goodbye RJ

July 1, 2014

We’re not even going to cry about this. Even though I did after you left. And felt bad that I vacuumed while you carried stuff out to your car. I think I just couldn’t figure out what to do and was sad. You moving in this house two years ago was the best thing. Now, you’re like family. Pretty much like when I lived with Bec in Bloomington. I can barely believe I’ve struck gold twice. Thank you world of housemates/friends/family. RJ, as long as I have a home, you have a place to stay.

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hurry up and wait

July 1, 2014

The end of the era has ended or will very, very soon. The moving truck should be here within the hour and I am sitting here waiting for them, amid my neatly consolidated pile of boxes, trying to be patient. The movers are delayed by their morning move, which unexpectedly turned into an all day move because there was so much stuff and a tricky layout out at their customer’s new house. Whatever. Sigh. For a while I weeded to distract myself. My neighbor, who knows I am moving, saw me and said I must be feeling really guilty about the yard. But after I told him about the movers, he agreed with me, that pulling weeds can be kinda meditative when you’re killing time. Now my hands are dirty and the scrub brush is packed up. Who know’s where? I wish Phil were here. I took him out to MTB’s this morning, trying to give him some time at the new house while the dogs are at dog care. MTB said he is settling in. Fingers crossed that blending Phil into the animal family will go well. Or as well as it can go. Not spinning out on that right now, though. Concentrating on the movers who I want to get here. I’m running out of patience. My car’s been packed for hours. I’ve thrown out the last stuff to throw out of the fridge – the old hummus, the half jar of peanut-butter, 6 radishes and two open bottles of siracha. The evening traffic has picked up. Motorcycle, car, car, car going too fast, bus. I am ready to jump into line with them. Let’s go. Let’s go. I’ve been saying good-bye to this house for a year. I said goodbye to RJ yesterday. I sat in the house by myself and turned up the stereo and cried. Enough. Let’s get this show on the road!

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opening up to other people’s favorite books

November 4, 2012

From the prologue of In the City of Shy Hunters:

Life is absolutely, mysteriously beautiful. Life has always been all around me, in me, of me, has always been this fascinating mystery, but it wasn’t until now I have been present, been aware enough, to witness.

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fog . . . right, but really this isn’t about fog

October 10, 2012

Dorencbecher in mist

Originally uploaded by proteanme

I forgot about the fog. Its kind of funny because its such a frequent occurrence up here on the hill OHSU sits on and the first year I was here I was so taken by it that I took a bunch of pictures, like the one above. It wasn’t nearly as thick this morning. Its already starting to burn off and I can see the blue sky behind the mist.

So now what? I got all vulnerable and declared how much I want to change things in my life. Writing the declaration is so much more fun, or  maybe not fun, but at least its  easier than doing the work. Of course. I do have a vague plan, though. I’ve been at it all summer: ride my bike, stop listening to the news, listen to more music, trust my gut, go with my heart, make creative connections, eat less junk food, drink more water (yay for sparkling water), reach out to people I like, make sure the people I love know I love them . . . it sounds kinda cheesy, but that’s ok. I was having a conversation the other day where I revealed that I knew about chakras. My secret is I am down with whatever works for people to find joy and meaning in their lives and whatever set of beliefs, practices, etc make the world work for them. It doesn’t have to work for me. And it doesn’t matter what I believe in. It would be such a small and boring world if the only things that mattered were things about me and my point of view, which is often changing and limited no matter how much I try to be open. If it was all about me, I don’t think I would just go crazy; I think parts of me inside would die.

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there she goes

April 25, 2012

There go the vitamins and the Volvo and some pots and pans and dishes and the rug upstairs that I always thought was more expensive than it is and the flatware and the olive wood spatulas and the coffee grinder and the box of 1000 receipts and the yoga mats and meditation cushions and just about everything in the 2nd story closet and bathroom, including copious amounts of boots and shoes. It is amazing all the things you can and cannot pack into a Volvo station wagon and then repack the next day to try to gain some visibility. It definitely was sitting lower in the back when she drove off.

I will miss you, RU. More than I can ever really express or probably want to express here. Although I’m sure at times I will try. You have been part of my everyday life, on and off, for almost 10 years. And even in the off time, you were part of my every week life, except for about 4 weeks when we didn’t talk or email or text at all, and that seemed like an eternity. I will miss being part of your every day life, too. It is amazing how much the every things have been so impactful in a good way. I don’t think impactful is a word.

Yes, change is constant. Nothing stays the same. Things come and go. Right. I know all of that. I believe all of that. And still I am a little stunned by the experience of it. I think that’s right though, the stunnedness. Especially because I can shut down.

