Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oregon, One Year Later

To be precise, just over a year later.

I've drafted several posts recapping my first year in Portland. None of them get finished, and that's a good indication that one large, grand piece of writing summing things up just isn't a good idea. It won't capture everything that's happened, it won't be fun to write, and it won't be fun to read. So I'm aiming to write some short posts and hopefully finally record some of the more interesting stories of things that have happened.

A little more than a year later, I'm in my fourth home in Portland and my second job. I'm finally feeling settled.

I think it's safe to write about this now (I have been holding off until it was official), but as of August 1, I will have a real job here in Portland. Aside from some minor details, it's exactly what I was doing at my last job in New Jersey. While many aspects of that job were what pounded the final nail in the coffin of my NJ residency, there were many, many things I loved about that job and that type of work. I'm thrilled to be involved in horticultural education again.

I'm also in the process of applying to a graduate program, one where the classes are offered on evenings and weekends, so it won't interfere with my ability to work.

For now, what I'd like to write about is where I was when I left NJ and where I am now, with respect to employment. Many people thought I was kind of nuts to leave a full-time, stable job for something temporary and unstable in this economy. Leaving the prosperous Northeast for the jobless Northwest* seemed even crazier. The people who thought I was making a smart move seemed to have as the basis of this belief thoughts similar to my own, that my decision was based on happiness and experience and other things important and not related to finances.

I agreed with the latter group, but I also didn't think I was making such a bad move professionally.

My beliefs were that in such an economy, nothing was certain, not even the prosperity of the Northeast. This was one reason I put happiness and experience above wealth. Happiness aside, wealth wasn't even guaranteed in New Jersey.

A year later, I have a job doing what I like to do. I want to write about this for anyone else considering a seemingly kinda-nuts professional decision/relocation. I want to write this for people who feel like they will be punished down the line for choosing happiness over financial stability. If you're smart about it, things can work out for you.

Without sounding too didactic, what I want to say is that if you are creative and flexible, if you keep networking and volunteering, if you're open to possibilities, you won't be punished for your search for happiness; you'll be rewarded for your persistence. That's what I think, anyway. That is how I feel. I think I'm an example of this. While I'm not exactly rich, I didn't end up destitute as a result of my choices last spring. More than anything, I'm happy.

* At the time of my move, Oregon had the second highest unemployment rate in the country. Shortly after my move, it got knocked down to third place by a Northeastern state &mdash I think Connecticut.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

An explanation of the title of the last post I wrote, with identifying details changed or omitted.

from       Me
sender-time       Sent at 5:41 AM (GMT-04:00)
to       The Friend Written to in the Last Post
date       Easter Sunday at 5:41 AM*

subject       Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

....and not lump everyone together as Friends. Here's the status update from one of my Facebook acquaintances (someone about whom I had to think, "How do I know him and where did we meet? Ohhh...he was in [a student organization] and he hung out with [my group of friends] 2004.)

NAME CENSORED 's going to [a place] with the acidic Jews!

OK, the part that made me feel I had to share it with someone was...ACIDIC? Acidic Jews!? WHAT!? Does he REALLY think that's what they're called!?

from       The Friend Written to in the Last Post
sender-time       Sent at 6:11 AM
to       Me
date       Easter Sunday at 6:11 AM*

subject       Re: Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

hahahhaha i was totally hoping he was kidding. but I will be calling them acidic jews from this point forward.

and yeah, acquaintances would be great, like they could see your profile but not photos and updates and when you write something on someone's wall...

i'm still laughing about acidic jews.

from       Me
sender-time       Sent at 6:27 AM
to       The Friend Written to in the Last Post
date       Easter Sunday at 6:27 AM*

subject       Re: Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

That's the thing, I thought maybe he was kidding but could think of no actual joke!

