Good evening, friends and neighbors.
If you’ve been reading this blog for even a little bit, you probably know at least three things about me:
1. I like a food. Like, a lot.
2. I am a proud New Jersey native.
and 3. I currently live in a pretty weird place.
Since moving here, Em and I have found that a good number of the people in this city moved here from somewhere else, either for opportunities, jobs, or simply the fact it seems like a great place to pursue your passion. In Portland, you throw what you love to do at the wall and see what sticks.
That said, though, almost every person we’ve spoken too still pines for some of the tastes of home. Today, sitting at the beer cart after work, I had a serendipitous run-in with three East-Coasters- two from New Jersey, and one from Philly. Together, we all agreed:
“I love it here, but after x years, you really start to miss good subs/ New York pizza/ bagels/ Jewish delis/ all-night diners/ etc etc…”
So tonight, as a public service to everyone out there that wants to let their freak flag fly of the Left Coast, I offer a few words of advice- from a Jersey boy learning to live with moss, slugs, potsmoke, and an obscene amount of beer readily available at all times.
The Jersey Boy’s Guide To Life In Portland
Yes, it rains A LOT in Portland. If you carry an umbrella, it marks you as a kid, a tourist, or a fashionista. Ponchos work, but then you look like your in an amusement park. Remember, if the weather forecast says “Cloudy” but no rain…
See above. If you like the weather in Portland, just wait.3. Unless you have a job that requires distant travel or odd hours, don’t bother with a car.
Public transport is great, and services like Lyft, Uber, and Car2Go are plentiful. Besides, finding parking is an absolute nightmare- and if you think Philly Parking Enforcement is bad….
4. Get a bicycle, treat it like it’s your car.
Not even kidding here- EVERYONE bikes in Portland, simply because of the parking situation and ease of public transport. It’s good exercise, and you don’t have to worry about gas prices. That said, though, if you make your bike your go-to vehicle of choice, you want to look into:
- Hardcore security. Big, honkin’ U-lock with a chain. Satellite surveillance, angry dogs, retracting spikes- the works. Get it.
- Cargo room. Either get yourself a good-sized backpack designed for cyclists and bike couriers, or get a luggage rack with paneers.
- Either a hybrid bike, or a super lightweight town bike with gears. Portland is NOT a flat city, and the hills with murder your legs- especially if you are carrying weight, or if you decide to ride an adorable, cruiser-style bike. Ask my wife.
- Get wheel guards. See item #1 again. You WILL eventually wind up riding in the rain, and you WILL get a nice big muddy skunk stripe up your back if you don’t get mudguards.
- LIGHTS. HORNS. LASERS. CLOTHING BRIGHT ENOUGH TO CAUSE GLAUCOMA. Bicycles are ubiquitous in Portland, but it doesn’t mean drivers will automatically look for you. Bicycles are considered vehicles in Oregon, and you are EXPECTED to be riding in traffic, not up the sidewalk. Wear safety gear, and if you’re not sure that distracted driver will see the laser lightshow that is your ride to work, add more to it.
Portand, and Oregon in general, are rightfully proud of their variety and natural bounty. Each city and neighborhood has something like its own farmer’s market, and you should go whenever they are open. Welcome to the land of Plenty- now eat the f***ing plenty.6. Learn to be disappointed in your local farmers markets until you learn to cook seasonally.
Welcome to the land of Plenty- now eat the f***ing plenty, when it’s f***ing in season. If you want strawberries in fall, you should have bought and stored them in early summer, bub.
7. Be prepared to eat out.
There is good food EVERYWHERE, and EVERYONE has an informed, reasoned opinion on where you can get the best/cheapest _____. Portland is a huge food town, and it’s pretty hard to find a truly terrible meal here.
8. Learn to cook EVERYTHING.
That said, Portland is also a really expensive town, and you’ll eat yourself into the poorhouse if you don’t learn to cook for yourself at home pretty often (especially all that good seasonal food.)
9. Everyone in Portland is either ridiculously friendly and sweet, or an enormous asshole.
There are no in-betweens. There is little-to-none of the polite aloofness East Coasters are familiar with, and the tight corners and sharp elbows New Yorkers and Philadelphians might be familiar with are replaced with either polite smiles, light conversation, or simply benign unawareness of their surroundings. It can be a little freaky at first.
10. If you don’t like nature, learn to- because nature loves the f*** out of you.
Portland is an extremely green city, and it is surrounded by dense woodland and mountains. Every other person you meet here has some outdoor hobby- hiking, camping, boating, fishing, hunting, etc. If you want to make friends, have something to say about ANY of these things- there’s a reason Columbia, Montbel, and REI picked Oregon as the location of their headquarters.
That’s all I’ve got for right now, but in a future entry, I’ll be addressing food again- and specifically, where the hell you’re supposed to find a decent cheesesteak in this friggin’ state.
(Spoilers- it’s possible, but rare.)