I’ve been doing a lot of heavy thinking lately. Not heavy like a burlap bag filled with old broken bricks, but heavy like it sinks me deep into the things I’ve avoided thinking about and pushed aside for just long enough. Now it’s their time to be considered. Considered wholeheartedly. I visualize this process as a swinging saloon door, like one you’d find on the set of a sleepy old western movie. Oftentimes, the doors sit still and dust collects on their horizontal surfaces, drying out the wood grain just a little more with each passing moment. But then the doors open wide and out comes a huge gust of wind. The wind props them open for an indefinite amount of time and takes all the dust with it. The wind is made of thoughts and ideas, so many of each. I tried to catch them and contain them and shape them and form them and understand them. It works if only a little bit and if I am persistent enough.
My road racing season is wrapping up while the road season is amping up. I have a couple more races (anywhere between two and seven more crits), but Cascade was originally going to mark the end of the racing for 2014 for this gal. Or at least the part that I really care about (I will do a bit of cyclocross for the fun and whiskey of it). While my personal season is winding down, the top cyclists in the world are gearing up for the World Championships in September and a huge race known as Le Course happening this Sunday (I hear Portland Bicycle Studio is showing this live and opening their doors early, so get after it!). Catch the best women in the world race on the Champs-Elysees.
I’ve had so many new experiences this year it’s impossible to even try to summarize it in a few sentences without being so terribly general that I put you to sleep and boring myself to death. I would just suggest browsing through the other posts and you can always shoot me a message if you find a hole in the story and you just have to know what happened, I’m happy to make a nice narrative especially for you.
This year I fully accepted and embraced my unfaltering love for the Pacific Northwest. While I am positive, cheery, and generally upbeat, I also have a definite thread of pessimism that runs strongly through my core. It could very well one of those things called a ‘self-preservation mechanism’. If that’s what it is, I am fine with it. Being preserved seems ok, especially if I am in control of it.
When I first announced I was moving to Portland back in the fall of 2009, everyone told me I would love it. I didn’t. It was lonely and seemed harsh, as any new city would. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had moved here with my partner of many years for his pursuit of a graduate degree in Architecture. He never pressured me. He almost seemed surprised that I wanted to come along, not because he didn’t want me to, but because he knew me perhaps better than I knew myself. I would guess that he knew I would be miserable leaving behind the communities I had become a part of. I had a pottery family, my café family which extended into the local food family, my actual family close enough, and a strong connection to the design community, my foot in the door at a start-up design build firm.
Eff, I left that all behind to move to a city of monotony and with no job and a huge supply of over-educated twenty-somethings. The café that eventually gave me my first Portland job called me back for a second and third interview. I've never had that many interviews before, especially for a job with no benefits that paid minimum wage. But somehow baristas are glorified in this Utopian town and there is a large supply of folks interested in this line of work.
So naturally, feeling that I was letting my potential and life slip through my damp fingers, I freaked out and decided I definitely had to go back to school. I crammed and took the GRE, heading all the way from Portland to Eugene for the standardized test to get it done in time to apply to schools. I still haven’t apply to graduate school almost five years later and I am happy with that decision. While I would love to study architecture forever, I do not want to work in architecture. It steals all your time and seems to steal a bit of your health and happiness, smothering any chance of a balanced life where one can ride their bike 20 hours per week. If I do venture back to academia, I will have a clear vision of what I need to gain from it to accomplish my goals and fulfill my passions. But for now, my passion buckets overfloweth, so there is no immediate need to take out tens of thousands more dollars in student loans, but I am open to this in the future.
Since my brief time as a Portland barista, I’ve had two other jobs and seem to be getting closer to what I think I’d like to be doing to make money. At least I am not getting further away. I enjoy the process of figuring out a professional line of work, it’s interesting and always changing.
I’ve also developed another profession on the side. This profession doesn’t pay much, in fact it often takes more money than it gives, but what it gives is worth more than cash could ever even approach and so I keep doing it. I’ve come to understand 2014 to be the year of freelance professional bike racing for me. I’ve been fortunate and just lucky enough to guest ride with some of the best teams in the US that are made of the legends (past, current, and future) of women’s professional road racing. I think I will keep at it and see where it takes me since I can do an ok job and am still enjoying every second of it. Also, someone recently told me that it’s perfectly ok to take a few years of my retirement while I am young enough to make the most of them, I like this idea.
I’ve also created some of the most meaningful relationships of my adult life here in PDX. I’ve met some truly lovely humans and they’ve become as important to me as eating avocados and heirloom tomatoes in summer (this is very important in case you’re wondering).
But the thing that really sealed the deal for me and made me completely hooked on the Pacific Northwest has more to do with the landscape. When Trevor came to Minnesota to visit my family and the Midwest, he was completely astounded by the size of the trees. Up to this point, it had never occurred to me that Minnesota’s trees are small. I even thought he was being a bit ridiculous at the time, bringing up the size of the trees every day.
“Where are the big trees?” he would ask in all seriousness, as though we were keeping the big trees hidden from first-time visitors of our great state. I would quickly scan the nearby forest for a tree I could point out as one that is pretty big, but instead I would default the quantity of lakes or the beauty of the changing leaves in autumn. Or the fact that we have snow and our lakes turn into vast ice skating rinks for months of the year and we can make maple syrup and most families have a sauna. Things that are surely impressive even if our trees are not. These are all things I love about Minnesota. Minnesota will always have a special place in my heart, but I don’t think I will be moving back. Ever.
But who really knows, that’s just how I feel now.
Whenever I pause to appreciate the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, my friend Marcus comes to mind. Marcus studied Landscape Architecture and that’s how I met him. I was a freshman in Architecture school. He was in his final year and had so much knowledge I wanted to squeeze it all of of him and fill my sketchbooks up with it. He is a type of thoughtful, mysterious, inquisitive human that sucks you in with deep eyes and making hand. He is a bit of a nomad, a musician, a designer, and always took jobs within our National Parks after finishing school saying he wanted to really learn the land before he started designing and molding it. Because of him, I try to learn a little bit every time I visit a new place.
In conclusion, the Pacific Northwest feels like home and it's where I belong, it won me over despite my pessimism and high expectations. I've certainly caught the travel bug again and feel the need to leave home at least every month for an adventure, typically related to bikes. These trips keep my heart happy and mind busy. They give me a good clear look at the bigger picture and keep me curious.
I have a lot more things to think through, but I figure I should break them up in to manageable bits. Some things to report in the future include; Cascade Cycling Classic race summary, PBLRB party (so good!), my thoughts on hardware stores, baby pygmy goats with friends, riding bikes over Lolo Pass to camp, et cetera.
Thanks for stopping by. I promise (to myself) I will try to write a bit more frequently. Ok!