Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Friends and Old Friends

This past week, a new Baylor friend moved up to the wonderful and increasingly popular Pacific Northwest. Margaret is a year younger than me and just graduated from Baylor this past May. She decided she wants to have a year of adventure and chose Portland as her destination. Margaret and I didn't really know each other at Baylor but have some mutual friends that made the connection for us. So yesterday, we met for brunch at Bread and Ink Cafe located on SE Hawthorne where we chatted and got to know each other. Margaret literally doesn't know anyone in Portland, so I'm glad that I'm here to show her the ropes (even though I've only been here for 8 months myself).

Last night, Margaret joined a group of us for dinner at Bay 13 in the Pearl District. 4 out of the 5 of us were Baylor grads - poor Allen (a Tennessee grad) had to listen to several conversations about the SLC, Bear Trail, Common Grounds, our communication profs, and the upcoming Bears football season... but by the end of the night he had mastered the art of the Baylor claw (perfectly formed by placing your right hand over your knee, raising the hand in the air and making a diagonal motion toward your left hip and back up).

This afternoon was rumored to be the last beautiful, warm day of summer before cooler weather sets in for the fall. So Margaret and I packed up a blanket, our sunglasses and a few good novels and took advantage of the perfect day by soaking up the sun at Laurelhurst Park. Its nice having a friend who is up for Portland adventures with me - and who has a little extra time on her hands as well since she is also looking for a job.

This weekend, my good friend Daniel (a former Murdock intern and my former "counselor") was in town for a weekend graduate class, so we had lunch at Laughing Planet and caught up on our ever-changing lives. Come Saturday, Daniel will be a married man so it was fun to hear how all of the wedding plans are falling into place! Tomorrow we are going to go on a short run before he heads back to Grants Pass.

My life and community in Portland seem to be constantly changing, but I am thankful for old friends who come back to visit and new friends with whom to embrace the city.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Summer in September

I've heard that September is one of the greatest months of the year in Portland, and so far it has been gorgeous! I've spent a lot of time in the great outdoors over the past week - especially now that I have my great new bike! A few days ago, I decided to go to the gym to workout. So I got in my car and rolled down the windows as I started driving away. A few minutes down the road I thought to myself, "This is crazy! Its perfect outside and I'm going to workout inside at the gym?" So I turned the car around, headed home, put my helmet on and went for a bike ride out in the sun. I've been running little errands on my bike as well. It just makes more sense to bike to the bank or the store which are only a couple miles away instead of fighting traffic and having to find a parking spot (and hopefully I'll save money on gas as well).

Yesterday, the weather was perfect. So after church and a nice outside lunch, my roommate Kathy and our friends Kathy and Mike and I went for a 17-mile bike ride along the Columbia River. It was the perfect way to spend a perfect day. Tonight, a group of girls from my home community group went for a nice jog at Reed College. Last week we talked about starting a running club in which we would hold each other accountable and all get together once a week to run. And we actually turned that talk into a reality! We had a great run and the scenery was gorgeous as the sun was setting over the hills in the distance. I'll be soaking up the sun and enjoying this great weather as much as I can before the dreary winter sets in and everyone goes into hibernation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Biker Babe

I finally own a bike! I feel like a real Portlander now. I think I might have been kicked out of the city if I lived here much longer without owning a bike. I've been talking about and looking into getting one for months now and today I made it happen. I bought the bike at Waterfront Bicycles, a great local business where you can rent bikes for advernturous outings. Waterfront Bicycles is part of "Mary's Portland Tour" - just come for a visit and we're sure to rent bikes there. The bike is a Fuji Sunfire 2.0 hybrid bike. For all of you Texans, yes the bike is "burnt orange", but I like to consider a golden brown.

This evening, I snapped on my helmet and took my new bike for its first ride this evening. The roads were wet from an afternoon rain, but the air was crisp and when I looked to the west the scenery was gorgeous - as the sun was setting, clouds were rising off the hills creating an incredible glow. I felt great riding down the roads in the bike lane... until a speedy little biker passed me on the left, spraying a little water from the road on me. Then, he reached his hand out to the left and wiggled his fingers as if to say, "Eat my street water. See ya!" At first I was offended and thought about squirting him with my new biking water bottle, but then I realized that 1) he was too far ahead of me for the water to reach him 2) my water bottle was empty and 3) his hand gesture was actually his left turn signal. I should probably read a street biking manual.

I kept biking down the road and came upon a 4-way stop. The car to my right looked at me on my spiffy new bike and gave me the nod. He obviously thought, "Wow. Look at that serious biker on her spiffy bike. I'll let her go on because she's probably going somewhere really important - like a biker's club." However, my fellow road bikers probably thought much less of me as I turned into biking lanes (without using my signals) and rode on the wrong side before swerving across the street into the correct lanes. I'm sure to get better.