That would be great--I like being able to see my acquaintances' travel photos or wedding photos but you could have the option, when posting the album, "Make visible to Friends and Acquaintances Only" or "Make visible to Friends Only."

from       The Friend Written to in the Last Post
sender-time       Sent at 7:01 AM
to       Me
date       Easter Sunday at 7:01 AM*

subject       Re: Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

the only thing i could think of was that it was just because hasidic sounds like acidic?

from       Me
sender-time       Sent at 7:25 AM
to       Me
date       Easter Sunday at 7:25 AM*

subject       Re: Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

Possible. I think the Acquaintances category is really a good idea, except that it might breed conflict. Not like Facebook is a conflict-free zone! Imagine the Passive Agressive Notes screenshots of status updates and wall wars and "Sarah and Person-Who-Threw-A-Frying-Pan-At-Her-Once-in-the-mid-2000's are no longer Friends. :-( Sarah and Sarah and Person-Who-Threw-A-Frying-Pan-At-Her-Once-in-the-mid-2000's are now Acquaintances. :-/ "

The next e-mail in that chain was the unrelated story that appeared in my last blog post.

*I am wondering if, since my e-mail is now on Pacific time, this was actually 8:41 AM.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

That was the subject line under which I found the e-mail, written about a week ago, which including the line, "I waxed my armpits...more on that later."

That e-mail actually tells the story pretty well, so after a preface, I'm simply going to paste that e-mail into this blog post.

This story is about a placed I rented in NJ, a one-bedroom carriage house for which I paid very high bills. It appeared to be adorable, a nice "bachelorette pad" (as one of my friends put it), yet another astute friend always felt that the vibe from the house was "creepy." That creepy vibe could have originated from my own lack of privacy, which made it impossible to feel fully at home there. Ways in which my privacy was violated, by individuals who may or may not have had good intentions, would take up a blog post on their own, so, aside from the few examples included today, I'll save that for a later date.

For example, I had a neighbor who regularly yell through my open windows to talk to me or ask me about something, rather than knocking on the door and then walking away when I didn't answer. My landlords themselves simply violated the law stating that they could only enter my apartment with good reason and 24 hours' notice. My apartment was frequently entered without my knowledge until after the fact, if at all, for seemingly benevolent reasons such as, "We thought you weren't coming home, and it's supposed to rain later, so we closed your windows." Both parties acknowledged that my cell phone number was in their possession, so there was no reason not to contact me first, both to notify me that they planned on entering my apartment or to even ask me if I wanted my windows closed in the first place. It wasn't until I moved out of that apartment that I saw through the appearance of good intentions and realized that things like "open windows on a rainy day" were just an excuse to snoop.

So now, here's the e-mail in which I told this story to a friend, the same friend I had previously e-mailed on an unrelated topic under the heading, "Facebook should have an 'acquaintances' category." It has been edited or added to only for the sake of clarity.

date       Easter Sunday at 5:10 PM
subject       Re: Facebook should have an "acquaintances" category

I am sharing my grumpiness with you. For some reason, you are the friend I can confess to when I am grumpy about things that people are not normally grumpy about. Or things people feel guilty about being grumpy about.

The landlord told me that on Tuesday a window washer was coming on Saturday and that if I wasn't home, he'd let the guy in, and it was someone they knew and trusted so no worries, and also that if I had anything small and breakable to move it away from the windows. (This was mildly annoying &mdash why can't a professional move stuff himself!?) If it was raining on Saturday, he was not going to come. So, yesterday it rained, and I assumed the guy would not come today, Easter Sunday. I had the house all ready for him yesterday. The house was totally clean except that I had all kinds of junk piled on the living room table and the floor needed to be vacuumed. [I had started sorting my things, deciding what to store in NJ, bring to Oregon, or donate to charity. I kept this large, messy project confined to one table so that the house would still be neat, aside from that little corner of confined chaos.] Between last night and this morning, I messed up my clean house &mdash a friend and I sorted garden seeds in one corner of the living room, I started going through a bathroom cabinet, I waxed my armpits (more on that later), and I baked a chocolate cake. Plus, I was in a hurry getting dressed for Easter dinner, so I left clothes all over my room. Today, the kitchen is full of dirty dishes; there's still crap all over the living room table; the once-clean corner of the living room is now a mess from the seed sorting project; my clothes closet has stuff spilling out onto the floor; rejected Easter outfits, my pajamas, and my dirty underwear are strewn about the bedroom; my bed is unmade; and the bathroom! Since I stopped in mid sort, the contents of that cabinet are spilling out onto the floor and include all sorts of embarrassing things, like tampons and pads (I don't know why I don't have a container for them.) Also, there are hairy cotton strips on my sink next to the Parissa container.

