tram magic

October 31, 2012

It is so dark now when I get to work. Coming over the the Hawthorne bridge I have to circle around and ride down under it and I remind myself to look up so I can take in how lovely the bridge is all lit up by the lights on its side. These days, when I get on the tram and look out and everything is dotted with lights — traffic and office buildings and streets and the glass towers that sit at the bottom of the south waterfront. When it’s raining and the tram is fogged up on the inside and covered with big rain drops on the outside, the view is like a water color painting. But on a day like today, when I got lucky enough to hit the half hour dry spell on my ride in, it was just beautifully dark and clear and the way things glimmered felt special.

When I get on the tram, I always look east to see what, if any part, of sunrise I can make out. Today, there was a strip of cloud break and the slightest sliver of pink was just barely visible in that ragged clear stripe. It looked tender and hopeful and kind of magical too. And ever since I saw that, my heart has been feeling so much tenderness that I can’t put it too words.


openess and thinking of the hurricane

October 31, 2012

I continue to feel like I’m riding like the wind on my bike. It is amazing and I am the tiniest bit less angry about the cab that cut me off this morning and the the guy who opened his car door as I was riding by.

Maybe I am done with sad songs for a little bit (or the sad hole as MTB says, which I am going to modify to be the sad sound hole) as a way to crack my heart open. Hmm . . . interesting?! This heart opening has been all instinct and gut. And now I am thinking that maybe it’s actually just ok to be a little bit open, like I am, because I feel safe. I don’t feel like I’m gonna get doored at any minute. Whoa! I just ran across this song called “Hello My Old Heart.” Serendipity?!

I have been thinking of my east coast friends, following their posts on FB and texting. It is hard to imagine a big chunk of Manhattan without power. Hard to imagine the flooding too and other destruction too, all over the east coast. I think of riding the train from NYC to DC and am reminded of the extraordinary number of people living in the region and that my heart goes out to the lots and lots and lots of people who enduring some serious shit.

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weather as metaphor or not

October 29, 2012

I switched out the tires on my Surly (bike) to something a little less wide. It is amazing what a difference its making. I know I’m not riding like the wind, but I feel like it. Which feels amazing. I am almost positive I cut 5 minutes off my commute to work this morning. And I passed everyone on the Hawthorne bridge without much of a sweat. Which made me feel like a badass. Which also feels amazing.

It is strangely warm and I wish it would just stay this way. Warm + rain is soooo much nicer than cold + rain. But nothing is permanent. Right?! So I am just trying to experience it without getting attached. Also, one cannot nurture the weather, which I am only saying because I realized last night how much I’ve blogged about the weather when I mean something else; whether its intentional or not, the weather has often been my go to metaphor. For instance, the first year after my dad died I talked a lot about hating the weather. But I kinda hated everything for a little bit. Anyway, this brief mention of the weather is not a metaphor, although the unexpectedness of warm and sunshine that we’ve had this fall is kinda metaphorical for me. Ha! Maybe I just had the wrong metaphor, which was impermanence, when I started this post, as opposed to the right one, which was surprise, that I’m ending on.

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rain and unexpectedness and why i just keep listening to music

October 28, 2012

I am buzzing. Could be the lack of sleep. Could be the coffee. Could be that there are things. It’s raining, hard for Portland, and part of me wants to go walk out in it for as many miles as I can, until I can’t walk any more, and then lay down and sleep for a week. What’s that about? The yard wants some attention. Freelance work is backed up a little. The house is dusty and needs to be vacuumed. And I just want to write and play music and make food and feel all these feelings I have. Marvel at that last part, really.

I am listening to 70’s music. My not so secret secret thing I do sometimes – ELO, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen, Wings, Elton John, Bob Dylan, circa Blood on the Tracks, Velvet Underground, which is technically the 60’s . . .  not sure what my point is. Its not nostalgia.

I had a meaningful conversation last night with MG, who I’ve known for a while through AM and BDF, wherein we realized for the first time (because we’ve never talked at length) that we were both Hoosier ex-pats and that the secret heart in our hearts was our midwesterness. It was awesome. We talked about that open space and seeing for miles and corn and kindness and I felt so “seen.” It was an unexpected connection that came at the start of a night of all sorts of amazing unexpectedness.

