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What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

The single best thing that happened this past year is that we bought a house. It was kind of a toss up because so many singularly great things have happened, all at once it seems, but Mia is still eating poop and going around hiccupping ominously so she is not quite the single best.

Getting the house was important because it renewed my faith a little. I had been feeling that perhaps after all of my heartbreaking backbreaking work to be here, Portland was revealing that it had no place for me. Now I feel like regardless of my relationship with it and whether or not I live in this city, I will always be able to find a little place to still call my own. And yo, having a house is magnificent. We have a beautiful gnarled old walnut tree, a cherry tree, two plum trees, and a mystery tree. Later this month, we are getting a maple and an oak. At last my dryad toes can share the earth with a sufficient amount of tree root, and my soul will not be thirsty.

What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

I have to say that while saving for and trying to find a house to buy were extremely difficult at times, the most challenging thing that has happened this year is the ferocious pupface. Dealing with another entire, separate entity that is full of will and carrying as much baggage as her young life will allow her has stretched me past what I consider appropriate or even decent. I have sacrificed greatly. My house smells bad all the time and so I expect do I. Once recently in a movie theater I moved my arm and had a distinct whiff of our own dog. Furthermore, the only way to get a decent adult dog is to put a crapload of work into a really shitty puppydog. And I mean really shitty. See abovementioned poop eating.

What was an unexpected joy this past year?

The damn dog. It’s so awesome to have something that is good for literally nothing but bringing you joy. Everyone in my peer group globally and locally is under so much pressure to be productive all the time, choose ethically all the time, feel the pitiless crush of the fact that even with all this awareness and conscious effort that is required of us we can never do enough all the time…I think we all need as much as possible in our lives that is just for joy, to balance that out.

Also she is really damn smart and really damn cute. Both of those things also belong in the previous answer as well.

What was an unexpected obstacle?

I don’t know. Everything about everything we did?

Everything we did this year surprised us with its extra complexities and a staggering staircase of additional steps to completion we needed to take that we had not expected. I’ll tell you what was an unexpected juggernaut: with a lot of things in life, if you keep going for a bit after you feel like stopping, that shit starts working out and it’s even better than you thought it would be. My ancient self feels the need to interject that some things you still have to walk away from. But many, many things, it turns out, will yield themselves to you as you desire only after a stunning amount of effort and patience and blind nearly hopeless determination.

What is your happiest memory from the year?

I don’t know. I can’t choose. This year was polka dotted with moments that felt like a kiss straight from the mother moon.

What was your most stupid incident?

When Jason convinced Kristen and I at pub trivia that Turn Around by 3rd Eye Blind was not in fact by 3rd Eye Blind. The shame. The agony. The loss of bonus round points.

Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?

This year I’ve been meeting as many versions of past self as my memory banks have to offer. I’ve cringed for the first time over some; I’ve laughed for the first time over others.

What was your proudest moment of 2016?

I got that sonofabitch dollhouse finished and out of my life in time for it to enter someone else’s life and magick it on up.

Pick three words to describe 2016.

Laborious

Breakthrough

Rewarding

What was the best book you read this year?

Mort by Terry Pratchett, and The Storytelling Animal by J Gottschall.

What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2016?

The Arrival. It was really, really good. My mind loved it and my spirit loved it. I also really liked BFG, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Witch, and seeing Spirited Away in the theater for the first time.

What was your favorite record from 2016?

I don’t know. I started listening to more blues this year. And classical has been bobbing up in my life again with all the old, old memories of self. I have no real idea what I grew up listening to, beyond a lot of Vivaldi and Handel’s Messiah. I haven’t made much time for  classical since my escape into other musical realms. But like everything else I’ve experienced it appears that it is still lying there beneath my ribs. I may not know the name of that band, (or to be fair this concerto movement), but my body can dip and sway along to the tune without missing a note.

What was your favorite month of 2016?

December, again. I like the way the holidays always bring my little family together, and living each day of the month under the glow of the mutually agreed upon new chapter the new year promises us all. We put lights up on our new house, and these amazing sticky jelly cutouts that look like christmas trees and light up. And we made a tree out of a branch from one of our yard trees and papier mache, and it turned out super well. We went to see Spirited Away in the theater, I got a cute haircut, the dollhouse is done and gone, we had snow, and rewatched The Office.

