Thursday, June 25, 2020


It's day one million of the quarantine and I'm checking in. Like most people, I guess, I've gone up and down and all around with this thing, this being here with myself thing. Sometimes I'm good company and sometimes I'm not that good for myself at all. I have been fairly cautious about the pandemic and about taking precautions, but in the last week or so I've loosened it up a bit. I started noticing that I really needed some human contact.

A week or so ago, my brother and his family came down to visit me for a few hours. Man, it was a miracle. Other voices and bodies in my quiet little condo, we ate together and then my brother and SIL helped me with a few tasks in my kitchen. My nephews watched TV and were their joyful, fully alive little selves that I love so deeply. We all took a walk, had a final round of hugs, and then they left. My ghost town of a condo felt so much more alive and happy after their visit. I must have thanked them five or six times for coming, and I could have said it 100 more times. Since then, I've seen a couple of friends - sitting a good distance apart - in real life. It's been good for my soul. 

As my feelings and moods and mental health have fluctuated, I've at times spent quarantine working on one of my many hobbies. I'm thankful to have many interests and when I'm my better self, I'm putting in time regularly to learn and grown. The latest thing I'm working on is taking an intro class on SQL. I'm ready (past ready) for a new role at my company, and it looks like having some SQL knowledge is an important tool to take the next step. I have an interview on Monday, so I'm learning as much as I can this week and then we'll see. I have loved my current job for all four years that I've had it, but it involves a level of chaos that just doesn't serve me anymore. It's so exciting, so unique, very fulfilling. But I'm looking for something with a little more learning and a little less chaos. And I'll take more money, too, please. 

That's what's happening here lately. Seeing a couple friends yesterday involved a trip to the beach where I enjoyed the sand in my toes. Lord have mercy, why don't I do that more often? Best quarantine day yet. 

Friday, May 8, 2020


We - you and me - are all in quarantine right now. It's 2020 and I am a staggering (staggering) 49 years old, and we - all over the world - are hunkered down trying to not catch or transmit disease. It's hard to know how to explain this time. I am interested to know how we'll talk about it in five or ten years, or if we will.

I'm still in the Portland-area, I still live alone (with a cat, Blizzard), I still work at a bank, I still live in this condo I moved to eight years ago. I'm doing well. As horrified as I am to be nearing my 50s, I will say that the depression that plagued much of my 40s left as mysteriously as it came. For that, I am deeply grateful.

I don't know if I know how to do this anymore. We'll see. Hello, friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Poems for People Who Don’t Like Poetry #15

When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only
that which has given you sorrow that is
giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that again
in truth you are weeping for that which
has been your delight . . .

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than
sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is
the greater.”

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits
alone with you at your board, remember
that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales
between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at
standstill and balanced.

-Khalil Gibran
(Hat tip to Aimee for this one)

Monday, October 22, 2018

Poems for People Who Don’t Like Poetry #14

my god
is not sitting inside a church
or waiting above the temple’s steps
my god
is the refugee’s breath as she’s running
is living in the starving child’s belly
is the heartbeat of the protest
my god
does not rest between pages
written by holy men
my god
lives between the sweaty thighs
of women’s bodies sold for money
was last seen washing the homeless
man’s feet
my god
is not as unreachable as
they’d like you to think
my god is beating inside us infinitely

-Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Poems for People Who Dont Like Poetry #13

If you ever woke in your dress at 4 a.m. ever
closed your legs to a man you loved opened
them for one you didn’t moved against
a pillow in the dark stood miserably on a beach
seaweed clinging to your ankles paid
good money for a bad haircut backed away
from a mirror that wanted to kill you bled
into the back seat for lack of a tampon
if you swam cross a river under rain sang
using a dildo for a microphone stayed up
to watch the moon eat the sun entire
ripped out the stitches in your heart
because why not if you think nothing &
no one can / listen I love you joy is coming

- Kim Addonizio, To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Kaply, My Love

This morning I was missing my friend Kaply who passed away four years ago. I was going to get some macaron cookies and I had a memory come out of nowhere - once or twice I made Kaply care packages that included macarons. I wanted to get a bunch of things she liked and take them to her when I was visiting Seattle, but I didn't know what she drank. I texted Sizzle a few times asking what kind of soda Kap preferred so I could include it in the care package. I knew that Sizzle would know; they were close in many different ways. And whatever else I had to give to Kap, I would add macarons because they are my love language. And I would surprise Kap with a visit and some treats. So my trip to go find cookies this morning sparked that memory.

Tonight I logged into the old blog and went through my drafts - I have a half dozen drafts from 2011 - 2014 that I've never let myself delete. They are like little, private time capsules of important events that I never felt quite ready to share. Below is one of the drafts - still unfinished - that I kept all this time. Kap died from kidney failure in February of 2014, and her service was a few weeks later. I remember coming back to this draft many times over months and years, thinking I would be able to publish it when some time had passed. I tried after a few months, and when that didn't work I thought - maybe on the anniversary a year later. Or maybe on the second anniversary. It never felt right. It still doesn't, but I'd like to set this free.

March 30, 2014

On a Tuesday in February I was at work getting out of my mentor meeting with a kid I absolutely love. Meeting with her is the best hour of my month, and I was a bit giddy from the time we spent together. I walked back to my cube and checked my cell phone - something that I do so automatically I would be ashamed to find out how many times a day I actually do it.

