essays/photo freewrites

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,

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 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 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

lump

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 →

month twelve: giving up

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 →

month eleven: thankyouthankyou

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 →

month ten: practice

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 →

month nine: artsy and/or fartsy

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 →

month eight: Lynda Barry’s daily diary

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 →

month seven: turn off the idiot box

 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 →

month six: sweats and sweets

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 →

daily tabor 2012

 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 →

proof

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 →

an unknown shape

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 →

jumpers

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 →

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