Posts Tagged ‘ travel ’

Living vs. Vicariously

Before I start making points, I’d like to make one thing absolutely clear: I’m writing about this topic because it’s something I’m working on being better at, not because I have anything figured out and want to sit up on my high horse coaching you peasants how to live.

Good? Good.

I write a few weeks ago about how I seem to have a certain quota of input that I can handle before I cross the line from inspiration to discouragement.

In that post, I make the point that spending too much time online leads to me never creating things.

I’ve been spending a lot of time plugged in lately, and while I wouldn’t describe my creativity as at an all-time low, it’s definitely suffering.

And the lack of productivity frustrates me, so I look to the internet for inspiration, still finding none, perpetuating the loop.

However, I find that as soon as I get offline my brain wakes back up. It may take a few hours, but the longer I spend unplugged the more I find I have things to say (that aren’t just the petulant whining that I catch myself defaulting to after a particularly un-creative spell.)

When I unplug, I’m more observant. I remember more. I glean more meaning from the books I’m reading when I’m not constantly interrupting myself to check Facebook or Tumblr.

I always get so angry at people who interrupt me while I’m reading, and yet I interrupt myself all the time. It’s stupid.

The longer I stay unplugged, the more opinions I have, and the better my reasons grow for having them. I find myself more grateful for the little things in life, and I spend less time feeling sorry for myself because I’m not currently travelling or having an adventure.

Unplugging reminds me to live Right Now.

The great thing is that the best adventures I’ve had are the ones which never made it onto the Internet because we were all living too much to bother documenting the moments.

I think that’s what it boils down to– living in the moment instead of living vicariously.

I can spend all the time in the world researching and planning for travel, but unless I get offline and actually go somewhere, it’s useless.

Vicarious living only gets you so far, and if you’re me, it only gets you bummed out.


Bike Etiquette and Bethany.

Today I  was on the hunt for new pants, so I took my bike and headed east. Since I wasn’t feeling like risking my life today, I cruised down back roads, aiming for Buffalo Exchange.

When I got there, I discovered exactly zero places available to lock up my bike.

Sudden and irrational panic suddenly rose in my heart.

Was it okay for me to lock my bike in front of a store I had no intention of patronizing? Could I just pay that hobo a few dollars to not steal it? Was it kosher to park next to someone else’s bike even if theirs was immensely cooler than mine? What if someone blocked me in? Why was my bike lock so tacky?

My face bore no signs of panic as I locked my back on a partially available rack across the street from my destination. I commenced shopping, feeling woefully ignorant of some sort of Bike Code that I’m sure exists.

So I decided someone needs to write the Portlander’s Guide to Bike Etiquette.

It should contain answers to all of the questions listed above. Additionally, it should contain instructions on where it’s cool to park your bike, how old your bike must be for it to be vintage (80s, anyone?) a chart for how badass you have to be at biking before you’re safe on the main roads, maps of where it’s safe to ride without a helmet and where it’s not safe to ride alone, a formula for the ratio of number of gears to level of cool, and various other riding tips and rules that I don’t know about.

Also, instructions on how to exude that air of extreme badassery and devil-may-care that only bike couriers and serious commuters have.

And how to not get hit by vehicles.

How to Kill Time while Waiting for the Bus

  1. Draw the squirrel you saw pancaked in the road between your house and the bus stop.
  2. Send mass texts to your friends about how annoying Trimet is even if you secretly like it.
  3. Tweet a lot.
  4. Instagram.
  5. Write subtle responses to obnoxious graffiti. Ignore the legal implications, saying to yourself that you’re just making the world a better place.
  6. Obsessively count and re-count the handful of change that is your fare.
  7. Bemoan your bedraggled purse.
  8. Pretend to be homeless.
  9. Slightly awkward self-photos.
  10. Write lists of things to do while waiting for the bus.
  11. Glare at people driving by in an attempt to make them uncomfortable.

What’s your favorite way to kill time when you get to the bus stop too early?

In which Bethany Chooses not to Make Excuses for a Late Post

Today on my way home from SE Portland, I stopped a few bus stops early to go into the coffee shop of my employ, and as I was walking home (a walk that’s actually quite nice when it’s not rainy,) when I had a sudden realization.

I really like walking with a sort of heavy backpack.

When I have food and clothes upon my back and a shoulder bag with a book and a journal, it’s easy for me to pretend that that’s all I have in the world.

I imagine how simple life would be if all my possesions fit into a backpack and a shoulder bag. Maybe in this imaginary life I would strap a ukulele to my pack, and play it on busy street corners when I ran out of money, and after I had a few dollars I would sit in a coffee shop with my journal and record all the interesting events of the day.

If I were a wandering vagrant, maybe it would be more difficult to get distracted from God by the materialism of our culture, and maybe I would be a person more in touch with the Creator and the Cosmos.

In this imaginary life, maybe I would be free to travel anywhere I could walk, ride a bus, or afford a plane ticket to. Maybe if I had a companion we could jump onto trains and hitchhike.

