Saturday, December 31, 2005


Amateur night.

We are safely at home, toasting one another with Martinelli's after a morning spent watching the spouting horns in Depoe Bay, salt spray in my mouth and on my blue Nevada hat. We probably missed the worst of the storms, but got to stand by the sea as it proved point after point: I am not in charge. I am small. I am here.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 26, 2005


My favorite day: December 26th. It is over.

I love Christmas, but it really stresses out alot of people around me, and I am glad to be through it. It was a good day. We planned well, and had the big shebang at our house on Christmas Eve day. Nobody in this family really wants to participate. They show up and roll their eyes as though we all understand each other and endure the time together for the sake of the children. But the children aren't children anymore. They are urban waifs who do not believe in anything, nihlistic little wannabes who suffer tragically in imitation of the homeless, a slap in the face of the truly poor.... So it seems a little silly to go to the extent that I do, but I have my fun, and some traditions must survive my former life, right? Next year we will tell everyone we are leaving town and stay home. The food is ridiculous. Excessive. But I didn't spend much this year on gifts, and had fun making candy, except for my shoulder injury.... it hurts. My son was flooded out of his underground apartment two weeks ago, so his holiday was spent relocating, which I don't thing was a bad thing. Sometimes it takes a push to move on, and he had been in the same funky little place for a long time. It did mean that he couldn't come up for christmas, but then he probably wouldn't have anyway. This way, I can pretend that he really wanted to, and the flood prevented him from a truly family holiday. HA!! He celebrates the 26th like I do. In our family, my former family, the pressure to be the Waltons is so intense that the day is lost in imitation of something we never were. In this family, it is different, but much the same. I don't know what is right. The older I get, and the more families that become mine, I have so many versions of Christmas to compare with my childhood, which seemed so simple. But it was a simpler time. My father loved my mother. My aunts and uncles were intact families. We celebrated pretty much the same way: not much money, lots of love and food. Board games. Remember board games? We got Haley Travel Scrabble. She was happy for a minute. That was worth it all.

Today, I am going to do something I ordinarily leave to the stronger in the herd... I'm going shopping on the day after Christmas. I am not looking for a sale, although I wouldn't mind one.... but I need something to wear to my job interview on Thursday. If I get the job, I will have to wear suit-like things. Suits, I guess. I will try to find some way not to do that. I am already looking for the back door. I see myself trying to be the one administrator who is allowed to wear levi's to work. It is tough to be this special. What I know is that I really had it made in my last job. And I knew it then, but I had to get married. Had to. It wasn't a shotgun weddin'... don't get the wrong idea.

So here I am, Clinton Street waking up beneath my bay window, rain falling down down down. There is a mountain of laundry awaiting my folding expertise. Why does it matter that the hand towels, the wash cloths, this dish cloths, the dish towels and the cloth napkins are each folded correctly? Who taught me that? They are all square-ish, and really, who cares? And bath towels. In my opinion there are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who fold in thirds and the ones who fold in halves. Kurt Vonnegut said (in Cat's Cradle) that there are two kinds of people in the world: the ones you know and the ones you don't know.

I don't know.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

clay rabbit

Since I've lived here, there has been a shop on the corner of 26th and division called the clay rabbit. I guess it went out of business and they moved the whole house today. The whole house: a huge, two-story, shingled house. We walked down to the coffee shop to watch it go by, but it didn't. Here it sits in the middle of 26th, waiting for the power line crews to make way.

I was thinking what a bad idea to move it on a windy day, but worse is coming -- just ask the newsmakers.

It is so cold today. Bitter. Windy. The Channel 6 Storm Troopers are anxiously awaiting something, anything, to report. It IS cold. But they promise tragic proportion, bodies on the roadside, car trouble. As I look outside my window, clinton street is bathed in the cold white sun of winter, and but for the wind, it is a beautiful day. I may eat my words.

