Friday, December 10, 2010

Creepy Christmas TO YOU.

Recently my sister complained that I hadn't updated my blog in sometime. I'm thinking that this writing platform might've run its course. The good news is not that I've stopped writing altogether, but I am busily writing more substantial things - articles, short stories and of late, even a (short) film treatment. Exciting. So, just to keep the masses happy (and by masses I mean my only reader, my sister, who refuses to comment on my blog except as her dog) this photo. Merry Christmas, all.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall 2008

Fall 2008
Originally uploaded by Eden from Sweden

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sweet summer.

Seriously, that's it?

This will go down in history as the summer that never was (my East coast friends had the opposite problem, it was the summer that was Too Damn Hot.) That said, I did have some nice moments, even if I was wearing long sleeves when I had them. I'm listening to the rain fall outside in the pitch black (even though it's only 8pm) and I know I need to face the facts. Summer's out, Fall's in. And, against all common sense, I'm a little excited.

So, here's scenes from my too-quick, too-cold summer in redux. Onward!

(top to bottom, more on my flickr page) A week in Maine with my favorite people; Newport, Oregon with my mom; a documentary on the cemetery shown in the cemetery; Hitchcock's Blackmail shown on the rooftop of the Hotel Delux, looking over downtown Portland; A lovely spur-of-the-moment day trip to Seattle with my sister, and a hike to Falcon Cape (near Cannon Beach, Oregon) with Canela the Explorer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dinner, July 18, 2010

How do I forget again and again that cooking makes everything better?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Maine is not a pile of books by Stephen King.

I have a very distinct memory of sitting on the Mouse House porch-couch a few summers ago, clutching an "Eyewitness Vietnam" guide and explaining how most of the fun of travel - for me - is the relaxing armchair travel. The imagining was the thing.

I meant it, but I also realized that it sounded sad. Obviously, all the books on the history of the Eiffel Tower cannot measure ten minutes of standing in the crowds and summer heat, with its arches like a steel halo over your head. I can't deny this. But I also know that in travel, something always surprises you. One of my strongest memories of Paris in July is the stench of dog poop. Caught off guard (that wasn't in the guidebooks) I wasn't prepared to shrug it off. It was also an earned memory, not borrowed from a book.
My love of arm chair travel means I have several piles of travel writing and guidebook editions to places I've never been. Fifteen dollars, in my mind, is a cheap placebo when you can't finance a summer in Sweden.

In two weeks I'll be in Maine for the first time. My only literary GPS markers for Maine are Bill Bryson and Stephen King, which is unsettling. I've lived in New England and know that the trees grow thick and right up to the edge of the lake. I know Anne of Green Gables lived a few hundred miles northeast. I'm pleased with the holistic route that comes from traveling from Portland to Portland, on opposite coasts. I'll continue to dig into the books and blogs and I am excited about what I'll find.

But I'm sure nothing will match that moment when I see a lobster struggling in a cage in the water, or hear that elusive Maine accent for the first time, or, or, or...that's the part that I have to discover for myself by going, by getting off my proverbial porch-couch, that my books can't experience for me. And if I run into Stephen King when I'm out berry picking, well, I'll be prepared for that too.

Monday, July 5, 2010

When summer isn't sunshine.

Maybe it was the 3,000 straight days of rain and cold and gray. Even though the weather has edged toward and hinted at summer, this fifth day of July, and weathermen are promising it'll completely flip the switch over to 90 tomorrow (from 65 today)...still. Something broke, or at least became undeniable to me. Everything is too tight. Job, little apartment, neighborhood haunts, the city -- and probably if I could afford to escape it, the state and the region. Mama needs a change of pace before it's fall and the gray sets in again, for real.

How to fix this? I'm not sure.

I ironed a giant pile of shirts, for distraction.

I mopped the kitchen floor, for clarification.

I joined my sister on a hike on the coast, for a new perspective (but it was gray there, too).

When mass exodus from your life isn't an option, Oprah-types suggest you hug your tired life in a new way, try to see new details in the old. So. At the beach I examined shells, coves and tidal pools. At home, I rearranged and purged. Still, I feel stuck. I'm thinking maybe I should start doing things backward, for a new perspective. That's how stuck I am. I'll report back, hopefully from a more sunny place.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Love Portland In the Summer.