I think my bike needs a name. Any ideas?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Keep Portland and Austin Wierd!

I'm back in Texas for a few days and this time I flew into Austin. I was able to spend some time with Anne Olson, one of my best friends from high school. The first thing we did when I got in town was to eat at a yummy Mexican restaurant - duh! We had a delicious meal at Z'Tejas on 6th Street. During my short stay in the city capitol of Texas, I realized how similar Portland and Austin are. Besides the famous city slogans of "Keep Austin Wierd" and "Keep Portland Wierd", here are some more similarities:

- great outdoor activities: My favorite park in Austin is Zilker Park, a 351 acre park located on Barton Springs Road. Portland is home to Forest Park, which at 5,100 acres is one of the largest urban forest reserves in the country.

- local venues: I love all of the great local coffee shops and restaurants and how much the locals support them. There aren't many places in either city that I've visited multiple times because there are so many different options!

- tattoos and piercings: Both cities are inhabited by lots of unique characters. Each has its fill of hippies and free spirits, but what I love is that everyone seems to accept everyone else. There aren't many judgemental in either place - just lots of peace and love!

- modes of transportation: Traveling by bicycle and public transportation is more common in each of the cities than in other places I've been. Both cities are very environmentally concious.

- great music: Portland and Austin are both home to some wonderful musicians. They are both seem to draw in very artsy folks. You might find a little more country music in Austin, though!

- delicious Mexican food: okay, that's just a flatout lie. The "Muchas Gracias" fast food chain around the corner from my house just doesn't match up to Ninfa's or Javier's :(

Sunday, September 6, 2009

24th Birthday

Yesterday I celebrated my 24th birthday. 24 isn't too exciting of an age, but I am glad that I'm not 23 anymore (which just sounds so young). And turning 24 does mean that I only have 1 more year until I'm a quarter century old. I kicked the birthday weekend off by having a fun dinner with some friends on Friday night. We ate at The Saucebox - a swanky asian restaurant in downtown Portland.

This weekend is our friend Mandy's birthday as well, so last night a group of us had dinner at a mexican restaurant called The Matador. Afterwards, we went to Duke's Country Bar and Grill for a little line dancing. I'm not much of a dancer, so I didn't really get out on the floor, but I love watching other people dance - I think it is quite entertaining.

It was a great birthday, but very different from years past since I am far from family and Texas friends. Thank you all of for your birthday wishes! I feel very blessed (not to mention wiser and much more mature)!

the group at The Matador

Mandy, Kathy, Kathy and Mike boot, scoot, boogying

Friday, September 4, 2009

Taking Time

You might be wondering what I am doing with all of my free time now that I'm "in-between jobs". The truth is, I haven't had that much free time on my hands! Over the past two weeks since I completed my internship at Murdock, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of things that I haven't done in a while... such as:

  • babysitting - Until last week, I hadn't babysat at all (not once!) since I moved to Portland. I know that's hard to believe since I was often referred to as "the queen of babysitting" back in Waco. But a friend from Waco made the connection that she had a friend in Portland looking for a babysitter and that I had recently moved up here. So I babysat for 15-month-old Aiden last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We played at his house, went to the park and took walks every day. It was actually really fun to babysit again and I'm very appreciative of the referral.
  • volunteering - just because I'm not employeed doesn't mean I can't do office work somewhere. A couple mornings this week, I worked in the Eternal Impact office wrapping up our Hood to Coast "Run4theCause" donations and such. I enjoyed seeing how that Uganda organization operates. Part of the time I even helped out by taking inventory of their Ugandan jewelry and enjoyed having a hand in such projects. This morning I went to the Imago Dei Church offices to have a brief "training" as I will be volunteering as an office assistant several hours a week starting next Tuesday. That will be a great way to really get involved in my church and get to know the pastors and other workers a little better.
  • just hanging out - I've loved being able to hang out with some friends that I normally might not have time to hang out with. Yesterday, Alyssa and I had a "cake ball making lesson" at my house. We made cake balls to take for our home community dessert last night. It was great getting to just chat and spend time with Alyssa for a few hours. Next week, Megan and I are going to get a pedicure! I can't wait for girl time and to be pampered a little (I think my feet deserve it after all of this running)!

So don't worry that I'm just sitting at home bored all day every day - I won't let that happen! I see this time as an opportunity to decide what is really important to me and to use my free time to enjoy life in a new way.

Encouraging Words
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."

- Luke 12:22,23

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

-Ecclesiasties 3:11-13