this is portland winter

January 11, 2013

I am listening to a song that makes me feel like I am sitting in a coffee shop in L.A. and the sun is shining and there are impossibly beautiful and tan people standing around me, wearing t-shirts and flip flops and sunglasses, and they tare sipping on drinks with lots of foam and skim milk. And maybe they just came from eating the best Chinese food. Or the best Korean food. Or the best taco. Or the watched the sun set or rise at the beach. I’m so there. For a at least a few minutes. And it’s strange, because L.A. is strange and I don’t love it, but its nice to be there in my mind right now. Because the reality is I’m sitting on the floor in my bedroom, right beside my space heater, and it’s dark outside and I’m wearing my thick ass sweater and silk long underwear under my jeans and I didn’t see the sun set because it set behind the clouds and it kind of rained on me on my bike ride home and my hands got so cold even though I have good gloves and glove liners. I have been talking with various people about gloves a lot. It does not seem like me — to have this conversation over and over. But this is Portland. And this  is Portland winter. And people like to connect about gear and even people who don’t connect about gear like to give advice. And lately, everyone keeps asking if I rode today “in this,” meaning in this rain or in this rain and wind or in this cold. Today it was all three. Wind gust rocked the tram from side to side as it traveled up the hill, and I watched fat rain drops turn to snow flakes. It was like another world up on the hill. Even though the snow did not stick around, it was kind of beautiful. Which is one of the tricks to living in Portland during this time of year.  Noticing the beautiful stuff. And getting outside.

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everyone you know, at least if you’re in portland, probably said something about the rain

October 13, 2012

Rain.  . . I went for a  walk anyway.  At the end of my work day, I put on my rain coat and a baseball hat and trekked over to the bank on Hawthorne. I was soaked by the time I got there. Huge rain drops on the back of my neck. The teller at the walkup window smiled at me. On the way home I stopped at New Seasons and got 4 things, which I carried home in a brown paper bag that was pretty much disintegrated by the time I crossed back over Powell. But 4 things are easy enough to carry and this is my plan this year. To walk anyway. Or ride anyway. To not drive as much as I can. Moving my body is good for my brain and I want to be a better friend to my brain.

Before it started actually raining this morning, it smelled so much like it was going to rain that I got a little wistful for Indiana. I don’t notice the “rain smell” very often here in Portland. Definitely not like at home. Maybe because it rains so much in Portland that the smell doesn’t have time to accumulate into an actual thing you can smell. I would put missing that smell right up there with missing fireflies and thunderstorms and . . . well . . . alright, I’m not going to do this to myself right now. I have been thinking of home the last several days. Nothing concrete and for no particular reason that I am aware of, just how really nice it would be walk around Bloomington and go to breakfast and see everybody.

On a totally different note, I have a small and secret crush on one of the bike valets at work. He’s blond and young and clean shaven and not that much taller than me. We always talk whenever we have the chance and it’s never just dude talk although it is a lot about bikes. My small and secret crush makes me feel very gay in a sweet way, instead of the kinda raunchy way I felt walking around NYC and getting checked out by gay dudes.


check morning. 1-2-3. check.

October 11, 2012

I am trying an experiment. Posting first thing in the morning. I’ve only hit the snooze once,  compared to  my typical routine of hitting it at least 4 times. All of  my life I’ve never been good at getting up. Sasha is already scratching and meowing outside my door.  She is nothing if not consistent about wanting to be fed. It is chilly and quiet.  I really need to take the fan out of my window. There’s hardly any traffic on my street at this time in the morning. There was a bus a few minutes ago and maybe a big truck just now. I can hear the low hum of something outside that makes me think my neighbor has their furnace on. I really need to replace my thermostat this year. Put in something I can actually program. It is amazingly dark . Winter dark. I am remembering how the barista at Heart said she gets up at 4:30am. I’m picturing the early morning runners, with their breath hanging in the air, finishing up their last 1/2 mile. Hearts pounding. Legs loose. Sweat underneath whatever layers are keeping them warm this morning. I almost never did morning runs when I ran. Legs too tired. Plus 5 minutes into it and I’d often have to turn around and run home to hit the john. Sometimes I can’t believe I ever ran.

