Some Things That I Have Been Meaning to Tell You

HELLO! Are you looking at my blog as a way to judge my writing skills? A#1: Welcome! And B#2: This may not be the blog post you’re looking for. C#3: If you got that Star Wars reference, we might get along. I continue …

I use “creative grammar” in my blog. I do this because I’ve been a rule follower my entire life and this is a place I don’t. Follow the rules. NOTE: If you understood that last sentence as paying homage to David Foster Wallace’s grammar-bending writing, then we REALLY should meet.

The point being: don’t take my grammar in Writing Out Loud too seriously. It’s meant to be kooky. I love grammar (see: rule follower, above). It’s one of life’s FEW rules. And it also pisses off crazy people who think grammar rules are a conspiracy to create an underclass of people. Now that is kooky.

Carry on, future employer!


Catherine B. Winchild

I cannot believe how long it has been since I have writed out loud. In case you do not know me in 3-D life, the reason I have not been writing is because I have spent the last 3 months moving across the country. It did not take me 3 months to actually move across the country. That took me about 6 hours. No — what took 3 months was getting everything ready so we could unload our home.

We are currently renting in Portland, as we seem to have a serious knack for timing the real estate market wrong. Here in PDX <— that is the Portland Airport code and also the cool kid thing to call Portland; also — possibly — easier to type? ANYHOW … we are looking forward to our THIRD first-time home buyers home and — likely  — a “fixer upper.” Thus far, the only home we’ve liked in our price range was condemned due to “animal feces and mold.” I know what you are thinking — America is ALREADY great again.

We currently live in a very fun location, within walking distance of the hair dresser, Ben & Jerry’s, the grocery store, local movie theaters, ethnic restaurants, shoe stores, thrift stores, Powell’s Bookstore, etc. I am less smitten with the whole walking distance thing than I am amazed at how many locally owned movie theaters there are. There is one in almost every Portland neighborhood. And many serve beer. Which brings me to another point …

There is beer EV-ER-EE WHERE in Protland <– It IS hard to type! In fact, I have yet to find a BIKE SHOP that doesn’t have a bar. <– totally fucking serious.

In a weird way, my husband and I feel very old here, despite the fact that there are a LOT of people our age. This place has a very young ENERGY, which my husband and I are definitely going to need when we have to quickly make an offer on our $800,000, poop-filled, fixer-upper dream home.

My daughter _____, has a fairly unique name for a girl. I am not going to write her name here because that is just a recipe for a Dateline episode. But her name is not funky here AT ALL. It would be much funkier in Porltand <— !!! to have a name like Mary or Kristen. Almost every kid here has an unusual name, forcing the existential question: if everything is weird, is nothing weird? That brain-hurter aside, here are some of the fun names we’ve come across (THUS FAR):

  • Hollis
  • Abi (AB-bee)
  • Sierra
  • Finley
  • Naia (NA-uh)
  • Ruby (x2) ((I know Ruby’s not that unusual, but I love that there are 2 of them))
  • Stella (less unusual; more auntie generation-y)
  • Josie (Jo-CEE)
  • Corrigan
  • Yomari
  • Draven (boy)
  • Skye (boy)
  • Babe (boy)
  • Metin (boy)
  • Dwayne

That last one is pronounced Duh-waw’-Nyay <– for reals!

My son: What’s your name?

Dwayne: Duh-waw’- Nyay.

My son: Sorry. How do you say it?

Dwayne: Just call me ‘D.’ <– I love him.

This is definitely the land of the unusual. In fact: I am PRIT-ee sure I’m the only person with bleached blonde hair. Everyone else has blue, purple, pink or aqua. My goal is to introduce those people to an east coast concept I like to call CONDITIONER.

The whole tattoo thing has not been that notable; but the large, round objects in the ear have been a wee bit disconcerting, as my provincial New Englander self has only ever seen those in National Geographic magazines cicra 1976. Interestingly, there are tattoos and big round ear-lobe stretching things in places other than vegan restaurants.

There are a LOT of vegan restaurants and even the dive-y-est looking bars have signs that read: “We have vegan AND gluten-free foods!”

When you meet someone for a meal, the first thing they ask you is, “What are your dietary restrictions?” They do it in a completely non-put-out way.

In general, everyone seems to be extremely non-put-out and friendly; albeit, a little more private than I would have expected. I guess that part of being nice here is not paying attention to what other people are doing, which is great, because every day it takes me a full 2 minutes to back out of our 20-yard driveway, because it is so skinny and runs RIGHT up along the side of the house’s foundation and — for some reason — I cannot “JUST KEEP THE WHEEL STRAIGHT! KEEP THE STEERING WHEEL STRAIGHT!” as my son likes to yell at me as I back up, and my daily fear is that the neighbors amuse themselves [1] by watching me back out of the driveway, go up onto the lawn [4], go forward, reverse again, come too close to the house foundation, stop, go forward, come too close to the garden wall at the bottom of the driveway and then stop to check TWO streets full of view-limiting parked cars and — finally — check directly BEHIND me to see if cars are coming from THAT direction, because our driveway creates this fourth “road” in what is a THREE-way intersection, but WITH NO STOP SIGNS. Here is a real exchange:

Me: We need to leave for school around 8:00 am.

