there’s not really a good reason for why i don’t read some books

September 28, 2012

That was an AMAZING sunset last night! I’m so glad my house faces west. I looked out the window and saw the orange sky and actually said “wow” out loud to myself. It was kind of stunning and for a half hour or so I was in love with fall.

My sleep continues to suck. I cannot get my mind to settle down . . . songs, poems, house stuff, grocery list, people, etc. I can hear RU telling me to meditate. I actually believe she is right and it would probably help me, but in short, I just won’t do it and I am unwilling to explore my resistance to it, too. I can be a very frustrating person to engage with. I don’t know if it’s any consolation to other folks, but also I frustrate my own self. Also, on a slightly related thread, I’ve been wondering if a person can be some hybrid of a hedonist and a Buddhist and a nice midwestern guy. That actually might be how I start explaining myself, although this is only an idea I just now came up with.

The other day I was talking with my writing group members about what each of us are reading and AM reported she’s joined up with a couple other folks who read difficult books together and with them that she’s currently reading Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native. Actually, AM might have said she was slogging through some parts. Still. I would love to be the kind of person who did this, because I think it would make me feel like a bad ass reader and I would enjoy that. I even had a conversation with my English prof friend this summer about starting a difficult book club, but it never got past the conversation part. So even though I’m reluctant to admit it, so far I don’t appear to be the kind of person who reads difficult books.

My dirty secret and the one I’m even more reluctant to admit, is how resistant I am to reading books that people I know recommend to me. It makes no sense, since many of my friends are prodigious readers and have tastes that are similar to mine, and if not similar at least, interesting to me. When RU and I were first dating and we were in the “I like soup, you like soup and we can talk and not talk for hours” phase, I read a couple of her recommendations right away, like these Jane Smiley novellas, but after that, RU recommended Lonesome Dove to me for a couple years, much to her chagrin, before I finally picked it up and read it. I ended up loving that book. I love it so much so that I recommend the book to everyone I know, because of course I like to  make recommendations. Maybe or maybe not, that makes me a little bit of blowhard; either way its another annoying and/or frustrating quirk.

What came up in my conversation the other day about reading, was that my dad once gave me Melville’s Billy Budd and said something like “this explains me better than anything else” or “if you wanna know me, read this book.” And . . . I never read it. As I said all of this this out loud to my writing group members, I knew it sounded kind of outrageous, because for all intense purposes, I grew up estranged from my dad’s life, and I had been desperate for so long to know him better. And then he give me this key and in not reading the book, you could characterize my response to his giving me the key  as “I don’t care about your stupid key.” In my own defense, I have to say, I just wanted to hang out with my dad and meet some of his friends or go with him to his bar, where they had his picture on the wall, or go with him to the church he went to the last couple years of his life. But still I’ve never read Billy Budd. My dad is dead and Billy Budd is sitting on the shelf of my bedside table.

Hmm . . . that may have sounded darker than I feel. I don’t feel dark right now. I feel distracted and buzzy and a little tired and happy to see the sunshine and happy that it’s Friday and grateful I had some time to cook last night.


more weather and music

September 27, 2012

Gloves and headband on the ride in this morning, but my ears get cold super easily.

The sunrise from the tram is always amazing. I know I’ve said this before here, but views from the tram never get old. In my heart, its always “oh my god,” that is so “beautiful” or “amazing” or “stunning.” And that fact is amazing too. That every day I come to work, I get the the chance to be a little blown away.

