Japan

Last night was the first time I got homesick on my trip to Kyoto.  It was day 9 of a 24 day trip to Japan and then onward to South Korea. I was walking around somewhat bored. I had seen everything and ran out of things to do: I was Shinto and Buddhist shrined out.  I had taken a side trip to Nara and seen the giant Buddha and the largest wood structure in the world it was housed in.

In Kyoto I  went down to a water way where people were walking and picnicking next to a shallow river with heron in it.  Families and couples walked by as I sat and wrote.  It was cloudy and in the low 70’s.  My aloneness was showing.

I don’t get homesick: I went to sleep away camp for ten day stretches at the Oregon Coast when I was 10, 11 and 12.  I went to college 2700 miles from home. I can think of only two occasions when I was homesick: At Camp Cleawox when I was 12, I asked my camp counselor if I could call home to talk to my Mom.  I think it was mostly a ruse because I wasn’t having a good time and I was at that awkward age where girls get more clique-y.  The counselor got clearance from the director and I talked to my mom for five minutes in the staff break room area where campers weren’t allowed.  I can’t remember what she said but it was something along the lines of: “you’ll be home in a few days.  Relax and go have fun with your friends.  You’re at summer camp.”  I did and that was that.  It was my last summer sleep away camp.

My senior year of college was a similar situation: my last semester I wanted to get away from upstate NY because there was drama with a few friends in a clique I had had a falling out with. I spent a lot of time in a mostly empty art history building using the computer, looking out the window at the snow and cold on the ground, surfing the Internet and writing papers. I had a light class load and had a lot of time on my hands.

I wanted to go home to Oregon to start working.

Back in Kyoto at the waterway I got bored and hungry and decided to get some food at a convenience store: carrot and spinach mixed in some sort of dressing and what I thought was chocolate mousse but turned out to be more jello-y than mousse-y. For the main course I went to McDonalds and got a Big Mac.  The Big Mac was USA.  I came home and in the pink tiled kitchen of my Airbnb ditched the buns in favor of a meat and mayo and thousand island mix with some pickles and lettuce.  I ate my weird dinner and sat in the Airbnb bored and tired. I had already walked 12 miles that day and had no desire to go back out and be with tourists.  Even though I was one.

I wanted to get away from the slow moving ones that clogged up the sidewalks.  They moved slow, stopped and pointed at things and I wanted to yell at them.  I am a fast walking tourist with zero patiences: for the most part.  If I’m lost I might look at Google maps on my phone extra hard, focus and walk slowly.  But I’ll usually get out of the way and let you pass.

I’ll step to the side and not block the sidewalk.

Brandon and I text and I miss him.  Missing him and my thirteen year old pancreatic cat with arthritis has also been looming.  I go through pictures on my phone and delete 450 along with a bunch of videos to make room for more pictures on my Japan and South Korea trip.

****

At your Airbnb in Osaka it’s 6:30 am and you’re drinking coffee. You decide to take a day off from sightseeing because your head feels like it might explode if you have to navigate your way to another museum and deal with slow walking tourists.

Yesterday it was four trains from Kyoto to Osaka and dropping your stuff off at the Airbnb.  You went out to the Osaka Castle and looked around.  It was overloaded with tourists but they didn’t bother you.

You took pictures and sent them to Brandon.  You still missed him but the feeling of homesickness left you. You knew it would.  The last night in Kyoto was not great but you got through it.

You know how to get through things.

Your mom taught you how to do that.  Get through it and suck it up kid.  It’s how you have been able to get through life and travel around the world on your own.

Today you will visit the neighborhood around your Airbnb and go to local stores Asoko and Flying Tiger Copenhagen and shop.

And walk fast.

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Poetry

Memoir is the primary form I write and read in; however, what most people don’t know about me is that I started writing poetry when I was in high school.  Most of it was horrible.  I can’t really read most of it.  I’ve shied away from the medium as a whole mostly because I’ve been scared of it.  It seems so foreign to me as I’ve been writing memoir for going on 6 years.

In my work in progress I’ve incorporated some short poetic devices and used them throughout the current revision (#4) and yesterday I took a poetry class for shits and giggles.  It was a short, two hour class that my friend Claudia Savage teaches at TaborSpace in SE Portland.  The class was fun and to me non-intimidating.

Claudia had a theme: Resilience and most of the poetry we read in class and wrote was centered around this idea.  She introduced me to a form of poetry I’ve never heard of before called Pantoum.  In a nutshell, a Pantoum is repeated lines and what I would call a mixture of a poem and song.  I don’t love form poetry like sonnets or haikus; but Pantoum felt like something I could latch onto.  You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantoum

I wrote this Pantoum yesterday in the class:

Bridge

My mom always told me they wouldn’t build it unless it was safe

We would ride over a rickety bridge in the Datsun

“It’s always safe.  Don’t worry,” she said as the bridge shook.