What was the best thing you bought?

An amazing china cabinet for $70 at the new thrift store where the old Value Village used to be on 82nd. I googled, and apparently there are almost no Value Villages anymore. Whyyyy, o ye vengeful gods?

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

The dollhouse.

What was the best way you used your time this past year?

Pondering, contemplating, moving slowly. Measuring twice.

Drinking wine with my brother on Thursday nights, settling our new nest with Jason, throwing myself into my work to make the programs under my care as good as they can be, going to the dog park with Mia, checking out science talks, writing on impulse, taking mini trips to nearby far-off places, building stuff with these hands, hitting up the Boiler Room for the last time ever, taking care of that stray cat, throwing and enjoying a rockin house chilling, pub trivia, going to poetry reading(s?), going to see houses. Some of the best fun I had in 2016 was going out every weekend and some weekdays even to see selling houses. We have been all over the city. And to Gresham, and to Oregon City, I briefly even entertained the notion of getting off my east horse and we looked at Beaverton for an open minded afternoon. We saw so many types of land, so many types of houses, so many types of treasure, so many types of trouble. I got to know this city in a far more intimate way than I ever had before, since I’ve never been the hugest on house parties.

What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

Sad woman, take it slow; all we need is just a little patience. Some things, apparently a crap ton of the very nicest things in fact, only come to you after you’ve put a lot of time in. Maybe not even a whole lot of work. For some things, just a whole lot of waiting.

What is something you did this year that you think you will remember for the rest of your life?

I saw a house listed online and I knew right away that I was going to love it, and then I did, and then I got it and now it’s mine. I walked around barefoot in my backyard on a brilliantly sunny day too excited to go in and find my sunglasses, on the phone call from OSU letting me know I was accepted into the program. I walked into petsmart on an adoption day and as soon as I stepped up to the cage a puppy ran up to me and tried to jump up at me (a sign of behaviors to come) and I decided that our search for a dog was going to be very short.

What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?

I learned how to thread my serger in like seventy seconds.

If you could change one thing that happened this year, what would it be?

I would have had a magical fairy that lived in my house and made me food whenever I wanted. God damn it do I hate making food. I am finally just accepting that I hate making food, and trying to find ways to make it easy or fun for myself. Just like I am six.

What are the three most important things you learned this year?

I am very accepting of what life sends my way; I need to stay on my toes to make sure that I am getting what I really want and need, and not just taking what I can get and making it work for me somehow.

We as a species crave order so dearly because we are always just a hair’s breadth away from total disorder.

Svalbard is a real place.

What is something that was hard for you at the start of the year, but is easy now?

Using a hacksaw.

In what area do you feel you made your biggest improvements?

In that very small (for me) area associated with knowing that something is going to require a lot of effort and deal you no slack for awhile, but that if you power through it and bring your best in every instance, it will be worth it even more than you can know at the start.

Knowing what you know now, if you could write a letter to yourself that would travel back in time so that you would receive it at the start of the year, what advice would you give yourself?

Holy shit this is going to be a super awesome year. You will have a lot of hard times and spend a lot of the time sad or mad or dead tired, but when you’re at the end of the long pile of rock you’ve shouldered your way through looking back, it is going to blow your mind how far you’ve come. Also, there are a lot of sweet parties, and your new dog and house are rad, and your husband is going to get even cooler and funnier. Wingstop!

What was the nicest thing someone has done for you this year?

My mom and Pook came all the way out from Newberg on my birthday while I was away, and decorated my house. It was a total surprise, it made me feel so special, and the lawn flamingoes, who experienced a lot of the streamer and confetti action, were very jazzed up.

How many different states / provinces did you travel to in 2016?

We went to Denver for Jeremy’s wedding, and I got to see a pelican in real life, skimming low across a sunset sky to dip into a lake. I also played digital golf for the first time and blew really hard at it. Then we went to Oakland just to hang out in some California sunshine, and then it rained the whole time we were there. We went to see my first NFL game, Chiefs at Raiders, and experienced plastic rain ponchos and Raiders fans for the first time.

What did you do last year that you’d never done before?