We put the tree up last night. I am so deeply compulsive about how to do this. K thinks it looks like the presidential tree, which is to say it looks nice. But then, he was accustomed to dragging something home from the corner the day before christmas and letting the girls have at it. Which is fine. And sweet. But I have been hauling my hand-picked ornaments around for a bzillion years, and really enjoy the process. I have one ornament that my mother purchased with her first paycheck when she was 14 years old and an usherette at the North Bend Theatre, which was likely child labor. So, if my math is correct, that thing is about 70 years old. I have the first ornament my son hung when he was a year old, a little wooden boy on a rocking horse and I have real blown glass ornaments from when, at a later age, he was making pipes. Ah, how they do grow up.... I have icicles by the box. It is a beautiful tree.

I was thinking, as we sat in the biting wind, holding sid for a hand warmer, about moving, and how I wouldn't have to pack if we just moved the whole house.

later same day.... the clay rabbit house is nearing the corner of 26th and Powell (Not 6 blocks since 8:00 this morning.) and the ice is falling from the sky. We left to go food shopping and didn't make it to Winko. We were stuck on 82nd, Christmas traffic and ice stalling the whole thing. We turned around, drove back roads home through the neighborhoods, happy to have all wheel drive, watching pickups slide around corners. We stopped by safeway for coffee and creamer and brie, and crept home. Safe and warm.

Friday, December 16, 2005

rotator cuff

I have a torn rotator cuff. or cup. call it what you will. I believe it is cuff. Anyway, Sid, pictured here,

took me for a walk and jerked my arm so hard he tore it. So for the past month or so, I have been in pain. Now, on top of my recent complaint: the snot-fest, I am miserable this morning. I slept all day yesterday, and thanks to my shoulder injury, not much of the night, and am happily NOT, for a change, driving to fucking McMinnville.

My arm is numb.
I am waiting for the job interview phone call.
I am going to take the maxx out to hillsboro and have lunch with my sweetie.
It may involve shopping.

Last night, we got the free tree.

and, like asia, I was grateful. I set aside all of my consumerist perfectionism and decided a free tree wasn't so bad. And like charlie brown, I can make anything beautiful.

And then my husband says, "Does the tree smell funny?"
"Smells like mentholatum to me," I reply. "But so does Sid." My nose is caked with it and Sid licks my nose.

So I wipe off my nose best I can and get up close and personal with the tree. It smells like trash. The pig farmer said he'd thrown it on the burn pile with a bunch of other trees from the boy scout sale that didn't get sold. And it smelled like a nasty old burn pile -- a non-wood burn pile, like garbage and burnt egg shells--my personal un-favorite. I hate it when people with wood stoves burn egg shells and that is what it smelled like.

"Nasty." I said. "Get it out of here."

So on went the night. MY darling husband, of course, had to post it to the free section of Craigslist and we answered the phone all evening and put a free sign on it. It is gone this morning, and who knows who got it? Some passerby, I hope. I just hope it had been sitting out long enough to air out a little.

So, that's my day, sitting at the keyboard, looking out on a frozen Clinton Street in the near dawn of a good friday.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


'tis the season. I have a job interview in the morning and I am sick. I have used airborne all season, and have been sick much less than ususal, but will fight no more forever. I've been exposed many times, and finally, it got me. I am okay. Home, feeling like I am playing hooky, but am just taking care of myself. I have written about this before: the level of self-esteem required to take a day off for self care reasons. I have supposed that it is related to the many times I did not take care of myself, kept going in spite of clear symptoms, and like a psychotic energizer bunny, kept on. And that balanced by the many times I fucked off perfectly productive days for no reason save self interest. Nowadays, I am not so quick to be heroic. It plays well with the general tempo of this narrative: I DON'T CARE. And when it comes to giving my 12 hours to that fucking job (as I have begun to call it -- the whole acceptance thing is so over I need a new word for over) that it is fairly easy to walk away and take a day to heal.

So, heal I will.

