Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Klee's pedagogical sketchbook

Senecio, Paul Klee
I've admired the modernist art of Paul Klee for some time. This week I've been reading about his pedagogical sketchbook. I was pleased to see that his instructions translate to writers, too.
1. Take a line for a walk. Repeat the same form in as many positions as possible.
2. Observe a fishtank. Create movement in your work.
3. Draw the circulatory system. Use nature as a model, theme, inspiration.
4. Weigh the colors. Combine scientific precision with mysticism; find the connection between color and music.
5. Study the greats. Break down a master to determine what makes their work successful (or not).
I've also been admiring the photographs of Jacques Henri Lartigue. He and Klee were probably contemporaries of a sort. I'm quite taken with his casual, non-posed photographs of a certain class of young, slender, elegant European in the 1920's and 1930's, living life, running around in go-karts, sun-bathing, jumping off a staircase, going out. The women are rouged beauties, the men dashing and reckless. There's a sense of languor and mystery. Do yourself a favor. Click this Google search and immerse yourself.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

a nose by any other name

Welp, I'm 10 days into what appears to be an eternal bout of bronchitis; cheerless Dayquil days punctuated with coughing and and snorting into Kleenex, nose cracking and sore, mouth permanently coated with a slick of cherry cough drop, alleviated only by brief snatches of drugged, hallucinogenic sleep.
Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but I'm ready to start feeling good.
In the meantime, enjoy this article about linguistics and similarities across languages.
It brought to mind this video about the complexity of rhyme in rap lyrics.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

the seven tenets

I ran across these seven tenets this week and immediately felt "YES."
  • One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
  • The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  • One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
  • The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
  • Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
  • People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
  • Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word
I was very surprised to learn of their origin. And what other things the group is doing to fight the regime.  As with so much of the shitstorm-dumpster-fire that has been 2016, I never imagined writing or saying these words but: thanks, Satanic Temple.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Stress about work, life, the state of the world all got me feeling like I'm carrying around a backpack full of wet towels. The little things seem big and the big things seem unbearable.
One little thing I'm taking pleasure from right now is being a regular.
I'm familiar at a few coffee shops around town. There's of course the undeniable pleasure of not having to place an order. But there's also the chit-chat, the confidences, the catching-up.
The day after the election shat out its final turd (or did it?), I limped into the coffee place near work. The barista proudly wore a t-shirt depicting her native Switzerland. She offered sympathy along with my coffee and bagel. The next guy in line said he was Canadian and would take any of us who wanted to leave.
Most weekends I pop into a Fremont spot, where the morning barista is also a video stylist for a major Seattle rapper. I look forward to her hairstyle, her clothes, her attitude, her stories--including rocking at a metal show in Tacoma with her brother, and how a colleague came in to work on no sleep and a lot of whisky (our conclusion: keep rolling with whisky, or complete hydration/catnap therapy).
I have good friends and family and this extended circle of welcoming establishments is a salve, a tonic, a haven. It feels good. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Scenes from election day

Boy what a tough week. I don't know what I think yet. I'm still feeling. A lot of feels. Disbelief, still. Anger. Disgust. Frustration.
I ain't leaving. I'm sticking around to fight.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

I was afraid of this

I'm taking a 3-quarter writing course for work and between the homework and the class itself, I am neglecting my WRITING writing. The important stuff. I was afraid this would happen and it is.
Also this week:
On Thursday, the barista at the bagel place didn't give me my change. She's new. I'd given her $6 and the manager had to gently show her how to make 65 cents in change.
That same day, the server at Shultzy's managed to lose my debit card in the 2 minutes between me handing her the card, going to the ladies', and returning to sign the charge slip. 
Two people on the 49 bus were talking to themselves. Not each other. Just their own selves. It was beautiful and unbearably sad.
And, the geniuses at Amazon shipped me a toilet seat cover I did not order. So I had to print a label and go to the UPS store yesterday to return a shit cover I didn't even ask for.
It seems like a metaphor for the week.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

the flatlands

Last weekend I visited family in Colorado and Kansas. My grandmother celebrated a major birthday recently and my cousins, aunt and I agreed it was time for a road trip. Interstate 70 takes you directly from the Denver area into western Kansas, and it was a pleasant drive both directions: unusually warm fall days, calm winds, and the company of family.
I forget each time how beautiful the landscape is, so flat and broad, the sky an enormous blue bowl overhead. At home we see snippets of sky, framed by evergreens or reflected in the coastal sea. In western Kansas, the sky fills your vision, edged with crispy sunflower fields, bristly rolls of hay, furrowed dirt roads, the occasional sparkling pond.
My Kansas aunt cooked up two days' worth of goodies, including coleslaw and pumpkin pie. We wandered downtown, sat in the shade with Gram and my cousin's pet dog, played marbles and talked sports and laughed and reminisced about the ones we've lost. My shrink keeps telling me I'm lonely and I keep saying that I'm not, but I will say that this weekend, I felt like I belonged, like people were looking out for me, and that felt pretty great.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


