Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.
George Saunders

Saturday, August 20, 2016

20000 mile club

I'm back! Exhausted, broke, a little sunburned, but otherwise in good shape.
First to a family reunion--all of us gathered together in Colorado but a beloved cousin--then a return visit to Kisasa Primary School, 10 years after my first trip to Tanzania.
In both cases, I was not well prepared for the actual experience.
There was a curmudgeonly family member I hadn't seen in awhile and wasn't sure how to approach.
The situation in Tanz was not quite what I had imagined either--instead of a group build, it was two or three of us at most. Instead of enjoying a relaxing time catching up with old friends, I felt alone, misunderstood and sometimes attacked, for my American-ness, my lack of religion, for being me.
It was a time to dig deep, to remember why I travel, to suffer cold water showers and endless digs with good humor and sometimes calm replies.
In the end, I renewed some relationships, and made some terrific new friends.
I traveled twenty thousand miles, mostly by myself, including a 9 hour bus ride (watching ripped movies and enjoying a Stoney Tangawizi ginger beer) and arriving after dark, which meant a confusing mission at Ubongo Bus Station to find a cab to take me to my sort-of-obscure hotel.
That first hot shower tho!
And the return journey on Emirates.
I feel alive, I feel challenged, I feel ready for new decisions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Getting ready for a big-ish trip and I'm feeling all the emotions.
I'm nervous. So many miles, so many connections.
Scared, a little.
Sad, a little too. I hate good-byes, even for a handful of days.
Excited, though. To see old friends and meet new ones.
To test myself and work hard and play hard and be who I aspire to be.
Watch this space.
Back soon.
Also...THIS is my soundtrack tonight. Whoa. How did I live without Audacity of Dope? !!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

my best self

I wasn't my best self this week.
Stress has gotten the best of me. I was nervous about reading, about an event at work, about a trip west, and my resilience was low. I hope I haven't damaged anything precious.
In any case, it was a whirlwind of a week. On Sunday I had the pleasure of reading a very short piece at a poetry event organized by the generous, kind, and talented Koon Woon, at the Beacon Hill Library. That evening, a few of us hopped in a Zipcar and headed for the coast. We sang along the way, and when we ran out of folk tunes and funny songs we tried out Christmas carols. Nothing beats belting out "Jingle Bells" on a pleasant July evening.
The next day was a work day: piling cut-up cedar tree logs in the wheelbarrow, splitting and stacking them; pulling out snarls of blackberry vines, watering the delicate young ferns and leafy salal, mowing some knee-high grassy spots. Suddenly it was me vs angry bee = my bright yellow t-shirt and shorts were a terrible idea, in retrospect.
Then, over to Fort Worden, to our spot for the night, a brick duplex with 4 bedrooms and a tiled bath, a formal dining room and sitting room. We dumped our stuff, shopped at the terrific Co-Op for food and snacks, then headed for the beach. We played tag with the incoming surf, and spotted some fins out on the sound, plus a couple of curious seals, heads gliding along the water's surface. Later on, super nachos, cards and crosswords and a lot of giggling.
Back home on Tuesday, the usual stress of driving and getting gas and groceries and getting everyone where they needed to go. A dinner of grilled cauliflower, corn, and zucchini, and some "Orphan Black," and then right back to the regular work week.
The summer is speeding by. I want to remember to take time. To breathe and laugh and enjoy.
Today's music: big band. Here's some Cab Calloway featuring the amazing Nicholas Brothers. I've always been an Astaire & Rogers fan but these two might be better:

Saturday, July 16, 2016


At work we frequently use the "80/20" rule, which means that you can't fix everything and sometimes you have to focus on a solution that resolves 80% of the problem and not waste all your time on the 20%.
The world seems to have gone mad, or maybe we are getting what we deserve, I don't really know, but today I want to focus on the good stuff.
I was lucky enough to get to a couple of farmer's markets this week. It's been a mild summer and we are beyond fortunate to enjoy scrumptious vegetables and fruit--I scooped up Nash's first carrots of the summer, along with plump cauliflower heads and a big bag of broccoli, amazing garlic from Jarvis (Spanish Roja and Polish Hardneck), lovely fresh-picked peaches, green beans, zucchini, corn, and a big box of Mutiny Bay blueberries.

