Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Tawk Funny/Becoming Oregonian

I have notes and drafts of posts that have never really grown up, about things that stood out to me about living out here/the culture out here that are different from what I'm used to. One of them is about the vocabulary people use here that was new to me, some of which I find quaint, some of which I find silly, and some of which has found its way into my speech. "I Tawk Funny" refers to my accent, and the fact that the word "talk" itself is one of the things I say in a way that entertains everyone out here.


So, last night, I made my first ever Left On Red. Making a left turn against a red light is so novel to me that Left On Red needs to be capitalized, all of it perhaps, like LEFT ON RED. LEFT ON RED is definitely how I saw it until last night; once I'd done it, I felt so free, and also like I'd done something a little dangerous and bad, so now it's just Left On Red and perhaps when I've lived here and driven here long enough, it will become left on red, just like right on red.

You see, in Oregon, it's legal to turn left when there's a red light (and no one coming, of course) if you're turning onto a one-way street. I'd sat through long lights at empty intersections in the middle of the night just because it felt too strange to me to make a turn. I've lived here almost two years, and I still sometimes think, "HEY!" when I see someone make a Left On Red. I think, "Why did they RUN THAT LIGHT?"

This morning, I made my second Left On Red.

It's kind of exciting, and life is nice when little things feel exciting, fun, beautiful, or interesting.

Also, some Oregonian words and phrases are creeping into my dialect. "Freeway" and referring to interstates as "The [Number, such as 5 or 84]" moved into my speech nearly a year ago; they've been living there ever since and show no signs of terminating their lease.

Something I read about in my Let's Go book on my road trip, before even arriving in Oregon, is that instead of putting your groceries in a "bag," like we do in NJ, Oregonians put their groceries in a "sack." If you go to a very long meeting that stretches over the middle of the day, or if you go on a bus trip, you may be told to bring a "sack lunch," which is the same thing as the "brown bag lunch" people bring to meetings, bus trips, work, and school, in New Jersey.

On long days like today, on which I have an eight-hour weekend intensive class (with a 45-minute lunch break), I have found myself calling the sandwiches or grain salads I'm bringing with me "sack lunch."

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