It's been fun checking out my new neighborhood.
In less than a week I've been in 5 bars, a pizza place, 2 thrift stores, and a couple of galleries. And this is just the beginning, if my liver holds out.
Let's start with the bad news. The pizza place was a big disappointment. Overpriced soggy pie with a weirdly salty tomato sauce, attitudinous servers--carded twice on a Wednesday night!?--irritating soundtrack--I doubt I'll go back.
It's a competitive neighborhood, and some of the bars shone with personality.
Clever Dunnes is an Irish pub with TV's showing whatever sporting event is going on, a rock-heavy soundtrack, and a boisterous bartender who was quick with drinks, food advice, and some light kidding. Great for MLB and a veggie burger.
I've been in Redwood a couple times before. Not a fan of the taxidermied animal heads but the lighting is dim and the booths are comfy and the price was right for a couple of Olympias on tap ($3 I think?). Not a fan of the indie soundtrack but the bartender was prompt. Weirdly, the door guy was already carding people at the tender hour of 7 p.m.
Bait Shop may be my favorite of the bunch. It's busy and loud, but somehow there's always a spot to be found. The server this night was funny and cool and brought drinks quickly, even as our little group expanded. Every table around us was packed with people having a good time, and my rye Manhattan was perfect.
Corvus was new to me. I didn't love our table by the door, and the crowd was oddly diverse--a group of serious-looking Asian men in suits, couples on quiet dates, a rowdy threesome at the bar--but the server was quirkily friendly, and brought out delicious cocktails and a plate of hot salty fries to stave off impending hangover.
DeLuxe is also an old favorite, and didn't disappoint on an after-midnight stop. The bar seemed stacked with regulars, drinks came out fast, and the bartender dutifully helped a friend get over a bout of hiccups.
Kessler's was my last stop this week, when I stopped en route to art walk for a beer and some Thursday night football. This may be a go-to for sporting events--fast, efficient bartenders, hometown crowd, and low prices.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

super deluxe

I've been checking out the creative brains behind Super Deluxe lately (mostly this provocative video about the first presidential debate). There's also Super Deluxe Animation, which recently featured a bunch of very short (short as in a couple dozen seconds) videos.
This one is my fave. I can't get enough! Check out Morpha! Utila!

As a creative person, this series has made me think: How can I make my own stories shorter, brighter, more fun and engaging? I'm going to figure out how.

Friday, September 30, 2016


The meteoric, gaseous, ridiculous Seattle housing market hit home for me literally, as my rent has gone up 30% in the past 2 years. With this most recent hike, I called it quits on my neighborhood and the greedy Scrooges who own my building, and found another place. There are pluses and minuses, I guess. The new place is small, which means I've spent the past few weeks sorting through storage boxes that have been tucked away in closets for six plus years.
I found letters dating from my parents' ugly and painful split.
A Max Headroom mask.
107 chocolate wrappers (*).
A tiny chunk of the Berlin wall.
Journals and more journals.
Scraps of stories starring my longtime-protagonist-yet-still-unpublished Eugenia Farquharson.
My mom's jewelry box, with her collection of watches and earrings and heart-shaped jewelry.
You can't keep everything, and yet it's hard to know what to let go of.
A metaphor for life, probably, and yet I still find myself debating myself: do I really need that feather boa? The collection of Pee Wee Herman art?
Yes, probably.
I'm not sure.

Saturday, September 24, 2016


I remembered that I've forgotten to watch Shuga, an online series out of Lagos, Nigeria. MTV produces it so it skews young, but I enjoy the flavor of day to day life in a part of the world that most of us will never visit. Bonus: a transcendent Lupita N'yongo in what must be one of her earliest roles.

In a similar vein, here's a new-to-me show advertised as the "Sex and the City" of Accra, Ghana: An African City.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

choco holick

Perugina Luisa.
Heard of it? Better yet, tasted it?
This was my absolute favorite chocolate bar when I was a teenager. And I ate a lot of chocolate. The word chocoholic does not even come close. My sister and I were legit connoisseurs. We bought imported bars, mostly, tasted and wrote notes and kept a folder holding the wrappers. I re-discovered the folder this week, as I was cleaning out a closet.
Noted in pencil on the front: 107. We sampled 107 bars of chocolate!
And I'm not talking Hershey's, or any other American chocolate, although there are some vintage Ghirardelli wrappers in there, the label funky and with a 70's vibe, complete with phonetic pronunciation.
Perugina Luisa, tho.
Italian chocolate, smooth and round in flavor, with notes of vanilla and barky darkness. It was a thicker bar, too, a real chunk. I don't think they make it anymore (although maybe?).
I leafed through the stack and found other gems--tiny wrappers of German chocolates, telling the story of Rotkäppchen (Red Riding Hood). One from Expo '86 in Vancouver, made in Israel. Several from Callebaut, still a favorite. Droste bars, labeled in determined fonts. I've dallied with other chocolatiers--La Maison du Chocolat, notably. A particularly luscious French bar made by Bonnat. Theo's, from just down the street, is admirable.
Chocolate was my passion, back then. A hobby that combined treats and imagination and travel. A way to escape an anxious life, to go somewhere else, if only via my tastebuds.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