I am learning, though, in this job and in this marriage -- (the hunchback just walked by in his shiny blue fur coat) Some things I am in the midst of learning are: I am selfish. (Not news.) I am a little lazy. No -- that is not so true. I just really really don't like to do what I don't want to do, which is to say I don't do it. I lag. I whine. I bitch. I don't. I don't like authority. I like attention. I don't like obligation, but do best under some pressure. I am absolute. Absolutely. But not concrete--an important distinction. I do not often indulge in magical thinking, and I find that a little sad. I am rational. My world, for the most part, is demystified. Einstein (or Edison) said, "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." There is much I don't know, but what I do know, or think I know, involves some fairly strongly held beliefs. I wish I was more magical. I wish I believed in something. Which is not to say I do not have faith. I do. It just annoys me that I do.

I am rambling, but it is my blog, so fuck it.

We are supposed to get a tree tonight. Some pig farmer from K's work is giving us one, and I am trying to be very conservation-minded about it and take it no matter what it looks like, but I love christmas trees. Mine are famously pretty (I'm going to try to add a picture:

well, obviously this is not last year's tree. But it is a Schwinn Apple Crate bicycle that we have for sale for 600.00. It is actually worth more. Will find the tree. Just a minute....

here is my favorite ornament

and another one

and an angel on top

So, see? I don't want some crappy pig farmer's tree that was leftover from the hillsboro boy scout sale. I want a DDT special. A brand new noble fir, fresh cut, billion dollar baby. I am a consumer.

So, back to politics as usual.... McCain says no torture, and Cheney gets booted off the committee. I believe we are listening to the next president. And the little I know about PTSD is that under enormous strain, people get a little sketchy. I'll bet he has PTSD in spades. He seems nice. But I always say that. I do think he'll run, and if he does, will be elected. There is no democratic candidate who could come close.

Is there?

Monday, December 12, 2005

tunnel lights

After a 12 hour, gruelling work day (I am cinderella), I came home to a message on my answering machine about a possible job. I have hope. I experience hope along many dimensions, and one look at my life and anyone would say, "that chick has it made!" But lately, it has been hard to find the strand, the silvery little thread connecting me to the great ah.

two new women friends - one just a girl, really - were sitting there waiting for me yesterday. me. and they had saved a chair between them, and I felt a part of that whole. finally. A year and a half later, and I felt that sense of belonging that has eluded me for so long. And it will slip away again. This i know. As they look to me and lean on me and I can't tolerate the leaning for long and I begin to lean back. It is as though their trust, their need, and the resultant obligation, just brings out the aloof side of me that I am so famous for. infamous. whatever. We'll see. One of them is very smart. I feel for her. There is no intellectual solution to a spiritual problem.

So, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and if it is a train, that's okay. It is illuminating the path for a little way.

Christmas looms ever closer, and I have hauled a couple of boxes of shiny objects down from upstairs and cleared a space for the tree. I have chosen and rechosen and rechosen the colors for my stained glass gift and my honey has cut them all out and it will be beautiful. Its funny. color is really difficult for me. this is my first foray into glass, or a glass store anyway (Cline's Glass on Grand) and there were so many choices. So many. There were rows I hadn't noticed at all. K says, "Oh, you finally looked up?" Yes. And there were more colors. And I had created this pattern, and it was supposed to look like rain, and so I got all tangled up in that IDEA. And the window will hang in the bathroom, which is kind of yellow-orange, and I had picked out this whole batch of teal glass, and anyone who knows me knows I hate teal. But some of it looked like a swimming pool, and it was entrancing. But I got it all home, knowing. Knowing. Knowing I had purchased blue glass because it is his favorite color, and rain is that color, and really, who cares if it looks like rain? I'm the only one who even knows what the pattern is supposed to be. It is quite abstract, as you might imagine. So, I admitted my mistake, and he knew it. He didn't care. Couldn't have cared less. Just wants to make me something I will love. And it could be nothing and I'd love it because he made it. But it will be beautiful, with faceted glass in a celtic knot in the center a foot square, and champagne pink around it, inset with glass drops-- rain ;) -- and bars of tiffany blue and pink marbled sky top and bottom. I'll take a picture when it is done. You'll see. Very girly.

