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...
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
In a matter of minutes, my body went from happy and healthy to curled and wretching on the bathroom floor.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
I watched this video by Ijeoma Oluo yesterday. And the above quote is the one that hit home. Comfort is such an easy choice
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
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).
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
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.
Hold space. Sure. I hold all I can. I'll hold it if you sidle up close, hip to hip, and whisper something true.
Making a reservation at Kah-Nee-Ta, a resort on the Warm Springs Reservation, might have been new, but it wasn't a challenge.
I've had a driver's license since I was 16, but I didn't own a car or really drive on a regular basis until I was 40.
I've been a practicing full-time massage therapist for 20 years. While my skills have improved vastly over the years,
I finished writing a book this year. Unlike the novel I wrote (and almost immediately threw in a drawer to forget),
I choose Before the Rain. When I start to describe the movie as Macedonian and Albanian, my partner holds up a hand, "That's all you need to say." He is history-minded and his heritage is Albanian, so he knows what this means. But it isn't that conflict I remember from the film. It's the love stories in... Continue Reading →
This story was originally published in Vinyl, March 2016. http://vinylpoetryandprose.com/2016/03/t-a-burkholder/ Threat of Rain She couldn’t see or feel it yet, but it was there. All that wet wanting to exhale from the sky. I’m walking fast because it’s about to pour. She had the explanation, the dismissive yet biting tone all ready before she got... Continue Reading →
It's 2016, March already and for some reason I was compelled back here today after many months away. Part of it is my own completion complex, that thing in me that makes me clean my plate and read a book to the end that I don't really like. It's not a very useful impulse, but... Continue Reading →
As a kid, my prayers all started with this: "Dear God, thankyouthankyouthankyou for..." I was pretty sure that the more times I said thank you, the more sincere my prayer was. On nights I was tired, I only eked out a couple thanks. Other times, I dug in and let it roll wanting to make... Continue Reading →
Art month was fun, even though I didn't actually make as much art as I thought I would.I made this really silly gif from pics of my bedhead every morning. I had a ton of fun at collage night at the IPRC (collage is zen!). I also wrote a whole bunch. I read a whole bunch. I went... Continue Reading →
My August challenge of completing one of Lynda Barry's daily diary exercises was probably my mildest challenge yet. It was short and fast and easy: A list of Things I Did, Things I Saw, One Thing I Heard and a 30 second drawing every day. I filled in the exercise in a composition notebook every night... Continue Reading →
I admit it, turning the TV off for the month of July was not entirely successful. I cheated a bunch. I'd come home from work exhausted and sit and watch Anthony Bourdain eat delicious-looking food in beautiful-looking countries. I did fairly well, however, at avoiding the useless local news. My partner was less committed to... Continue Reading →
First, let me say that June's sweet-free challenge was, for the most part, a little easier than I anticipated. I got cravings now and then and occasionally drooled longingly at a friend's chocolate bar, but it wasn't too bad. I didn't feel physically different having removed sweets from my diet. To me, this signals that even... Continue Reading →
My month of mindfulness, in perfectly ironic fashion, lost most of its deliberateness about three-quarters of the way through. I stopped looking at my list of exercises because so many of them seemed to be guiding me in the same direction. Let go, they told me. So, I did. I let go of the formal framework... Continue Reading →
In 2012 I gave myself the goal of daily walks to Mt. Tabor, a big, beautiful park near my house in Portland, OR. I actually started daily walks there in the summer of 2011, but on January 1st of the new year, I added an extra component of taking a photograph of the park and posting... Continue Reading →
This essay originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review vol. 9.1 in the summer of 2012. It was selected as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2013. Proof “Touch is food. Vital food.” – Deane Juhan, Job’s Body Ginger-scented oil slicks my fingers. A new massage client lies beneath them, his... Continue Reading →
This essay was first published on this blog in April 2014. An Unknown Shape I wanted. Again and then again. I wanted my body to make the shape their bodies made: Adho Mukha Vrksasana. Downward Facing Tree. Handstand. I watched from the back of the yoga studio as they flung themselves upside down against the... Continue Reading →
This essay originally appeared in The Clackamas Literary Review 2012 vol. XVII Jumpers I’ve been obsessed with the jumpers for months. Every day, I sit in front of my computer and watch them leap. Nineteen miles above solid ground, John Kittinger prepares. Wearing the best partial pressure suit 1960 has to offer, he stands on... Continue Reading →