So long

On Monday I said good-bye to the trailer my Mom helped me find a few years ago.
The cozy little Majorca travel trailer dwelt on my lush acres for a dozen-plus years, a shelter from rain and wind and sun, and haven for about a million ants, and the odd mouse. Lately though, the floors sagged, a pair of tires cracked and went flat; moss grew inside the window frames and after the March windstorm where four cedars toppled, I began to worry about the trailer's long-term prospects.
Over the summer, helpers and I cleaned out the interior, hauling carloads to Goodwill and recycling, and last week I posted the photos online, hoping to find a new home. Twenty-some people e-mailed me, many ignoring the details in the post (nope), some saying they'd re-hab and sell it (sorry, also nope), but one person wanted the trailer for an organic farm property north of town. We e-mailed, I made clear the Majorca's fragile condition, she reassured me she was a farm girl and could figure it out.
So on Monday, we all met up and headed out to see if the trailer could be safely removed from its home. I was nervous, worried, and sad, honestly, thinking back to the day Mom and her husband and dog brought the Majorca. A rainy, overcast day, struggles to get up the gravel driveway, a muddy bottoming-out, and finally, success, the truck's engine over-heating and the smell of burned rubber lingering. The experience Monday was much more peaceful. The farm-ers came prepared, patching the tires, raising the jacks, applying duct tape where necessary. After barely an hour of work, they snapped on the hitch, and about twenty-five turns later, were rolling down the rocky, twisty hill. I did shed some tears, but this feels right. The Majorca is off to be useful somewhere else, with people who can properly take care of it, and I have opportunity now to do something more permanent for myself, too. It feels momentous.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Change is change is

So much is in flux at the moment, and I don't just mean the big bad world.
Preparing for big changes out on the coast, letting go of a treasured object because the object is failing and because if I don't, there will never be room for improvement.
And...I'm moving in a few weeks. Two rent increases over the past two years of 30% are kicking me out the door. I found a new spot, it's smaller but in a more vibrant, arty area, so I'm trying to be okay with it.
I've been cleaning out my closets, donating clothes and shoes to Goodwill, recycling and composting and leaving treasures in the laundry room downstairs.
Among the old mortgage documents and receipts and mementoes from past travels, I discovered documents from a painful time in my family's history--documents I'd forgotten I ever even had.
Words from the past, excuses and evasions.
I found my mother's wooden jewelry box and opened it. I touched a watch and a pair of earrings and her perfume wafted out and I breathed in deeply.
Then I closed the box up tightly, not wanting that familiar smell to fade away.

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.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

block party fresh

Y'all know my conflicted emotions about Capitol Hill Block Party.
CHBP has gotten corporate, expensive (ten bucks for a warm plastic cup of Montejo beer gtfooh) and less about music than marketing. Generally and very specifically irritating. Like so much of Seattle, quelle surprise. So, I've been looking around for other music festivals that feature local bands, especially hiphop, and don't cost triple digits.
Everett's Fisherman's Terminal Festival last month was a pleasant surprise.
Yesterday I checked out Block Party at the Station, on Beacon Hill. Deng, if it wasn't all that and more. One stage, a couple of food trucks, happy looking diverse crowd milling around, friendly vendors, art and music happening everywhere you looked, and free, did I mention free?
I ran into a few musician friends and we all happily took in the beats--Rogue Pinay, Silas Blak, a few cats from Alpha P, plus rhymes from Tulsi, with Able Fader on the DJ deck.
Happy Solstice, everyone.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


On such a horrific news day--what to feel? 50 lives lost. 50 people out having fun at an Orlando dance club, their lives cut short and for what?
I feel so much anger, sadness, despair, weariness, loss.
And defiance. Yes, defiance. We will continue to hope, to love, to dance.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

benny and the count

Today's soundtrack is Count Basie. These sweetly fluid jams are good for the soul.

