee, but in Portland, you can get excellent coffee everywhere. I’m not kidding– everywhere. Even at random little greasy spoon places, if you order a cup of coffee it’ll probably be from Stumptown or Portland Roasting Company. Neither of those are my favorite roasters, but they do a damn fine job compared to the Folgers you’ll get at little places in Central Oregon.
  • The People-Watching and Eavesdropping
A few weeks ago, my sisters and I were walking around SE Portland. It was on that random weekend in April when it was 80 degrees and sunny, and since Jessie had misplaced her sunglasses, she was wearing ski goggles instead. No big deal. All through our walk of a half mile to the clothes store, only one person looked at her weird. Indeed, that guy was the only person who even did a double-take. He must have been from out of town, because he looked like he was either going to fall out of his chair or cry.
But therein lies my point. There are so many weird people here. The people-watching opportunities are endless; and I shan’t go on too long, but the eavesdropping is amazing, too. Just in coffee shops or on the bus I’ve heard so many random conversations, including one guy who was lecturing a stranger on how his crucifix was so much more powerful than his voodoo charms.
  • The Weather
I mentioned before that I think the weather in Central Oregon contributes to the significant writer’s block I have there. Since I grew up with sunshine, I take it for granted. It bores me. Rain, though? I love it. Today was gloomy all day, and as soon as it started pouring rain I breathed a sigh of relief. Call me crazy if you want, but I adore Portland weather.
  • The Public Transit
As much as I love to hate on Trimet, it’s actually really good. Yes, some of the buses come early or late, but they always come. Also, you can’t beat it for people watching and eavesdropping. Sometimes when I’m running low on writing material, I just go take a ride on Trimet, and the people always inspire me somehow. True story.
  • The Pride
I love how stoked Portlanders are just to be in Portland. I like the stickers that say Keep Portland Weird, even though the people who work too hard to be weird annoy me. I love how granola the city is, and how it’s so easy to find local and organic food. It makes my heart content how the church I’ve been to is so focused on being genuine but still proud of being Portlanders. I love living in Portland.
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Inside Voices

Sometimes, the day before I am scheduled to blog, I don’t have ideas. I usually have a few hours of siting staring at my computer screen hopelessly, desperately wishing that I would suddenly be struck with a lightning bolt of inspiration. However, I think some of the least interesting experiences of my life have been provided by the internet, so yesterday I planned to go to the climbing gym.

After inviting my sister along to this rather athletic outing, I rather abruptly changed my plans when she said, “I don’t wanna be inside today.” (she also spotted Waldo driving by, but I’ll leave that story to her.) I realized that being outside in the park with her and her fiance was a grand idea, so I switched into normal clothes and trucked down to the bus stop, worried that I might miss my bus.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

When I boarded 35, I was surprised to hear several raised voices on the normally quiet bus, and as I walked toward my typical destination of the back, I quickly veered off course when I spotted the sources of the voices.

Filling up most of the back section was 7 or 8 frat boys, sprawled around, passing a can of Monster Energy drink.

At first, their shouts of “We’re in Lake Oswego now!” and “That’s a big-ass house!” (Big ass-house, I thought,) annoyed me a lot. Then, I realized they were very much the opposite of clever and witty, and I find idiots to be amusing. And that’s when I started taking notes of their conversation. (Really kind of creepy of me, I know, but how else am I supposed to write entertaining blogs?)

Their shouts appeared to terrify the small children near the front of the bus, and they and their father escaped at the LO transit center. “And they flee!” I wrote, “I don’t blame ’em.”

We left LO and headed down highway 43, along the Willamette. One of the frat boys exclaimed something about the country club across the river being a house. “That’s not no house,” one of them said, and I wrote it down because I admittedly  judge people with grammar that horrible.

Then their conversation shifted from speculating on the surroundings (“They build fences so you can’t even see how rich they are from the road,” “They’d just slap handcuffs on you as soon as you step in the yard,” “Smell that river dude, it’s like a big cesspool,”) to tattoos.

One of the guys thought one of the other guys should get a Monster logo tattooed on his ribs, like it was being torn away. “The Monster symbol? I would never get that on me, never,” exclaimed the tattooee in question, and took a deep swig from the shared Monster can.

Then their conversation moved to who could “smoke” whom in foot races and/or who could do more pushups (“I was a runningback for six years!” “I could smoke anyone in this bus.”)

“This is the dumbest conversation I’ve ever heard,” I wrote, “I have such difficulty not laughing at stupid people.”

A lady boarded the bus about ten minutes away from downtown and sat two rows in front of me. The frat boys were, throughout the ride, cursing loudly and profusely, and no-one seemed to notice. It’s something you just learn to tolerate riding public transit in Portland– unless, of course, you’re this lady in question.

She seemed immune to most curses, but every time the frat boys would drop an f-bomb, she would whirl around, with a look on her face something like this.

I seriously never have seen anyone in my life whose eyebrows or the corners of her mouth have been forced into such angry positions.

She was so angry. I stifled so many bursts of laughter. One man a row ahead of me, at one point, turned around, observed the frat boys in the midst of a particularly heated exchange, then turned to the front again, laughing out loud. That man was awesome.

About two minutes before 35’s penultimate stop downtown, one of the frat boys finally noticed Angry Lady’s infuriated glares, and said to his companions, “Dudes, inside voices.”

“Why?” one of them veritably shouted in reply, “Because,” the first frat boy uttered in a hushed and urgent voice, “I think we just pissed off that lady.”

For the remaining moments, they were slightly more silent, but burst into their loudness once again as they disembarked at the same stop as me, bee-lining across the street to the McDonald’s.

I sat on the curb, furiously scribbling other snippets of their conversations and drafting this blog; I was just relieved that they didn’t get on my next bus.