Learned how to cook gourd. Wrote a poem. Learned how to use spray paint properly. Made a hat.

What would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?

More communion with the spirits.

What date from last year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

July 27th! Or something like that! I guess I’m not so much with the actual etching of dates and such. Because at long last everything was done and we had signed seven billion papers, and we were going to get our keys. Humorous item: I have apparently grown so lazy in the years since I last got my drivers license (2012 I think) that my signature has changed significantly enough that the escrow officer had to ask me to please look at the signature on my ID and try to copy it while signing house documents. How did younger me bother to lift the pen so many times? I had so much energy.

Where did most of your money go?

Saving for the house, saving to fix my car, inspection fees and such, gorgeous little things for the house, blue apron (briefly), dollhouse crap.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Mia!

What song will always remind you of last year?

Turn Around by 3rd Eye Blind, because of that aforementioned pub trivia incident.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?…thinner or fatter?…richer or poorer?

I am happier! I am fatter! I am richer!

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Work out.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Watch Gilmore Girls.

What did you do on your birthday?

On my birthday I went to Sayler’s and had an outstanding and massive steak dinner with a few friends, and then went to Eagle Eye and sang karaoke. It was super last minute and lowkey and unplanned, which felt really good after the large preplanned events of birthdays recent. It was exciting spending my birthday exploring new neighborhood haunts.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Did I not already talk about the fairy that lives in my house and makes me food whenever I want?

How would you describe your personal fashion concept for last year?

This year I moved to East Portland, and at this the end of the year I can tell already that my fashion senses are being influenced. Punky gothy crap is trickling back in, all stompy of boot and striped of stocking. I’m calling it ghetto witch.

What kept you sane?

Before we bought the house, nothing. We were not sane. We were animals, attempting to beat out other members of our species in a brutal competition for a habitat. After we bought the house, almost anything! Reading new books, reading old books, going for walks, going to pub trivia, having beers with special folks, having beers with folks that have now been around so long and so well that it would be error to call them special – they are in fact more of an additional appendage, yelling at the stupid politics having tv with Jason, debating stupid politics with Jason, yoga, making stuff.

What political issue stirred you the most?

NDAPL.

If you met yourself for the first time this year would you strike up a friendship?

Certainly. I think it would have been a quieter friendship than in years past. A friend to share and sustain the still and mossy parts of the soul is of more current interest than the raucous joy spree camaraderie.

Did you spend any time listening to yourself?

Yes.

What did you say?

I said oh my god I guess we might as well get it done now. I said oh my god I guess we might as well do it right the first time. I said oh my god I can’t believe how well that turned out.

What did you do over the summer?

Bought a house, threw a party, and spent a staggering amount of time unpacking.

What news story sticks in your mind the most from 2016?

Prince died.

What things do you appreciate most in your life at the moment?

A roof over my head, wall heaters, space heaters, blankets, thick socks…it is freakin cold. I also appreciate the foresight it took to stock the house with candles, hot chocolate, and sparkling cider.

Where were you when 2016 began?

We went to see a Helio Sequence show at the new venue, crap, what is it called. It is that school they renovated on 12th & Stark. Revolution Hall! It was great, and very fun, but I can barely remember it, it has been so long.

What are your plans for 2017?

I am going to go back to school, fix up my backyard, put in a garden, travel a bit, and generally have an all around good time.

Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions of 2016?

Actually, yes I did! I went like there was no tomorrow. I got what I needed. Except those new amazing rocks.

Do you have (a) New Year’s Resolution(s) for 2017?

This year, I am beginning to be ashamed of my ongoing laziness with regard to my health. Year after year goes by and I am still eating cheese and crackers and popcorn as a rule and meals as an exception; still drinking enough sometimes to get violently horrid hangovers; and still as lazy about the exercise as a pudding filled water balloon. I have never been proud of it but I am starting to be sick of it also. So I guess my actual resolution is to resemble a pudding filled water balloon a bit less.

Also I want to read a lot of books, teach Mia to heel, put in a garden, run through my mending box, make another hat, leave the country, floss more, clean the bathtub, and get more amazing rocks.

Create a phrase or statement to take into 2017.