Other contenders: Benny Goodman, Harry James, Dizzy. Anyone covering Harold Arlen or Cole Porter. Etta. Rosemary. Mel! The list goes on.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

face fall

A year ago yesterday, I stepped off the back of a bus around 1 a.m. after a night out at the Blue Moon, and faceplanted onto cement. I scraped up both knees, both palms, smashed my upper lip and cheek and bruised a cheekbone. Too stubborn to go to the hospital, I cleaned up as best I could and fell into bed, and when I awoke a few hours later and stumbled into the bathroom and beheld my swollen face, immediately fainted. I went home to shower, websurf about concussions, and stew; finally, I limped down to immediate care, where an older doctor with an accent sat beside me and told me very seriously to go to the hospital--not in a bus, or a taxi, but in an actual human friend's car just in case I blacked out en route. Everything checked out--no concussion or breaks, just road rash, bruising and some serious scrapes--I lost a week of work and of course my pride.
Did I learn anything from the experience?
I know now that true friends are there when you wake up the next day, they sit with you in the ER and take you to the store for frozen peas and jumbo size boxes of bandages. They buy you straws so you can drink wine without moving your cut lip. For every stranger who callously stares, there's a kind grocery clerk who takes you aside and asks, "Did someone hurt you?"
Anyway, a year later, there's still a tiny bit of scar tissue on my upper lip, a reminder each day as I swipe on lip gloss that not everything heals 100% and every experience leaves a mark.
Today's music for writing is local talent Erik Blood (featuring a friend of a friend on vocals):

Saturday, May 28, 2016

where ya at

What to write about today?
I sit here post-yoga feeling mellow, reflecting on the week.
The weather has been cloudy and cool for a few days, for which I'm so grateful.
I was able to do some volunteer work this week. It was, as always, both rewarding and frustrating: listening to the graduates' speeches vs hearing that one recent graduate spent the last 3 weeks in jail.
Meeting with my shrink this week was contentious but not as demoralizing as last week.
The more I learn about misophonia the more I'm convinced it's neurological, not audiological, and that all of the known treatments are merely band-aids. Temporary and incomplete. I'm not hopeless but it's frustrating.
Summer is nearly here and already there's so much to anticipate: road trips with my niece, a family reunion, shows and performances and movies and events.
With that, it's time to write.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Yass Queen

This today, because I heart Freddy Mercury so.
Watching a video from 1977--what a raw, unvarnished and sexy relic.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

This week in music: arena, festival, community ballet

 This week captured the joy of performance in Seattle for me. Wednesday was Beyonce at the CLink, which as it turns out is a terrific venue for a big arena show. It was a cool misty evening. The set, with its enormous rectangular box-slash-video screen, alternately showed Bey, dancers, videos, and once, went various shades of purple in homage to Prince, while "Purple Rain" boomed. The Queen B herself didn't engage too much with the crowd (as opposed to Lady Gaga, who usually talks about the West Coast, brings people onstage, gives motivational talks) but it was a powerful performance. And, from what I know, an all-female band. CityArts captured it perfectly: Beyonce is Real. Wow. Friday was the Fisherman's Village Music Festival in Everett with some friends. Venues are spread around the downtown area and include a dive bar and a vintage theatre (awkward seat-wise until you realize you can just go stand down front). Standouts were Grace Love and her band, The True Loves, and a slightly underwhelming, now-three-person band, Tango Alpha Tango. Later on, in the alleyway behind the Everett Theatre, we ran into Ms. Love herself as well of 2/3 of TAT, decompressing and having a smoke.
And, Saturday was my niece's spring ballet. She was onstage for at least a half-dozen numbers during the early show, and when I left, was heading back for performance #2.
Me, after a week of long days and late nights, I'm taking it easy. Woke up late, now enjoying some coffee, a run around the neighborhood, and  writing.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

when people show you who they are believe them

When people show you who they are, believe them.
--Attributed to Maya Angelou
I like this quotation, and it frightens me.
A friend with a patchy dating history used to tell me about how she could see the red flags with guys, and she knew she was ignoring the red flags and she continued on with assholes and idiots anyway. We see, and yet we don't. I see, and yet I do nothing.
I felt some hurt this past week and I think this is the only place I can dig into it. Mother's Day was a tough one for me. Everywhere you look, there are people with bouquets, moms and daughters, social media, stores, everything, hyping Mother's Day. So I laid low and made plans to see one of the few people who really gets it. We agreed on a time. I took a shower and made a cake. And waited. Texts came in about an hour before meet up time--running late, no don't come meet us, just wait. And then--cancellation. The person was tired. They needed to get some rest. Get some rest, I messaged. I felt sad, but I got it. It had been a tough day.
And the next day I saw on fb that the person had not gotten rest, instead they went to a birthday party.
So what to do with this? A tough day was made tougher with a lie. I would have liked to have felt important. Or at least, respected enough for the truth. This is not a conversation I feel like I can have with the person, tbh. What can I do? I can feel the hurt, remember how utterly alone and miniscule I felt. I can put up a wall with this person. I can not let them hurt me like that again.
On a happier note, I was fortunate to see so many good friends this week, to take my favorite thirteen-year-old to coffee and ballet, to have canal-side drinks and catch up time with a pal after work one day, to laugh my way through trivia with old friends--Pops and Phatty and Jojo and Bubbles and my fellow Gin Blossom--then on Thursday, drinks and pizza in south Seattle with a glam couple.
So for today, all I can do is do me. I can seek to understand the complications of love and family and pain through my writing.
Straw into gold.
Today's jam:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

