Category Archives: Tid Bits

Questions of the Non-Native Bike Commuter in Portland, OR

Shit, did anyone see that?

Am I feeling sweat or mist on my face?

Do Oregon STOP signs actually say, “STOP. And wait for every other lane to go. Twice?”

Is it possible to simultaneously bike and drink coffee?

What the hell is that sme–ew, is it compost pick-up day?

Did that driver with the “SHARE THE ROAD” license plate just cut me off?

Where the hell did this hill come from?

How is it possible to be this sweaty after 18 minutes on a bike?

Will the calories burned on this bike ride cancel out the calories from my late-night Voodoo doughnut consumption?

What happens if one of my tires catches in the MAX light rail track?

Did I just ride by Carrie Brownstein?

Wonder how many drivers can see my crack?

How can he even pedal in jeans that tight?

Can’t believe I’m missing Morning Edition, wonder what they are talking about on NPR right now?

Did he just give me the fellow-bike-commuter-head-nod-of-approval?!

Ohhhh… or was he just trying to hide his hipster laughter because my helmet is securely fastened and my lights are flashing in broad daylight while he bikes in dark colors with his emo bangs flowing freely?

Are those tattoos, or is her arm actually blue?

How effective is the padding in those bike shorts?

Is there some sort of etiquette about biking through funeral processions?

When people use the term “drafting,” is this what they’re talking about?

What makes curved handlebars so much sexier than straight handlebars?

Is that hideous, gear-crunching noise coming from my bike?

How long are brakes supposed to last exactly?

When I arrive at my destination am I supposed to leave my right pant leg rolled up?

Bikers are supposed to treat STOP signs as suggestions, right?

At what point is riding on the sidewalks frowned upon?

What exactly constitutes a flat tire?

Did I remember my re-useable shopping bags today?

Joey Turns 100,000

Of all the men in my life, Joey has, without a doubt, been the most faithful and given me the least trouble. And yesterday, he turned 100,000.


Joey has been with me during, arguably, my most formative years. He took me to high school graduation and delivered me home from college for countless holiday visits. He taught me, sometimes unforgivingly, how a clutch really works. He’s stuck with me during snowstorms in Wyoming, humidity in Georgia, and fog on the coast of Maine.

He’s seen me at my worst–crying and snotty-faced while driving away from someone or somewhere I love. And he’s seen me at my best–windows down, hair blowing, shades on, iced-coffee sweating in the cup-holder with Dave Matthews propelling us to the next undiscovered adventure.

He’s accompanied me to my first day of my first real job.

He knows all my favorite songs and happens to think I’m a fine singer.

He tolerates my road-rage and impatience without complaint.

He’s seen a few different boys in the passenger seat, but knows he’s the one taking me home at night.

He’s pooped out on me only once and that’s just because he needed a jump to recharge; he’s never left me stranded.

We all have a few bumps and bruises, and Joey is no different. He has a few love-marks from when I’m at my most dangerous reversing at 2-4mph in a crowded parking lot.

We simply understand each other. For that, and for my father who let me commandeer the 2005 Subaru Impreza that he intended to be his own, I am grateful.

Two loves: Joey and the Tetons

Seattle vs. Portland

My complex internal battle of homegrown Washington loyalty and current Oregon residence culminated today: I attended my first Portland Timbers soccer game. The opponent? The Seattle Sounders, of course.

Not only was this my first Timbers game, this was my first Sounders game since they joined Major League Soccer in 2007. When I left Seattle for college, the Sounders were on par with the Thunderbirds as the least popular sports team in the city. Perhaps the Sonics departure to Oklahoma City after the 2007-2008 season left Seattle-sports fans with an itch that needed to be scratched–perfect timing for the Sounders to flourish.

I conveniently volunteered myself to attend the Timbers vs. Sounders game for free when a friend won tickets and couldn’t go. I didn’t know, however, that this game would only fuel my inner turmoil.

Thanks, Kelly!

Heading back from a weekend in Washington, I negotiated Sunday afternoon I-5 slowdowns and managed to rendezvous with fellow sports fan, Kevin. I strategically chose a green t-shirt to wear, a shade of green that neither matched the Timbers or Sounders jerseys, but left me, and others, questioning exactly whose side I was on.

I have approximately one friend in Seattle who passionately cares about the Sounders so I sent him the following photo with no previous explanation of my whereabouts saying only, “So conflicted about who to cheer for.”

Jeld-Wen Field, Timbers vs. Sounders

“One woman. Two nations,” was his rather witty reply.


At this point in the game, the Timbers Army (left side of photo, approximately two and half times the size of “the Kennel” for all your Zags fans out there) had performed many of their pre-arranged cheers, but not without a solid counter-effort by drunk Sounders fans occupying the section to our right.

Timbers Army Song Sheet

Though it will be a while before I’m cheering along with the “Army,” chants of “P-T” *clap-clap* “F-C” *clap clap* stirred my enthusiasm to offer a few yells of encouragement for the Timbers.

“We’ve made a Timbers fan out of you!” Kevin proclaim, to which I could only respond that one must adapt to their surroundings–It was survival of the fittest, after all.

