I was under the silly assumption that I would be super-productive with all my new free time. I didn't realize that honeymoon would be short-lived, and the depression and panic would take over. It was great for a month or so, until the money started to run out and the reality of the job market started to sink in. We were both unexpectedly laid off at the same time, leaving us in a major money crunch. I didn't think I was ever going to have to do food stamps, or get help from the state, but the longer we went without any hope of finding a job, the more we realized we were going to have to work the system so we could eat and keep a roof over our heads.
We have both been fortunate in that we: don't have a mortgage; don't have car payments; don't have to pay child-support payments any longer; don't have credit card debt; don't have college loans to pay off; and are used to living pretty frugally after past bad relationships left us screwed with basically $100 a month to live on. I am the queen of pulling meals out of my ass with whatever we can scrape together.
So all that being said, there have been a ton of challenges over the past year. Moving up to 92nd and Foster was definitely culture shock for me. SE 50th seems to be an invisible division line between where the Eastside hipsters live, and where the "other" people live. After living here just a year I can already see some of that line fading as more people are priced out of those neighborhoods. It may be me, but I think some people find it refreshing to move someplace where you have a lot more diversity and can actually afford to buy a starter home or rent a decent sized place without breaking the bank. Even if it is out of necessity.
The same thing goes for access to shopping that won't rob you blind. I'm sorry, but I can't afford to buy organic veggies, meat, eggs, milk, or whatever bullshit is being touted as organic at the time. I am a big fan of Winco now, and don't mind buying generic if it saves me a buck. I have realized that I totally bought into the snob factor associated with places like New Seasons and People's Co-op. The concept was initially great, but the reality of how much you're spending to feel good about yourself just isn't worth it. We have a garden to grow veggies, which I think are fairly organic as long as you ignore the car exhaust and cigarette butts. I guess my values have shifted more towards survival mode. I like the fact that I don't feel the need to impress people anymore.
When I first moved to SE 16th and Clinton it was kind of a scary, industrial, dingy, no man's land. The closest places to shop were either Nature's up on Division, or Fred Meyers on Hawthorne. It was pretty much Dot's, Wynn's, the Reel m' Inn, the Night Light (after they made it through fire), and the Scoreboard for places to get a cheap drink and meet interesting people. I know it sounds all whiny and get off my lawn-ish, but it did suck when all the new shops, condos, trendy and expensive restaurants, and the evil New Treasons started to invade. After almost being run over multiple times by assholes in their Volvos and SUV's pulling out of the New Seasons parking lot, and packs of bicyclists who could care less about pedestrians, I figured it was time to motor. It didn't hurt that my creepy, peeping tom landlord decided it was time to kick out the tenants and raise the rent $100 so he could take advantage of all the new people moving into the neighborhood. I hope they have enjoyed chasing the homeless people out of the backyard and across the street.
I can tell I've had a major sea-change in my perceptions about living in Portland. I've been able to get to know my neighborhood, which definitely has a collection of stereotypes you would expect to live in the area. Lawns full of torn-up furniture, empty Hamm's 40oz. bottles, cars on blocks, and barking dogs. I plan on writing about some of our fun experiences in the past year as things have slowly changed.
On the other hand I have been meeting new people who actually give a crap about where they live and are interested in making a difference in the community. I had never met anyone from Pendelton before meeting Dave, and it's been interesting discovering a whole other world that exists just four hours away. I have learned that a snipe isn't just something you go hunting for in the woods at summer camp, and that Milwaukie's Beast Ice kicks ass on PBR when it comes to getting more of a bang for your buck. I have also learned to be a musician's "wife" and all about what that entails. I'm lucky to be with a talented musician who could give a damn what people think as long as it's good music and excellent musicianship.
It's been an adventure, and a challenge emotionally and physically to move forward and start from scratch, but here we are.
So if the greasy creep with three teeth doesn't come back and steal the lawnmower, I'll move on to more specific adventures involving the police, sexual predators, being buried in the snow, and other cowboy tales.