shranque the shrinque

So my CEO shrink became ill during our session this week. She was getting over bronchitis, she told me. First, a break for water, then for an inhaler, but neither seemed to help. She sat down, appearing to listen to me but she was also staring intently at my knees with watery eyes, so I gently suggested that we stop for the day.
She demurred. I'm fine.
You always say, accept the things you can't control, I said.
She laughed, and made a face. And we called it a day.
The thing is, I could have used someone to listen to me this week. It's Mother's Day tomorrow, and I miss my mom so much. Even 12 years later! She was a vibrant, vivacious soul and is terribly missed. This is a weekend to remember, to stay off social media, to avoid stores and restaurants and events.
To hide. To create.
Working on tattoo ideas. This one below is a contender. Like so much in life, I'm not sure how to get it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

noos news nooze

So much news, where to start.
After a handful of rejections, my story "Balls, Daddy" got a very enthusiastic yes.
I'm super excited about this one being published.
The journal editor is a visionary and a personality. And, it's a paid gig.
For passover last Sunday, I enjoyed matzoh, hummus and wine. L'chaim.
Enjoyed a friends' album release show at Chop Suey last weekend--good people and swell beats. Left around 12:30, and missed a nearby shooting by only a couple of blocks.
Then there was Vito's after work one night. Always a good decision. The swank gloom of the bar, stiff happy hour drinks, the suave pianist crooning the standards.
Now and upcoming--writing. Chopping. Trip planning. Reunions far and farther.
Today's music: The Coup

Saturday, April 23, 2016

hello goodbye

So far I've seen Deadpool twice.
There's so much swerve in the dialogue.
"Fake laugh! Hiding real pain."
Love it.

(above) From the bathroom in my shrink's office. You can't expect me not to.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

this week I

  • ate*worked*slept*read*walked*wrote*shat*talked*came*wept
  • guest-starred on 2 friends' new podcast
  • helped deliver Cambros of hot food to homeless shelters around town
  • tried cold brew coffee on tap and liked it 
  • came in 4th at trivia
  • drank free margaritas on a sunny day overlooking the Montlake Cut
  • met a panhandler with a Wu-tang sign, long-haired, in jeans and a cut-off tee, who said 'hey lady come hang out with me, I'm a bad boy'
  • bused, trained, and walked to/from work
  • hate-tweeted Metro
  • assembled a rowing machine, discovered the r.m. kit was missing one vital screw, and bought a replacement screw from a bad-ass girl at Hardwick's
  • chopped fallen cedars with an axe
  • listened to a CBC radio show about women traveling alone, and the first 2 callers were men...le sigh
  • munched my first asparagus of the season >>swoon<< 
Also, Grace Love. How did I not know/hear/love until now? >>double swoon<<

Saturday, April 9, 2016

so what do I?

My CEO shrink has been talking to me about acceptance.
In theory, I agree with her.
I had the pleasure to meet a wise person named Subhan a couple of years ago, and he writes often about acceptance and being and now.
Recently: The mind is only interested in the past and the future. And both of these are illusions, that don't exist THIS moment.
And then, I read something like this: I never lose. I either win or I learn.
(variously attributed, to Nelson Mandela, or Tupac, or anon.)
How to balance accepting with striving and learning?
It's a conundrum to me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Amidst the clowning on April Fool's day I totally missed these tracks, dropped by Hamburger Helper I guess? I like. Even a veg like me can get into these beats, lyrics, sound--salty.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

no flipping

Still sad over the passing of Garry Shandling, I re-read his 2010 GQ interview.
He's been one of my long time favorites for so many reasons--The Larry Sanders Show, "no flipping," "do these pants make my ass look big?"--but others have written more eloquently about him as a comic, mentor, and human being, so please go read: GQ, and GQ.