In omnia paratus.

fabulous funk only

January 2, 2017

I plan on finding these exhortations continuously useful in the coming year. Check it out! It’s like zodiac power rangers homework.

power_rangers_zodiac_force_by_doctorwhoone-d6fuy6b

PS. I do not really know what this picture is from. I just lucked out on a lazy google image search whim.

where the light bends

January 2, 2017

December

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opus aft agley

December 30, 2016

Somewhere approximately two years ago I decided to build a dollhouse. Despite never having built a dollhouse I was characteristically confident in my ability to turn one out all cute and shiny with a minimum of effort in a dazzlingly short amount of time. Of course I didn’t know when I started that the word dazzlingly belonged in the previous sentence, because as of yet I had no inkling of how god damned hard it is to build a dollhouse, and how many years it would actually take me.

The answer is two, I am being dramatic, it is the very lowest amount of years that can count as a plural, but you do get the idea. Originally I was like it’s August or something, I’ll build a dollhouse to donate this Christmas. And then the years went by.

For awhile there it was touch and go whether I would be finished with it in time for this Christmas, either. Through a finely blended mashup of neighborly assistance and sheer dumb luck, some of its paint still slightly tacky, it left on Christmas morning. Along with three dolls of the respective bed sizes and a pack of chalk, it went to a family who had just that weekend taken in two unexpected foster sisters, and hadn’t really had time to put anything much in the way of gifts for them together. It really worked out perfectly. I suspect some yuletide magic meddled.

And now at long last the house is done and gone. It has damaged me both body and soul on numerous occasions, and much of the time I cursed its existence. However it is also one of the coolest things I have ever done. It was my gateway to a whole new world of tools and skills. It is a monument to what happens when I don’t give up.

 

Chalkboard Haus*

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vase

table

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kitchen

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bath

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………………….

little darling things I especially love

artwork

fireplace

dresser

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small-bed

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bunk

snug

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kitchen-lite

I got the plans for it here

The kitchen and bathroom furniture were made by Toys by John

The bedding and house plants were made by Nitya Brorson

All the house artwork is by Jacek Yerka

*Haus is the name my sister wrote in sharpie across the front of her playhouse when she was little, because she didn’t know how to spell it and was sounding it out. Everyone was very impressed with her for writing in German, and I was always tickled by intersections in language phonics. For some reason I thought of that haus when I was creating this dollhouse, and it just stuck. Plus the darn thing is a chalkboard on the back. How cool is that?

counting quoth

December 20, 2016

New tics acquired as puppy owner:

Pull into parking lot and see crows eating something.

Look to see what crows are eating; note that it is plastic.

Take plastic away from crows so they don’t choke on it.

still make it rain

December 19, 2016

I grew up in Portland. I grew up poor. Times were good but they were also often tough, and they unfolded in a climate much less harsh than the one in Portland right now. Christmas is always a bittersweet time for poor families. There is the magic to be enjoyed, but there is also this terrible eye stinging stress in hoping to make it as magical as possible, at least as magical as the kid across the street’s. Every so often we would have a Christmas where another family or an organization helped us out. We would get surprise gifts from strangers we never met, and it would be amazing. Things we wouldn’t have thought to ask or wish for were unwrapped, and there was this sense of a broader experience, of touching someone else’s soul in shadowland, adding a special glow of novelty.

It is a flat truth to say that one of these gifts changed my life. If I had not received a book I never would had read if someone hadn’t given it to me, I would not be the person I am today. All my life I had been the wrong shape for any paradigm I had encountered, regardless of my attempts to squeeze into them; suddenly in one trilogy I found the garden gate to the path that brought me here. This path never squeezed me. It stretched the shit out of me, I am as big as the sky when I used to be just as small as an acorn, or a thimble. It also sucked, I often felt like the butter over too much toast, or that one really funny villain on that only Dr Who episode I’ve ever seen, who is basically just some skin stretched in a frame yelling for moisturiser. But from then to now, my life has been different. My mind has been different. All because of a book.

This is why you can never really know the impact of an action, even after it has long since lost its relevance to you. Whoever donated that book to me has no idea how they altered the course of my life for the best, but I imagine to myself that they had an inkling. I imagine to myself that they selected everything they donated carefully, binding up in each item their hopes for joy and for the kind of world they wanted to see.