Mt. Tabor in the summer

I haven't been so complimentary about Portland lately. And it might seem a bit late in the season for a "things to do this summer list" but in my defense, we're still holding our breath for any sign of it here. It's been cold and obscenely, unrelentingly rainy. But the weatherman promises that's all changing this weekend, when we'll hit 80 for the first time this year, mid-June. So, here it is; My summer wish list, to make sure I appreciate every non-work gorgeous summer minute I'm offered, if the season does manage to present itself.

Portland, Maine / Newport, OR / Chicago, IL / Vancouver, BC / Seattle, WA

basil, lavender, rosemary gelatos / weekend brunches / whole trout / artichokes

Nobel Rot / Bakery Bar / Pok Pok / Navarre

a short story with a thunderstorm / a dream / a food cart interview / a little creative nonfiction

my ladies in maine / the ocean / summer meals / walla walla vineyards / bike trips

Laurelhurst Park or Mt. Tabor (every day) / Pacific Crest Trail (at Skamania) / Vancouver Island, BC / Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (Newport) / Mt. Hood

Too Much Happiness (Alice Munro) / Little Children (Tom Perrotta) / We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live: Collected Nonfiction (Joan Didion) / The Last Summer (of You and Me) (Ann Brashares) / A Gate At the Stairs (Lorrie Moore)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

April Showers Bring May Monsoons?

In the last few days, Portlanders have turned against the rain. Normally rainy weather's biggest champion (Portlanders gush about it and wax nostalgic about evenings forced to stay inside the way others recall perfect summer days of sunshine and heat) we've reached the limit. My boss stands at the office window and makes sarcastic comments about the beautiful day. Another friend -- generally agreeable and laid back -- threatened to fly back to his home town in Illinois and rip the arms off the next person who commented on how much rain they've been having. What do you know of rain!? he cried. I personally think of it as a semiofficial agreement between us and the sky. After all, we bear eight months of chill, dampness, and gray for four perfect months of Portland summer and fall. The deadline has come and gone, sky. The charm of falling asleep to the sound of rain on the rooftop has long past. Sun: reveal yourself!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Take what you can get and leave the rest.

Today I might be staring down yet another grant application inside and a wild wall of weather outside, but I'm secretly drawing on the inspiration of film makers and food writers. Bright spots in an otherwise gray little day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yes, indeed. Itty-Bitty.

When I get stressed I nest.

I cook and clean and search for pretty things. And I adore decor blogs - they're my happy place. The queens of this category are, in my mind, Sfgirlbybay and Design*Sponge. I'm changed quite a lot from my college days, of believing that focusing on domestic things and your home kept you politically cut-off and neutered. These days -- especially in Portland but undoubtedly elsewhere -- I see how locally, domestically-focused social and environmental movements are what's making a true difference in our community. People with their urban farms and gardens, buying local art directly from the artist, celebrating the bounty of locally-produced meats, vegetables and cheeses. Freecycle. It makes me feel thrilled at the possibility of something big starting, and that it starts in my home. That's very empowering.
That said, while my studio apartment is big in ambition, it's itty-bitty in size. I'm constantly holding item X in my hand and asking myself, "Is it worth pushing this around the apartment twenty times a year if I'll only maybe use it one or twice?" Almost always, the answer is no. Having a shoebox-sized apartment is serious exfoliation for the materialist. Today I entered my apartment in the Apartment Therapy blog's Small, Cool contest (teeny-tiny category). I probably won't make the cut, but it was fun taking pictures of my living space (my apartment, in carefully edited picture form, not its regular pile-of-laundry-and-unwashed-dishes form, makes me feel a bit glamourous.) So, using the freedom of self-publishing and self-indulgence, here are a few of my apartment shots. Find more on my flickr page.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Truth in Advertising

“The old cathedrals are good,
but the great blue dome that hangs over everything is better.”
-- Thomas Carlyle

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sweet Surrender.

My television (the most incredible sort: a framed in fake-wood hand-me-down from my parents from early-early childhood) has started to give up the ghost lately. The good-looking characters on Grey's Anatomy reruns have started to get darker and harder to see. They're melting into Zombie-doctors of late, and their suddenly glinty eyes (to see anything "contrast" has to be fully dialed up) are scary enough to make me keep the lights in the living room on. But I digress.

Without television, I've had to turn my attentions elsewhere. A better person would pick up a book, go for a run, or regularly clean out the cat litter box. While noble, my requirements are less so. After a long day, I need something that can pass the time and use as few braincells as possible (this explains the glass of wine that accompanies my new-found activity, just in case it isn't enough.) And I've found it. And thy name is Doodle Jump.