So, that is my day. I sure hope I get that job. But the thing is that today was decision day with or without that happy little phone call. I had decided to quit the job anyway. I had finally arrived at something akin to acceptance -- acceptance that I am done, that there is no reason to take it further. I have nothing to prove. And that has always been the key for me. You can't fake that shit. Really. And it unlocks the cosmic tumblers like nothing else I know.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

back to basics

Well, I don't really get how to do the wraparound text thing, but I'm sure it will come. I remember the first person who encourged me to learn how to type on a computer, and I said something very insightful, something encouraged by the lead pencil society, "Me? Never. Its fine-tip pens and yellow, thin-lined legal pads for me." And here I am, able to compose only in the shuddering light of a failing monitor. Time passes, and with it, my beliefs: about myself, about others, about so much.

I was so grouchy yesterday. It was a 12 hour day. A two hour commute home. Fuck that job. I just want you to hear it right here. I am nearing done. Stick a fork in me. Can you tell? And the thing is, I could quit. I am a quitter. Happily. I do have the money to coast along for a year or so. But I want to keep that money. I LIKE having money in the bank. Its a first for me. But this job is taking all I have and asking for more. I am a big baby. I REALLY don't like to do what I don't like to do. And the trouble is, I think, that the resistance really makes it more difficult. I am not a buddhist, although I think they have some nice ideas. I am a struggling, wailing, whining, white girl, living just this side of abject poverty. Close enough to smell the garbage that didn't get picked up because I didn't have the 8.65 to pay the bill for the third month in a row and now I have rats. It was like that, and I am not interested in living that way ever again. So I show up. I do. Like it or not. I go to work. And bitch.

I am grateful for weekends, for friends who show me how to press buttons and make magic, and now you can see my life. Its a good life. And 'tis the season, "Its a Wonderful Life." I a supposed to be grateful for my job, so I will be. Today. It allows me to pay the DSL bill. There. The beginning of a gratitude list. Oprah would be so proud.

We are going to see the Narnia movie. I read the book when I was a child, and loved it. I guess the movie is crappy, but so are most anymore. I like CS Lewis anyway. He described addiction better than anyone I've heard, "An ever increasing desire for an ever diminishing pleasure."



Alright. For the visual record:

haley at the record store

I think this is the kitchen, wall of plates.

the peonies in full bloom, corner of back yard.

my apricot begonia last year on front porch.

this may be nicole and sid.

nicole. she calls this one "woo"

This is haley's chalk art in front of our house.

I'm not sure, but I think this is kurt when he was seventeen.


Monday, December 05, 2005


New word. I was listening to NPR on the way to work and found the discussion of designer purse rentals troubling. I have had the same, or nearly the same, purse for decades. I always think that I need a different one, or better one, to make my life complete, but the advent of mail order designer bag rental, like netflix, is too much. Pay 50 bucks a month to subscribe and (oops, published the post...)

Anyway, back to the topic: Mastige -- prestige for the masses. A disgusting, albeit well-timed, word. Likely to make it into the Oxford Dictionary.

So these purse-happy people--women, more than likely--can order designer handbags to haul around for a month at a time, then, when after three weeks it becomes passe, return it; but only after the replacement arrives.

Truth is, I have been looking for a new purse. I've been everywhere, looking for just the right thing, but they are all so shiny, so sparkly, so dressy. I want something like a backpack with a pocket for my cell phone. Lots of pockets. I know what I'm looking for. I'll know it when I see it: the perfect combination of hipster nonchalance and organizational promise. Like nail polish, I always buy the same color. When I'm at the store, I think it is different, but I get it home and it is the same pinkish beige. The same black leather purse. The last time I bought one it was just pre-new job, and I was a little too professionally minded and got something too slick and now need to replace it. What really sucked me in was the light. It has a light on the latch so you can find stuff inside it.

But here's what I end up doing: I buy the purse and bring it home. I dump my old one out on the table. I sort through the crumbs and receipts, pocketknives, candy wrappers and broken ibuprofen tablets; and the change--The change I dug in the sofa for for twenty years, thrilled to find a quarter. Piles of change from money I don't need anymore. Not in that same sense of need that I will never forget. So, I sort the change, dump some into my honey's change jar, and unpack the new purse. Then I set up the new one, I plan it out, I fit everything into its own little space. At that point, I even know how much money I have. Then, it begins: the unravelling. By week's end, everything is in a pile, crammed into one pocket, slung like a hobo's bandana over my shoulder, cell phone ringing in the darkness, calling the last number dialed as it bounces among the rubble. One time I re-text messaged my boss: "I'll be your huckleberry" or something, that I had text'd my soon to be husband. He called right away. "Okay," he said. It was pretty embarrassing.