Me, I'm working on acceptance. Of myself, first of all. That's a tough one.
In the meantime, check out the Treme Brass Band. I did see them on a Tuesday night at d.b.a. I'm longing for my next visit to the 508.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

a scare

So a creeper followed me off the bus the other night. It wasn't super late--9.30pm. I'd had a fun night of happy hour and pop-up Please Maid Cafe and was on my way home, on a bus I don't ride too often but which stops at a quiet corner near my place. So I exited, and he did too, wearing a surgical mask and ballcap and weirdly large coat. Realizing it was just him and me on a quiet dark street, I got a bad feeling, and waited at the bus stop to see where he'd go. When he lingered, and then came back to the stop, approaching me, I told him to get going, go away.
Upon which he said quietly, Don't lose your life to me.
Upon which I lit out for home.
That's right, run he called. I didn't look back until I was past my apartment building.
Yeah I was shaken up, unsure whether this was malevolence or mental illness or something in between. In the moment, it didn't matter. I listened to my gut and got the hell out of there. I talked to an SPD officer yesterday and he admitted there wasn't much the cops could do, or could have done had I called 911. It's not a crime to say dumb shit. It's not a crime to be a weirdo rolling around in a surgical mask. The reality is we all have to keep an eye out and listen to our guts.
And, I'm glad I'm okay but I am so sick and tired of dealing with harassment. Would this wack job have approached a lone male? Watch the "Master of None" episode called "Ladies and Gentlemen." Women know. But until a guy says it--and honestly, probably until a white guy says it--no one's really going to listen. And until Seattle starts dealing with its homeless/mental illness problem--Man in Tree anyone?--nothing's going to change.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

a balm for a weary soul

On such a terrible news day, I spent some time looking at abstract art.
We must find calm, courage, and peace, somehow.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

it's alive

So we had diversity training at work this week.
Four hours of sitting in a stuffy conference room with co-workers watching a Powerpoint show and participating in interactive exercises. Sound like a recipe for eyeball-numbing boredom? It was actually interesting and entertaining and sort of fun.
Except. EXCEPT.
Except for the small-minded bigots (I witnessed two, possibly three) who sat sullenly, arms crossed, non-participating, combative when spoken to, for the entire four hours.
Sexism is alive and well; as a female I can vouch for that, and this session was no exception.
Racism, homophobia and all their neanderthal cousins seem to survive as well.
This isn't a huge surprise, given the political climate now, but still, shocking to witness it in person.
From adults.
From educated humans who ought to know better.
It makes me so tired.
So very sick and tired.
We haven't evolved much. We've survived. I wonder for how much longer.
Reading a Sylvia Plath biography at the moment. Author Anne Stevenson's hostility is so barely concealed. I feel like I need another bio just to balance the picture.
New (to me) music: Tkay Maidza, Australian hip hop artist and super cool girl.
This video tho.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


These days, I'm either all chill or none at all.
The center is gone, like somebody licked out the middle of the Oreo.
Maybe I'm becoming more of a nihilist; either everything matters, or nothing does.
I'm inclined towards the latter.
On a less bombastic note, I witnessed some beautiful art this week.
First, at Retail Therapy, new work by artist/poet/raconteur Philipp.
I met new people and talked art and old books and drank red wine and admired the pieces, happy/sad that my pal's work is now out of my price range.
Then, on to Dendroica, to meet up with new friend Noel, a mad talented cartoonist and poet. This was a rambunctious gathering of cartoonists who got their start in the '90's, as nerdy, lovable, talented and provocative a group as I've met in awhile.
And I realized belatedly that my pal Indu was also showing on the Hill at Bluecone.
For all the kvetching I do about Seattle losing its soul, maybe I'm wrong, maybe the time for breaking shit and tearing things apart is still upon us.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days in southern California recently.
A friend found love and moved and invited some of us to come hang out. His fella is a big-hearted sweetie, and they've got a swell house and an adorable young Schnauzer. We dined the first night at Casa Mota on Mexican food and 32-ounce Tecates--what better way to launch a weekend? Saturday was a lazy morning outside by the pool, drinking coffee and catching up. Then, Thai food and an hour's drive to Palm Springs, where we lounged poolside, drank pineapple mojitos and basked in the heat. The next day--already my last!--was a swap meet, and chilaquiles with killer salsa at El Corral.
Some days I feel alone, lonely, lost.
A good book makes me feel less alone.
Laughs with friends.
Music (tomorrow, Le1f!).
This little Spike Jonze video. Grover is my heart.

Monday, February 22, 2016


I'm feeling like a failure and it's not just the raft of rejections for the story I'm sending around (however motivational rejection may be, it's still a "no").
I want to be a better person, writer, sister, aunt, girlfriend, friend, whatever, and against all measuring sticks I feel like I'm coming up way short.
It's been a tough few days for connections.
It's been a time of loneliness and introspection--not unwelcome visitors for the writer, but still.
It's time to assess, re-assess, calibrate.
Good things I have done for myself:
Keep on writing.
Video chat with fam.
Cook up a bunch of golden beets and sunchokes and buckwheat soba noodles.
Oh and these raw cookies made of oats and chocolate and almond butter.
30 minutes of restorative yoga for knees and hips and spirit.
The contemplation, however, is nearly, almost too much. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

beats like woah

New (to me) music!
First up, Le1f. I love everything about this kid--his look is fresh, his sound is catchy, he has style, swagger, a tribal vibe, dance moves that are fluid and referential and new, and some kind of demented eye for fashion. The video for "Koi" is funny and so fun. Swoooon.

