Thursday, June 30, 2011


The crazy people with whom I live: Chris & Dawn
and their friend Saska (in blue)
Since the last post, I made friends!  I'm still not exactly sure what God has in mind for me while I am here in Portland, but part of it seems to be connecting to people I meet and sharing in their lives.   And my path has crossed with quite the handful of people in the last week and a half!
On thursday, I was standing by the side of the road (reading a sign about bioretention swales, if you must know), when an ordinary looking male approached me and said something along the lines of "I was just dropping my lady friend off at the bus stop and we saw you walking past and thought you were very cute, so she told me to come talk to you."
Understandably, it was a slightly awkward conversation, but before long we had found common ground--he was moving to Ecuador-- and after running into each other again half an hour later, we ended up taking a bike ride along the esplanade and conversing quite sociably about food, transportation, and our lives in general.  A friend made!

Opal Creek
On Saturday, I went on a hike to Opal Creek with the Outdoors Connection group from Imago Dei (the church I have been attending), and met no fewer than 23 people with whom I had a lot in common.  There were travelers, spanish-speakers, musicians, lovers of nature, poets, philosophers, artists, goofballs, explorers, bakers, dreamers, Michiganders... Not only was the hike itself lovely, it was beyond beautiful to encounter such a wonderful group of potential friends! 

Martha and me at Opal Creek
 Having gone to church with some of the people I met on the hike, I invited two of the girls over for dinner and a walk through Powell Butte on monday, which turned out to be a fantastic experience.  Cally and Martha and I put together a scrumptious spread which included oatmeal-battered pollock, stuffed mushrooms, delicious homemade bread, cantaloupe, and homemade ice cream.  Afterwards, we played a little made-up-word scrabble, which included such gems as "wifeth" (when your birdie gets caught in the net while playing badmitton), "fatiew" (when your birdie gets caught in the trees), "queming" (that cute little shuffle a guy does while trying to get up the courage to kiss a girl), and "os" (the plastic thing on the end of your shoelace).  All in all, a highly entertaining night.

Me, Cally, and Martha in Powell Butte
I will never consider myself an outgoing, extroverted, bubbly person.  However, I am beginning to realize that while a propensity to initiate conversation with strangers certainly leads to the formation of many a new friendship, the willingness to continue a conversation--to meet someone's eyes and listen to what they have to say-- may just as often result in a new connection.  
Addison, me and Cally at Opal Creek

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Time For Exploration

Anyone who has traveled with me knows that my favorite thing to do in a new town is walk.  And walk. Aaand walk. True to form, I took the bus downtown today and spent about 7 hours walking (thanks for those new hiking shoes, Papa!).  My original plan was to go up to the Japanese Gardens in Washington Park, then circle around and wander through old town and chinatown before heading over to REI to pick up a helmet.  Then I got to Washington Park.
Mt. Hood from Rose Garden

For full pictorial documentation of the day, please see the facebook album that is sure to accompany this post.  However, it should be noted that the roses were in bloom,

the skies were clear,
Mt. St. Helens from Hoyt Arboretum
and the trails were wonderful.
Mac trail

I also met a chatty Hawaiian touring the continent for the first time, who graciously took this picture of me with Mickey, the floutist-in-the-woods who wowed us with his rendition of Irish Washer Woman.

It was an interesting day. 

Although the original touring plans were slightly altered and I did not, in fact, end up entering the Japanese Gardens (though I did get quite a nice glimpse of it from above), I would highly recommend Washington Park for day hikes of the most leisurely kind, as it contains plenty of commodious benches and grassy knolls for your reading and picnicking pleasure.  The rose garden is spectacular and beatifully arranged, the trails are well-groomed, varied in foliage, and intriguingly curvy, and the many monuments lend an air of cultural edification to the park (I especially recommend the Holocaust memorial).  In short, a lovely way to spend a day of sunshine! 

P.S. I would not especially recommend walking up Salmon Street to get there... it is a little like being a salmon flopping up a fish ladder.  Quite steep.

The First Week

The best time to do new things is right away, in the middle of monotony, a little later, and also after you thought you'd never do anything new again...In other words, the best time to do new things is all the time. 

view of downtown from Springwater Corridor
My first week in Portland has been quite the trip!  I biked downtown and back, marveling at the existence of a 12 mile bike path without a single spot that wasn't scenic or tree-lined and learning to navigate the many bike lanes and routes that have made Portland famous.  On Sunday, I was picked up by the pastor's wife and was wowed by an awesome time of worship at Imago Dei church, then joined one of their nearby home community groups for dinner and discussion (home communities are like small groups for people who live in the same areas of town).  My uncle also graciously took me to the Midland library to browse and I returned with some pretty spiffy reading material, including a book that seems to be designed specifically with me in mind: "Now What? A young person's guide to choosing the perfect career."  Job searching? Turns out it's pretty tough and a little demoralizing, especially when you're not exactly sure what you're looking for.  However, I am positive that I will end up in the right place doing exactly what God has in mind at exactly the time I am supposed to be there.... I'll admit I wouldn't mind some crystal clear clues. 

Living with my aunt and uncle is going to be incredibly fun and exciting.  They are possessed of that personality that attracts engaging and passionate people, and seem to have found that balance between work and play that most people are constantly searching for.  The neighbors are a fantastic family of five whose children are polite, playful, spunky, and inquisitive, besides being generally loveable and fun.  The four-year-old, Clara, is currently in training with my aunt to be "ninja girl," while her brother Jackson has defied all sulky-teenager stereotypes and was good-naturedly clobbered and sprayed with water bottles by two grown women and his kid sister. 

In general, I am looking forward to this year of unknown wonders and new experiences, and have so far not been disappointed.  This place fits me like a mitten :)
My room

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

After several weeks of amazing bonding time with friends and family, including a hike with my dad, an incredible (if cold and rainy) weekend of camping with a group of my favorite people, and a whole lot of trying to cram an entire Michigan summer into a month, it is finally time.

Today is the day!  I will be leaving home and all of my friends and my beloved Traverse City and flying out to Portland this afternoon! It's a little less surreal than I'm sure it must be to move to another country and another culture, but I'm still trying to digest the fact that I will only be home a few times in the next year and that the majority of the year will be spent far away from everything I know.  I'm going to really miss being home and within a few hours of most of my best friends! 

Once I get out there, the job search begins in earnest.  I have been scoping out places that might be intriguing and fulfilling and useful to work for about a month now, but haven't quite found anything that clicked.  However, I'm guessing that job searching is a little easier once you are actually living in the town in which you plan to work.  My hope is still to find something that might be a legitimate "real-life" job, but I have resigned myself to the fact that even if I am unable to encounter something like that, there are quite a few volunteer jobs at museums that I would be able to work at to at least gain experience, and I can earn my keep being a barrista or something on the side.  Whatever happens, I am convinced that God has something amazing planned for this next year!!!

I'll miss all of you in Michigan, and I'm already looking forward to meeting those wonderful friends that are yet to be met!