November 30, 2008

There’s not one person that I’ve been close to over these last ten years here in Portland that I’m close to now. A lot of things happened. It’s beautiful and sad and true. Still I feel lucky. Got moved. Got changed. Ain’t never gonna be the same, man.

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In my hood

November 30, 2008

My four plex

Originally uploaded by proteanme

Thanksgiving morning in Portland.

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thank you

November 27, 2008

So quiet here. Amazing. I went for a walk and took a bunch of pictures. I live on the cusp of a swanky neighborhood, bordered by a small commercial district and within a few blocks from a middle school. Typical urban scene in Portland where city living is high density. But it always reminds me a snapshot of history. Urban life before the sprawl of the fifties. It really is one of the best things about Portland — how high density packs us in and makes us all live together.  I felt grateful for the pleasure of walking for ten or twenty blocks surrounded by trees and old buildings and gardens and old homes. Lucky, even.

I have been missing Indiana lately. Missing all the things that add up to home. I want to send a special note to all my Hoosiers, including the expats, like Martha and Pep, that you are on my mind often and I wish I could see you all with much more frequency. And Pep even though I know you’re not from Indiana, because of how I know you you’ll always be a Hooiser to me, which I mean as the highest compliment. I feel awfully lucky to count you all as friends.

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if you took a holiday

November 27, 2008

I know, I know, quoting Madonna. But it was good song. Back in the day. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I feel safe in saying you are all in my thoughts.

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right now

November 25, 2008

The thing is this, recently I got cut loose by a couple people in my life out here and it has laid bare the nature of my connections or missed connections with folks in Portland. I know a lot of people around town. I like them, too. But I’m not part of any one group, not particularly close to any one body. Not any more. And that’s ok. This isn’t about feeling sorry for myself. Or trying to drum up pity from who ever is reading this post. And I’m not trying to be a martyr or a hard ass either. I’m only trying to talk about the nature of things in my life right now.

The truth is I’ve experienced a lot of loss out here. In Bloomington it always seemed people were moving through my life and it made sense to me because it was a college town. But out here, anyone I was close to at one point, I’m not close to any more. Not now. I can’t think of one exception. Folks have just moved out of my life. Or I’ve moved out of their’s.  Lots of reasons for all that. But even the reasonableness of it feels a little sad.

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November 21, 2008

It’s been raining buckets here. On and off, but all day. For a minute or two this morning the sun came out while it was raining and I was reminded of how sometimes thunder storm at home will roll away and reveal a blue sky. It seems like it’s been years since I’ve seen the sun shine on rain. So I sat and looked out my window for a little bit, looked out at the shadows and rain drops ripple across the tops of puddles and I missed home.

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obama, my girl in western mass and liminality

November 19, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about liminality. It makes me so happy when there’s one word to describe something so nuanced and complex. And in thinking about what it means to be liminal, I realized it’s a great term to understand this past historic election. For the last couple weeks I’ve been  trying to figure out how a black man got himself elected president of the US. Given what race means here in Amercia, it is an amazing feat. And it came to me yesterday that Obama ran his presidential bid “occupying a space” of permanent liminality. But instead of creating dissonance like it so often does, it created relief. Relief for a lot of folks who didn’t want to resolve the issue of his race, as in yes this is a black man, or at least didn’t want to get resolution around understanding that his race has meaning, as in yes this is still a pretty racist society. Think of the footage from election night, the close-up of Jessie Jackson crying, the kids dancing at Spellman, the street party in Harlem, and try and reconcile that with comments to call-in radio shows and letters to editors from people saying this election wasn’t about race. Of course this election was about race (to some degree); it’s just that Obama didn’t run a race on race. Smart, smart move on his part. And being a black man not running on race but winning the race — that’s a liminal act of epic proportions. Seriously.

If only other folks were so lucky. Like my girl in western Mass, who I’ve come to think of as being permanently liminal. She’s wicked smart and wiley, but she’s never gonna escape the dissonance the world dishes back up at her as she tries to negotiate her way through it.  Why? Because she’s sick. And when I say sick, I mean disabled sick. Illness, injury, disease, disability – this stuff begs out for resolve. And the collective urge to mend and fix and cure has certainly changed our human condition, as in increased the lifespan, decreased suffering and generally enhanced our quality of life. But not everything gets cured and why that is, well that’s a different blog.

But leaving aside how and why we choose to commit resources to curing some diseases and not others, we can at least agree that not everything can get cured. And when we don’t have a way to manage what’s wrong, when we can’t treat the condition so that the sick can live among us on our able bodied terms, well, if that’s your lot, you’re kinda screwed. As a society we see sickness and disablity and we want resolve, man. Normalize yourselves, you sickos: get better, or transcend what ails you like the super crip marathoner with prosthetics, or hide away and or die. Yes, I do mean to sound this harsh.