I have been playing music again. Did I already mention that a little while back? If I did I didn’t stick with actually doing it, as in playing. Sticking with it means actually setting aside time to practice, as opposed to practicing on a whim. I think I’ve been partly inspired by my 14 y.o. neighbor, a pretty talented viola player, who, on warmer days when the the windows are open, I often get to hear practicing, sometimes at 6:30 in the morning. It’s kind of lovely to hear him play, and also just the littlest bit sad because it taps into an ancient memory I didn’t even know I had of hearing my dad practice his cello. My friend, Howie, once asked me to write about my first memory and I tried really hard to of think of what it was, without any luck, but if I had to guess, I would imagine that it likely involves hearing one of my parents practicing. I’m grateful to have grown up in a house with music and to also have music in the genes. Even when I go through long stretches of not playing much, there are almost always songs running through my mind: hymns, jingles, pop and rock from all the years of AM and then FM radio I listened to, and stuff I’ve made up. I make up lots of ridiculous songs on the spur of the moment, songs for the cats, songs about doing the dishes, a song about being a cry baby. One of the most gratifying songs I’ve written, is a song for Lowen, RU’s nephew, because I’ve been singing it to him since he was a baby and now at 2 1/2 he can sing back the last line to me.


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.


a little let down

September 25, 2012

Was I really in NYC just yesterday? I almost have to pinch myself to see if that was true. (A funny aside; I initially typed “punch myself”). Already, I think the trip was too short, which makes it feel kinda dreamy. It is impossible to look out at my back yard this morning or at the street in front and imagine just 24 hours ago there was honking and hustle and bike delivery guys and a sea of yellow cabs and miles of wide boulevards lined with big ass buildings and tons of fabulous and interesting looking people. I love the combination of energy and solitude I feel in NYC; if that combo makes any sense to you we are alike. Oh goodness, I wasn’t prepared to feel wistful already.

And even with a touch of melancholy, my mind is already starting to tick off immediate and future to do lists: tend to the garden, do my laundry, grocery shop, listen to music, go to the bank, get ink for the printer, do another run of my chap book, change the litter boxes, pet the cats, go through the stack of crap on my desk, start purging – books, clothes, crap in my basement, lift weights, prep my rain gear, figure out if I can go to Chicago in October, clean the house . . . Is there always so much to do?  The busyness keeps me from writing and playing music, which are really my heart and soul, as cliche and dramatic as that sounds and as I think about just saying that, I realize it really may not even be entirely true, as there is some heart and soul stuff in other creative work and in cooking and spending time with people I am close to. I can’t believe I am even talking about heart and soul stuff. But I keep saying I want to open up.

So now what? Be a little sad and miss NYC and M, who I’ve known since I was 14. Be excited about things happening this week. I think, I will be both. Embrace the whole fucking thing. At this very second the Ghost in You by the Psychedelic Furs is playing and even though I don’t associate that song with a particular time in my life, it seems like I should and it feels fitting for how I am feeling right now.

I do have the best housemate in the world though, picking me up at 1am this morning and leaving some delicious food in the fridge for me to eat today. In short, Remy, you fucking rock and I am glad you moved in.


good bye for now new york

September 24, 2012

Finally sleep. Only woke up once before 6 and then once at 7:30 and then didn’t get up til 8:45. I’m not sure how much more I can handle of the not sleeping nights, which have been occurring pretty frequently over the last 2 or 3 weeks, where I go to sleep at 11pm and then starting at 1am or so I wake up every 1 to 2 hours.

Last day in NYC. Very mellow. Was gonna try to jam a couple things in to today,  like Central Park (not all of it, obviously) and replacing my flip flops because the dog chewed one end of one of them, but this trip has not been really been about running around and seeing or doing a ton of stuff; its been about spending time with one of my dearest friends, who I will just refer to as M. I don’t think M and I  have spent this much time together in 10 or 15 years. There has been a lot of sweetness and some laughing and I made some really good food. I don’t usually use language like this, but I will treasure the time I’ve had with M this weekend.

Everything on top of that has been such a nice bonus, walking around, hanging out at parks, having some bahn mi, going to the museum, spotting other butches, seeing Colleen (especially nice bonus) and all the writing I’ve done, which has been an unexpected pleasure. I’ve been wondering if I could do a writing retreat/residence/workshop in New York without getting too distracted and now, I think it’s a real possibility. To finish off this visit I have a goal of seeing if I figure out public transportation to JFK. I think its doable. M is confident. RU keep your fingers crossed!

