New city, new normals

A few observations about life in the Pacific Northwest:

-As I find myself out and about during the day with the kiddos, I notice that around here a lot of Dads are home during the day with their children. I remember noticing this when we here on vacation last year, and now that I live here I notice it even more. There are also a lot of parents who share working and caring for their kids during the day, which is what Doug and I are now doing. This feels like a very normal thing here.

-Doug and I went out for our first date here, and as we sat here sipping yummy Belgian beers we noticed the distinct difference in how people dress here. Lots of hoodies under shirts. Lots of black. Tons of tattoos of course. And as I looked around, I could not find a single blonde in the crowd (and not because we not among a largely Anglo crowd). Women had lots of shades of browns and reds and darker hues, and I realized how accustomed I have grown to the unnaturally blonde haircolors seen so often in L.A.

-It’s hard to find the non-organic sections of the grocery store. They are by far the smaller percentage of any given aisle.

-Composting here is part of regular trash service. We had to post the garbage guidelines on our refrigerator because they were so extensive. Mercy has learned how to compost and she knows what foods from her plate can be dumped into the compost trash can. I didn’t realize that Aaron was watching her do this and I couldn’t understand why I kept fishing plates and forks out of the compost trash can. He saw Mercy dump her plate in that trash, but apparently didn’t realize that the entire plate was not going into the can.

-Conversation among strangers is totally normal here. I have started allowing more time for errands because of this.

-As I have met people and mentioned that I am a pastor, I wondered how that would be received around here as Seattle is famous for its unchurched-ness. So far the reaction I have received is one of people hearing that and wanting to talk about any number of things relating to faith or society or their health or families. I have not yet felt any prejudice against me for being a Christian or serving as a minister.

-The economy is hitting our region hard, with lots of Microsoft layoffs and insecurity at Boeing. In our church family, a number of people are being hit with unemployment as well as having to make tough decisions at work letting other employees go.


  1. Hoodies are the perfect attire for nearly any occasion especially in Seattle where you can get away with a lot. I currently have 3 in heavy rotation.

    This is the first day I haven’t worn a hoodie to work (besides the first day) and it was just because I couldn’t find the right hoodie.

  2. I live in Tulsa, OK. It is very rare to have more than the most superficial conversation with a stranger here. Could you describe that a little, please?

    A friend whose daughter lives in Seattle describes it as anti-Christian, but then she is very conservative and sees enemies everywhere. I am very interested in your experience.

  3. Well, I went to buy some paint and ended up in a forty-five minute conversation about one woman’s experience opening up her home to someone who had entered the country illegally, and how that had changed her. I don’t think she is a Christian, but we talked at length about the needs of this particular segment of the community here.

    With others, when I have said I am a pastor or work at a church, give me their history of where they worship or why they don’t. I have been caught off guard by the general openness…

    I am sure this is not representative of everyone and of course I expect to have other sorts of interactions as well.

  4. Welcome back to the Northwest! The general friendliness of strangers in Portland helped me cope with being new & lonely when I arrived. For my first three months, the highlight of my day was doing the daily bank run at work, because the bank tellers at all 3 banks were so friendly.

  5. We are friendly in Pittsburgh too! We have lots of elderly who LOVE to talk in the cereal aisle. But my REAL question is… White Coffee… tell me more. I met a woman yesterday who just moved here from Spokane and she was raving about the stuff.

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