I miss you right now and you’ve only been gone for about 5 hours. Be safe. Be well. I will see you soon and then I can miss you all over again.


best sir like story so far this year and other things

March 26, 2012

I’m not gonna edit this or try and correct for typos or other short comings.

A couple weeks ago I had my best sir-ish moment for 2012 so far. It was kinda late and I was shopping at Food 4 Less. There weren’t many people in the store and this guy who was also shopping kept staring at me. I thought he was maybe a little socially awkward or potentially maybe off in some other way because it did get the tiniest bit creepy in that he seemed to be almost following me. Finally, he said “Excuse me, m’am, but are you Sam Adams.” For you non-Portlanders, Sam Adams is our mayor. As soon as he said it, the guy started giggling, and saying he hope he didn’t offend me, but it was the glasses and the hair and had anyone ever told me that before. For the record, my glasses are bigger and look cooler than Sam’s and my hair is more silver. It made me laugh and I told the guy that I wasn’t offended and no one had ever aid that before.

I went to Hawaii for first time this month. I got called sir a lot there, one of the many perks, but certainly not the biggest. The biggest was an old friend’s generosity who made the trip possible in the first place and the next biggest was being warm, pretty much all the time, even when it rained. The first morning we were there, the woman who ran the coffee shop where we’d gone said, “Welcome to paradise.” It was cheesy, but standing there in my flip flops and looking out at the blue sky and ocean, I could see what she meant. Also, I forgot that I tan. It’s mostly gone now. But it was nice while it lasted.

I lost some steam for the letters from dad project. Not that I’ve given up. I just need some dedicated time to trying to get the letters in chronological order. I can’t hardly stand the idea that I would post them haphazardly, even though I know it’s better than not posting them at all and it’s not like I’m setting things in stone. Maybe it’s the perfectionist part of me, which can easily sink a project, if it goes unchecked and I know I need to check it. But, also, I’ve been concentrating on writing other things, finishing a short story and writing part two of the larger story of what it was like to grow up with my dad or kind of in his shadow, since I didn’t really grow up with him, per se.

I am also in full swing of contemplating my upcoming birthday, which represents a milestone and kind of freaks me out. Really, what am I doing with my life? Why am I not sending out my finished writing or songs to get published? Do I really have to get a colonoscopy this year? Is it strange to have a bunch of friends who are so much younger than me? Should I be making more money? What would make me happy? What do I want to experience in this life, especially when it’s clear, that half my life is over? Is it only going to get even harder to stay in shape? Do you get to reach an age where you stop being angsty? And also, I’ll be posting a “save the date” soon because even though I ma feeling neurotic about it, I am gonna have some kind of open house party to mark this whopper of a birthday.

I take back, the editing part. I went back and corrected some obvious typos.



random thoughts at the start of a new year

January 4, 2012

The sun is starting to set and I do believe that the day is just a little bit longer than it was a week ago. Which is how it works. Minutes get added on to minutes and then some time in April we notice that the sun is setting and it’s a few minutes past 8pm. If it’s not cloudy. I mean we notice the time the sun sets if it’s not cloudy.

Right now the sky is covered with scattered clouds, turning orange and pink on the their undersides as they move closer to the bright strip of light that hugs the horizon. It’s kind of spectacular looking. It’s like the end of the world is right over there.

I had the good luck to start 2012 off in the company of funny, warm and generous friends. I don’t tend to look for signs, but still, I’m hoping that it is a sign of nice and friendly things to come.

Last night I remembered that it was my dad’s birthday. He would have been 86 this year. I swear I’m better at remembering his birthday now that he’s dead. When he was alive, neither one of us were good at remembering each others birthdays, or at least letting the other person know we remembered. I don’t know who started forgetting first. I’d like to say him, because he was a crappy dad, but it could have been me, because he was a crappy dad. I don’t mean for this to be a crappy dad story, though, because remembering his birthday makes miss him and makes me wish I would have written his birthday down on a calendar and called him every year no matter what kind of dad he was.

January 1st was the 35th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman Episcopal priest. And I was there. It happened in the church I grew up in.

I was 14 years old when Jackie Means got ordained at All Saints church. I think almost the whole congregation was there that day for Jackie, squeezed in along with everybody else who wanted to see history happening. I don’t remember much of the service, except for Martin Bell singing one of Jackie’s favorite songs that was from a folk mass he’d composed and Jim Taylor giving speaking fervently about the historical nature the event. What I remember most were the body guards and news people and the cameras and the protestors, a number of whom came from our own congregation. They wore black arm bands. They held signs, I think. I’m pretty sure they even stood up during the service and condemned Jackie’s ordination and called it a heresy. It was sad and strange. These were people I’d grown up with, people who’d probably been at both my baptism and my confirmation, people who were kind of like a second family. After that day, they were gone from our lives.

