Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I spent the weekend in Bend, OR attending a workshop on massage cupping (more on that in a post to come). While only three hours away, I'd never been. A funny little city, dotted with new condos and office buildings and crisp green parks. A certain Disney-esque feel permeated the downtown area where I spent most of my time. Even the beautiful trail along the Deschutes River that runs through town felt suspiciously manicured, the vacation homes on the ridge above the trail only half-hidden. It was all very...nice.

To be fair, however, the dry climate this area offers has never been my favorite. Even as I snapped away, photo after photo, of the amazing blue-green water and the crisp candy sky, I remained largely unmoved. Not that I didn't long to take a dip in the river or scrabble along the rocks, but I never felt that soothing rush I get when I step onto the beach or into a damp green forest. As I left the desert behind on my way home and entered the Mt. Hood National Forest I may have actually sighed.

It's good to see new landscapes if only to confirm that you've chosen the right one.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Because my beloved cat is gravely ill and because I have had to tend to her like a child–feeding her then wiping the food spilled from her clumsy mouth, carrying her to comfortable spots and whispering sweet wishes into her fur–I want pictures of dahlias instead.

Because I had to go to my client's house after she returned from a serious hospital emergency and sit at her bedside and try to make the noise behind her eyes quiet to something reasonable, I want dahlias.

Because my beaux is on the other side of the country trying to survive the survivors of his family– their indifference sticking to the tar-filled air– I want giant pink flowers the size of plates and multicolored pom-poms bursting out at the edge of Fall in one last hurrah.

Hurrah. It's good to be on this side of the dirt.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spell to Be Said UponDeparture
by Jane Hirshfield

What had come here to do
having finished,
shelves of the water lie flat.

Copper the leaves of the doorsill,
yellow and falling.
Scarlet the bird that is singing.

Vanished the labor, here walls are.
Completed the asking.
Loosing the birds there is water.

Having eaten the pears.
Having eaten
the black figs, the white figs. Eaten the apples.

Table be strewn.
Table be strewn with stems,
table with peelings of grapefruit and pleasure.

Table be strewn with pleasure,
what was here to be done having finished.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Dining Room Debate

I won't idealize dinnertime with my family when I was growing up, but this is what it was: Mom, Dad, sister, and me all in our places around the dining room table in our high back chairs with the classical radio station playing in the background. Almost every night I begged to have dinner in front of the TV. 90% of the time I was denied. Most of my time around that table was spent shoveling my well-balanced meal into my mouth as quickly as possible and trying to make a quick retreat. My parents usually talked about their work which I didn't understand or their friends who I didn't know. My sister and I would have to talk about what we did in school. I was often bored.

But then there were nights, more and more of them as I got older, when questions were asked and not a single quick answer came back. Instead, we debated. We talked about religion and god. We talked about charity. We talked about human rights and animal rights. We talked about war. I remember being frustrated because I often felt like I lost these debates. My father and I would inevitably line up on opposite sides and my position would suffer horribly under my young, naive hands. Sometimes I got really mad and my mother would swoop in and join my cause whether she agreed with me or not.

I think back on those nights now and remember them (in my usual hazy way) as key moments in learning how to be a good person. More than any lecture from a teacher or chapter in a textbook, those debates truly educated me. The subjects were big and important, but the truly essential part of these evenings was how I learned to listen and think. Not to listen to the sound of my own wonderful voice, but to the ideas and possibilities of another person's mind. Not to think like my father but to think on my own.

These days, with all the screaming on the radio and cable TV, all the knee-jerk fear and thoughtless anger, I find myself longing for civility. I want the whole country to have to sit down with my father every night for a few weeks and learn how to question their own beliefs and then defend them through polite conversation. My mother can be at the table too. She'll tell everyone to stop slouching and to slow down and take a goddamn breath.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

While on vacation with my folks, I shared the following thought: I wouldn't mind retiring and living in a trailer, preferably working as the host of some sweet little campground in the summer and parked on some warm patch of land in the winter.

My parents thought this was hysterical and from then on I couldn't get them to stop pointing at RVs and trailer parks and saying "How 'bout that one?"

They think I'm joking in the way that I used to joke in high school about getting married in full disco regalia at a HoJos off some random interstate. They were 95% sure I would never do it. At the time, I was only 75% sure myself. I didn't want to get married and thought if for some reason I had to, I'd want to make it perfectly silly. They thought I'd grow out of this, but I'm still pretty sure that if I had to have a wedding everyone would be in gorilla suits.

I'm also pretty sure that if I needed a cheap place to live in my old age, I'd be happy living in a trailer. I'm feeling about 50/50 on it, to be honest. I like the idea of incorporating the landscape more thoroughly into my living space. I like the idea of small. And let's face it, Airstream trailers are just really fucking cool, particularly the one above that they made in conjunction with Design Within Reach. Of course, I'd have to buy a car to haul it and that kind of sucks.

I hope to get up to Seaview, WA soon to do a little retreat at the Trailer Classics Hodgepodge (or TCH!-TCH!) to test out my trailer mettle. I'll be sure to report back.