Sizzle called. That's strange. We tweet, we text, but we don't often call. Besides I'd just happened to have seen her two days before when she was in town with friends. We stole a couple of hours at the Roxy telling stories and sharing a few tears. As friends do. That Tuesday I saw the missed call, but I was running to my next meeting so I thought I'd wait to check my messages . . . oh well, I'll just listen real quick and see what's up. I was already late to my 11:00 - what's another minute or two?

And then it's a blur. I know I'm here, now, in my bed, the laundry doing a rhythmic hum and rumble in the background. I know I need to get up in the morning to go to work and once I'm there I'll have a million things to do all day long and I'll have to fight for a bathroom break and I'll finish about 10 hours later, absolutely famished and focused on finding my first meal of the day. Those things are clear, but not much else is.

I want to say something really selfish but it will feel good to get it off my chest: I loved Kaply
in a very selfish way that I think is different from the way I love anyone. I loved Kaply because of the way she loved me. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

With Blizzard

After more than two years, I got up last Sunday and felt like sewing. My repertoire is still quite small, so I went with a bag. A little knapsack made out of themed fabric I got last year after a trip that renewed my love for Paris. I think it took me about five hours to make it. I listened to podcasts and just enjoyed the feeling and process of making something. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Love Yours

I was laid off from the bank last November, and, after six months, I found another position and went back to work two weeks ago. (Same company, different position.) It's unsettling. The whole thing. I hated the first week, although I think that was mostly dealing with an alarm clock again. I hated the second week slightly less than the first, and there were a couple enjoyable moments. I hope it keeps getting better.

The time off was crazy. In a way it felt like walking in circles for six months. Even though it's not uncommon for the industry and even though I've been through it before, this lay off felt more personal (it wasn't), scarier, more confusing than the last. I'm probably forgetting how difficult it was before.

Last summer, I had surgery on my foot - I guess I mentioned it months ago when I blogged. Jesus, it was an ordeal. It didn't heal correctly (or something) and now it's a year later and I still limp, still have significant pain, still alternate between hope and desperation. I'm 45 now; will it never feel better than it does now? That worries me. I've had little aches and pains before, but I've never had this.

This is kind of strange - I don't know if it's the pain that comes from moving around or aging or what, but I've started these new hobbies that are all very old lady-like. I've been sewing a bit for about 5 years now. I signed up for a couple knitting classes. (I want to start a Knitting Behind Bars chapter here but I need to learn more before I can teach others.) I'm finishing up an 8-week calligraphy class and have registered for a few additional weekend classes to learn additional hands (fonts.) It's very meditative work, in a way. It demands your presence. I'm enjoying all of these old lady activities.

While I was off, I spent a bunch of time with friends and then a bunch of time alone. I went home to see my mom once, up to see my nephews and brother twice, and my sister visited once. There was a lake house weekend with the girls. I took about 6 weeks of yoga classes - the first time I've done that since The Great Unemployment of 2009/2010 when I learned to surf. I watched TV. I ate a lot of ice cream, I drank more whiskey than was necessary. I laid outside in the unseasonably hot sunshine day after day.

Something inside of me has changed, is changing. Has it just been in the past year? My mom understands, my sister feels it, too. I can't really explain it, but it's this slight shift from goals and challenges, out there and future - to now. I don't know. The passing of time is more apparent than ever; it's almost a constant awareness. Life feels short. I'm trying to let go of things that bother me. Life seems harder than ever - not really mine; I just feel like I see that, or I sense that. And I want to enjoy what I have while I have it and not take the good things for granted. What else can you do? I like that saying, something like - appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had. Trite, I guess, but it speaks to me.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #12

remember your lovers
but, especially, don't forget them while they are in your bedroom
with their hair disheveled and their clothes strewn
make sure you notice them as they stand before you
as there they lie
tell them that you're touched a thousand times
of every inch take a picture with your unabashed eye
because this will change, as pictures change, so love does die

smell your lovers, their wide-open skin
like bare shoulders, before toast, in the morning
pheromones will be what you don't know you miss
when you're standing beside x's
feeling suddenly nostalgic
could be soap, could be freshly-washed clothes
most likely it's the mix of hidden chemicals
the silent scent
that perfumers will never get
but you will remember it
long after love goes

hold your lovers close
as you are drifting off, sharing oxygen and oxytocin both
memorize the napes of their necks, the crooks of their wrists, the way their breathing rises and falls
knees get cuddled only in one kind of spot
and they will miss this once the spoon is gone
like you will miss the puzzle when you don't get to be a part
and, so, while you are
with your limbs entangled in ways that warm your heart
remember to notice it
so that the last night doesn't go by without you noticing
and suddenly it's over and only in the sunshine do you know these things
while you pine for one more chance to lay with your loved one when night is falling
so hold your lovers close while you're in their company

this is a plea, mostly for me, so I may remember next time I am a puzzle piece
as well, for the lovers I have had and known
who have been my comforts
and also my abrasions
I have daydreamed about the days when we were first mating
and of the love we made then
like we were scorched earth and it was raining

- Tanya Davis, Ravish your Lover While You Still Love Her

(My god, this one takes my breath away.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #11

Don't take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal -

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain -
And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, the said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn't and I didn't and I don't
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I'm-Sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool's backyard;
barking and barking;

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.

- Tony Hoagland, Personal