Being here has been a little like hitting a reset button for me. Which I think I needed because right before I left town, my lazy and relatively quiet summer was giving way to a busier and very possibly more fun fall, with more writing and reading and being AM’s T.A. for the IPRC class and trying to take advantage of the good weather to work on the yard and the garden and the house and more cooking, because this is the bounty, and more other kinds of personal things that I don’t really blog about. I was kinda stretching myself a little thin and one day last week I even found myself inexplicably sad/emotional, so much so that when I got this kind and encouraging email from Cheryl Strayed that I hadn’t expected, I just started crying at my desk at work. Luckily I go in early and no one else was around. It’s like I actually needed to go to other side of the continent to chill for a second, catch my breath and and take a look at what I’m up to. It’s all good stuff, really, some of it’s even exciting, but I know I’ve been shut down for a while so I am a little rusty I think with  managing the emotional parts. Away from it all and walking around New York, I’ve had some good revelations about myself, which is always gratifying and I feel good coming back and jumping in. IPRC class is tomorrow and my writing group the day after that and maybe some freelance work and then a reading this weekend . . . I’m stoked.

I so wish I could figure out how to have the both of best worlds . . . wait . . . ha – that was good . . . I mean the best  of both worlds. That I could be bi-coastal and live in NYC and in PDX. I’m not trying to manifest anything because that manifesting is not my thing. But it is a dreamy wish that I’m not to embarrassed to write down here.


saturday morning and early afternoon in manhattan

September 22, 2012

Hit Union Square this first thing this A.M. for some coffee and then headed down to Washington Square Park, where I spent the morning working on some poems for my writing group’s upcoming reading. Amazingly, I was productive and I did not get distracted by kids on their razors or the people beside me speaking French or the older dudes playing their acoustic guitars and singing songs by 4 Non Blonds and George Harrison and the Doobie Brothers. I could even read the poems out loud to myself without any one noticing or caring or really paying any attention to me at all.

Next stop was Whole Foods on the edge of the Lower East Side for a bathroom pit stop and to scribble down the lines for another poem I have been working on for a month now. Either this going to work and people will get it. Or it’s going to suck because I am trying too hard to be clever. I’m not being dramatic about it or looking for some re-assurance or being defensive.  I don’t think this about everything I write. It’s just true this time.

I also got to bond with this Whole Foods guy over our Red Wing boots. I thought for a second he was flirting with me, but I can am oblivious to this in the same way I can over estimate my cuteness.

After Whole Foods I walked down to the New Museum. I always want to like the shows I’ve seen there better than I do. But the building’s cool and I got to go up to the roof this time and I joked around with this woman who worked there and happened to be riding in the elevator every single time I got in it. So overall, a win.

Last stop for the afternoon, involved me tracking down, Nicky’s, my favorite bahn mi sandwich shop in the East Village. Except its not called Nicky’s any more, but it still has kick ass bahn mi, which I wolfed down. Then I walked back up 1st Avenue and over Gramercy Park, where I am currently hanging out inside and typing this. The sun is shining and its tiny bit cool outside and my friend, who I’m staying with, has the most beautiful apartment ever. And I can slip into one my favorite day dreams, which is that I live here in New York. One of my all time favorite places I have ever been.


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start spreading the news

September 20, 2012

Hello New York City! The red eye landed early. I am remarkably awake. The weather is perfect. I took a short walk and saw some fabulous looking people. And I just spent some nice time with one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world.  My crush on New York has immediately picked up where I left it. Thump. Thump. It is easy to feel grateful. Pretty soon I am going to go march myself around to stay awake and then meet Colleen and then do some more marching. Need to adjust to east coast time in a day. Makes me think of when RU and I went to Paris and her Dad took us on an epic march and we drank cafe au laits, I think, and we took some melatonin and then went to bed at 8pm and boom, next morning, we were set. Not jet lag.