I am thinking of MTB for a second and wondering if she is up  now too and checking the weather and thinking about the rain which she told me is sure to happen soon.

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i am not going to over think the reasons why i want to post so much lately

October 5, 2012

It seems not right for me to say this, but this long stretch of sunshine is a little strange. And the forecast calls for something like 7 more days of it. I’m not praying for rain or anything like that, I’m just trying to figure out how to experience or conceive or take in all this sunshine. Not that it matters. It will be sunny with or without me. Plus, maybe I am looking a gift horse in the mouth. Where the hell did the phrase come from, anyway?

My yard is out of control. Again. It has been on the verge of being out of control all summer and even after countless hours of weeding in the spring and early summer, I’ve barely kept the overgrowness at bay and now the overgrowness is winning. Not that it’s a contest. It’s a yard and I get a lot of pleasure out of it, which seems remarkable to me, because I did not anticipate that pleasure, and feeling it has been revelation, in that maybe I harbor some secret inner gardner. Anyway, I can easily imagine the weeks ahead will include a new round of countless hours of pruning and clearing out beds, and then after that, moving some stuff around and cutting things back. And just like in spring, I will unintentionally  blow off social events because I will get totally absorbed by the task at hand.

My fingers are getting calloused again, which is an exciting and familiar by-product of regularly playing my guitar. I like running my thumb over my callouses, for lots of reasons, and I like that that the creative work and practice have an outside mark. In starting to think about how to go about finding some other people to play with, I’ve realized that I am kinda nervous about it. It can be an intense and vulnerable and insanely cool experience all at the same time. But there’s the whole getting to know each other and deciding if its going to work out and if so, how is it going to work. Gosh, as I write out this stuff I realize that bandmating has so many analogies to dating that it’s strange. I think I had this conversation with someone recently. Hmmm, who?  Anyway, I will say it here kinda quietly, I am seriously starting to look for folks to play with, so if you know anyone who’s looking to play some music, let me know.

That just seems too serious a note to end on and its not even that serious sooo . . . is there a problem. I don’t need to get a dead end loop about this with myself right? Ending the dead end loop is a good thing to practice with such low stakes.


a reluctant yes to the fall

September 26, 2012

Waking up in the dark. Wow. And I don’t mean that as a euphemism. I mean wow, its fall, with a capital “F”, as in the Fall. And fall means lots of things, like bike lights for sure now on the morning ride to works. And gotta start remembering to pack my rain gear too and be sure to keep my warmer gloves and headband in my pannier. And probably should take the fan out of my bedroom window, although I like hunkering down and sleeping under 2 blankets, and  probably should put up the hammock and other stuff on the deck and roll up the hoses and begin to think about pruning and moving some stuff around the yard. And I need to think about cleaning out the garden. I don’t think my volunteer pumpkins will ever turn orange, at least not all the way. But I am hoping I can still get some tomatoes and more green beans from the garden and I plan on leaving the kale in until next spring.

I’m saying all of this out loud as a way to try to get myself to say yes to fall, however reluctantly I am to do that. Fall has historically been my least favorite season. I know, I know – the crisp air, the blue skies, the changing leaves, the wool sweaters, the apples and the soups and stews and warm drinks. I get it. Intellectually I understand fall’s charm. I think emotionally, I’ve just associated too strongly with fall’s dark side; plus, I had a bunch of shitty falls in a row, especially in my 20s. And the funk stuck in some small part of my heart. And even though this fall is starting out on a note that’s the very exact opposite of shitty, I still don’t know what to with the new darkness and knowing even more darkness will follow it. I am not ready for the rain. I am never ready for the rain. Once it starts raining all the time, I always ask myself why I am living in a place that’s located in a rain forest. It’s not like I get off on complaining about the weather. I am coming with a plan for the fall and rain this year which includes, at least theoretically, writing more, listening to and playing more music, spending more time with people I like and riding my bike more than commuting to work. Alright, fall, yes.


it is after midnight and i am posting to my blog

September 1, 2012

I am really going to miss late night summer bike rides. They are kind of magical, which is not a word I use very often and so you know it really means something when I say it. My watch or something in my room keeps beeping at 5  til the hour. It makes me feel a little crazy. It just beeped, so I feel like I have to say something. Like a kind of virtual, did you hear that?

