Photo Freewrite – Week 7

2/12/20 The snow diamonds were laid out in wide swaths, a valley of shine. But the windows of the van refused even a moment of clarity so the diamonds came streaked in sand and frost. The driver bit his nails for four hours straight, one hand and then the other, pausing only to pass the... Continue Reading →

Photo Freewrite – Week 6

2/5/20 One moment you’re a star. One moment you’re a puddle. It’s the same moment. 2/6/20 I don’t know. I keep writing and erasing. Erasing isn’t really part of freewriting rules. But who’s in charge here? Who decided, that instead of straight metal bars, to go with the a more elaborately patterned panel? As far... Continue Reading →

Photo Freewrite – Week 5

1/29/20 After driving all day, I drive some more through the perpetual winter rain and cross the blue-lit bridge over the swampy water to crowd myself into a lecture hall. Ijeoma Oluo speaks about having hard conversations and how we hurt people of color with our blind acceptance of this system. She shares ways to... Continue Reading →

Photo Freewrite – Week 4

1/22/20 At 5:43pm I can still make out the mess of wires running between houses and utility poles. The clouds have sunset-tinted bellies. The neighbors’ upstairs light is on but I can hear their band starting up in the basement for a second practice this week. No sweet rhythms. Everything is fast and loud and... Continue Reading →

Photo Freewrite – Week 3

1/15/20 New structures make new shadows and new reflections. New hours make new weather. The building that took too many years to finish sits empty. The snow predicted all week for the valley floor stayed in the mountains. Still, my block and the sky around it shook a bit of glow and sparkle, in thanks... Continue Reading →

Photo Freewrite – Week 2

1/8/20 We all have crazy ideas now and then, but not too many of us get far in the execution of them. Something interrupts, quashes or dies before we get to the turret-building stage. Not this guy. He didn’t care that he had no plans or permits, no idea really, other than that original crazy... Continue Reading →

Photo Freewrite – Week 1

I'm easing back into an active writing practice by committing to freewrites prompted by my daily photo posts on Instagram. Nothing polished and precious here, just a handful of sentences bubbling up and out each out day. I'll be posting them collectively here once a week. Maybe you'll be inspired to join me with your... Continue Reading →

The Mishap Lineage

I wanted to come back from my meditation retreat and just write about what a meditation retreat is. "What's there to learn?" my father asked when I told him our practice sessions were interspersed with instruction and talks. "Aren't you just sitting there?" I wanted to describe just sitting there. Sitting and crying. Sitting and... Continue Reading →

Cult-land, here I come

Earlier this summer I told my husband that I'd registered for a five-month somatic meditation program. "It's mostly online, but it starts and ends with week-long retreats at their center in Colorado." "So you're joining a cult?" he said. "It's not a cult," I said. "It's a meditation retreat." "Yeah, that's what they call them."... Continue Reading →

The occasional and quiet

The story these days is that writers have to be marketers if they want to sell books. As far as I can tell, this is true. It also seems true that you can market your soul away and still not sell much. I just finished reading this very sobering article in Longreads, about a variety... Continue Reading →

Legit

This is happening. So so so so slowly, but definitely, positively surely. My hybrid book of memoir, poetry and image will be released in June! It's called I Want More. The exact date is not set, because nothing about this book has been exact and nothing about this book has been speedy. Just like me.... Continue Reading →

Writing Conference Confessions

Confession: I had no interest in AWP, the country's biggest annual writing conference that happened to be in my city this year. I went to only one amazing off-site reading, nearly fainting from the crowd. I chatted with a few nice strangers there that I was literally rubbing elbows with. I’m sure there are lots... Continue Reading →

In Memoriam

"Well, imagine how it all could be among us if we began to understand all the talk about dying and the news about dying and the visits to the hospital and the deathbed and the grave side and the memorial service, and all the sorrows and grief of life, as our initiation into personhood." - Stephen... Continue Reading →

Snow feathers

On the evening news, everyone was giddy with snow panic. It would have been the same hyperbole if it had happened in December or January, but there was an added layer of surprise, offense and/or betrayal in the fact that the snow, when and if it arrived, would be falling on daphne and daffodils and... Continue Reading →

Attending

 See the line as it is and draw it as a shape. Do not draw a chair, a suit, a hand. When I draw the shape and not the thing as a whole, everything but the shape disappears. The narrow PCC classroom disappears along with the gabby, white-haired retirees and the mumbly men. I don't... Continue Reading →

Paper/Rock

Paper/Rock Today, the back walls of my lungs went sticky with sadness. I cried/breathed through the dead hours of the morning then woke up to a sky that felt like the dullest sheet of paper smacked down over this big old rock of a planet. On rising, I offered puffy eyes and apologetic kisses. This... Continue Reading →

week 52: exhale

This is not the thing. This is not the story of the thing. This is the story of the story of the thing. This is one whole year of new adventures large and small, written out and posted here. Now begins the pause in this particular path. For the rest of the year I'll be... Continue Reading →

week 50: made up

There have been plenty of challenges over the past year that have made me uncomfortable. That's largely the point. The nausea and nerves I get before stepping into the unknown come in varying degrees and qualities. Some are truly sickening because I know something important is about to be confronted. Some come with a smattering... Continue Reading →

week 48: new and old strangers

I've spent much of my life determined to stay away. By refusing to belong to anything, I felt safe from rejection. Over and over I either defined myself in opposition to some group or kicked myself out before someone else did. It wasn't the worst strategy, actually. I've never had a tribe, but I've always... Continue Reading →

week 47: alone and together

I have written about my relationship to dance before (here) - from dancing to Martin Denny as a child to longing for the grace of dance in my body as a girl to settling in as an occasional observer of dance as an adult. Taking an actual dance class has been on my list of... Continue Reading →

week 46: crafty

Clay is good. So is cheap gold paint. So is a tarp spread over the coffee table and some Always Sunny in Philadelphia on in the background. So is the knowledge that the crafts the two of us will make are for children. They won't be discerning. They'll only care that, on one of the... Continue Reading →

week 45: less noise, more space.