The clouds are dense and I can’t see across the river to the west. today is marked by the insularness of Portland, trapped in the damp and the little bit of chill that’s going on, and when that gets combined that with all of the tall trees that sit on top of the tall hills, it makes me feel a little closed in. Sometimes, I like that feeling. Sometimes, I don’t. Don’t know how I feel right now except that really I want to put my head somewhere safe and sweet and not think about anything for a little bit. Just look out the window and say it’s impossible to see very far and that’s ok. Also, maybe I should stop listening to this one Neil Young song over and over. I don’t know if its the piano or his voice that is making it so impossible to not tear up all of the sudden.


so many things

October 26, 2012

Feeling “thought out” today. Well . . . maybe not for the whole day but for right now.  So I am going to excerpt on of my own poems and hope no one steals it (which maybe wishful thinking anyway).

Still, there had already been a hand on the heart, which was soon followed by another one on the throat and then the two bonfires in the two different places.

Almost everyone at the second fire had on a tie. So many handsome Windsor knots, almost everywhere I looked, and all of them I imagined had been carefully tightened by someone, lovingly in some instances, but at the very least with deep appreciation for a fine square jaw and a strong chin.

Except for me, I kept my collar open and my
skin underneath bare, leaving
my pharynx and my
thorax and my
windpipe so
very exposed.

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important shit for me to remember

October 25, 2012

I have been reflecting back on this summer, which for the most part was quiet and solitary to see if I can reconstruct how I got to here, which on the inside feels like a different place from where I was in May. Different place is maybe too dramatic. Maybe more a shift to reveal a place that was always there. A flurry of meaningful stuff happened at the start of the summer. RU moved to the Bay area and I went home and  saw lots of people I love from different parts of my life – family, camp, Bloomington and through Dad. And I went to LA and saw other people I love and then I had my 50th birthday. There’s was such a sweet turn out. And RU surprised me and Adele came out from Chicago and my friends gave me a gift in support of my writing that made me cry. I felt soooooooooooooooo lucky.

Including “RU moved to the Bay area” in that above list does not at all capture the earthquake like significance of the event. Everything changed.

After that it felt like a lot of chill time and I think maybe I needed a lot of stillness. I’m a big believer in neutral space, in not going from a to z. Radical personal change is typically not “my jam” (as my friend Colleen would say). Also, I am way into in-betweenness and in-between space. Probably in large part, because that I have so much in-betweeness in me, being queer and butch. So for a big chunk of time I think I was just hanging out and being with myself.

Thinking about that time now I can see that I did a handful of things that started turning the iceberg around. One, I fixed up my Bridgestone RB2, which is a road bike and it was such a pleasure to ride it. There were times I felt downright joyful pedaling around. I know I’ve blogged about it a bunch so I won’t keep going on here. Second, I brought my amps up from the basement and set up some dedicated practice space and then started playing here and there. Ditto blogging about this too. Third, I went camping with AM and BDF and I let myself be myself in the woods. I made bad jokes. I made up songs and also sang whatever popped into my head, which at that point was like a radio station from the 70s + 80s (please don’t call these oldies). We saw whales. We meandered our way back to town and had adventures. Fourth, that reading in July that AM and I kind of threw together. It was so heartfelt and open and it felt like everyone was personally projecting some special part of summer, like everyone had special super summer powers. And because of the reading, I started writing poetry again. I think of all these as milestones in my own un-numbing. There were other things too, hanging out more with Remy, turning off talk radio, my neighbors tearing their fence down, hanging out with Lowen, meeting Olive and Gus for the first time, falling in love with the projects my fellow writing group writers are working on.