Anyway, tonight I rode my bike  at dusk to a queer dance party on the roof top of a hotel by the convention center and then I rode home at midnight. The dance party was a strange scene that kind of felt like queers had invaded someone’s bar mitzvah, but in a good and interesting way. Like that kid was being bar mitzvahed hadchanged locations at the last minute, so it was totally ok that queers took over. At the dance party, I saw my old, as in from Indiana, as in 16 years ago friend, SB, and my new good friend, Nancy. And of course unbeknownst to me, the two of them have met and have become friends, because Portland is a small town, but also I know a bunch of different people even though I am an introvert. And then I also got to hang out and talk with a bunch of people I don’t know super well, but who I like and who I am always happy to see – Peggy, Dexter, Morgan and Maria. And then kind of like a magic trick, Carrot also appeared by my side a couple times tonight and inside I was like “yay, Carrot,” because I like Carrot and I knew that I could tell him that this party was weird but good and he would understand what I meant.

Maybe I am imagining that I connected with Carrot or anyone else, like Peggy or Maria. Although I hope I did. I did have some drinks, which I don’t often do, and it does lessen my inhibitions and make me more expressive and happy. i also kind of bite my lip when I am buzzed. But the good will and affection I felt and I feel, feel very real, though, and I am going to go with that — good will, affection, big heartedness, and hell yeah queers.

I kind of wished I would have danced,  but I just wasn’t in the sweaty dancing mood, even though I’ve been wanting to be in that mood at various times this summer. It’s just never quite right for me. I don’t know why and I can’t will it into being. Why is that? Oh well . It will happen and it will be fun and magical too.

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an experiment and some links

August 24, 2012

I’m experimenting. Instead of staying up and posting at 10:30 at night, which means I’m actually up writing until 11:30, I’m trying posting first thing after getting home from work. Well, it’s not really first thing because I had to feed the cats, who will not be put off, and there were some dirty dishes to take care of and the trash can to bring up from the curb. But I haven’t even open up Facecrack yet, which is my new name for both Facebook and the nature of my relationship with it. Anyway, I’m hoping that writing right away might be a way of having a meta conversation with myself about making writing as important to me as I claim it is. Instead of just professing how much I want to write

I do believe that the end of summer has begun. Dusk is happening closer to 8pm than 9 and dawn closer to 6:30am instead of 5:30. Already, I am nostalgic for last week’s heat wave. I know the sunny days might stretch into fall; we ight get an Indian summer. But the days will still get shorter and probably won’t be 100 again. I go through this every year – my end of summer lamentation. If you regularly read my blog, you’ve been putting up with it for years. Let me just preemptively say, I will miss you summer. I wish you would be regular date.

Where did the term “Indian Summer” come from anyway? I just looked it up and it’s a longer story than I want to post here. I thought I might get some clever quips from that, but no you’ll have to read it yourself. In the spirit of linking, though, I will pass on some links to some other things I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to lately.


like a heat wave (like how it sounds in that song by martha and the vandellas)

August 17, 2012

Holy moly it’s hot. And I’m not complaining, because I have been craving a heat wave, which is maybe both selfish and thoughtless, considering the drought and extreme temps in big chunks of the rest of the country.

Does the weather out here make me  meteorologically privileged? If so it seems like a temporary state, given the relentless nature of Portland springs (which last at least 5 months) and the fact that I was wearing a wool sweater a little more than a month ago. During so much of the year, I dream of this kind of crazy summer heat weather. Day dream about it, to be more specific. I’ll be riding my bike wearing gloves and a rain jacket and a headband over my ears, and I’ll fantasize about the impossibility of riding my bike wearing just a t-shirt and shorts. Every year it seems unreal that it ever happened — that it was this hot, that I slept under only a thin sheet, that I put a fan in the window, that I watered my garden wearing my boxers, that I didn’t have to always carry rain gear and extra ear warmers in my pannier. And last year it kinda didn’t happen. It got warm, but there wasn’t an actual heat wave. I think the same is true of the summer before. But I get desperate for it.

