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 →
"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 →
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 →
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 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 49: piglets, fried twinkies, and hillbilly music
After last week's torrent of anxiety which was conveniently followed up with a mini rollercoaster of hormones, I wasn't up for too much of a challenge this week. That meant heading south to Salem with one of my best friends to hit opening night of the Oregon State Fair. I'm not a fair person. Big... 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 24: death cafe
Sit in a well-lit room, eat homemade brownies and talk about death with strangers. This is the Death Cafe and how I spent my Sunday afternoon.
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,
week 21: africa house
On a morning when the air was barely warm enough to keep the rain as rain, I drove to an unassuming building on a busy commercial street near I-205.
week 20: water pressure
My body remembers this kind of water: a steaming hot spring on a hill that brings a flush to my skin and surprises all my tiny hairs as soon as I slip into it.
week 19: the skin of the heart
In a matter of minutes, my body went from happy and healthy to curled and wretching on the bathroom floor.
week 18: other marches
We chose not to march with our feet this weekend, the twenty or so strong women and three thoughtful men. Instead we sat in a hotel conference room and listened
week 17: consumption
One of the first people I met in college was my beloved friend, Elaine. She arrived on campus as an animal rights activist. She was the first activist of any sort that I had met
week 16: shelter
We are having a very wintery winter here in Portland. As I write this, a sheet of ice covers everything while the wind rattles the frozen branches and the gas heat rattles the grates of my house.
week 15: wrapped in snow and water
Could it be that in the twenty plus years I've lived in Portland I've never driven through the gorge when there's been snow in the mountains and sun in the sky? It's possible.
week 14: altar
Sometimes taking a deep breath and jumping in is the best way. The shock is part of the fun: the way the body grabs itself from the inside as the cold hits.
week 13: pot shopping
Funny how I've become a much bigger proponent of state's rights than I ever was before. Not that the country's bigger, broader and increasingly frightening problems don't need to be addressed
week 12: role model
I can't remember ever having a well-defined role model, one of those people you look up to and write grade school essays about.
week 11: solo disco dance party
I was seven when Saturday Night Fever was released. Of course, at that age, I was a good decade away from being old enough to actually watch the movie
week 10: comfort or justice
I watched this video by Ijeoma Oluo yesterday. And the above quote is the one that hit home. Comfort is such an easy choice
week 9: trying
It seemed, at first, too small to matter and too small to write about. What new thing had I done this week besides make a few phone calls to the White House
week 8: welcome
Ever since I was little kid, I've struggled with feeling like I don't belong (that's me on the far right with the dumbfounded expression hiding behind her bangs).
week 7: hospice
I stand in the corner, squeezed in next to the recliner where the patient spends most of his days. I stare at the top of his purple fleece cap
week 6: practice
It's so easy to pretend to take someone's advice, or even mean to take someone's advice and then fail completely on the follow through.
week 5: take up space
Hold space. Sure. I hold all I can. I'll hold it if you sidle up close, hip to hip, and whisper something true.
week 4: exposed
Making a reservation at Kah-Nee-Ta, a resort on the Warm Springs Reservation, might have been new, but it wasn't a challenge.