Doodle Jump is the brain child of some evil genius in Germany (actually, no idea, and does it matter? The dude's getting rich off of this perfect and ridiculous little game. It's the most downloaded iphone game app on, like, the entire planet.) You jump your little Doodle man from platform to platform, waving your iphone to do so. Sometimes he bounces on a spring. Sometimes he's swiftly propelled upward via a magical beanie hat. Seriously.

As someone who's always been loathed to give up control and fling my controls around like I really care with Nintendo games and more recently, Wii, I was alarmed at how quickly and dramatically I gave everything to propelling my little Doodle upward. And, have you ever felt yourself do something totally against everything you thought made you you? Maybe in your case it was knocking off a bank or lying to Grandma Mimi, but for me it was when I cried out the first time my little Doodle missed a platform and whistled toward the ground (luckily, they never show the bloody result). My cry was sincere and generally one reserved for seeing someone kick a puppy with a steel-toed boot. And it chilled me to the bone.

Curious, I played again. And again. And again - all with the same humiliating and overly dramatic result. As soon as the Doodle started his swift decent, I sobbed and cursed my cruel carelessness. And then immediately laughed at my own idiot self (sort of like when I watch Grey's Anatomy reruns, I suppose). I realized Doodle Jump offered exactly what I needed, exactly what my television used to offer: a sense of accomplishment and zero-obligation drama. Oh, and I will never, ever, play Doodle Jump in public.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just Because.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I'll make a point to be more of a wordie and less of a picture person tomorrow. But for now it's Friday night and after brilliant sushi at Yuki (insert obvious joke here), I'm happy to have nothing planned until brunch tomorrow. In fact, I'm feeling a bit like Bee here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Unravelling winds down.

...this is a metaphor for who I am now: cracked open after a long winter, fresh air blowing, excited to see what comes next. Thank all of my fellow Unravellers for making this such a lovely experience...

Winter in Portland is notoriously grey and long. It rarely gets unreasonably cold or snows (in fact, I start to get unreasonably jealous upon hearing about a D.C. snowpocolypse, or recalling my scenic snowy college days in rural New England.) It's simply a long, muted wait for spring. So, it's a real gift that the last 8 weeks have been made so much brighter and more interesting by the Unravalling challenge with lovely, inspiring London-based photographer Susannah Conway.

I was a bit skeptical about a glob
al, online class with nearly 200 female participants (and such a touchy-feely premise to boot), but it was completely engaging. As an adult, the chance to feel that you're part of any definite community beyond your family can be tricky, so gatherings like this are special. And I learned to see myself, my writing and my photographs in a new light, and made virtual friends with interesting ladies all over the world. {The next Unravelling begins March 8th, so there's still time to register if you're interested.}

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Unravelling - Week Six

It's so lame to say that this assignment is incomplete because I couldn't be bothered to do some good old-fashioned dress ironing, but there it is. My alter-ego is a grown-up who irons, too, I suppose.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be Still My Heart.

Let’s pretend it’s a work of art / Let’s pretend it’s not my heart

- The Magnetic Fields, “I’m Sorry I Love You”

Oh-so-happy valentine's day, y'all.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Unravelling - Week Five

I actually made a sound of disgust as I read about this week's assignment. I HATE having pictures taken of me and would never take them of myself. So I spent 20 minutes with the photobooth feature on my mac and snapped away to get it over with. My opinion of self-portraits hasn't change, but I do have to say that in the back of my mind my protests were met with the knowledge of LAST week's assignment, when I saw so many photos of myself that I had felt self-conscious about (or outright hated) at the time, but looking at them now, I felt sort of proud of that girl in the photo, and wished she had been confident enough to feel proud of herself. So, there's that that I'll keep in mind as I cringe at these shots.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Unravelling - Week Four

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unravelling - Week Three

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fireman. Nurse. Unicorn.

An iconic staple of an American childhood is being ask what you, the little one, wants to be when you grow up. The answers can be grouped as either extremely pragmatic or highly impractical (never anything in between) and are recalled by your family long into adulthood (even as the information seems an absurd folly best attributed to a complete stranger: your four-year-old self). Fireman. Nurse. Unicorn. I wanted to be an architect (this was also my dad's idea, so either it was a shared dream, or a transferred one). So when I saw the article in today's New York Times on young architects that were finding new angles for their dreams in this rocky economy that seems to be hating on jobs for architects (notes to architects: join the club), it made me think. What do I want to be when I grow up (i.e. right now)? Many of my friends have taken definite paths that seem to suit them: politicians, pr executives, lawyers, PhD's in obscure topics.