So there it is. Documented in one entry. I’m sure I’ve written about all of it over the summer, but I think I needed to pull it together for myself. And its all stuff to reflect on especially in light of thinking about nurturing and how to nurture and what to nurture.


a little blue sky reminding me of things that have been on my mind

October 25, 2012

Blue sky this morning. Or at least blue streaks and patches. That’s really nice. For however long it sticks around. Which is the thing that has been on my mind lately. Not literally blue sky, but more the metaphor of this morning’s blue sky or the 20 minute down pour Monday on my ride home from work, and by that I mean a metaphor for temporariness and really the temporariness of everything.

I think of the last couple readings I’ve done with my writing group and how much I have loved each one of them for very different reasons. Different groups of people, different time of year, different energy and I read different poems. Both times I tried to be present and awake and alive and experience all the things that were happening. Because that’s it, really. That’s what I get. These one time shots at having the experience that is happening at the time it’s happening. The memories are special and sweet, for sure, but my aim is to be open to the experience. (I could go on about the tram ride being another metaphor and actual thing but I will restrain myself.)

An interesting side note is that even though it seems it should be easy to do this, to be open. with super pleasant and happy experiences, it can still be scary. To feel so phenomenally good and know 1)  that the phenomenal part can’t be sustained (we can’t walk around with the volume at 11 forever) and 2) joy can crack your heart open, just like sorrow.

But I am traipsing off a little because what I’ve been really thinking about is what’s left after you’ve been had an experience that’s cracked your heart open or volcanoed it, in some instances. What happens next? You could just be like, “wow that was intense” and then return to your regular thing that may or may not include being open. Or you could say I’m going to nurture this thing. This open heart. This connection. This being a little more alive. Nurturing both whatever it is that happened that touched you and/or the feeling of openess. Sometimes I thing of nurturing as being like practicing writing or playing music but with 1000×1000 more  tenderness and empathy. The other interesting thing is everyone gets to decide for themselves if they are going to do the nurturing thing and what they are going to nurture.

Maybe this is all already apparent to everybody, except me, but it feels like a big deal, like a revelation, which feels kind of funny to say after being alive for 50 years and all the things that have come with that that kind of luck  – friends, family, lovers, a band, a career helping people, etc. But whatever I knew about nurturing before seems different now and I don’t know why. But I think I might fall in love a little with the idea of nurturing and what it really means to do it, consciously – the tending to, the caring for, the watching over, the cherishing.


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i like to think of these things i am writing as poetic thoughts about my lfie

October 23, 2012

John Coltrane and Miles Davis and the sky in the west without rain for now. I am feeding the cats in the dimmest light of dawn. Some mornings feel like a mystery to me. The street lights outside the front of my house make the Hawthorne trees in my city strip bright and shiny and a little unreal to look at. I get on my bike and ride to work in the dark and on cloudy days it feels like I’m riding through a secret.

I am a little restless. I have the feeling of wanting to get on a plane again, of birds flying away in my chest, of my midwestern guy heart and wanting to drive that little stretch of road just on the other side of Lake Lemon. To think of that stretch makes me tear up. Why? What does that mean? I think it’s best not ascribe meaning to it right now. Things are unfolding. Best not to cut the process short. I have been thinking of a little house with a little yard and a room to sleep in and room to write or play music in and just enough space outside to grow some veggies and shoes by the door and a key in the pocket and feet on the floor . . . it may or may not mean anything. I don’t know. Really. Images flash into my brain and I am just trying to be open to them.

Yesterday, riding the tram down from OHSU to the waterfront, it was crowded like it usually is at the end of the day. We were all jammed in there, hitting each other with our bags and backpacks and jockeying around a little for position. I tried but couldn’t nudge my way up to the windows, which is usually what I try to do most rides, for the view. And in those instances when its impossible to get a view, like it was yesterday I tell myself I am still riding on a tram 500 feet in the air and that is really cool. The front of the cabin was packed with little kids who laughed and yelled out as the cabin swung over the tower. I caught the eye of the woman who was standing beside me and we started laughing too and talking about loving that kind of exuberance.

“We should yell out like that in the mornings,” I said and she laughed.

“I know,” she said. “It never gets old. An amazing view every time.”

“Yep,” I said, “it’s kind of like having a little bit of magic everyday.”

