08 June 2010

Hunkered Down

I've stuck with blogging way longer than I ever stuck with my fits and starts at pen and paper journaling. Like many people, I've kept journals sporadically over the years, starting in grade school with a hardbound volume complete with tiny lock and key and progressing through Peace Corps and beyond to Moleskines and handbound tomes of acid-free, archival paper. At times, I've journaled nearly daily for months on end, but like many habits, if I then miss a day, I suddenly find that I've missed a week, then two, and then I just stop entirely.

Enter blogging. I sit at a computer all day at work. I then often sit at a computer at home in the evening. I type faster than I write, and I can make edits. Then there's the interactivity of blogging: the comments, the reading of other blogs, the e-mail from readers, the exchange of ideas. I have found all of these factors to be rewarding and compelling and they have kept me here in this space. I've always made time to blog because I've needed to. I've needed the realease of the writing, I've needed the support and advice.

I still do. But wow, life. If I look back over my posts for the past few months, I see that I've written all of this before, a few times, more than I've written about anything else lately (except, perhaps, shoes). But my life, it's changed fundamentally since I've moved back to Portland. I can't say that it's any busier, but I can say that it's fuller. And I am happier.

Is that Portland? Is it being near my family? Is it my job? Is it that the kids are older? That I'm further away from my grief? It's probably all of those things and more. It feels good, though, whatever it is, and it doesn't mean that I don't miss Boston and my friends and life there.

The past week or so have, in fact, been logistically insane. I picked up a big freelance job, so after the kids go to bed I've been working for 3+ hours before collapsing myself. I've been out of touch with everyone and have been poor company for those I've been around. It's just grueling to work all day at my regular job, be the parent and responsible adult in the house, work more, and try to squeeze in some sleep. I could say no to the freelance work, but I'm willing to do this for two weeks at a stretch every so often so that the kids and I can afford to do things like

BUY A BIKE.

OMG, I can't shut up about our bike. How did it take me to this point in this post to get to our bike? Our wonderful, amazing bike! I can't find an exact picture of it online because it's a hybrid. It's a Breezer Uptown 8 (step-through frame), see below, although ours is black:



With an Xtracycle Free Radical and Longtail kit attached (not pictured).

Maddie and Riley have dubbed it the three-bike because we can all ride on it. They have their own handlebar (attached to my seatpost) and footpegs. They take turns as to who rides in front and who rides in back. We bought it on Saturday, and we've already ridden all over the neighborhood (food carts!), to school, to the doctor's office, and to the grocery store (2 kids + our weekly groceries, no problem). We're not getting anywhere fast, but we can get almost anywhere, and the kids and I love it. I love getting the exercise, I love not using the car, I love being outdoors. We even rode it in the pouring rain on Sunday, twice. We're Oregonians, after all. We can handle some rain.

For those of you who live in Portland, I can't say enough nice things about Clever Cycles. We were there for almost three hours on Saturday test driving bikes and making our purchase. The entire staff was extremely kind to us and supportive of our desire to get a family bike even though we knew less than nothing about biking. Todd, one of the store's owners, got out multiple bikes for us to test-drive, watched M&R while I rode the bikes alone, watched M&R singly while I took them for rides one at at time, and waited patiently while we all toured around together on various models. Once we made our decision, he took the time to install all of our components right there so that we could take the bike home that day, even custom-bending a set of handlebars for the kids (or trying to, then finding a suitable alternative). It was customer service at its finest. Clever Cycles is clearly committed to getting families on bikes, and the entire shop is a testament to that mission. Go forth and keep them in business!

So now I slave away on the freelance work so that we can pay for our bike and then get out and enjoy it. Tomorrow we will be the ultimate Portland urban neo-hippie (or is that upper-middle class elitist?) family and ride our bike over to the bakery to pick up our organic farm share. We're privileged. And lucky. And I'm really glad we can make choices like this and use our privilege and luck to do things that I think benefit the earth and the local economy and our lives.

Portland gives me a rosy glow and fills me with joy.

And evidently, Portland, in its old-skool way, gets me back to pen-and-paper journaling. I've been keeping a notebook by my bed, jotting things down at night or in the middle of the night. I happen to have a fair number of things going on right now that I don't particularly feel like blogging about but that I do feel like writing about, and it's been helpful to have a place to put those thoughts. I find that I feel more private about things since moving back here. Not sure what the correlation is, or if there is one. But I keep most things closer these days, for whatever reason.

I'm hoping to finish up this job tomorrow night, then celebrate on Thursday by dining with some friends I've made through blogging. The thought of a good meal keeps me motivated as I plow through page after page of edits to technical writing. The thought of a bike ride to work the meal off is motivating, too.

Life is pretty good, you know?

21 comments:

Ginevra said...

This makes me so happy. I have been thinking of you guys a lot. Glad things are going well! ASH and E say hi to M and R.

Love you,
Jen

Alayna said...

I love this and I love your new bike! Can't wait to see you all three riding on it. I can't believe you got the kids AND the groceries on it!