I really like walking with a backpack.

The rich Lake Oswego people drive by, some of them rubbernecking as if they believe the imaginary life I’ve written for myself. Maybe they think I’m a wandering vagrant, on my way to the next wayside where I’ll spend the night. But I have them fooled.

Just up the road, I live in a house with a refrigerator and a pantry, where my mattress, bass, guitar, and desktop computer all sit on the floor because the farthest I’ve taken my minimalist dream is to the point of no furniture.

But still… I like the idea of being able to carry everything I own.

I like walking with a heavy backpack.

A sort-of Success Story

On Monday my sister and her fiance and I went to the beach. Since I haven’t seen the ocean since 2010, it was a wonderful experience.

The day started out quite normally. While driving over we rapped along to Vanilla Ice and Will Smith (we ballin’, yo,) sang along to Adele and the Backstreet Boys, and bounced around to some of Jessie’s random dance music.

We found a beach in Oceanside, and after traversing through a mysterious and wet tunnel (in which I was reminded that Toms are terrible shoes for stepping in puddles,) we arrived at a stony beach.

My sister and I share a tick where we look at inanimate objects and see other things in them. For example, this might just look like a bunch of rocks to you–

But Jessie, upon sighting this stone, exclaimed, “It has a nose!” which became instantly evident to me as well.

And when I see driftwood, I often don’t see driftwood.


We took some obligatory posed dancer photos, which I may or may not add into this post once Chris-topher shares them with me.

But the photos are not the point!

After frolicking on the beach we were driving along the Pacific scenic highway, in search of another worthy beach. Suddenly, I realized that the conversation had shifted and Jessie and Chris were talking about teaching me to drive a car with a manual transmission. Since we were currently in such a vehicle, I started trying to backpedal, frantically, yet subtly. But as reluctant as I was to be taught the function of this type of vehicle by my sister and almost-brother-in-law (“I know how in theory,” I said, “Just not in practice,”) their stronger wills and my underlying desire to know how to do everything won out.

I found myself behind the wheel, foot on the clutch and hand on the… I don’t even know what it’s called, gear-shifter-stick-thingy. Since I’ve moved, I haven’t driven much– this excursion makes three times behind the wheel of a car since January, so I was like this.

My brain while driving such an unfamiliar car.

“Okay, shift into first and ease the clutch out really slowly while giving it a little gas,” Jessie instructed, patiently. After a couple false starts, I managed to get the car going, into second through fifth gears, and we were cruising along nicely until I had a sudden lapse of confidence.

I downshifted more abruptly than was probably good for the engine, braked, and pulled over into a little graveled driveway.

Jessie and Chris were kindly pep-talking me when two large pitbulls ran up from the house that belonged to the driveway in question. Dogs don’t scare me unless they’re barking and showing their teeth right outside my inconveniently open window. This interruption provided me with the motivation to continue driving again, and after again a false start (there were dogs in front of the car, okay?) I got out onto the road again.

I was gaining coordination and confidence, and Chris pointed to a park where we could park and eat our sort-of picnic. I slowed and turned without issue, shifted down to second, and started to park.

“Waaarrgh!” I yelled, “There’s no power steering!”

I cranked the wheel with difficulty, tried to shift into first, and killed the engine, halfway into the parking spot. I restarted, and per Chris’s instruction, let the clutch out really slowly without giving it any gas as to ease gently into the parking spot.

Thrice I tried– thrice I failed.

Finally on my fourth try, I scooted the car the remaining six feet into the parking spot before the engine jerkily died– but I got into the parking spot straight.

Overall? Success.

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.


In Which Bethany makes Excuses for a Late Post.

Ack! This post is a day behind schedule!

At least I have a very proper excuse. I spent the weekend at home in Redmond, Oregon, and yesterday I was at my sister’s house without a computer. I hereby absolve myself.

The weekend was highly enjoyable. On Saturday I went to Smith Rock— a highly well-known climbing and hiking destination only fifteen minutes from my parents’ home. My family, our friend Hadley, and I hiked up Misery Ridge and down the back by Monkey Face.

Misery Ridge is a serious misnomer. This is Hadley and I at the top.

And after we hiked to what was technically the top of the trail, Rachel, Hadley, and I scrambled up all the rocks to the very tip top of the accessible rock (since any higher peaks were only accessible with aid of ropes, belay devices, and other miscellaneous outdoor climbing gear.)

Those arms are mine. Just so ya know.

Then scrambling down the back, I found a rock upon which to strike a very strong and heroic pose.

Don't I look like I could save the day, guys? ... guys?

And then, all of a sudden, it was Sunday, and it was time to go home… From this– 

To this–

I’m not going to lie to you; as much as I love the rugged desert beauty of Central Oregon, and as much as I always will, it’s nice to be back in the damp, chilly, crappy-weather Portland, where spring is already nigh.

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