Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Funny how I can find so many ways to procrastinate and still live in such a pit. I'm not nearly the worst culprit as far as filth goes, but my best friend is a gay designer and so. . .there is, at times, some shame involved. He doesn't care, but I still try to make piles of my messiness to give it all some kind of order, frame it in a photo in a way that makes it look more artsy than fartsy. And anyway, I don't care today because I got my 1,000 words down, all brand new. Aaah.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Behind this fence lurks the urban chicken. Sometimes the chickens lurk on the wrong side of the fence, the sight of which delights me. Either way, I'm a big fan of this big yard and these big chickens.

This also reminded me of a video my old college friend, Chuck "Chucky Sparkles" Jones, made a long time ago with two other people I went to college with. It's called Nobody Here But Us Chickens. Is it funny to me because laughter is infectious? Because chickens are inherently funny? Is it because I once had crushes on the people involved in this silliness? Oh, that's it probably . . .but still I wonder why.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I will be looking at this view, palm trees and distant Puerto Vallarta lights, in thirty days.
Going on vacation for me is a funny thing. I love to see new places, get out of the cold rain, read a book and relax with my friends. But I barely work. No, really. The hours I put in on my job are wonderfully laughable compared to most. And I love my life here in Portland; my boy, my house, my cat. I almost never feel the urgency that others do around vacations. Which isn't to say I'm not looking forward to Yelapa and that this dreamy image won't be floating in my mind for the rest of this gray wet day.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Just down the street from where we do our workshop is the Oregon Jewish Museum housed in this very seventies pseudo-Chinese building. It's such an interesting part of town, as if all the oppressed and marginalized parts of society have been tossed together into a few blocks regardless of their relation to each other. Strip club next to low-income apartment next to Chinese Language Association next to gay bar next to homeless shelter next to Jewish Museum, to name a few. The more time I spend in this neighborhood, the more I come to loathe its gentrification. I'm not against gentrification just on principal, but Portland needs its weirdness. Without it, what would be the point?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

As part of the preparation for the next workshop, I've spent a good deal of time over the last two days reading lots and lots of poetry looking for the perfect writing sample to share with the group. I couldn't get away from it and thankfully so. I went to the Write Around Portland offices to look through their files of writing samples and don't know how long I was sitting there, flipping through page after page of really good stuff.

Poetry feels thoroughly alluring right now, not only because I feel drenched in it, but because it seems like a good though difficult antidote to writing a novel. I look at a line and think, hi words, I remember you. You're that stuff that makes me shiver and boil.

But I can't let myself drift too far. I can feel how, if allowed, I'd scrap the whole book and fall back into coddling and cursing half a dozen phrases, temporarily blissful in my most lyrical form of procrastination yet.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What is happening to me? I am facilitating a writing workshop and now I've gone and joined a book club for writers. I was actually picked up by a stranger and driven to SW Portland or Hillsdale or some such impossible place where I sat in another stranger's home and talked to a whole circle of even more strangers. And my heart never got nervous. And I was interested most of the time in what these people had to say. If I keep up at this pace I will either be running for public office or leading some grassroots campaign by the end of the year. Or not.

We read local author, Martha Gies' book, Up All Night, about night workers in Portland. I didn't love it, though it was an entertaining read and a good reminder to me that offices, schools and restaurants are not the only job options for my characters. The work itself can be fascinating, if presented the right way. Sitting with a group of serious writers was also a good reminder that I need to take myself more seriously. My secret competitive streak rises despite never having read anything by any of these people and I think, "All they have on me is dedication. If I get me some of that I'll be able to blow them all away." I think this and I laugh and still I try very hard to believe it is true.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This is why I love Portland. The Daphne are blooming. The crocus are out. The daffodils are pushing up, sleepy and curled, from the cool dirt. It is the middle of February and while I know that there will be more rain, more cold, windy days, the long long spring has begun. I feel like congratulating everyone on the street. Here's to another winter survived.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I collect my talismans randomly and without much thought. Why one thing gets thrown in the closet or garbage and while others stick around in plain view is not entirely clear.

I wasn't nearly as scared as I thought I'd be last night, facilitating my first Write Around Portland workshop. My heart remained calm and my voice didn't waver. Maybe I drained out all my jitters in the days before. Maybe I actually liked, just a little bit, the feeling of faces turned with their attention to me, especially when I knew I was there not to teach but simply guide.