With the Timbers up 2-0 at the half, I admitted that my indecision was causing me to be a fair-weather fan.

Call it indecision. Call it adaptation. Either way, the Timbers won 2-1 after a few testosterone-induced squabbles in the 90th minute.

No taunts were thrown my way as we exited the stadium, but the victory wasn’t quite as sweet either with my lukewarm commitment. I am, however, one step further along in my Portland initiation process (no telling what else might be on the list–a forearm tattoo of a bird in a tree? or inked ivy winding up my leg? Unlikely.) And there are certainly worse ways to spend a sunny summer Sunday afternoon than with a local micro-brew in hand and rival teams battling to the finish!

It’s the End…

Of the month and I hate going a whole month without posting. So, here’s my attempt for a post in April before May takes over. Heavy on the photos, but aren’t blogs supposed to be visually appealing anyway?

I started the month off right with a trip up to Mt. Baker for a little backcountry skiing to finish off a rather epic ski season. Contrary to what the ski area name might suggest, this is Mt. Shuksan on an absolute bluebird day.
Just a little rest before making a couple laps, had to soak up the view, after all. Despite multiple attempts at sunscreen application, my face experienced the first roasting of the changing season.
We skinned out to a back bowl and found ourselves some tasty turns on a north-facing aspect. Lange leads the way out of the bowl as we admire our picture-perfect S-turns off to the right. There's a little pocket of space somewhere between powder and sky that you find yourself in while making those turns, and if heaven is accessible in this life, no doubt that's where it exists.
After wrapping up on the mountain, headed home to celebrate Easter with the cutest cousins possible: Kaila and Ripley in their matching purple Easter dresses. Yes, the Easter bunny delivered enough chocolate to keep these two running in circles.
Event Headquarters at Seattle U, preparing the day before my biggest event of the year for work, a brunch in Campion Ballroom for 250+ guests. It was garden party themed in honor of Earth Day, can you tell?
Mom and I took a spontaneous trip to Skagit Valley to see the tulips. The photos look the same every year, but are somehow still obligatory.
The squishy, trampoline-like mud throughout the tulip fields (so cool) and a look inside a tulip--offers a bit of contrast.
Sadly, my roommate Shereen moved out and back to Canada--stupid visas requirements! Team 2512 is now down a man, but we're managing...barely.
For once, I wasn't the one leaving. And in no way did I envy this packing situation.
My former housemate from Sitka, Gina (who now lives in Hillsboro, OR as a second year JV) and I took an afternoon for Gorge exploring. We strolled our way down Old Highway 30, stopping at Vista House for this lovely little view.

Not too bad for an average month full of work. Promise to be more reflective and less reporting next time!

Trumped by Technology, As Usual

It’s amazing how quickly I forget my own actions and am tricked by the way technology connects every part (arguably too many parts) of my life. Take, for instance, the following scenario:

 10:15 a.m. average Tuesday morning in the gray walls of my cubicle

I receive a forwarded email at work from a co-worker about an event in Portland that I might want to attend. My train of thought goes something like this as I skim the text for the basic info, “Oh cool, what day is that? Huh, I don’t know if I can make it… whatever, I’ll just look at it at home when I’m not distracted.”

I proceed to then forward the email from my Microsoft Outlook work email account to my personal, unprofessional-sounding gmail account (which I will likely open on Google Chrome later in my work day when I lose all sense of self-control and check my personal email at work).

45-60 seconds later…

I glance at my smart phone sitting just beyond the reach of my desk phone and coffee cup to see the blinking green light indicating a new notification of some kind.

“Sweet, someone cares about me, wonder who text or emai… wha…? Why is my name on the… Oh, right. I just emailed myself. Damn.”

I wish I could say this hasn’t happened over a dozen times. But if I did say that, I would be lying.

(Let me just email this blog post to myself now that I’ve written it on my work email account.) It’s a vicious cycle.

Yeah, It’s One Small World Out There

After fighting with an almost-seven-year-old iBook 4 for several years, I finally broke down a couple weeks ago and purchased the new material-love of my life: a refurbished MacBook Pro, which has since changed my life (and leaves me with no excuse not to blog regularly). I’m reconnecting with people all over the world (literally) now that my main email correspondence isn’t done either 1) at work as I flip between my gmail screen and excel spreadsheets or 2) on my smart phone when I attempt to write an email using a keypad made for someone the size of a toddler.

In my recent reconnecting, I’ve had the chance to “hang out” (no, not on Google+, who uses that?) on Skype video chat with friends in Germany and Scotland, all of whom I haven’t spoken to in months. When I said to a friend, “Wow, video chat is awesome, it just feels like I’m hanging out with the person I’m talking to!” he response was a mediocre, “Um, yeah…” Apparently everyone else discovered this several years ago. Welcome to 2012, Liz.