It was amazing and overwhelming to be there. Because of the personal significance to my church family at All Saints and because I really loved Jackie and was cheering for her the whole way and because I’d never been as close I was that day to experiencing a cultural shift. I was sitting there and something historical was happening 10 or 20 feet away from me, which would change the Episcopal church forever.

Strangely, I barely remember Jackie at all that day, a day that changed her life forever too. I suppose that’s because I was 14 and in the throws of a typical narcissistic adolescence and it was crowded and hard to see and there must have a ton of people around her after the service at whatever reception was held in the parish hall. But I remember the first time I took communion from her a week late and how moving that was. But Even with my hazy memory, I’m still grateful to have been there the day Jackie was ordained and grateful to have stood with Jackie. It is amazing thing at 14 to get the chance to stand up for something real like that and I feel lucky to have been at All Saints during the years she served as our associate priest. She was good to us and good to me. Thanks, Jackie and congratulations on 35 years of remarkable service.


all the way gone

September 15, 2010

The other night I watched Man On Wire, the documentary about Phillipe Petit, the Frenchman who strung a high wire between the twin towers and then danced across the sky, as they say. It wasn’t as great a film as I’d heard it was, but it was magical. And while I hadn’t planned to commemorate 9/11, it seemed as fitting a way to do so as any. As you can imagine there was lots and lots of footage of the towers. Quite a bit of it was of the towers being constructed, which looking back seems like such an optimistic act. And a joyful one too, which I hadn’t expected. But those buildings seemed to have captured some of exuberance of America in the early 70’s. I suppose that’s obvious, but I’d never thought of it before. I think I liked best the lack of irony in the towers. They were massive structures and straight forward about the statement they made. No nonsense in their macho stance. I was surprised to find myself smiling at the scenes of the construction workers and cranes putting all that steel and glass into place up to a quarter mile above ground. There was also a fair amount of interior footage. Shots of the revolving doors at the entrance to the lobby of the towers, the lobby itself and the bank of escalators that rose up from there – all full of people going to work. Busy. Crowded. Alive. All things we will never see or experience in those buildings ever again. Never. Ever. Which feels a little silly to say because that fact has been obvious since 9/11. I don’t know why but something hit me in watching that footage that made me mournful in a way I’ve not been mournful before about 9/11. It was like a wake up call to remember something else about tower’s besides their destruction, the images of which seemed to have wiped out any other pictures of the towers I’d previously stored in my mind. Seeing the footage of the towers being built and full of people and knowing what’s happened since that footage was shot reminded me of all the stuff we lost on 9/11 and how we can’t get back so much of it. The permanence of absence is an awful and amazing thing. When things get all the way gone, their nonexistence is intractable. I don’t think I’d understood on a deeper level just how much does not exist anymore.

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it’s all my head

August 14, 2010

Yesterday I was lying in the hammock with RU and Phil, my cat, was lying under us, all stretched out flat like a pancake, which used to be my nickname for him.. With our combined weight the swing was resting only 3 or 4 inches above Phil and I said to RU, “If the hammock breaks we’ll kill Phil.” RU assured me that the hammock wasn’t going to break and it’s not like I was terribly worried, it was more that I was noticing my catastrophic thinking. It’s like when we’d stopped at this tiny state park on our our little Oregon trip and I couldn’t stop thinking about the how the woods on the other side of the road looked just like woods in the assassination scene in Miller’s Crossing.This is what  my brain looks like when I’m anxious and changing jobs has brought on some anxiety, giving me lots of opportunities to notice how kinda nuts my thoughts can get. Luckily I don’t buy in to the whole “I think therefore I am” adage.

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August 4, 2010

Upheaval. This time I bought it on myself. Switching jobs is an opportunity to trust in my resilience. That’s what I’ve been saying to the me inside that gets caught up in predicting my future happiness or anxiousness based on leaving my old job and starting a new one. Even though it’s a futile exercise and I know that, I still get lured into it by my risk averse nature, and because it never seems futile at the outset. It seems prudent to try and figure out what’s going to make me happy, even though humans are not particularly adept at predicting their happiness (at least according to Daniel Gilbert).This  morning I awoke caught up in the exact predicament I’ve just been describing, which has brought on a fair amount of anxiety, a feeling I instinctively avoid, like jerking my finger away from a hot stove. Anxiety and the awareness of my response to it makes me think that my brain is my best friend and my worst enemy – something and I wish I had a better since of humor about. But forcing a sense of humor seems pointless. Although just the idea of saying “Ease up, mother fucker” makes me laugh because of the ineherent contradiction. I’ve got this line from an Ohio Player’s song stuck in my brain – “Rollercoaster of love, Rollercoaster.”

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