I, too, have stuck with blogging longer than anything else writing-related. I've tried journaling, but blogging keeps me motivated more than anything else. Of course, it also limits the topics, because our blog is mostly about the kids and most of our family reads the blog, so that takes a lot of stuff off the table. Anyway, long way of saying that I can empathize with keeping a private journal, too!

Alison said...

Love Clever Cycles--the owners are good friends of my husband's, oddly enough!!! Todd actually spoke at Dan's memorial, and they were some of our last visitors before Dan's death. What a small world. So glad you went there.

Snickollet said...

@Alison: Todd and I have been exchanging e-mail about this. (He found my blog, sent me a message, mentioned Dan . . .) Such a lovely small-world coincidence. Do you still have the same e-mail? I've been meaning to get in touch. I'm still snickollet at gmail.

Warm thoughts from our family to yours!

Christie said...

How do you find these freelance jobs. I used to be a technical writer. It'd be nice to use the old brain again.

Jen said...

It's so nice to hear how well things are going. Is it because of the move? Or did you move because it was the right time to start feeling better? Who knows ... probably a little of both, a virtuous cycle, as they say.

Love the bike! I found a freecycle bike trailer for my almost-4-year-old and it got me back on my bike after a long dry spell. I love riding with her!

amyinbc said...

Gorgeous bike! Good for you for making it happen!

When my kids were young my bike, it's trailer and back seat was THE mode of transportation when dad took the car out of town.

I rather miss those days. And how in shape I was!

Happy to hear you settling in so well :)

ashley said...

ah! i completely get where you're comming from on the whole loving portland thing. i am (obviously) the same person no matter where i live, but when i'm in portland i feel more resourceful, more able to make decisions that benefit the long run (like biking, spending a bit more $ to buy organic, etc...) and just so happy to be where i am and proud of where i am and engaged in the city!! what a suh-weet town. i miss you portland... yakima WA just can't live up to you for so many reasons...

Anonymous said...

Need pictures of all 3 of you PLUS groceries on the bike! Love that you are well and happy. I think the move to Portland was great for all the reasons you listed.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

That bike looks awesome and such a great idea for our twins when they are big enough to ride. We currently use the tandem third wheel with handlebars option for Vivi which is working pretty well. (My brother-in-law found it in the trash in good ol' Arlington, MA!)

~lifedramatic~ said...

As you know, I've been following your blog forever, and I'm so happy to see you so happy!

Knowing that you are borderline vegetarian if not vegan, I wanted to share something with you. I have a friend who has a vegan bakery in Portland. You may have even been there, but if not... you should go! I just noticed on her webpage that they are starting a new Monthly cookbook series! Sounds like so much fun!

Say Hi to Lisa for me if you stop by there... http://sweetpeabaking.com/


Charlene
http://lifedramatic.blogspot.com

~lifedramatic~ said...

Oh yeah, I also want to see the bike with you guys all on it plus groceries! Too cute!

Charlene

tree town gal said...

What a great update, Snick... You have journeyed a very long way to reach this place - literally and figuratively, of course. I too am looking forward to a few photos of that bike in full use!

carosgram said...

I am so glad that life is good for you. Keep it up!!

Jen said...

Every time I start to read one of your blog entries lately, I'm afraid I'm going to get to the end only to find out you're ending the blog. Please say you're not contemplating. We'd miss you.

django's mommy said...

This makes my heart happy.

~beautyandjoy~ said...

You always, always amaze me. It makes me so happy to hear this - but I know it's hard work and choices you've made, paying off. Well done. I'm inspired.

OTRgirl said...

I love happy bike stories! It sounds great.

You're definitely making me hope we get to move to Portland. It sounds wonderful (even if it's rainy... I like biking in the rain...)

kyouell said...

I'm here thanks to Clever Cycle's tweet about you loving your bike. We were just there last Saturday for the Feits of Parenthood & I got to test drive a Bakfiet! Oh!My! Loved it. Now to justify the purchase. It's hard. My kids are 5 (with Down syndrome) and 3 so I don't think a longtail will work for us because I'm not sure either will hang on especially if they happen to fall asleep. They did say something about maybe hooking up a seat and adding some kind of belt for my son on an Xtracycle board, and I'm thinking that might be a more economical way to go. So many choices! At least I bought a helmet so I feel like I'm on my way.

You can see photos of all the different set-ups people used on Flickr. That way your readers can see what you're talking about with the kids and groceries and all. There's a great post with links to 4 different groups of photos on the Clever Cycles blog at http://clevercycles.com/2010/06/14/fiets-of-parenthood-how-we-roll/

Off to add you to my reader!

Snickollet said...

@kyouell:

Thanks for stopping by the blog! I was at Feits of Parenthood, too. What a blast to see all those family bike, eh?

Now, I can't tell you how to spend your money, but I can tell you that my bike continues to be the best money I've spent in oh, ever. I don't like to buy things. But this is a thing worth buying. And keep talking to those Clever Cycles people. They can help you figure out the best way to make biking work for you and your kids.

Yay! Bikes!

-snick

BethGo said...

Sweet ride!
I've got an Electra Townie and we have the trail-a-bike that hooks on for my Riley.
I was wondering how you would get two kids on. That is one nifty contraption!
Enjoy.