The most noteworthy, random reconnection came when I found out my friend, Chance, and his wife, Valerie, who are currently serving in Malaysia, are expecting a baby! (This too was old news because, naturally, everyone found out on Facebook before Christmas and I’m just hearing about it via email three months later.) I responded to the mass email update about baby shower planning with a personal message relaying the usual congratulatory remarks. Chance replied right away with the following:

I’m bummed we couldn’t connect over Christmas, but I think you may have become a part of our baby’s life anyway over the break. [Right off the bat, I’m thinking, “huh?” and proceeded to re-read that sentence a couple times trying to figure out what the heck he was talking about.] We went to Goodwill in Seattle (Lynnwood, specifically) to look for baby books, clothes, and all that stuff. Valerie had a bunch picked out and as we were flipping through them after we left, we saw “Elizabeth Purdy” written in a child’s handwriting on the first page. Kid you not. I don’t know if your parents cleaned house and donated to Goodwill, but it looks like you’re passing on a childhood book to us. Is it possible there’s another one of you in Seattle? Hard to believe.

Ha, hard to believe, indeed. I hope little baby Edman follows in literary footsteps set before him/her(?)!

(I’d also like to thank everyone for their suggestions about what to name my new bike. I received many ideas, sometimes in the form of text messages that simply read, “Charles,” “Thomas,” “Daphne” with no further explanation. My mom suggested “Chandler” so I could have Joey, my Subaru, and Chandler, my bike, but the Friends reference was a bit much–I already refer to “Phoebe” and “Ross” as though I hung out with them last night. I’ve tried out several names on the rides to and from work and am still struggling to find the perfect fit, but Daphne and Tommy are the final contenders thus far.)

It’s Time

Yesterday I received an “accountability text” message from my sophomore-year roommate, Meghan, letting me know it’s time to update my blog. I didn’t exactly ask to be held accountable, but I do appreciate that Meghan has taken the initiative to let me know the displeasure of my reader(s–maybe I only have one left?).

I have, I admit, completely failed in the blogging world since my brief moment of WordPress fame. Perhaps it’s because the honeymoon period of having a new job in a new city has worn off. Don’t get me wrong, things are good, it just takes a little more searching to find the meat of the story worth sharing when the 9-5 routine is in full swing. Plus, I’m in charge of the blog at work, so what was once a creative outlet and leisure activity now has a bit of a mandatory feel. But in the midst of any lull I may blame on the daily grind, my competitive nature is surfacing as my business-major friend is about to have prose published before me and my Spanish/Bio major friend is currently maintaining a far better blog with thoughtful reflections on loving and serving others.

So, what have I been doing?

Well, for starters, rather than giving up something for Lent, I’m taking on the daily practice of writing (great, I’ve said it publicly, all sorts of accountability now). I won’t necessarily be writing on my blog (though a few items may surface here eventually), just in my Moleskine whose pages tempt me to fill them with substance. Perhaps the returning daylight and literary activity with my new book club (yes, I feel like a 45-year old when I say that) will offer stimulation.

After the snow fell on Seattle last month, I’ve been trying to find the stashes left to ski in the mountains, namely Mt. Baker and Mt. Hood. Took my first little trip into the backcountry on New Year’s day and have had pretty good success finding some powder this season (but after a season of a half-day skiing at Eagle Crest in Juneau last year, it doesn’t take much to improve).

Not exactly a bluebird day, but no complaints.

Off the mountain, the kitchen has been heating up with new recipes of Kale (who knew greens could taste so good?!), accompanied by Alaskan Amber, and my local Gonzaga basketball-viewing partner, Brittany. What could make for a better Thursday night?

Lucas was jealous...

Last weekend I attended a conference on, you guessed it, justice, hearing speakers like Shane Claiborne, Dr. John Perkins, and Richard Twiss, giving me plenty to think about and making me realize I really need to know more, read at least ten more books within the next month, and probably go to graduate school for peace and justice studies ASAP (unlikely). The weekend also shed light on what the “trendy” justice issues are, sex trafficking and human slavery seem to be the popular injustices worth fighting for these days. Who knew some social justices issues were “cooler” than others? But the quantity of booths and non-profits focused on that work confirmed that I am definitely not with the “cool justice” crowd. I opted out of the chance to buy a $30 dollar t-shirt covered in contemporary art and silk screens of the continent of Africa. I also learned, as I was at an exhibitor booth representing JVC Northwest, that some Protestant individuals don’t think Catholics are Christians. Interesting…I think I need to review some materials from my Religious Studies classes.

In other news, besides thought-provoking conferences, I get to attend the occasional webinar for work to acquire new ideas. Some are better than others:

Helpful review of a 5th grade writing lesson. If only I were 10...

Finally, I’ve adopted the quintessential Portland lifestyle activity: I am a bike commuter. And I kind of love it. It’s a great transition to and from work and as I passed the nearest gas station today and saw the price was $4.05/gallon, it was confirmed that I will be riding my bike every day this week (Dear Wall Street Speculators, Thanks for helping me quit using my car. Love, Liz). This is my favorite (only?) newly acquired possession, and just as Joey, my Subaru, has a name, I’m hoping the right name for my new companion will surface soon–I’m open to suggestions.

This photo looks like it should be for a Craigslist ad, but I'm keeping this baby for a while. Name: Stone? Stony? Eh... it's just not quite right. I need to let the relationship blossom naturally before premature naming.

How’s that Meghan? 🙂