She nodded and smile. “It is.”

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rain and willingness and rain and also willie nelson

October 23, 2012

First day of full rain gear on my ride into work. I forgot that I need to leave extra time both to get all suited up and to account for the reality that I don’t ride as fast in the rain because my brakes never work as well when its this wet.

Last night, Kath asked me about the mental shift for riding in rainy season and riding in the winter, which I guess is not too far away. I couldn’t articulate my mindset very well at the time, but thinking about it this morning I could sum it up as willingness, as in willingess to get in the saddle and be uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable, sometimes.

The idea and practice of willingness was something I started thinking about and then working with maybe 8 or 9 years ago when I realized “will power” was not working for me. Specifically, the idea of “will” and “my will,” which seemed overly aggressive when I was trying to work with parts of myself that needed my tenderness, like getting on a plane. Trying to exert will over anxiety or fear was the exact opposite of what I needed to do to help myself then and that continues to be true now with all sorts of feelings.

These days when I have unwanted and generally sucky feelings I wish I didn’t have, the first thing I ask myself is if I’m willing to experience them, and if I am (which is not always the case),  then I try figure out ways to encourage myself, to nudge myself down the path of being ok with feeling uncomfortable, sometimes really uncomfortable. Sometimes, I can see the crazy stories I tell myself (that’s what I call my neuroses) arise and fade away and that’s very cool. And sometimes I just ride my bike around or find a house project to work on, because the neurotic stuff seems dug in. Usually, it at least loosens over the course of such endeavors and at the end of four hours of weeding or cleaning the kitchen, I’ve gotten something done and I’ve got some breathing space from my neuroses and can start reflecting on what’s up. It’s trickiest when I fight against the sucky feelings because I spin out into some other bullshit narrative. So its bullshit piled on top of bullshit, which mostly involves me trashing myself to myself, but also jumping to conclusions or trying to fit things in ill fitting boxes. And it’s the absolute worst when I just decide to numb out.  That is my least favorite version of me. Numb me. I am sure numb me needs a boat load of tenderness (and I am risking sounding way woo woo here by talking like this) but in my best moments I don’t have a ton of tenderness for my numbness and I just strive to be neutral. I think numbness may scare the crap out of me, at least in my heart. Hmm . . . well . . . I need to think about that. It could explain a lot of things, I think.

I have to end this post some other way because I am feeling self conscious that I sound a little chickeny soup for the soul or Hallmarky and that’s really not my inner voice (Please say that’s true. I want the inner voice of a farmer.) So back to the start. Rain. I only suited up half way for the ride home and of course I got hit by that 20 minute down pour and got soaked from the waist down. But at least I got home before the new darkness had settled in. So it’s been Willie Nelson and Chet Baker for me and not the debates. Tofu and cabbage and peas. And IPRC workshop prep.

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some really nice times and things to be grateful for

October 22, 2012

Woke up to blue sky, which waxed and waned and eventually gave way to the clouds in the afternoon. Should have worked in the yard but instead I rode my bike around and was glad to have my thin wool gloves and headband in my pannier, even if I looked like a complete dork when I ran into EKF on my way out of New Seasons, so much so that we almost didn’t recognize each other, which was funny. I am telling myself that I didn’t do yard work because I am transitioning into winter bike riding, but I don’t know if that’s true. I am also a little burnt out on the yard and am waiting for the final die down before cutting tons of stuff back.

I did try to get fava bean seeds at Portland Nursery earlier in the day, with no luck for the seeds, but instead a serendipitous run in with H + M and the their twins O + G. I walked back with them to their house for a short visit, wherein baby O and I stared at each other and made each other laugh for almost an hour. It was incredibly sweet and I didn’t even mind when she spit up on me. H also didn’t mind that I accidentally tried to steal the caramel apple M bought for her and had toted home on top of O in the stroller, which made for a funny photo opp, as in big ass candy apple on a little baby. So of course we all took pics. Seeing  H+ M and the the twins was the perfect end to a weekend that began perfectly and then stayed full of friend connections and eating some really good food.