Saturday, September 28, 2013

Can I get your number?

Since moving to Hermiston, I've met a lot of new people. Fortunately, I'm already pretty comfortable jumping in and introducing myself in situations where I don't know anyone. When you're a journalist, it comes with the territory.

Unfortunately there are certain tactics I use when I'm being a reporter that don't really work in real life. For example, when someone tells me their name, about 70 percent of the time I immediately forget it. When I've got my reporter hat on that's an easy fix: "Oh and before you go, let me make sure I get the correct spelling of your name..." This is harder to pass off if the person's name is something like Mary Jones, but generally anyone under 25 goes "Oh yeah my parents actually spell it Kaytee instead of Katie so it's a good thing you asked." Thank you parents for realizing that giving your child a name that they won't have to explain for the rest of their life is so five decades ago.

But when I'm someplace like church I haven't found a good reason yet to ask people how they spell their name. I also have to come up with legitimate topics of conversation instead of just asking a bunch of questions. Asking someone you just met how they manage to live on minimum wage or how they felt when their granddaughter was murdered becomes less socially acceptable when you don't have a notebook in hand. Fortunately it usually comes up right away that I moved to Hermiston to be a reporter and then that provides plenty of fodder for conversations ranging from "That sounds awesome. What's it like?" to "Let me tell you everything wrong with modern journalism today..." I never know when I tell someone what I do for a living if it's going to make them think I'm a lot cooler than I look or I'm a menace to society.

Of course, everyone back home wants to know if I'm meeting people in Hermiston. And by "people" they mean guys. Young, single, smart, attractive guys to be exact. Which, hey, I want as much as the next person, but I don't consider the day to be an utter waste if I also make a few female friends along the way (Remember, I covered this last year). Last week I went to a regional church dance in Pendleton and immediately hit it off with a girl from Walla Walla. At the end of the night we exchanged numbers so we could meet up at future activities, but more importantly so we could tell our parents we'd gotten someone's number at the dance when they inevitably asked. When you're a single Mormon twentysomething you learn these things.

But I am meeting people in Hermiston. Normal people and the wink wink nudge nudge kind. I play volleyball Tuesday nights with a great group of young single Mormons that includes plenty of players of the male persuasion. When I told my parents about volleyball they seemed to think this was a good opportunity for me to impress some guys. I'm not sure where they got the impression anything about my volleyball skills falls under the category of "impressive," but you've got to love parents and their undying belief that their children are good at things, all evidence to the contrary.

If I ever do manage to impress a guy with my volleyball skills, I'll make sure to get his number. After all, I'll need an excuse to ask him how to spell his name.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Welcome to Hermiston

Well, I guess it's been a long times since I've written a blog post. I was kind of busy this summer, in case no one noticed. And then I decided to switch jobs and move to Hermiston in the midst of it all. Fortunately the move didn't take me outside of Oregon, so I didn't have to start paying sales tax or learn how to pump my own gas or any of those other weird things people in the rest of the country do. Still, moving anywhere is an adjustment, and since I've moved I've made the following observations:

1) I don't know what the people who laid out Hermiston were thinking, but it wasn't "Let's design a town where the streets actually make sense." I was 20 minutes late to church the first Sunday because when the directions said go up Highland and take a right on Ninth Street it never occurred to me that there would be more than one Ninth Street in town. I didn't want SW Ninth St., I wanted SE Ninth St. which runs parallel to SW Ninth on the other side of town. Also not to be confused with SE Ninth Drive, which later becomes NE Ninth Street. And streets with names like Ridgeway and Gladys have a habit of ending every couple of blocks and then picking up in a different place farther down and sometimes changing their name altogether from one block to the next. Needless to say, I now own a GPS.

2) I seem to be the only white person living in my neighborhood. I saw one the other day but she was holding a slip of paper and looking with confusion between two buildings so I don't think she lives around here. I don't mind, and my neighbors are nice, but it is weird getting all of my junk mail in Spanish.

3) Everywhere I've lived, people complain about the exact same things. Does anyone anywhere not think there is "nothing to do around here?" It's funny because as a reporter I talk to a lot of people about the town they live in, and when I was in The Dalles and I started telling sources I was moving to Hermiston they would say "Oh they're really thriving. I wish our downtown was growing like theirs." And then I moved to Hermiston and told people I was from The Dalles and they were like "Oh The Dalles has such a nice downtown. I wish ours was like that."

4) After spending time in several Hermiston schools I now understand why their sports teams look so horrified at the facilities in The Dalles. Not only do they have really nice classrooms, they also have amenities like a cafeteria and a parking lot.

5) My hair doesn't like Hermiston. I didn't think it could get any frizzier, but alas, I was wrong.

6) Living by yourself has a lot of benefits. You never have to worry about someone else using up all the hot water, or not disturbing anyone when you come in late, or whether there will be enough room in the freezer if you buy a second flavor of ice cream.

7) Living in the same town as a Wal-Mart is awesome.

8) Moving away from my family and all of the people I grew up with and the masses of people who say things like "I need to find someone to be in charge of that. You know what? Jade would do a good job," so far means I have a lot more free time now that I'm settled in. So that should mean more time for blogging.