When what’s considered “normal” got constructed, my girl got left out. But the ideas about normalcy were built from a house of cards called assumptions. So there she is, liminal to the bone, like it or not. And the means for resolve are either out reach or out of the question. Yes, she could get some better and I hope she does, because things have been extraordinarily hard these last several years, but she will still have disabilities. Meaning she gets to beat her head against a world that at best might collectively in its actions and on a very good day, say something like “we love you in spite of how we have to accomodate your disability.”

And fuck that. If I can use the metaphor of access ramps, I say fuck this idea of a ramp to get in the building. Build the building so it doesn’t need a ramp in the first place. Build it so everyone get’s in. There is no reason that the act of entering a building should be the litmus test for ability, for what’s considered normal, for who gets included.



November 15, 2008

I’ve got such a serious case of monkey mind today that I’m surprised I can get my two feet to work together and walk from here to there without falling down. Part of me wants to say please ignore everything I just said in the last several posts because I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. But of course I’m not altogether serious in that plea, not that I’m joking either.

I’m not purposefully trying to be contradictory here.  I know I drive people nuts when I try and articulate this stuff because it often reads as inconsistent, but this is my mind at work. And honestly, I believe in diverse truths. Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about liminality. There is something liminal in being butch.

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back on the other side the world

November 14, 2008

I am back in Portland. And in a daze. I don’t really know where to begin in talking about my travels, as it was so much more a journey of the heart than anything else. Had I combined this trip with a stop in Indiana my heart my just might have burst.

One funny thing that occurred that I didn’t expect was that I missed Portland. I missed riding my bike and drinking good coffee and walking around my neighborhood and making contact with co-workers and neighbors. I missed the every day familiarity and comfort that grounds me and keeps me connected to the world when I’m so lost in my head. I even missed the idea that just around the corner is the most mind blowing hike or day trip or backpacking weekend, which is quite funny to me because for the better part of this last year I’ve been railing on the how I can’t deal with the relentlessness of the stunning landscape of the Northwest. In fact, I had to laugh at myself on the bus ride up from NYC to Northampton when I looked out the window and found myself longing to see something tall and then felt so grateful as we left Connecticut and the low mountain ranges of western Mass finally came into view. Like it or not, Oregon has imprinted itself on my brain.

I missed all those things because I’ve been thinking of leaving them. I don’t have a plan, just in case anyone is wondering.  I have vague ideas and dreamy notions and all this last year I’ve been opening up to the thought of moving away from Portland, a thought which scares me. For lots of reasons.  Like it scares me because I crave familiarity and routine and I’ve found that here. Along with some things that make part of every day work for me. And some people I love.  But one thing that is clear to me is I really can’t hold on to the life I have if I want to have the life that’s waiting for me. That all probably sounds much more dramatic and fateful than I intend, because I really don’t know what’s waiting. But I do get that to really open a door to one thing, to open it and go all the way in, that means I have close the door on other things.


western mass

November 10, 2008

If you can’t swing a dead cat in Portland without hitting a Thai restaurant, then you can’t swing said feline in Western Mass without hitting a Dunkin Donut. I had no idea North Easterners were so into fried dough. Seriously. And I miss good coffee. I was at a restaurant last night and saw they served coffee and asked the young women working the counter if the coffee was good and she got all insulted because she makes it. Of course I got some and it wasn’t badly made, but the brew itself was kinda flat. After trying an actual coffee shop this morning I’d say that they just don’t have the good beans out here in Western Mass. Damn, if Portland’s not ruined me for seriously good beans.

I’ve only been here in Northampton for about a day. So this is a pretty cursory report. As expected, there’s a serious college town vibe for sure, mixed with the old hippie thing and of course the lesbian factor, which is amazingly high. Really, I haven’t seen this many down-to-earth lesbians since I went to a womyn’s music festival. And that was way back in the day. Also, I haven’t seen so many stores selling so many things I would never in my life buy. Except maybe all the geegaw shops on the Oregon coast. I can’t say for certain if I’ve seen a butch or a femme, although I spied a pretty masculine dyke at the food coop last night.

I was a little sad that downtown doesn’t have a square. Just a main drag with streets shooting off it. I thought I’d get a nice small town square ala so many small towns in Indiana. No such luck. Walking around I passed three street musicians. All guys with beards and guitars, separated by a number of blocks. At one point each one was playing a different Neil Young song. A street jam conspiracy or coincidence? You tell me.

My girl lives out in the wilds surrounding Northampton. For you Bloomington folks it feels kinda like if you lived out in Brown Country or out past Lake Monroe. For the Portlanders, just imagine getting out past the urban growth boundry on some small road and you get the picture. But it’s a different world out here on the other side of the continent, although there are echoes of Willamette Valley and Southern Indiana, that is if I had to find something familiar in the landscape, which I do. It helps me orient myself.

I had forgotten what so many deciduous trees look like getting ready for winter. The way they bare themselves against each other and the sky. Not that there aren’t still a fair amount of fall leaves around. There are. It’s just that it looks like I’m on the other side of what must be quite stunning. And I guess that was several weeks ago. But it’s still beautiful. Thick and wild and beautiful. It must feel pretty lush round here come spring and summer.

Right now, the sun is out and I’ll call that good.