Tuesday, July 30, 2013

where we been and what's next

I'm on an extended, if not forced, stress vacation, so it was challenging to get in the appropriate mood to go camping, although I am almost always in the mood to go camping. Last Friday we headed out, trailer packed imperfectly as though we'd never done this before. Did you bring the stove? I thought it was in the trailer. I think it is. Okay. Fast forward to an RV park situated along the Skagit River, and no stove. After blame was successfully assigned, camp life went on. We do have a stove in the trailer, but it was hot inside and out, and I had planned to make curry for dinner and wanted more than one pan. Long story short, we had our damned curry. The thing with camping food is that things thaw in a certain order, and should be used within a certain time frame so you don't die of ptomaine poisoning or botulism or something. Chicken first, pork, then beef. Beef can hang out for ages, it turns out, if its really cold, and we do have a great cooler. Better than the baby blue fridge but not as cute.

So I limped along with a crab cooker, 50,000 btu's of propane blasting whatever meal I came up with. We ate well, as usual, first in the RV site, then on up to Birch Bay.

This time we took a side trip around the base of Mt. Ranier. Neither of us had been on that road, and it was nice, but not spectacular. I'm sure there was a place to get off the road and see things, but we weren't chased by grizzlies with claws the size of butcher knives as promised by asha. But you know how she is.

Camping was excellent, but interrupted. I like to get somewhere, set up, and sit there for four or five days. This was not possible due to the lack of pre-planning, driven primarily by forces beyond our control (work) and procrastination. Most of the good spots are taken at least nine months in advance. That's the soonest you can reserve sites that are reserve-able and almost all of them are nowadays. So I've made a calendar that tells me what to do for next year.

We made it to Birch Bay the second day and got lucky to find a crappy spot which was so much better than the RV camp that it was fabulous, then stood in line for another crap shoot the next day. A spot came open for two days and we snapped it up. It was a beautiful site with a view of the bay, sunset included at no additional cost. Dazzling. But only two days worth.

On the way north, we took a side road toward Larrabee State Park, because of our last name, just to check it out. The drive there was terrifying for Kurt, pulling the trailer and all, past rocks that jutted out into the lane just shy of the aluminum siding. The park was outstanding and I immediately decided I liked it better than Birch Bay. I've since changed my mind. It doesn't have the ease of access that I prefer, no great bike rides like the more level bay. But I'm gonna try to get #36 if I can for next year and try it anyway. The best sites at Birch Bay are a secret and I'm not going to tell you. Try me.

So, back to the story of my uncertain life: It seems I have developed a Severe Panic Disorder. For the past two years or so, work has become nearly impossible for me to, um, looking for the word... endure? tolerate? do? Whatever. I can't breathe when I'm there. I take deep breaths all the time and try to suppress that crushing sensation with a number of medications, none that work. I didn't realize this was happening, really. I just thought I was anxious. I am. I was. I thought being away from work would fix these symptoms, so I jumped at the recommendation for a leave of absence. The problem is, the anxiety has become much worse, I'm not having any fun being away from work, and the breathlessness has now been identified as panic. I didn't know. Now, I don't see myself as someone with a Severe Panic Disorder. I don't think that sounds like me at all. I think I'm a little too serious and self-absorbed and basically lazy, but the shrink I'm seeing (must see to justify the leave) thinks I've endured burnout past the point of no return. I don't know what this means for the immediate future. I don't know if she'll okay me to return to work or not, and I'm truly conflicted by that. So much of who I am is what I do. I've always said I'm a writer and an artist -- and I am -- but my day job.... may have been more than that. I feel my age just now, and I'm not sure I've really allowed the fact that I am sixty years old to settle into a comfortable place in my psyche.

Waxing philosophical.... my apologies....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

quiet morning on clinton street.

What are car alarms for? I'd really like to know. There has been one going off for about 45 minutes for a second time this lovely morning and I've even gone out to make sure it isn't mine. Just in case my hearing and perceptions are as skewed as I sometimes think they are. Really? 45 minutes? Twice? What is so valuable in or around that vehicle as to make all that racket. If I had a solid gold car I wouldn't make it that loud.

I retain a reasonable expectation of quiet, however misplaced, living in a big city and a busy little micro-mecca for foodies and shoppies and special Portland-ites with tall bikes and ribbons of colorful ink swirling around their fit arms and legs and necks and bellies. Me? I'm a jailhouse girl: black on white. No color for me. Alas, I have no tattoos. I'd have words, if I had one at all. But which words? So many to choose from. My own or someone elses? But I digress.

I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train. That's nice. And true. But if I wrote that, permanently in blackadder font down my left leg, for instance, you might assume that I'm a Deadhead, which I am most definitely not, although I do love Workingman's Dead. I did know Nancy Norcross's older sister who Jerry Garcia carved a zucchini for to remember him by back in 1969. It was a good sized zucchini with GARCIA carved in block letters. She kept that thing til it rotted. I wonder what happened to the Norcross sisters?


Another day in which I try to figure out what to do instead of working. These are the hours I swore I'd write, but I am rather consumed by anxiety and not-knowing, and the threat of return to a job that has killed me. 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

cabin view

I am spending a day up at Judith's cabin to add to that sense of r&r that is so hard to come by when the dishes call my name and there is laundry and the floor needs vacuumed and my husband is fishing and I am supposed to make jam. I have 6 quarts of blackberries, 4 of raspberries, 3 of marionberries that I can hear from up here in Brightwood. They threaten to rot, to not taste the same, to vanish, to disapprove of me.  I don't care what they say, I'm going to sit by the river and mend. That is at least as important as jam, don't you think?

Friday, July 05, 2013

the view from clinton street

Here's a list of what not to do on the 4th of July:
Go to Bluesfest.

They do not play very much blues music really at all. There is some weak R+B sung by white chicks, a little rockabilly, some disco , zydeco and little else.

The fireworks are set off behind trees that hide the fireworks. I'm not sure who can see them, but those of us watching the main stage cannot.

The backdrop to the fireworks is classic rock radio. As the explosions ebbed to the lyrics of American Pie "...singin' this'll be the day that I die," only to start up again for the finale with something by Van Halen or White Snake or Tim Burton or something, it was much like sitting inside a huge old 8-Track player, tapes scratchy and overplayed with bees buzzing in the background, little firefly sparks just barely visible above the treeline. Glowsticks would have been brighter.

The organizers have hidden in the small print that, in addition to charging ten bucks and two cans of food for admission (we paid cash, garbanzo and refried beans) the only show worth seeing -- Robert Plant -- costs FIFTYMOREBUCKS!!! So much for old school Portland freebie blues shows. Now, I can't really claim the right to be Portland Old School. I'm a Rogue Valley transplant married to a Portlander. And what do Portlanders want? Weather between 70 and 73 degrees and free shit. I mean, look at the sidewalks around my neighborhood. Even the garbage is up for grabs.

Okay. I'm not working so I'm back to scathing but erudite observations of lowlife. I love home. I have learned, however, in my first week of R&R to get up and shower and make coffee before sitting down to the soul sucking internet or come 5:00 I'm ashamed of my lazy self and there is nothing taken out of the freezer for dinner, which is my only responsibility these days, which I love. Steak, corn and zuchinni on the grill tonight. w-o-m-a-n.