Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Green Can I Be?

Since I've been in Portland I've started several blog posts, save them as drafts and swear to finish them up in a day or two.  It hasn't happened.  Not sure the reason, maybe a lack of motivation, lack of focus, or just being busy trying to settle in.  I did get a job the first week I was here, actually it is a freelance type of position.  Doing the things I love, writing, editing, researching, all the things that can drive a person mad.  Especially when sitting in a basement studio apartment wondering whether it is day or night outside.

But, what I thought might be the hardest adjustment, the one that everybody who has ever been to the Pacific Northwest or has watched an episode or two of Portlandia will warn you about, is of course, the weather.  The rain, the gray skies, the rain.  To be honest, I haven't seen all that much rain.  I don't know if I've even seen one solid day of rain yet.  I have seen the sun almost everyday, for at least a short period of time.  And gray, yes, if the sun isn't out, it is gray.  But, it is winter.  And, I like to remind myself, it is gray in Paris and London too.  That always makes me feel better.  And worldly.

But here is what I am having difficulty with.  Two things actually.  The driving.  And the elaborate recycling system here in the "greenest" state in the nation.  Wow.  For anyone who has ever thought that California might be leaning far to the left of center, come to Portland.

First let me tell you about the driving.  I always toot my own horn when it comes to announcing my great skill at driving.  I think I might be one of the best.  It is in my DNA.  I have a lot of experience driving, all you have to do is look at the odometer on all of the vehicles I have owned and you will know, I drive a lot.  And, I have driven in some of the more challenging areas, mainly the Bay Area.   And Los Angeles.  I have mastered the art of merging.

Here in Portland everyone goes slow.  It is like they really have no destination in mind.  It seems they are still trying to wake up and it is just another lazy Sunday morning, no matter what time of day or what day of the week it actually is.  You might be driving behind someone, heading over one of Portland's many bridges, when they start to break, for no apparent reason, some even almost come to a full stop.  When merging on to the freeway, some people will tip toe their tires onto the onramp and wave you on!  What the hell?  "Go, Go, Go!" I want to scream at them.  But how can you, when they smile and give you the peace sign.

Okay, now on to the recycling portion of this show.  There are four containers.  One for recycling, one for yard waste, one for garbage, and one for compost.  Compost.  I don't have a garden, or even a strip of dirt outside my door.  The thought of collecting rotting food and keeping it inside in a little plastic container pretty much grosses me out.  Yuk.  But I'm doing it.  Then, they tell me, if you recycle, compost, and use the yard waste properly, you should have very little garbage.  The goal is to have 0% garbage.  And, the garbage is only picked up once every two weeks.  Okay, so I'm making my best attempt.  But it looks like the recycling police paid me a visit, leaving what looked like a traffic ticket stuck to my door, letting me know all of the things I had tossed in the recycling bin last week that were not acceptable.  The whole thing is starting to stress me out, I worry constantly, "is this the right container, where should I put this?"  Yesterday morning I went to pick up my daughter to go for tea and just took all of my trash to her apartment and dumped it into her big garbage dumpster. Whew, a sigh of relief. I'll try a little harder next week.

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