I've pursued this and that, but what am I? My response to this article was surely influenced by a day spent updating my resume, an obscurely professional part of adulthood that - when done correctly - doesn't look like me at all (at least not the parts that I'd like to meet at a dinner party). Which makes me think that maybe the most savvy thing I can do in this new economy - like these young jobless architects are discovering - is be myself. This can't be an excuse for dalliance. I must commit myself to the varied things I'm passionate about, as determined as my friends who study for the bar or their orals or campaign for public office. I need to stop seeing my mix of interests as a deficit and start seeing its value. Because I suspect that professional resilience and diversity will be staples of this new economy. And that's pretty exciting to imagine, especially since being an architect never worked out.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Unravelling - Week Two

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unravelling - Week One


The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" used to ruffle my feathers. As a writer, they're fighting words, really. But over the last few years, I've been taking more and more pictures. My eye will be drawn to something, and I won't know why, but I'll start shooting. Only later, like a Roshak blot, will I understand what I was looking for in the shot, what I saw. As Anais Nin said, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." A long walk with a camera has become my own version of visiting a psychic for clues about my future. I'm taking an 8-week self-exploration workshop with London-based photographer Susannah Conway called Unravelling. So I'll be posting some of my assignment pictures here each week. If you want to see more, find me on Flickr.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


My word for 2010 is honesty. In the spirit of being honest and sharing myself freely, I'm sharing a piece of fiction writing I did last year that seems very much in the spirit of a new year with fresh possibilities, that I never felt was "good enough" to publish. In this post's comments, you can read the letter I wrote to the amazing author of Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg, thanking her for her inspirational words.


He helps her climb the steps of the bus. She curtsies prettily for the driver, who shoots her a grin. He fumbles with the change for bus fare, and then herds his little girl toward a pair of open seats. This routine is new to them both.

Her woolly tights start swinging even before her tulle-covered skirt hits the seat. She kicks sporadically, like an irregular heart beat trying to correct itself.

“Daddydaddydaddy.” She tugs on his jacket sleeve. Staring out the window, he’s a helium balloon in danger of breaking away in the wind.

“Let’s play a game, ok? The alphabet game with food. A is for apple.”

He smiles but doesn’t turn away from the window, “B is for brioche.”

She squints at him as if she’s skipping and he’s trying to trip her up. She forgives him instantly. “C, candy.” She waits for him to come back to her.

He finally registers her silence as others would a scream. The game has left her mind like a cloud blowing across a patch of sky. Her eyes rest upon the homeless man sleeping draped over his two-wheel cart. She is briefly aged and intense, and then she’s back.

He watches her nervously.


“D is for diakon radish.”

Years from now when she’s 16, he might be disappointed that she wears short skirts (with no hint of the woolly tights) and refuses to eat anything but baked Doritos and carrot sticks. Three years before that he’ll be quietly proud of her stalwart veganism, even as her angry silence and severe makeup confuse him. Everything will seem fallow for a while.

One weekend during college though, she’ll come home to him. They’ll quietly cook together, and find unspoken solace in their shared history. Over the years their family will have contracted and expanded like a lung. A new mother will come into the family and take root over the years. A young half-sister will bolt around the kitchen, too.

But today is the genesis of it all; just him and his little girl, sitting on this bus. He’s 23 years old and raw, his heart cracked open. He’s doing what he can. He’s playing the alphabet game with food, passing on a hopeful vocabulary of community gardens, precious family dinners, ethical citizenship and exotic flavors to this squirrelly five year old. His offspring, he realizes with a start.

“U is for Unagui,” he says.

“Una-gee?” She stops fidgeting and studies her father.

He nods, his eyes firmly planted on her now. “An eel. An oily fish that looks like a water snake.” Raising an arm covered in tattoos – a messy cartography of his heart – he breaks the air between them, miming a snake, hissing and leaning in to tickle her. She winkles her nose and shrieks with delight as the bus lurches toward the next stop.

Todaytodaytoday. He’s digging up the dirt and praying like hell it produces.