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?