Also, Brooklynites ScienZe. Gorgeous, layered beats. This is the hip hop flow I love.
And, local Tacomans ILLFIGHTYOU. Hope to catch them sometime soon in the 206.

Monday, February 15, 2016

writerly advice

Seeking writerly inspiration and comfort, I've been reading from vintage NY Times' "Writers on Writing" series. So far:

Allegra Goodman:
Love your material. Nothing frightens the inner critic more than the writer who loves her work. The writer who is enamored of her material forgets all about censoring herself. She doesn't stop to wonder if her book is any good, or who will publish it, or what people will think. She writes in a trance, losing track of time, hearing only her characters in her head.

Sara Paretsky:
I felt a sort of desperate need to start writing down the lives of people without voices. Instead of princesses who lived happily ever after...I began writing about ordinary people whose lives, like mine, were filled with the anomie that comes from having no voice, no power.

And Russell Banks:
Artists are a lot like gangsters. They both know that the official version, the one everyone else believes, is a lie.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


I wonder about my self--my Self--and whether she is or ever will be fully established.
Is getting older the establishment of Self?
Or merely the calcification?
I'm trying to stay fresh and open and confused (yasss Geo Saunders) but such a state can be so painful, no?
I realized that a former shrink passed away last fall, and I hadn't known. Andy was a genuinely lovely person and perceptive, kind, thoughtful listener. In one of our first sessions, I said to him, "I'm shy," and he didn't say a word, just raised one of his magnificently expressive eyebrows and smiled.
The current shrink is no less talented, and this week she probed, and the pain was exquisite. I'm still reeling.
Tomorrow is a day that I dread each year. Eleven years since my mother departed this Earth.
I miss her so.
There were good things this week, too, and I must remember them.
Drinks and giggles and intensity and hugs with a friend in town from California.
Happy hour with another dear girl. A workday visit to KEXP, where we trooped into the herbacious green room and felt like uber-squares.
Getting somewhere with a few stories, slowly, microscopically.
And new (to me) music! Erik Blood, featuring a new friend's vocals. Check it on bandcamp.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


See this movie, people: Dope
I loved it and it's not just the cold meds talking.
Straight up brilliant characters, solid acting, lots of surprises and laughs and a killer soundtrack.
Dig it.

Oh and also: I've seen Trainwreck a couple of times. I adored the first half of this movie, but once it lapsed into the uzhe, rom-com idiocy, I wanted to turn it off. Woman up, Amy Schumer. Make the movie you started to make. I liked the party girl (I know that girl-I've been that girl), and it sure looked like the party girl liked herself. She only started to hate herself when she got together with The Doctor. Saved by the D. Whatevs.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

the sound and the fury

So there's this neurological psychological something-ogical thing I've dealt with since I was a teenager.
Until recently, no one seemed to know much about it, and when I say no one, I mean researchers (OHSU), shrinks, counselors, doctors, audiologists--no one.
It's gotten more attention lately from a few celebrities and the New York Times, but no one seems to know what causes it or how to treat it. You can see, if you watch the Kelly Ripa video, how the ABC News interviewer goes from disbelief, to chuckling, to digust as Kelly tries to explain.
So the few of us that have it, have to deal with it pretty much on our own.
That sucks. Big time sucks. It's not a problem on the level of the big diseases, to be sure, but it's a daily quality of life thing. A daily challenge to sanity and equilibrium and general well-being. It makes me stay home when I want to go out. It makes me cranky and short-tempered when I want to be laid-back and relaxed.
My own shrink has thrown in the towel.
I mention it rarely, because when I do, I'm faced with disbelief or incomprehension.
How can it be that bad?
Suck it up.
You're crazy.
Anyway, this is a first step for me.
I plan to keep looking and talking and hoping. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

new muzik

So I saw Sir Mix-a-Lot at Nectar last night and I have to say he wasn't the highlight (sorry Mix) although he was fresh and I loved seeing him raise the 12 flag at the Seahawks/Panthers game last October. Fly Moon Royalty was the second opener and imma say right now they have evolved and grown over the past couple of years into a fun, funky, dare I say soulful group. The Nectar crowd was a little weird--a lady in a red lace dress wanted to fight me, the creepy-dude factor was high--but all in all it was a classic hip hop night--garage doors flung open, lots of dancing inside, plenty of room to chill out on the patio.
New music (to me) has come to my attention.
First, Jef Barbara. Who dis? I intend to find out more but for now check Jf's bandcamp and enjoi.
Also, Gangbé Brass Band du Bénin.
I'm really hoping these performers make it to the USA sometime soon.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I rediscovered Josephine Tey over the weekend. There isn't much better way to spend a Sunday morning than reading "The Singing Sands" in bed, coffee close at hand, dozing in the winter sunshine.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