My son: Did you account for the time it’s going to take you to get down the driveway?

Did you notice that leave-for-school time?! Yep: the high school starts at 8:15 am and the K-8 school at 8:30 am. EIGHT THIRTY! Honestly — I do not know how the children of Porltand have survived.

NO one wears yoga pants here, except for when they GO to yoga. Here, yoga pants don’t seem to be a sartorial statement that one makes for 12 straight hours. (Not that there is anything wrong with that) <– ahhahahahhahaha. Yeah, right.

Drivers stop for you in crosswalks! SCREECHING HALT STOPS when they see you. It is SO civilized. As my daughter likes to say: “Oregon — The Canada of America.”

I have not seen a single Chevy Suburban (praise God!).

have seen some Land/Range rovers, although  — based on the multiple layers of dirt covering them — they do not appear to be used just for school drop off/pick up and/or to get to their “ski home in Vermont/summer home on The Cod.”

Also interesting: very few people drive their kids to and/or from school. If you show up 10 minutes early to pick up your kid, YOU WILL PROBABLY BE THE FIRST CAR THERE. The kids walk, or take a public bus.

Here are more things I’ve noticed that I want to tell you: there are sooooooooooooooo many dentists and orthodontists (send British relatives!);  very few Volvos/LOTS of Subarus (duh), and a surprising number of Hondas; cars actively avoid gridlock within an intersection; the local/small motels seem to thrive here; when houses are renovated (and not demolished), they are lifted higher up into the air; the city composts and the reason you can put MEAT and POULTRY in it is because it is not accessible to animals, but if you compost in your own yard, you are encouraged NOT to include meat (<– always wondered about that); the potholes are something to write home about; the architecture is mouth watering  (when I get my cell phone, I’ll take some pics for you); When you tell people in Porltnad that you don’t own a cell phone, they do not think it’s cute; there are mountains IN THE CITY; organic produce is gorgeous and cheap and I buy it so I no longer have to be afraid of conventional kale; employees at the DMV and public library are super friendly; I rarely see police cars and almost never hear sirens; but, when I am driving and I DO hear a siren, drivers PULL OVER and — GET THIS — if a person has pulled their vehicle over BEHIND another, when the ambulance-slash-fire engine passes, THE PERSON BEHIND THE OTHER CAR DOES NOT GUN THEIR CAR AND RACE TO GET IN FRONT; I’m still recovering from Rhode Island drivers. And that thing they say about a lot of rain here? Truth!

——————————– SOAKED! ——————————–  I have never experienced rain that felt like buckets of water being poured over my head (for 10 blocks). You know what doesn’t feel good against your legs when they are sopping wet? YOGA PANTS.

[1] I don’t think they are. [2] [3]

[2] They = neighbors

[3] Are = amusing themselves by watching me back out of the driveway

[4] I used to encourage EVERYONE to drive on our lawn in Rhode Island. But that was because during the winter, it was frozen; and in the summer, it was dry. Every time I drive on the lawn next my driveway here, I create this righteous Mud Zone.

17 thoughts on “Some Things That I Have Been Meaning to Tell You

  1. Welcome to the West! I guess I am a Westerner at heart because most of those names don’t strike me as odd. In fact my daughter’s name is on the list (but with a weirder spelling). I think you’re going to like it out here.

  2. WOW WOW WOW!!! You are not doing customer service any longer! What are you doing now for paid work? We also moved closer to LOTS of family. I hope you are enjoying that part. Who is in Utah for you? CONGRATS, Ben! I’m really happy for you. It’s a big switch at this point in one’s life — “new chapter” as a dear friend on the east coast characterized it.

  3. Sigh. I loved hearing all about your adorable life in adorable Portland…missing you terribly. Perhaps when I come visit I’ll have to tell people my name is spelled Aihmeigh?

  4. I met a woman named Collins in Kansas City this week. Collins was her first name. I won’t say her last name. But it’s even cooler than Collins… I’ve met many of the names on your list, my wife teaches at an art school. Except our Skye is female… Good to hear your writing again! Your bro in KC,MO

      1. Not in Missouri. Out here every town ends in MO. I did have one publication call before printing a Letter to the Editor that I submitted. They thought Mo Dickens was my porn name.

  5. If you run into a kid named Vesper, I went to high school with his dad. (Or her dad. Can’t remember if it’s a boy or girl.)

  6. To answer your question, this. This is why I thought you’d pick Star Wars over Star Trek. Sorry for snooping! Love your writing!

    1. Ohmygawsh — Arthur, I laughed so hard when I read your comment. Your snooping is 100% forgiven!

      I’m relieved that you can appreciate my writing despite my foul mouth (although, this particular post was NOT That Bad). Really looking forward to working alongside you. See you in September and thanks for reading!

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