I think I talk about the weather much more than I did when I lived in Indiana. I said something to a friend a couple weeks ago about being bummed when we were having all this overcast grey bullshit and he said “you do know we live in a rain forest.” I think he meant it as a be here now statement, and I am open to that reminder. But he’s also from Alaska and he will probably never long for midwest summer heat or small country roads or little clumps of trees or all the things I’ve gone on and on about over the last several years. Sometimes when I talk about the weather I am talking about something else deeper or more poignant but I don’t want to appear vulnerable or silly or expose whatever is going on the inside, so I go on about rain or cloudy skies or sunshine. I want to meet someone named Sunshine so I can say her name over and over and trick myself into feeling better when all it does it spit and rain.

I listened to Bill McKibben last night.  I was driving some where, which made me feel kinda jerkish given it was McKibben talking, and it was getting near dusk and it was really beautiful out and he was talking about the end of the world as we know it, more or less.. And part of me wanted to turn him off, not because I don’t believe him, but because I really wish it weren’t true, i.e. global warming and impending catastrophe; plus I have a strong ass streak of avoidance. Also, it was so beautiful out and thinking that this beauty won’t exist anymore was absolutely-please make it impossible-heartbreaking. It made me think that turning back global warming is like fighting human nature, not just because its hard to get people to change and big oil has more money than God and politics are corrupt and China and India are buying our coal and we’re always trying to figure out how to add more lanes to our highways and we fly every where and there’s whole herds of people chanting “drill, baby, drill.” Not just because of all that and all the other variations of things like that, that are causing the world to irreversibly heat up, but because global warming is pretty much like death and us humans aren’t so good at dealing with death. We have an intellectual understanding of it, at best, or at least that’s true for the vast majority of people, and even with an intellectual understanding, it’s still pretty abstract and something that happens in the future. Death, and the finality and changeableness of it, doesn’t seem to really sink in until we are actually dying or dead. Even as we are drowning it’s unbelievable that we will actually drown; so even as the globe warms up, it’s unreal that it will actually get fried. Sometimes I think the problem with common naysayers (common meaning folks who aren’t big oil or auto lobbyists or work for big oil or the auto industry or similar kinds of people) is that that they have a much deeper streak avoidance that I do and they are just super entrenched in the unreality that we can kill the planet.

All this to say I don’t know to love this heat wave and not feel sad about what all these hot temperatures mean.

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nothing much

April 18, 2011

April is half over. I don’t know why, but that seems strange. The way time has passed this whole year has felt weird. Everything seems to march on and then something happens and a little window opens up and time feels kind of suspended. It’s like how on a Monday or Tuesday I feel like I’m just getting through it with, but on a Friday or Saturday I feel like there’s something to savor.

I heard some good music tonight and it was exciting. It always is the first time I hear something I really like that I’ve never heard before. Plus, it seems like it’s been a year since I really listened to anything new. Or really listened to much music at all.  I think I’ve been listening more to NPR shows than I have to music, which makes me feel kind of old in a cliched way and cut off from myself.

I’ve been getting things done lately, which feels good. Nothing big, just lots of small things I’ve put off, like cleaning the furnace filter and weeding and clearing off the top of my dresser. I cleaned out the raised beds in the backyard today, which was very satisfying, and planted kale, collards, leeks and turnips. I’m hoping all this doing stuff will lead to me doing bigger things,like submitting for publication some poetry and the story from my chapbook and trying to sell some songs. I think that’s the first I’ve said that in public.

I stopped reading Anna Karenina, at least for the time being. Maybe I’ll try again this summer. I’m struggling to stay on top of my New Yorkers, but I’m hoping to get around to something more meaty soon. I feel kind of self conscious about not being a more prolific reader.

The days are noticeably longer. It’s nice. It feels better than short days.

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it begins

November 11, 2010

5:32pm at kennilowrth park

Originally uploaded by proteanme

It’s just gonna get darker – from now until winter solstice. Days will be getting shorter and there may be a cold spell. For sure there will be more rain. Hunker down Portland, here comes winter.

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