206 503 206

Back from a couple days in the 503, sloshing around the wet city in search of low key hangouts and good times. The valet at the hotel shared a 10% off card at the legal weed place around the corner, which was a great start Sunday evening, along with a shot and a beer at Paddy's. There was local hip hop and cheap drinks later on at the Ash Street Saloon. The next day--restorative juice and hot tea at the Pearl Bakery. A quick peek into Powell's. Then, wandering up Martin Luther King Boulevard around noon, Billy Ray's Dive Bar loomed invitingly. (I haven't cleaned the bathrooms yet, the bartender said, but come on in.) Alberta Street was mostly shopping, but the Hilt was a good place to chill for a minute, with cushy window booths (the better to witness all the passing beards) and a lot of local taps. Grabbing a couple of fresh, yummy donuts from gloriously uncrowded Tonalli's, we hopped a bus back to town. Later was a jaunt to Rogue Brewery, a tad corporate but good beer nonetheless. Last day: the best New York bagel I've had on the left coast, at Bowery Bagels. Then a hike out Division Street, crossing a rainy bridge and passing a kaleidoscope of bright street art. Unfortunately, the restaurant that was our destination was closed for a couple of weeks, an unsmiling ginger curtly informed us. That would be an awesome thing to put on your website, I said, only half-sarcastically, but he didn't deign to reply. Up the street was their sister restaurant, where the gin and tonic was refreshing but the noodles disappointingly dry and gummy. Another bus back to town, a round of pool and PBRs at the Rialto, then drinks and a meet up with my New Orleans pal, at the very swanky Barlow before catching the last Boltbus back to town.
This video breaks down the Donald's rhetorical skills in ways I hadn't thought about. I'm no fan of DT but this makes a lot of sense, although it doesn't explain Cruz's rise, nor do I agree that DT isn't smart. Check it out, word nerds:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

shizz getting real

My city is going through its share of changes, most of them not-so-hot.
Tens of thousands of people moved here last year, my old hangouts and playgrounds are full of woo girls and brogrammers and boring, rich jabronis (sour grapes, maybe, but it feels like the truth) and beloved institutions are being savaged by developers by the week. Daily I step over the sleeping homeless--one guy camps out at the heating vent near the Mar-Queen, another by the UPS Store, and violence lurks everywhere. Last week in the ID I came across a corner store festooned with police tape (the clerk was stabbed). Around the corner, a shoving and shouting match. Three blocks up the hill from my place, a man begged the cops to shoot him (and they did). Today, an hour before I ran past, the SPU campus was on lockdown.
Should I worry?
Is it simply life in the mad city?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Earlier, I watched a clip of the President prepping for his SOTU speech tonight and realized I'm not ready for him not to be president. I've enjoyed a Prez who's unabashedly intelligent, determined to advance a liberal social agenda, and also who's surrounded by an intriguing group of strong women. This is the only president my youngest niece remembers. How cool is that! And yet, I fear who and what is to come.
Other realizations:
--I gotta share more of my writing self on social media. No way around it. I gotta.
--Football over the weekend was an emotional journey, from the criminality of the Bengals/Steelers, to the joyous disbelief of the Seahawks finish. And then the two blowout games. Boyeee the AFC is w-e-a-k.
--Damb I miss Outkast. Heard a couple of songs from The Love Below at the Viking the other night, including The Way You Move. The video is gloriously trippy.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

my seesters

My sisters are mad talented, y'all, and the holidaze proved it to me all over again.
We had a family agreement to not spend a lot of money on gifts. Everyone is broke and nobody needs anything. I made my annual batch of vanilla a la Martha Stewart (vodka + vanilla bean + time) and invested in Theo chocolate bars for all (local, fair trade, delishus).
But crikey what my seesters came up with!
A recycled-comix Trashbagg to hold my colored pencils.
Home roasted coffee beans via Sweet Marias and instructions on making cold brew.
Personalized water bottles--mine featuring Pee Wee!--and hopefully available soon on etsy.
Not to mention the cookies and candies: bourbon balls, homemade fudge, sugar cookies, Russian tea cakes, chocolate crinkles.
Now there is a sharkle lurking in the midst. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

heppy heppy

HNY 2016!
I rang it in with friends and laughs and an 80's band.
Yesterday, weary but not hungover, a cold clear day, pho and thrift shopping with the fam.
Today, writing. Edits to a draft.
And the realization that I might-slash-NEED to confront my biggest writing fear, this year. More on that soon.

bsp videos don't sleep on 'em