Every Christmas I try to be like them. I will be happy just as long as someone else gets joy, but I also hope that I could help someone out there the way I was helped by the kindness of others.

This year (and technically last year but hey sometimes apparently I take a really long time to finish things) I have been working (mostly at the last minute) on a dollhouse. One day I just decided that I wanted a dollhouse, I had always wanted a dollhouse, and I wanted to build this dollhouse. In interest of not becoming a crazy lady with a dollhouse hobby (I am not slamming the miniatures hobbyist; but I personally have so many other crazy lady traits layered up like so much fordite that I cannot afford to go slapping other ones on willy nilly) I decided to donate it when I was finished with it. In all its glorious glory.

This is literally all I thought about it, until after MUCH ANGST (where is the glorious glory?! Always at the end of a rainbow at the bottom of another paint can) the end is finally beginning to draw near. This shit is almost done, yo.

I am (naturally) running super close to the wire for still catching Christmas 2016; but I am hoping to be somebody’s little last minute Christmas miracle. I am going to list it on Nextdoor and Rooster. If anyone knows of any other ways to list it locally, let me know!

haus

We’re at a lot of low points in history right now. Like as a country, as a species, as planet dwellers. It’s easy to lose hope in existence and begin planning a life where you just smoke a lot of weed and enjoy a more satisfying flash in the pan on some mmo that lets you have cats and change your hair color.

The thing about the mmo is that it lets you have a pretty great time right now. The cats, the purple hair that transitions effortlessly into white, maybe some really sweet bow staff skills…

The thing about real life on earth is that even those of us that are totally having a pretty great time right now are withering inside every day because we know that many people very much are not, and also that shit tons of important and beautiful things are dying off all over our globe.

And it really does suck, because the spirit’s desire is to fly off the handle and go over the waterfall and show up at the front line with eyes and internal fire ablaze; and because the heart’s burden is to trudge softly through one’s everyday life tending all that is under one’s care. This constant struggle between meeting at the melee out spearhead and trying to hold together the slit belly of one’s own community causes the head to go: pop.

And then the contemplation of the mmo lifestyle.

However.

We all know way too much about evolution now to drop off the face and into the ether for too long. We all know that the way things are is because of the way things have adapted to the way things were. It’s time to consider what drove that adaptation. What caused the cat to meow; what caused the thumb to oppose.

Will.

Will has driven every transformation ever except the ones that happened by sheer dumb luck. Will to live, will to create, will to get that fucken human to give you food.

Will is what’s going to drive my movement. What’s going to power my change is the slow roll of metamorphosis that happens when personal evolution and force of conviction refuse to be satisfied with the status quo. I can set my mind and set my teeth and reach out for others to help or be helped, and I can make my will known. At the very least in a Horton Hears a Who sort of way.

And I can kind of just stop expecting that evolution could hurry its damn self up for me so I can have the kind of life I want when I think about how the world should be. The fact that I can envision it is what counts. I may never sit under those trees but what puts them there is my make so. Evolution is not so interested in what I would like right now. Evolution has its own timetable. Evolution is for the future. Evolution is too busy figuring out why humans don’t get a third set of teeth at around forty. Hopefully.

This means my movement is up to me. I’ve got to put the real work into my own life to make sure I’m having the kind of existence that encourages growth in the directions I want. I have to show up whenever I can and be counted for my causes. I’ve got to make sure that nobody gets their human, animal, or plant rights stomped on when I can do anything about it. Like everyone else before me I have to grow my own change.

And I’ve got to put up with everyone who doesn’t see things the same way I do, because this change shit is slow. A belief system is the root of a person. Roots go deep and move at a crawl. You can’t alter their path quickly without killing the tree.

The good thing is that the hopelessness belongs to the now. Hope is always the food of the future. If I can keep my view wide enough I can see that even the worst of what’s going on right now will be just a part of the story of the victory of love that we are all creating together and always have been creating. Even if we all go out in a great ball of fire that is going to be one different ball of fire than when it first spun into existence. The going may be slow and the chunks axed and branches lost may be at times unbearably many, but the love tree is still getting her toes dug in and spreading them out underneath all this unrest.

-the roots are down there riotous

rumi