Things I never thought about before living in Seattle

Next month marks two years since I quit my job, packed up my Honda Civic and drove the 1,500 miles to start a new life in Seattle. What better time than reflecting on how living here has changed the way I think about a few things?

Living in an educated city means you need a bachelor’s degree to be a receptionist.

I never considered that since about half of the city’s population has a higher education degree, entry-level jobs have more competition from over-qualified people. My generation is willing to work hard, but with the cost of living in this city, a receptionist job at $12 an hour is not going to pay for rent, groceries, student loan payments, a bus pass and the occasional drink/dinner with friends.

Nannies.

Last week I overheard a woman casually mention that her nanny potty trained her kids, and how thankful she was. She went to an ivy league university, and is a motivated, intelligent, caring and capable person. I respect her intelligence, and see that this was a good choice for her. I don’t want a nanny to potty train my (hypothetical) child, nor will I likely have the resources to pay a nanny. Interestingly, this shows she delegated a very personal task in the past, but doesn’t do a great job of delegating at work. Why do we do things at work that are so completely out of character?

Compost. And Recycling Guilt.

Where I grew up, people still burn their trash on farms. My university, with approximately 12,000 undergrads in a liberal town (well, liberal for South Dakota) didn’t recycle until a few years ago. In the dorms in 2004 (and in all my apartments until I left the Midwest in 2008) we would throw plastic soda bottles, beer cans and wine bottles in the garbage. Recycling wasn’t an easy option. No companies picked up recycling, and most college students don’t have the space or patience to store recyclables and take them to a recycling center.

In Seattle the city picks up our recycling every other week, and our garbage and compost weekly. The amount of garbage is much less than the contents of our recycling bin.  Living in such a green city has changed my way of thinking, even though I grew up in an eco-friendly household. My mom recycled, and did her own compost in the 70s. When I was a kid we would go on walks and pick up trash along the street in our small town in Northern California.

When I visit the Midwest now, I feel guilty that I’m not recycling and composting, because the infrastructure doesn’t exist. I always disliked styrofoam, but now I feel guilty the 3 times a year that I see it.

I have a soft spot and nostalgia for various Midwestern things. Except for snow.

This was unexpected, since I longed to distance myself from the Midwest. I’ll probably never own cowboy boots again, and it took months to find a plaid shirt I liked without feeling like a farm girl. I smile when I see a Midwestern license plate in traffic, or when I found a pub in Portland that serves my beer of choice in college. I still have several ice scrapers and my snowboots, although they haven’t been out of the box since I moved. No one in Seattle was more excited for our latest winter without snow. My first since 1993.

Being vegan.

If you know me well, you already know that I have been dating a vegan for several months. I got over the awkwardness of sitting at a sushi bar with him and I’m no longer self conscious when ordering Pad Thai with chicken. I never cooked with quinoa before we started dating. It has certainly been a learning experience. So far, so good.

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