The room was poorly lit and their was a leak in one of the pipes right into our circle. People talked over each other and didn't follow the guidelines they'd just helped write, but they were all kind and enthusiastic and funny. The writing was good. I thought I'd be stumped about how to give positive feedback about somebody's piece that was full of cliches or so straightforward it offered no nuance. But it was easy to see the creativity stuck behind the cliche and how the simple, straightforward tellling of a bit of their lives was, perhaps, the best way to give voice to their story. There were also those that offered up real gems of imagery and rhythm and structure. I honestly look forward to seeing how we will all grow together.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We have had some gorgeous afternoons around here. Terribly wrong, frighteningly warm and sunny afternoons. If I'm not working I follow the cat around the living room, and settle into a spot of warmth and read. The upside of global warming, I guess.

And no, I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. If asked what we did today I will be forced to say something obnoxious. "Oh Sean made me a lovely omelet and we had a nice leisurely breakfast together. You know, like we do every morning."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Death of the Daisy Kingdom. I tried to find a pic of what the Daisy Kingdom once was in its full glory: A huge blue and pink building frighteningly close to several gay nightclubs that was overflowing with so much cutesy craft crap (the dreaded three Cs) that just walking on the sidewalk next to the building made me nauseous. I was always too scared to go in myself and take pictures, though now I wish I had. It's been shut down for a while now and is being turned into a great gallery space. Meanwhile, the buildings blues look sad and the pinks looks tired and the curliecues still left in the window look like the last desperate scrawl of some forgotten daisy dolly.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

I've gone through periods of months at a time when I don't leave my little Southeast Portland rectangle of house/grocery store/gym/coffeehouse. What, there's a river running through the middle of this town? There are streets full of office buildings, rehab clinics, boutiques and playgrounds? I've been traveling into the forgotten realm of downtown quite frequently over the last few weeks and finally remembered to bring my camera today. Next week I'll be down in the thick of it, the gentrification goo that puts the office of the homeless paper I'll be doing a writing workshop at along with a low-income housing apartment across the street from a Southeast Asian antiques shop and an expensive size 0-4 kind of clothing store. Oh, plus the leather bar next door and the Chinese Gardens and Port of Portland office building all within a block. Really, it's this moment I like best, the point where a swirl of different classes come together. Now if only this moment didn't come with the anxiety of knowing that rents will be soon be on the rise and the streets that were once home to the poor will soon become inhospitable, kicked out of their own little Old Town rectangle.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

And so it begins. My big beast of a beautiful tree got sawed into a big toothpick today by my old roommate. The boy used to be a cook at a restaurant with amazing cakes. He would bring me cake and that made him a great roommate (among other reasons). Now he swings at my tree with a growling blade. Oh well.

I won't hug what remains of the tree, but really, I may just have to go apologize to it. As the branches went down, the sun, even the light gray sun we got today, came barrelling in. I will try and not make an enemy of it as it boils through my office window this summer. I will appease it with bamboo and whatever other tricky greenery I can convince to grow tall and taller.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Monday, February 05, 2007

Great grief and great joy still seem to snag on my New England sensibilities. What to do with such blatant emotion? My only wish is to be at this spot on the coast. Not tropical, but magical nonetheless. I want to be there now with my best friend listening to the waves, watching the boys in their wetsuits, the sun pushing it's thimbleful of February warmth into our cheeks.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Kung Fu-ing coconuts for dinner. You see? Maybe Sean and I are actually meant to go live expat lives in the tropics, stumbling from our grass shack to grab dinner from the trees.

Friday, February 02, 2007

What is it like to live in a house with teeth?

This has been a good writing week for me because my paying work has been slow, Sean is on a job, and my best friend is out of town. A thrum of guilt grabs me when I feel how happy I am at being left so thoroughly alone. As Bjork says, I thrive best hermit style. And yet, I will never be the writer that embraces poverty and loneliness for the sake of their words. I like swimming in tropical oceans and going out to dinner with my beaux. I like gossiping with my friends over beers and wandering around my neighborhood with little purpose. That means it will take me years and years to tug this book out of me. So be it. We have a good little life, Sean and I tell each other. What we lack in ambition and drive we make up for in the little luxuries of the every day.