My Fishbowl Existence

Here’s something that I loved about Seattle…I know, how refreshing for me not to bitch about Seattle for once.  I call it my Fishbowl Existence.

Living somewhere – and in such a manner – that you really don’t need a car.  Your work, grocery, gym, and friends and entertainment – natch – are all within a walkable radius of your home.

This type of lifestyle began for me unconsciously, I’m sure.  I picked up the vibe from a movie or TV show. Sex and the City, I’m sure…even though that seems a little late in the timeline.  But I’m sure it strengthened its place in my psyche when I got a promotion that had me driving 60 miles each way to work for a little over a year.

The Silver Fox made that same trip for 12 or 13 years.  Eek.

Anyway, “luckily” my job was relocated to Seattle and I ended up renting a place about four blocks from my downtown office.

And paying $175/month to park my cars.


And driving them a combined total of about 30 miles a month.  Those were months with a lot of days that I frequently couldn’t get my mind around walking ten blocks to the gym.

Eventually, I traded the two cars in for one.  Still, by the year’s end I had sold that one as well.  This was right before I bought my condo – so that time in my life has been on my mind lately.

I completely adapted over the next year without wheels.  I walked everywhere.  In my mind, nothing was really further than that initial gym-walk hurdle had been:  about ten blocks.  This slightly erroneous frame of mind was pointed out to me by my mother when she came to visit and she parked her car and we walked everywhere.

It was also the first time that I really realized that I lived on top of a rather steep hill.  Realized meaning my mother pointed it out to me several times.  I re-realized it when I bought a full suspension bike a couple of years later…and suddenly it wasn’t as funny as it had been when mom pointed it out to me.

You try riding from a dead stop at an intersection up a 25 degree hill.  I’m sure it wasn’t as acute an angle as that, but you get my point.  Plus, I’ve never fully understood how one measures the steepness of an incline.

It was steep.

When I moved back to PDX last year, I wanted to maintain that same lifestyle, now viewing car ownership as nothing more than a money-suck.

I already knew I was destined to live in the Pearl District.  As a matter of fact, had it been as developed a decade earlier when I was given the option of moving to Seattle or a severance check and being unemployed with 10% of Oregonians, I imagine I would have stayed.  Having a job just seemed prudent at the time.

And I’m very practical.

<eye roll>

So here I am, back in Portland and working about 15 blocks from where I live.

And loving it.

And EOG-info myself to unemployment after three months.

Lesson learned:  don’t call the President of the company out when he apathetically reneges on the goals you were hired to affect.

But that shitshow of an employment experience and the encouragement of my parents – dad in particular – afforded me the luxury of finding a job that looks to be a great fit.  Sure, it could pay more…but I think that potential is there.  Right now, I can appreciate the environment, people and values and just do my part to ensure the opportunities to grow and earn more present themselves as expected.

The new job is at Green Zebra Grocery, which is a startup company that opens its second store tomorrow.

Some of the many things that attracted me to this company:

It’s food.  Fat old Xtopher loves to eat.  This is good foodin a store that describes itself as a cross between Whole Foods and 7-Eleven – healthy convenience.

It’s small.  The efforts I put into my work have a visibly direct impact.  I’m not some anonymous cog in a machine.

The founder and CEO describes her concept as a store that’s a part of the evolution toward a 20-minute neighborhood, where all the basics a resident needs are no more than a 20-minute walk or bike ride away.

Sound familiar?

I also love that the owner also talks about how she started the company with a mission statement and set of values that were in place before shed really ironed out the concept.  She knew how she wanted to succeed before she knew what exactly she would be doing.

Sure, there are a few things that make my fishbowl existence challenging:

My family resolutely refuse to be urban and I don’t have a car, so it’s a hassle to get to them.  But they offset that be working in town, so I can usually hitch a ride.

Sometimes I want to go to Costco.  I can’t believe I just typed that.

And, yeah…a few of the corners in my fishbowl sometimes smell like urine…but ya take the bad with the good.

My Fishbowl Existence

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