I had so much fun reflecting on everything I did in June that I want to try to make this roundup a regular monthly thing. Once again, I’m surprised by how much I was able to squeeze into one month. July was just as busy as June, but for many different reasons!
In the beginning of the month I hiked Bald Mountain with Adventurous Young Mazamas (AYM). In fact, many of the hikes I’ve done since moving to Portland have been with AYM. They’re a great group of people: they love the outdoors, they’re knowledgeable about the area, they have introduced me to trails that I probably wouldn’t have found on my own, and overall they’re just really fun. Bald Mountain was no exception to this rule, and was one of my favorite hikes that I’ve done so far in Portland. After a gradual, not-too-challenging uphill climb we were treated to stunning views of Mt Hood. We ate lunch on a peak overlooking the valley and mountain, which we had to ourselves. There were wildflowers around us and waterfalls in the distance, but I couldn’t get over the beauty of Mt Hood. It’s a view that doesn’t get old for me.
Towards the end of July the temperatures in Portland were very high, and to escape the heat I went hiking on Bayocean Spit with a few friends. It was a very serene hike with almost no elevation. We started off walking along the bay side and followed the edge of the land as it turned to the ocean side. For part of the hike we walked on the beach right at the water’s edge, and eventually took a connecting trail back to where we started. It was a breezy and beautiful day, and the best way to spend a hot day.
Moving has been stressful this month. I officially moved out of my temporary apartment and into my permanent one, and I was gearing up for the arrival of the rest of my belongings that have been in storage in Pittsburgh. However, that turned into a massive headache that I never could have expected. First, the movers that I had scheduled a month in advance didn’t show up on the pickup day. This meant that my parents had to waste an entire day waiting for them, and there were numerous phone calls on both their end and mine as we tried to figure out a solution. The moving company made me feel like it was my fault, which was frustrating to deal with. And then things went from bad to worse…
A few days after the missed pickup, there were torrential rains in Pittsburgh that caused water damage to my storage unit. I spent the day completely stressed out, not knowing what was damaged and if anything was recoverable. I was so removed and out of control of the situation, I felt completely helpless. In the end, I had to replace my bedroom furniture and some smaller items, but luckily most of my things were okay. The movers picked everything up the following weekend, and finally towards the end of the month everything arrived in Portland! Even though unpacking is a pain, I’m so happy to finally get situated in my apartment. It’s been so long since I felt a sense of home, and now that feeling is getting closer and closer.
In July I traveled to Denver for a work meeting. It was exciting because it was the first time that everyone on our global team was able to meet each other in person. A lot of work-related good things came out of that meeting, and it made me reflect on how much happier I am at my new company. I look back at how negative and undervalued I felt six months or a year ago, and today I’m the complete opposite. It’s such a great feeling to wake up and not dread going to work. I’m excited about the things I’m working on, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so motivated about a job. Any time you make a career change I feel like there’s that question in the back of your head asking if you made the right choice. Not that I was having any doubts, but this meeting completely solidified my decision. I’m so much better off than where I was a year ago, and I see only good things ahead.
While traveling for work is exciting, the drawback is always that you don’t have much time to do things other than work. I was with coworkers most of the time during the day and evening in Denver. The most entertaining thing we did was go to a baseball game, which I loved. I went to a lot of Pirates games back in Pittsburgh, and since Portland doesn’t have a professional baseball team it’s something I’ve missed. On the night we went to Coors Field (my second MLB ballpark) the Rockies were facing off against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It turned out to be more of a homerun derby than a ballgame- the Rockies were up 19 to 2 when we left in the seventh inning! In all the games I’ve seen, I’ve never witnessed that many runs in a professional baseball game. It was kind of crazy to see!
Oh man, I read SO MANY books in July! Back in May and June there were a bunch of new releases I was interested in, so I placed holds for them at my local library. They were expected to become available at a scattered pace throughout the summer, but somehow they all became available in the beginning of July. With a 21-day limit, I powered through all of them. It was great, but I found myself losing interest by the end of the month. Here’s the breakdown:
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarity – my score 4/5
This was the first novel by the author of Big Little Lies. It focused on a group of triplets in their 33rd year as they balanced love, marriage, kids, jobs, etc. It was funny and entertaining, and definitely a feel-good kind of book.
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman – my score 3/5
I was hooked on the storyline here. I think I read it in 1 – 2 days because I just needed to know what happened. However, I couldn’t stand the main character which made me dislike it a bit.
Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams – my score 2/5
This book is set in the near future, where a machine exists that can tell you specific things to do to be happy based on your DNA. The book description made it sound like it would center around a woman who works for the company that makes the machine and her teenage son who has no interest in it. While it is sort of about them, I felt more like I was reading a bunch of interconnected short stories. I liked the idea but wish the author cut out half the characters and explored some of the plots more deeply.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton – my score 4/5
Told partly in the present and partly in the past, this follows Marisol and her grandmother, Elisa. Elisa fled Cuba with her family during the 1959 revolution, and her story details the events leading up to their exile. In the present, Marisol travels to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes and discovers family secrets and a Cuba different than she imagined.
Dreams of Falling by Karen White – my score 4/5
Larkin returns to her small hometown after 9 years away because her mother has suffered an accident. While trying to solve the mystery behind the accident she learns about family secrets that have been buried for years. This is another novel with both past and present storylines, which is a format I enjoy.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – my score 3/5
This is kind of like Pretty Woman meets 50 Shades of Grey, but about someone who’s on the autism spectrum. Stella, at 30, hasn’t had successful experiences with men, partly due to behaviors associated with Asperger’s. So she hires a male escort to teach her about sex and relationships. This was another fun, feel-good read, but this kind of story isn’t what I would normally go for.
That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam – my score 2/5
Ugh. A white mother bonds with her child’s black nanny, and then adopts the nanny’s son when she unexpectedly passes away. The description made it sound like this would be about the woman’s struggles of raising two sons of different races, but it wasn’t. It was about motherhood, true, but instead of focusing on the mother’s relationship with her two sons it was all about the white mother and her inability to think about anyone but herself.
You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac – my score 3/5
Jess and her 10-year-old son are spending the summer in France at the hotel/castle that his father (her ex) owns, even though he has been mostly absent in his son’s life. This is an emotional story of a mother just wanting her son to be loved by his father, and there’s also a deeper plot. To me, it was a great story but I don’t think it was written as emotionally as it could’ve been.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – my score 5/5
I can’t think of a more relevant book right now in the US. Teenage Starr witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed friend, and her world is thrown off its axis. This is a YA novel so it’s very readable, but it explores racism in a serious way. There’s a lot I could say, but this is one of those books that you just need to read to understand.
Circe by Madeline Miller- my score 4/5
I really enjoyed this story. There were a few points where I thought the plot dragged, but for the most part I was very interested in learning what would happen to the characters, and I liked reading about Greek mythology since I haven’t read anything related to it since middle school.
Astoria and the Northern Oregon Coast
I spent a weekend with a few friends on the northern Oregon coast, staying overnight in Astoria. We started the trip off by hiking Cape Falcon. It was a relatively easy hike and had great views of the Pacific Ocean. It was perfect because it was just the right amount of effort- we weren’t so exhausted that we felt like doing nothing the rest of the day. On our way to Astoria we stopped at the Warrenton jetty in Fort Stevens State Park. We had heard there were tide pools there, but that turned out not to be the case. It was still an interesting piece of land to explore at low tide, we enjoyed walking around before heading into town.
In Astoria, we walked along the Riverwalk and stopped at a cute little wine tasting shop for an afternoon snack (and beverage). We watched a “parade” through downtown, which consisted of about seven classic cars. One was a converted steam engine blowing bubbles, so there was that. After resting at the hotel we had a quick dinner then decided to walk along the river to a pier where we had heard sea lions liked to roam. The sun was setting as we walked, so it was beautiful. We spotted one sea lion but it was too dark to see much, so we went back to the hotel.
The next day we walked through the Astoria Sunday Market before leaving town. We stopped in Cannon Beach for lunch, then went to Hug Point in search of more tide pools. This stop was more successful than the previous day- we saw a few crabs. However, it was incredibly windy and we were all kind of tired so it wasn’t long before we left and returned to Portland. All in all, it was a relaxing but fun weekend.
Outside of everything I mentioned here, I’ve been filling my time with Italian classes, dates (!), getting my Oregon driver’s license, and drinks with friends- including a night spent with two sorority sisters that I haven’t seen in years! I had so much fun in July, and I feel like I’m building a solid network of friends, which feels great. Despite all the stress that moving has caused, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I can’t wait to feel completely settled here in Portland.
Have you ever moved long distance, and if so what problems did you have? What does “feeling at home” mean to you? What fun things have kept you busy in July?