 

The Journal, Stranger Repellent

Since I’ve been living in Lake Oswego, I’ve been riding public transit more and more. This is fine with me–  Trimet does well getting me to the few destinations I pursue that I can’t access on my feet or scooter.

Riding at night, however, is another matter entirely. I have yet to brave Trimet after dark. I’m not sure my reasoning is rational, but I just have a gut feeling that creepers are more prone to blatant creepage after the sun has gone down. A few weeks ago I posted a status on Facebook whining about this fact. My friend Andrew Gross had a great piece of wisdom– he suggested that the key to bus safety was to be the guy that no-one sits next to.

“Brilliant!” I thought, “I’ll grow a nasty beard!”

Jests ensued, including the suggestions that I stop bathing and let my hair revert to dreadlocks, or wear this in lieu of the beard I cannot grow.

Today though,  I made a startling discovery.

As I rode the 35 into downtown, I cradled my moleskine journal in my lap, drafting a blog which I may or may not write on Wednesday.

I wrote vigorously as the thoughts freed themselves from my brain through the escape route of my pen. Every few sentences I looked up from my black and white world to observe the people who came and went from the bus, as is my habit. Also by habit, I moved my purse from the seat next to me to the floor as the bus began to fill.

However full the bus got, though, no-one took the seat next to me. The young man across the aisle stole furtive glances in my direction.

Suddenly intrigued by the empty seat beside me, I watched the next batch of passengers board. A few people walked my way, toward the back of the bus. Each of them glanced at the notes in my lap and chose a seat somewhere else. I’m sure I imagined it, but they seemed nervous.

I smiled to myself, then picked up the offending book and scrawled (for I do scrawl) a few more sentences cursing daylight savings time (for there were four people napping on the bus today as opposed to the usual none.)

It may have been my admittedly slightly hipsterific attire, or the admitted pretentious attitude known to go along with Moleskine notebooks (don’t judge me, they’re so awesome,) or maybe today was just a lucky day.

But I like to think that people assumed I would write judgmental things about them if they sat next to me. (Which I might.)

The judgmental look on my face isn’t on purpose, though.

Also included in the strenuous drawing is ugly bus seats!

As long as the people sitting behind me don’t read over my shoulder, I should be good to go.

 

Fish out of Water, or the Lost Bethany Chronicles.

I admit right now, I’ve been putting off writing this blog for about the last three weeks. I wanted to wait until interesting things happened to me after the move before I wrote.

Well, interesting things have certainly happened.

The first thing that happened to me when  I moved to Portland was a raging ear infection, which led to a ruptured ear drum and temporary hearing loss. Literally the first thing that happened to me. Not even exaggerating.

So if day 1 was moving in, day 1 also consisted of a fever and overwhelming ear pain. Day 2 consisted of growing ear pain, a runny ear, and finally visits first to urgent care and then to the emergency room, where the doctor was a buttface mcStinker.

Anyway, I received antibiotics and eventually got better.

My next grand adventure involved Trimet, Portland’s bus system.

Trimet does have a trip planner on their website, and Google maps is helpful. But even the map isn’t all that  helpful when it looks something like this.

So anyway, the first time I decided to ride the bus into town to my sister’s house, it was quite the adventure. Since  I’m out in Lake Oswego, there is a limited number of bus stops within reasonable walking distance of me.

First, I couldn’t find my stop. I attempted to follow my faulty GPS, but it led me asunder–  I ended up scrambling down the side of a hill to a trail I spotted underneath a bridge. It was, at best, sketchy. However, the trail led me into a pleasant park, wherein I discovered that I was farther than ever from my destination.  After walking at least three miles out of my way, I finally made it to my stop, which was, as it so happened, only about a ten minute walk away from my house. I was not full of joy.

The bus arrived about 20 minutes after  I did, and I boarded, relieved. “The hardest part is over,” I thought. I deposited my handful of change into the thingy. The bus lurched away from the stop while I cleared a jam of quarters, and I nearly lost my footing. Seizing a bright yellow bar, I managed to not fall over, and haphazardly made my way toward the back of the bus.

At the front and top was an LED sign accompanied by a computerized voice announcing upcoming stops. I put away my phone, confident that I would hear my stop when it approached.

I rode for a while, observing people come and go with greater frequency as we approached Portland State University. I looked around as we went through downtown. I finally realized as we drove away from downtown and into an area that seemed oddly industrial that not only had I missed my stop, but I missed the entire area where I was meant to disembark and transfer buses.

Seized by uncertainty, I sat.

I rode around for another 45 minutes, waiting until we got to a decent-looking residential area before I got off the bus. I googled quickly as I walked, attempting to find out which bus stop would take me back to Hawthorne.

I must have looked quite interesting to the people in the yards, enjoying the sunshine, as I power-walked by, glaring at my phone indignantly.

Finally I reached the stop that would take me where I wanted to be. I checked the stop ID– it was off by one digit. A bus was coming up on the other side of the street. I ran to the crosswalk and across the street, in front of the paused bus. Out of breath, I boarded, carelessly pulling dollars out of my wallet and inserting them into the cash thing.

I again aimed for the back of the bus. While I rode back, a couple behind me talked loudly about how they were about to go smoke a joint, a kid got yelled at by the bus driver for not having his fare ready to go, and a girl looked at me as if she thought I was a rapist.

Whatever.

Forty-five minutes later, I leapt off the bus as the intercom announced Hawthorne avenue. Not wanting to bother with another bus, I walked the remaining distance to my sister’s house.

And that was just the first time I got lost.

This post ended up being longer than I anticipated, so coming Sunday– the Lost Bethany Chronicles, Part 2.

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