Anyway, after the unravelling, it is time once again, for a new bag.

Its not that I object to mastige as derived from something so abstract as prestige, something that by its nature does not keep. It is just so much worse to rent it than to attempt to buy it. Or is it? Is it the appropriate nod to the passing fancy?
Who cares?

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Saturday morning. Clinton street is alive with walkers, cyclists, rain or no. It doesn't seem to matter around here. When we were down south last week, I noted the absence of two-wheelers in general. Why is this? The weather in the Rogue Valley is certainly more conducive to bicycles, not to mention that flat-landers wouldn't need so many gears. I didn't have any when I got here, and soon (well, eventually) realized my oversight, huffing up the hill in front of Hosford Middle School, dying for a full breath and the loss of 50 pounds. Its all luggage.

Tis the holiday season, and, master of the obvious, I am happy to be home. I asked my honey to make me a stained glass window and nothing else. He feels the pressure of my request, I know, but I really want one. I need nothing. Nothing. After many commercial years, I am hungry for a homemade christmas. I bought cards, and will write them out this evening, some lame christmas movie playing in the background. I am so passe. You each will receive one.

Asia will show me how to post pictures, and I can show you our new bikes. New USED bikes. I can show you my new bathroom. I can show you my dog and his pen. With any luck, we can catch him pressing his head through the bars, hanging like a Salem Witch in stocks--isnt' that what they're called--where their head and hands are locked up? He doesn't like his little prison, but who does? I think he is cold. We debate the relative temperature of dog-life to ours, and his skinny little naked nearly hairless body. I'll knit him a sweater for Christmas and take a picture of that. But if we let him out of the pen and into the open yard, the yard will soon seem the prison and so on. It is one of those things like holding a mirror up to a mirror. It just goes on and on....

I sent off my application for another job. I am adjusting to the one I have, but really, it is such a long drive. Oh!! I had a flat tire on the way to work. It has been a very very long time since I had a flat. Very long. I knew the sound, though. The tic tic tic, sh sh sh, of air escaping the gaping hole, and there I was, 6:30 in the morning, just the other side of King City (which is not really a city I think, but just part of Tigard) and well into the no-man's land between there and Sherwood, and I knew I had to turn around. I knew there was a gas station behind me. But nowadays, most gas stations are just run by minimum wage crack-heads who wouldn't help you change a tire to save their life, and this one was. Fortunately, a nice young man pulled in for gas and I asked in my blondest voice, "Where would you look for a jack on a Subaru?" and he walked over. Caught. He helped me and would not take money. Thanks to Mike from Gresham with the year and a half old baby who just moved to the burbs. I didn't have a lug wrench, and the jack that comes with the car was so obscure as to not be recognizeable to me as what it was. I could never have done it myself. And the spare tire was like something off a toy truck. I told him, "I think we have the wrong spare!" and he assured me that all modern little cars have these now, and they can't go more than 5o miles, at 50 miles an hour. Why? I really wanted to go 60 at 60, but it was early and dark and cold, and I was wearing a skirt and shoes that would be a drag to walk very far in, let alone crawl out of the ditch in which I had made my point. But really, it is good. I never could see the sense in buying five whole tires, and then, never plan to really use them up. You know? Living in poverty, we USED our tires. We didn't let the racist white boys at Les Schwab tell us our "tread was beginning to show wear." We waited until we were going seventy-five on the freeway, passing a semi, for a blowout. Now that was the essence of frugality.

I remember one time driving my '65 Dodge Polara with the plywood back seat that I had to smack the starter with a shovel or 2x4 to get it to start--I had two flats at the same time, going around a corner on my way to buy meth from Tony the Bearhunter at 3:30 in the morning in November. Ah, those were the days.

Another day on Clinton Street.