Ok, so this is all embarrassing but really, who cares?*

But here's what I'm not happy about. Though the windows look REALLY NICE, they looked fine before and my house STINKS of this cleaning product and also MY TOILET SEAT IS UP which it totally wasn't before (why would it be?) That means that some strange man peed in my toilet! And didn't put the seat down! That's kind of weird!

I guess it wasn't a big deal, just an unpleasant way to come home &mdash to a bad smell and that feeling of someone being in your home when you didn't expect it. I thought he was going to clean the OUTSIDE of the windows!

The landlord and landlady just came home, I hope they don't think it's weird that I have all the windows open--but that cleaning product smell was really strong!

Oh, I said more on the armpits later. [Here, I have edited out a lengthy description of my thoughts on using Parissa sugar to wax my underarms for the first time. I'm sure you all don't mind being spared that information!]

The end. After I unwind a little I'm going to tackle my to do list which includes making a Wegman's shopping list.

Of course, now I see that all that, "I feel bad being angry about this" and "I hope the landlords' feelings don't get hurt..." was a symptom of my being emotionally manipulated. Yes, I now see that I had the right to be upset, that it was wrong for my privacy to be invaded like that, and that such bad, strong-smelling cleaning product was probably not intended to be used in a house that someone was going to return to within the next 24 hours.

Someday, I will also write a post explaining the title, "Facebook should have an 'acquaintances' category."

And also, what kind of person has making another list on their To Do List?!?!?!

* Apparently, I didn't care enough not to post this on the Internet a year later!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New, improved, one-year-in-Oregon masthead

I redid this without really editing the picture of me, as I couldn't find a way to make it look less like a photograph without making me look old and pasty.

I wanted something with photos of things I've actually been doing in Oregon, especially if I took the photos myself. But instead of lots of floating objects from photographs I've taken, I went with just one of mine and an unrealistically large portrait of me. I wanted something celebratory for my first anniversary in Portland. Because that is how I feel.

Since Thursday, I've been spending a lot of time in bed recovering from a medical thing &mdash okay, so that's not exactly celebratory. But it's given me time to write and think about what I'd like to write.

So, I was waxing my armpits...More on that later! Actually, I wasn't, but it's a line from a story that someone recently brought up to me, and I realized it's a great story that needs to be told. I'll probably write that one next. Since most of it exists in an e-mail (with the same line that opens this paragraph), it won't be too difficult. It's already written.

Anyway, this celebratory mood brings with it several topics I could write about, such as moves and different places I've lived, things that happened when I first moved to Oregon, differences between the coasts, and more.

But now, I have to go meet a friend for dinner at a Swedish place (and one of my favorites!). Another reason to celebrate! Maybe I will get aquavit! I don't really know what that tastes like!

New Masthead Getting Fixed

Well, I've been informed that the way I edited the picture of me in my new masthead makes me look "old." It's true, the effect made my skin look weirdly pasty. I have to try a few more things (and this time, remember to save each of my layers as individual files when I'm happy with them) and I'll be replacing this soon with a less "old Sarah" version.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Masthead

Spring is over and so is the time for my spring masthead - the crazy one with mountains on one side (mountains that were actually Montana, not Oregon) and an abundant flower garden on Hawthorne street (with a bike) on the other side, and a picture of me angrily eating fried pickles in the foreground with some floating giant rhododendron blossoms. And a bike, which is pretty random because I don't ride a bike. Actually, it's there because it's a symbol of Portland, where I live, and it was really in the picture of the flower garden on Hawthorne.

This new one is probably the simplest so far. Continuing with the theme of snowy mountains, Mount Hood is in the background with its reflection in Trillium Lake (where this picture was taken just a few weeks ago.) The giant lady in the foreground is me on the Fourth of July with my new haircut, a temporary tattoo of a flag, the dress that I made last summer, and a sparkler. I took the Trillium Lake picture; my boyfriend took the picture of me. It was all edited with GIMP, a program you can get for Linux.

Actual writing to come soon.