Life has been kind of whirlwindish lately. Full of everything all at once. It’s like suddenly every little part of life a got a boost of abundance, from the mundane and tedious to kind and generous and also, the sublime. Yay, sublime! My approach is to dive in, in a low key way, if that’s possible. Say yes; say yes; say yes. the only outcome of all this abundant energy that I can really bitch about is that I’ve not been sleeping very well, for almost 2 weeks now. Whew. Occasionally, I get neurotic and think about how lack of sleep is connected to all these health issues, but then I just try and think about the good luck of having come from a hardy gene pool.

Right now I can’t stop thinking about how lucky I am to just be able to fly to some place I love and see some people I love. It really is pretty amazing.

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i used to be in love with this

September 18, 2012

It is dusk right now. I used to love dusk, especially to ride my bike in it, because it was the physical manifestation of the idea of liminality. And for a while I loved the idea of being liminal. It was around the 2008 election and I was attributing Obama’s popularity, in part, to his liminality. I’m sure I blogged about it at least once, if not more. I’ve really got to activate search for my blog, so I can find out how much I am repeating myself. But also, more importantly I loved thinking of myself as liminal. I had this grand theory about how being butch was a liminal state, as in a state of being in-between or transitional. I think it’s still a good theory, but the love shine has worn off the idea, in that I’m not talking or thinking  about it whenever I get the chance.

It’s been a while since I’ve really been in love with an idea, since I’ve had some intellectual love fest with myself/my mind. I am generally a head first person – thinking, thinking and more thinking – although I am trying hard this summer to be more open hearted. Is that a contradiction, to try hard to open one’s heart? Shouldn’t one’s heart soften? I can almost hear Pema Chodron’s voice in my head, saying that trying hard is just another way of being aggressive with myself. If I say I’m trying hard is it giving off the image of prying my heart open. Good lord, that just sounds painful. But softening up sounds too much like corduroy pillows and nagchampa. So I guess I could just omit the “trying hard” part of the sentence or even just the “hard” part. I am laughing to myself right now and thinking how my friend Toby would call what I just did extreme editing, which might make some sense to any programming friends who take with a grain of salt all the development gospels out ther, like extreme programming and agile development

Ah, dusk has resolved itself and it looks like the very first part of the night has officially fallen. My front door is open and A Guide By Voices song is on. I don’t have one light on in the house and the street light is shining on the hawthorne tree in the city strip, making it look yellow. It is kind of magical looking at it from my seat, behind the bright light of my computer screen. It’s almost like I am imagining it.

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saying yes

September 16, 2012

This is it. This is being alive. Eating my secret version of breakfast pizza and drinking tea and listening to music, Johnny Cash covering Glen Campbell at a second ago and now Bon Iver. I got up to feed the cats when it was still dark, but now the sun is shining and the sky is blue and Remy’s left the house to go hiking. I’ve got the back door open and Phil is laying in the warm spots on the deck. I can see some tomatoes need to be picked. Probably some green beans too. I am doubting the pumpkins, which sprouted up on their own this summer, have turned any oranger, but I can’t see them from here and my approach with them, all along, has been curious and kind of hands off, anyway. Last night my friend told me that I am “a catch” and that made me smile. I also wrote a poem, last night, and I think might work out, as in something I keep. And I finally slept better than I have all week. Not great but better and I will take that. Because not sleeping was starting to drive me nuts.  I started working on cleaning the windows at eight this morning and I put a load of laundry in too. I need to water the garden today. I might cut my hair. If all goes well, I am going to make a pie.

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oh joy

September 6, 2012

It is so beautiful out these days. I stand in my yard or look out the windows of my house or at work and I marvel at this burst of everything that is so amazing about Portland. Tonight, riding my bike home from my writing group, the air felt so perfect and I felt all this joy that my lungs work well and my legs have gotten more powerful over the course of riding so much this summer. It was one of those  “wow, I am alive and wow, I love this world” bike rides to the post office and then home

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