Yesterday I bused over to the Seafair Pow Wow at Discovery Park (at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center). All around, people greeted friends, an SPD officer mingled with the crowd and got in line with us for frybread with honey, a giggling couple let me help with their frybread selfie, vendors sold drums and bundled herbs and t-shirts and the line for plank-grilled salmon stretched dozens long. At 7pm the Coastal Grand Entry began, dancers and performers in their tribal regalia proceeded into the big grassy circle, in front of elders and drummers and hundreds of viewers. I wept a little. Despite the mass murder and deprivations we've inflicted upon our tribes for centuries, they persist, they thrive, and this weekend, they celebrate.

And in music: a couple of weeks ago I went to a show at High Dive with some friends. Ever So Android was the headliner and they slayed (and I realized the female half of the duo works at one of my favorite coffee shops!). The second opener tho--Monsterwatch--wow. I wouldn't identify myself as a metalhead but I heart these kids. There was crowdsurfing, a smallish mosh pit, and at one point, the lead singer flung himself to the floor between me and one of my buddies, continuing to play guitar and sing as he lay there. I lost half my whiskey when he wrenched himself back to the stage, but it was a fun night of abandon and a great show.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


At the end of this trying, explosive, frustrating week, please read Shaun King.
He's not wrong.
And congratulations Serena! #22. I'm a long-time Steffi Graf fan and Serena well belongs next to her on the throne.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

more from the coast

Living in this city has become so stressful. I was crossing the street at the gnarly intersection near my apartment this morning and a cab nearly ran me down, despite the presence of a red light and a very large illuminated "No Right On Red" sign. I did the old palms-up I'm-exasperated gesture as the cabdriver slammed on the brakes and gestured I'm-sorry. However, the front-seat passenger screamed out the window, Calm down and shut the fuck up, at least you didn't get hit.
Seriously. At 9.45am this hillbilly in a tank top and goatee, squished into an Eastside Cab with 3 fat-faced bro's in the back, is going to scream at me in a crosswalk in my own neighborhood?
So I screamed back, No, you shut the fuck up as they proceeded up the hill.
Witty repartee, I know.
I wish I'd had a better comeback.
I wish my town wasn't being overrun with classless mouth-breathers.
On a more peaceful note, here are more pictures from Crescent Beach last week. Everywhere you look, shady nooks made of rocks and flowers and plants and water. Delicious for the soul.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

change is change

I spent a few days on the coast this week with my favorite 13-year-old. She helped me clean out the trailer my Mom found for me a dozen plus years ago. The Majorca has done well but her floors are saggy and the seams are showing. It's probably time to say good-bye. Which I'm having a tough time doing. We spent a few hours packing up the accumulated stuff--found and claimed a plaid shirt that belonged to my Mom, sent some stuff to Goodwill, recycled a bunch, kept a little bit. Now all that's left is to find a new home. I'm not sure I'm ready.
We also had adventures:
  • met up with some tree guys to get fallen cedars and ailing cherry trees seen to
  • spent hours beachcombing at Crescent Beach, witnessed a massive dead seal, countless tidepools teeming with tiny crabs, pink and green anemone, one jellyfish, and countless mussels, barnacles and limpets. It was the best kind of afternoon..
  • got a scare when we wandered through the shadowy tunnels of Camp Hayden--suddenly alone with a strange person in a rental car, we joined hands and ran flat-out and shrieking to safety
  • ate greasy spoon breakfasts and yummy Mexican food and a bagful of mango cheeks and boxes of strawberries and jolts of caffeine
now I'm home, running around to a grad party and tomorrow, the Pride parade
Summer is upon me, suddenly. Nothing feels as usual. Change is change and it's happening.