essays/photo freewrites

Photo Freewrite: Week 44/45

11/1/20 Kick through the remaining crack and rattle. In a couple days the rain will come, an invitation to the season of softness. 11/2/20 On this corner, under this tree, for this day, the light is rosy. Such things are still possible. 11/3/20 The morning rose surprisingly gentle. Nothing more to do. Or rather, calm... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 42/43

10/16/20 This is a whale’s backbone and this is a whale’s cervical spine. And we were there together. And we are here together. The whale marks the trail off the beach and into the dunes and toward the bay and around the cape and in the direction of home. My dream wrist wears one of... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 40/41

10/1/20 Of course the trees don’t really talk to me. Not in English. Not in cedar, maple or magnolia either. It’s just a way to fill up the awkward silence that first arises at a reunion of forgotten kin. 10/2/20 Ferns, waving me closer against all precautions. 10/3/20 I went to take a picture of... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 38/39

9/16/20 The punk rock kids across the street still sit on their front steps and smoke. The builders rebuilding the burnt down house across the street still nail and paint. But clients call and cancel, unable to step outside to get the mail. And I only duck out for thirty seconds at a time to... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 36/37

9/2/20 Mushrooms are an excuse. Going in, I didn’t care if I found any. Going out, my empty hands were free for moss and bark. 9/3/20 In the midst of all this dry and pale, red demands its due. 9/4/20 This is so much better than the picture I thought I was taking. A dahlia... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 34/35

8/21/20 With so much on fire, it’s nice to see something soft and green take over. 8/22/20 There’s a jewel in the center. But it’s not the prize. Let’s maze our way there slowly and make plenty of mistakes. 8/23/20 I picked these flowers from my yard. All the others I’ve picked have faded in... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 32/33

8/6/20 In the middle of the afternoon broil, the shadows revealed themselves as beautiful monsters licking coolness onto my feet. Overnight, they turned themselves into rain clouds. 8/7/20 I just liked the flower and didn’t see the wasp at first. Neither seemed to care For my visit. 8/8/20 The police turned into riot police a... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite- Week 30/31

7/23/20 My friend’s conservative aunt in Austin asked him how he was doing with worry in her voice. She’d seen Portland on tv. He asked her how she was doing in retort, having seen Texas on tv. 7/24/20 This tree came with a name tag it read to me. Incense cedar. And that, apparently, was... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 28/29

7/9/20 The once-hidden sweet was never shy. She just wasn’t ready. Beauty is the armored body, opening. 7/10/20 The dance goes silvery then delicate then complicated then slippery then gone. 7/11/20 There is deep satisfaction in a miniature, a diorama, a dollhouse. Not so I can be god/giant wielding tiny things with my meaty fingers,... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 26/27

6/25/20 This tree told me they had young dreams of being a cloud but it took many many years to become one. 6/26/20 Stayed up too late nursing a hunch about out a slightly different future. Followed by two heart-racing phone calls, some strange number wanting 4am FaceTime. Who is this? I texted back but... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite Week 24/25

6/11/20 No words today. Just color and light 6/12/20 I heard two gunshots in the middle of the night, close but not too close. And then I chased the guns through my dreams, one gun for each BANG. In the middle of my third dream, the guns turned into knives and the bangs turned into... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite Week 22/23

5/27/20 Some buildings look more at home in their Covid clothes than others. I can’t call this place old friend since it’s been decades since I walked through the doors. It’s more like a friendly spirit that’s lingered at the edges of my entire adult life, grumbling the same thing all along. I’ve got nothing... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite: Week 20/21

5/13/20 This would have been a block I raced by as a kid. A place where the doors don’t have handles, the stairs are more moss than concrete, and the ground cover is just waiting for its moment to devour. Why make the walls out of holes if you didn’t want everyone passing by to... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 18/19

4/29/20 This was a different neighborhood, but barely. A block I’d driven by a thousand times but never passed through on foot. And there they were, filling the front yard of an unassuming house. I nearly fell to my knees, but caught myself and simply bowed my head instead. Forgive me, I said. My worship... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 16/17

4/15/20 If you stand in just the right place, relax your eyes in their sockets, tilt back your head, unstick your tongue, remember your right twelfth rib, make friends with your knees and sink into the wide universe one inch under the cracked sidewalk, then a light appears behind a skull-sized ball of blooms and... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 15

4/9/20 I remind myself: Long conversations without the word virus or shelter will return. My friends hips, legs and feet will return. Days not slashed through with the same universal grim will return. Diane will return, washing my hair and rubbing deep into my scalp before she cuts off all the ratty ends. Noisy bars... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 14

4/1/20 This perfect friend. Someone who moved right up against me in a flagrant display of connection but didn’t need a single word of conversation. Someone made from the sun on my back. 4/2/20 Sometimes it is less unfurl and more unhinge. Less bloom and more burst. Less flower and more fever. 4/3/20 I bend... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 13

3/25/20 You think a color can’t save you. It’s just a shade of bright green that sounds like a bad idea for a baby name. Chartreuse. Maybe Chartreuse was the little sister of Chivas, that guy you went to school with. Was it Shakespeare or that ridiculous class where you were the only one who... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 12

3/18/20 Inside, our people or person or own chatter brain fill more space than they ever have. We grow to the size of each room we enter. Outside, the sidewalks are busy, the green spaces are full of people trying to deflate down to normal height and width. I look up and, for a moment,... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 11

3/11/20 The calls have come. Soon I’ll be officially non-essential. My hand on their sharp shoulder blades, their paper-thin arms and aching fingers now has a different kind of potential. I become threat instead of tenderness, harm instead of relief. I’ll sit at home like their sons and daughters and watch the world try to... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 10

3/4/20 I drive through the farmland around Forest Grove every week and every week I search for a safe spot to pull over and take a photo of the beauty there: The unpredictable sky, the geometry of fields, the satisfying disruption caused by small hills and solitary oaks. The shoulders of the roads are mostly... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 9

2/26/20 Yesterday a caregiver taught me that cats have 13 muscles in each ear. A nursing home resident taught me that a busy elephant is called a multitusker. And a palm tree taught me that it grows beautiful purple berries. Feel it - the slip of space between rib and lung. 2/27/20 Waterfalls of tea... Continue Reading →

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Photo Freewrite – Week 8

2/19/20 Here, in my home, I am tucked in on all sides. Houses and shadows and fences and punk rock bands and impatient traffic and yard debris and that thing, once useful, slowly making its way either toward the garbage bin or into the ground. These lives hold me. But with that vast valley still... Continue Reading →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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 →

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