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

Friday, December 19, 2014


Listening to a friend's new mix, and it's hott.
Roaming around town today, amid the holiday bustle. Shoppers and clerks are pretty nice (with the exception of one grocery store in particular ..cough..PCC..cough) but the drivers. Well, the drivers are maniacs. It's like a dodgeball game in the crosswalks, only SUVs the size of boxcars are hurtling at you, windows fogged over, tires screaming as they brake only just in time to not mow you down. It's energizing, and terrifying.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


A stressful work week and I'm happy the 9-to-5 part of it is in the can, as I ended up on a rainy porch Thursday night sobbing that I wanted to go home. My mental state is much improved, after sleeping in on Friday, hanging with the fam at the movies, then drinks and music later on, with pals.
Also, a final good-bye to my dentist, Dr. Jeff Files, who passed away last night. He was diagnosed just over a year ago with ALS. I can hardly believe this all happened so quickly. I mourn the loss of this man; he was patient with and worked with my anxieties, did beautiful work, loved talking about his kids and his motorcycle travels around the state. He was the dentist who called the day after a tough procedure to make sure I was hanging in there. RIP Dr. Files. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

open mic

My buddy hosts a monthly open mic event at a bookstore up north. The Buzzard serves beer and wine so it's more like a dive bar/bookstore. Regulars play Go, at a table up front. The weekly version of open mic features everyone from extemporaneous speakers to a tap-dancer to nervous first-time guitarists. One of the baristas also sings in a band, Little Sara and the Night Owls.
Anyway, the monthly open mic is for poets and writers. Sometimes there's only a handful of readers and we're done by 8.30. Other times, like last week, it's more.
Last week, first-timer Scarlet read a piece, too fast but passionately, about a stoner guardian angel.
I read an excerpt from "Hard to Believe," getting enthusiastic applause when I mentioned the story would be published in March.
My buddy read a few poems, also about to be published, one so hilariously disgusting that one of the  readers/Go players called, "Ewwww," grinning widely as he catcalled.
The barista/singer read from her phone, a piece inspired by The Thomas Crown Affair.
Koon Woon sat in a corner quietly until just before the featured poet. Then he stood up and shared two poems with great depth and beauty. "He won the American Book Award," someone said, and I understood why.
At the end of the night, Noel Franklin, the featured poet, performed, and her poems seemed like more than words, they seemed like her, wrought from pain and experience and love of art. Afterwards, she gave me one of her books. I said goodbye to my buddy and his new friend, a quietly fierce East Coast transplant, and caught a bus home.
Picture is from a very cold day-hike at Carkeek.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

pix from the Nest

A couple of pictures from some dear friends' cabin on a nearby island. We partied all day yesterday--rambled around the 5 acres, discovered a stream bed under a massive cedar, drank and smoked and dined finely, then woke this morning to a thick blanket of snow.
And Thanksgobbling was oddly relaxing and stress-free. I think we surprised ourselves. Started the day with Yula picking us up at the transit center, a stop for French pastries, then to her place for coffee and strategizing. She and my fella masterminded turkey and dressing, while I was on point for mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and fresh cranberry sauce. We snacked on pickles and Boursin cheese and homemade olive bread. It all came together along with greens, bread and veggie Stove Top stuffing for plates of deliciousness, along with a 2003 red that Yula had been saving. Hammy was laid low with a stomach virus so we had pumpkin pie and pecan pie and bread pudding with brandy sauce while she napped, then later on watched the Seahawks dominate the Forty-whiners, 19-3.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

stay woke

The news from Ferguson last night was not good.
Listening to the radio at my kitchen table reminded me of waiting for the OJ verdict twenty years ago, in a co-worker's car en route to a meeting, both of us holding our breaths, the jaw-dropping surprise us white knuckleheads felt when we heard "not guilty."
Last night as I listened to the prosecutor run down a painfully long list of defenses, it seemed clear that there would be no indictment.
My social media blew up. Speaking of knuckleheads, several of my Midwestern family members posted some pretty offensive shit. Mostly, among my friends, I saw disappointment, anger, not much disbelief, moms worried for their kids' safety, pissed off activists, plain-old-bewildered people.
I still feel sad and mostly helpless. The system is working as it's designed to, someone said today, and I realized she's right.
DailyKos had some good analysis:
--the questions no one asked
--prosecutor as defense attorney
I'm reading the documents released on the Washington Post.
And bits of this essay stick in my head:
--I'm deeply and profoundly disappointed and honestly lack the words to explain my emotions right now. It's a frustration in which a man doesn't feel much like writing. It's an exhaustion in which one has hoped just one too many times for justice, only for it to escape in the fleeting fashion that is sadly familiar in cases of young black men killed by police officers all over this country.
--I had hoped officers would be found guilty when they were found beating Rodney King senseless. It was on video. We all saw it. They were acquitted.
--I had hoped officers would be found guilty when they fired 41 shots at an unarmed Amadou Diallo standing in his doorstep. They were acquitted.
--I had hoped the officers who fired 50 shots into Sean Bell's car as he left his bachelor party would be found guilty. They were acquitted.
--I had hoped the officers who shot and killed football star Kendrec McDade—after they lied about him shooting at them first—would at least go to court, but the grand jury said they were justified.
--I had hoped the officers who chased Ramarley Graham into his home and killed him would at least be tried, but they weren't
--I had hoped the officers who shot and killed John Crawford in Wal-Mart would be cited somehow, but the grand jury found they were justified.
--Now, here we are, with a young man who ran over half a football field away, after a confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson, only to be shot over and over again.
--I had hoped Wilson would at least face these charges in an open court of law, but it will not happen.
Change is gonna come, another friend posted, with a link to Sam Cooke.
I hope she's right.

Friday, November 21, 2014

a fountain of eyes

It's funny, I took this picture sitting around in a rental car waiting to pick up my fella. Picmonkey boyeee, I am having fun with it. A friend commented that I should release an album. Right?! Except...I can't sing.
Good news ahead, another story about to greet the public. More to come!