Today I am very excited to have a very long time friend joining me. Kelly and I met years ago while working here in Portland at a department store. She and her husband got married the same year my wife and I did. She and her husband have remained good friends over the years. Despite her rise to fame in publishing a book, she has remained grounded and very cool. I am very pleased to have her shared today. You can follow Kelly on Twitter @LiveCheap, where she will score you some great deals on a lot of different products and hey, who doesn’t like that.
Portlandia Is Now A Verb
My love affair with Portland began in 1993, when I relocated to attend college at Warner Pacific smack in the middle of southeast Portland. According to the school song, Warner Pacific’s campus is located in Mt. Tabor’s bosom, but I tend to disagree. A more objective observation of the metaphor places the campus approximately shin-level as opposed to bosom-level.
Regardless, I immediately fell in love with Mt. Tabor, and it remains one of my favorite locations in Portland. As I’ve explored the city over the last (almost) twenty years, I’ve discovered a variety of events, activities and locations that aspire to, as the bumper sticker states, Keep Portland Weird.
No representation is more accurate to the wonderful weirdness of Portland than Portlandia, a show that debuted in 2011 on IFC (http://www.ifc.com/portlandia). From the first descriptive during the song “The Dream of the Nineties is Alive in Portland,” everything about Portland on this show is accurate. Everything.
Consider this conversation between the two main characters:
“Remember when people were content to be unambitious, sleep till eleven, just hang out with their friends? You had no occupation whatsoever, maybe working a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop?”
“Right…I thought that died out a long time ago.”
“Not in Portland! Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”
This statement is truer than you might think, and it made me evaluate my own life in Portland over the last two decades. I’ve never made more than $26,000 a year – in fact, that was the most I’ve ever made. Currently, I work from home, without regular hours, sleeping late, hanging out with friends, drinking coffee, writing in my neurotic, artist way.
Is it any wonder that, for me, Portlandia is now a verb?
When I need organic goods from Trader Joes, I head out to Portlandia groceries. Is the dog restless? It’s time to Portlandia the dog (this means head out for a hike at the local dog park). Are the kids’ clothes getting too small? It’s time to Portlandia some “new” clothes for them, which to us means heading out to thrift stores, which must be locally owned and operated – those chain thrift stores are The Man!
Not only that, the word Portlandia can also be a catch-all descriptive. The man with the braided beard who works as a massage therapist and designs tattoos on the side – that is so Portlandia! The doggie daycare situated on three acres of land in southeast, where each kennel has a fenced outside area so that each dog has access to fresh air at all times? That is so Portlandia!
There’s so much about Portland to love – and all that is so Portlandia – that I’ve compiled a list of activities, events and locations that, to me, shriek Portland:
- A membership to Oregon Public Broadcasting
- Bridges with bike lanes
- Coffee – three different kinds of locally-owned shops within a mile, and at least 8 different ways to order it (Starbucks is The Man!)
- Dogs – dog parks, dog stores, doggie daycares, Doggie Dash
- Events that involve long-distance running or biking and beer…simultaneously
- Food Carts
- Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free
- Henry Weinhards and additional local and state Microbrews
- Investing in pasture-fed cows and chickens that you’ll soon freeze and eat
- Joining fellow beer-drinkers and movie buffs at McMenamins (all of them)
- Keep Portland Beered
- Lack of umbrellas – nobody uses them in Portland (that’s so Portlandia!)
- Movies in the Park (even in the rain)
- Nothing but Organic…Everything
- Original Pancake House
- Powell’s Books
- Quintessential Bike Culture – bike lanes, bike riders, public bike storage, bike rentals
- Rimsky Korsacoffee House
- Saturday Market and the Max train ride you take to get there
- Trader Joes
- UFO Fest – takes place annually
- Voodoo Donuts
- Worldwide Naked Bike Ride
- eXtensive Farmer’s Markets (all over the city, in every neighborhood)
I would even go so far to say that unless you’ve witnessed or taken part in the representations on this list, you’re not really living the Portland life. And that would be – say it with me – so Portlandia!
Kelly Wilson loves Portland and is a busy mom, freelance writer, and expert in saving money. She is the author of Live Cheap and Free! Strategies to Thrive in Tough Economic Times, and you can read more about her at http://www.wilsonwrites.com/