"This is a humming, buzzing world; we live in the midst of the ceaseless murmur of lives, a world of strange things whispering the poems of old Buddhas." --Sallie Tisdale This week I craved quiet. Maybe it's the heat wave we've been in, the building up to it, the sweltering in it and then, hopefully,... Continue Reading →

week 44: seven minutes

I've committed to several different physical challenges over the years ostensibly for the sake of health, strength and not wanting to buy new pants. That said, I'm not sure how many of them would have happened without this blog. My first challenge to walk to Mt. Tabor every day might have become a walk every... Continue Reading →

week 43: one-hour essays

I have tried to be a daily writer. I have tried to be a sporadic, do-it-when-I-feel-like-it writer. I have paid lots of money to study the art/craft of writing and I've given up writing altogether, vowing to never spend a dime or an hour on it again. Has any of this worked? What does working... Continue Reading →

week 41/42: water held

If my last trip was about sky, space and love, then the trip I just finished was about water, light and love. This week I turned south instead of east and rolled through almost 800 miles to Ashland, OR and back, Sean and I working our way through a series of new adventures. First, there... Continue Reading →

week 40/41: vast

Three nights and four days in the wide eastern stretches of Oregon is too big for one post. Because I've never been east of Bend, let alone 250 miles east and south of it. Because I've never spent that amount of uninterrupted time

week 39: parade

I was in elementary school the last time I went to a parade, the tiniest July 4th event in Boulder City, Nevada where my grandmother lived. I think there were clowns and Shriners. I think it was July 4th. I think it was a parade.

week 38: comfort binge

Many years ago, Sean and I binge-watched Jeeves and Wooster, the British tv-show based on P.G. Wodehouse's stories about an aristocrat and his butler. It's charming. No more, no less. Ever since, we have referred to this kind of show as "extremely mild entertainment."

week 37: weight

This particular story is the one about the girl who hates sports and hates to sweat, the one where gyms smell like humiliation and playing fields smell like dread. This is about the mediocre swimmer, the same one who gets out of breath...

week 36: memorial

Everywhere in this city. The suicide of a man I didn't know, but was loved by someone I love. The stabbing of three men, two of whom died, on public transport not far from my neighborhood.

week 35: presencing

The morning we drove to Seattle the sun was not only up and out but strong, warming the air in a way that seemed impossible just a week or two ago. As we approached the city, my friend and I both dropped our jaws at the sight

week 34: different vocabularies

What a strange process: The light and shade of a cheekbone, a book spine, a shoelace taken in by the eye to spark the brain. One spark then another, like a game of telephone down to the wrist and index finger.

week 33: remains

Outside the Oregon State Hospital is a small brick building filled with shelves of old copper canisters. They contain the cremains of the hospital patients who were never collected. Some have labels. Some have splashes of bright green patina. All once contained ashy bits of bone.

week 32: witness

What if this was bigger? What if I was bigger? And if not bigger, then gorgeous. Not lips, hips and hair gorgeous. But grand gorgeous. Splendid gorgeous.

week 31: (over)sharing

I was going to attend four much-anticipated readings this week. I was going to dive in and bathe myself in language and the love of my community of writers, finally meeting some of the people I've only known on Facebook.

week 30: dig

I love gardens, but I'm not a gardener and I don't want to become one. It's taken me the full 15+ years I've owned this house to get around to tending to the patch of weedy lawn

week 29: gong bath bliss

I was going to take a picture of the old-school yoga space tucked nearly anonymously into the corner of an ungentrified building on lower NE Broadway. But, apparently, gongs make me forget.

week 28: lobby

I'd never been to the Oregon State Capitol. In fact, I'd never done anything more than drive past Salem on my way somewhere else. For most of my life, civic duty meant voting in every election,

week 27: surge/succumb

If you added up all the time I spent driving in SW Portland and it's neighboring suburbs over the last couple decades it wouldn't come close to all the time I spent out there this week.

week 26: jointly

I swear I'm not feigning indifference or forgetfulness when I say I don't remember when we got married. It was nice out so we biked down to the county office in the late afternoon to pick up our license.

week 25: slow art

I'm very lucky to have parents that were both willing and able to make art museums part of my education as a little kid. My first visits were probably to the Art Institute in Chicago

week 23: fight

I grew up as neither a lover nor a fighter. I was a hider. I mostly wanted to be left alone and if not alone, then moving peacefully, peacefully, peacefully through the dynamics of friends and family.

week 22: orcas

For many months, Elaine and I talked about going on a little vacation. Other than overnight trips to the coast here and there over the last couple of decades,

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