She was a special education teacher; not an architect.

 

We would ride over a rickety bridge in the Datsun

The water under the Sellwood bridge was choppy

She was a special education teacher; not an architect.

The mom with postpartum depression threw her kids over the Sellwood bridge

 

The water under the Sellwood bridge was choppy

On the Spring water trail.  On level ground.  On my bike.  Adulthood.  I trusted myself.

The mom with postpartum depression threw her kids over the Sellwood bridge.

I didn’t want kids as an adult.  I just knew.

 

On the Spring water trail.  On level ground.  On my bike.  Adulthood.  I trusted myself.

Me on a single speed bike.  Single.  Adult.

I didn’t want kids as an adult.  I just knew.

As a ten year old.  I knew.

 

Me on a single speed bike.  Single.  Adult.

“It’s always safe.  Don’t worry,” she said as the bridge shook.

As a ten year old.  I knew.

My mom always told me they wouldn’t build it unless it was safe.

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morning

Saturday morning you drive to Olympia with your dad to pick up a Formica kitchen table you bought on eBay. After not talking for 11 years and 2 years of therapy he rides in your car for the first time. Its your first field trip together. It’s two hours of coffee, catching up and partly sunny.  

You drive fast but your dad doesn’t seem to mind your led foot. You get to Olympia and drive to the Capitol building.  He’s never been there so you park and decide to go inside. You climb a bunch of steps and there’s a tour guide giving a tour. You and your dad join the tour because you are both history nerds. 

Coffee and history are the threads. 

Sunday is like this: raining raining raining and you wonder why you live in Oregon. 38 years of rain gets old.  The night before you went to sleep at 9. Tired from the night before you fall asleep easily and wake at 7. But really it’s 6 am, dark and daylight savings time. 

Outside the car is parked in the driveway backward. Well, backward to you: the trunk faces the garage and you have to do a double take. You forgot you parked it backwards to unload the light blue table with help from your dad. 

On the drive back he fell asleep instantly. 

You aren’t so lucky. 

You can’t fall asleep at the drop of a hat. You grip the steering wheel and drive steady in the driving rain.  Rain pours and you glance over at your dad who is 66, pale skin, bald and the same ring of hair, white now, that he has had since childhood. To you he’s still 35 with the ring. Back then it was brown.  

He sleeps most of the drive back and wakes up when you are outside of Vancouver. 

“Looks like we’re almost there,” he says. 

“Yeah,” you look out the window and it’s clear in the distance: Portland. 

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Antagonistic

Sunday morning after you’ve written and sorted through a bunch of papers you hop on your bike and head to zupans. It’s a half hour bike ride and you pick up an apple fritter and almond milk cocoa coffee drink thing. Your naturopath doesn’t want you eating gluten. You do it any way. 

You head through the check out and take a few sips of the almond milk thing. And a few bites of fritter before you bike to who knows where. 

Today you don’t plan anything. You just go. 

You bike through the neighborhood close to zupans. There’s a hippy with dread locks and loose fitting tie dyed pants next to his trash bins. You take a second look and notice him scratching his balls. “Gross!” You yell at him. 

The older you get the more antagonistic you become. 

You’ve started sticking your tongue out at slow drivers or gawkers. 

You don’t care. Oregonians are so passive anyway they will never do anything, especially Portlanders. You tell yourself you need to do your part to keep Portland weird. Even though that slogan and the Portlandia tv show are starting to get on your last nerve. 

You’re getting older. 

It’s ok. 

Lots of things bug you but you usually keep it to yourself. 

Sometimes. 

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Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is like this:

Constant headache

Scratchy throat

Low energy

Trouble sleeping

Everyone thinking you are normal because you don’t display any outward signs of being sick.  People think you are making it up.  You probably think I’m making this up.

###

Going, going, going

You are a machine: boiling a dozen eggs, cutting a pink lady apple, checking your bank balance, drinking coffee, and taking your vitamins in the fifteen minutes before you leave the house.  Multi-tasking gets you high.

You lay naked on your stomach and your  massage therapist pushes and pushes and pushes on your shoulders.  Traffic zooms by on Burnside.  “You really drive yourself hard,” she says and her forearm glides along your shoulder blade.

Glued to your iPhone working, answering emails, checking Facebook, texting, answering emails, texting, checking Facebook.

###

Coffee, coffee, coffee.  You pick up a client and he comments on your giant 20 ounce trucker style coffee mug sitting on the dash.  “I drink a lot of coffee,” you tell him.  “I love that cup.”  You stop at Starbucks with him before his appointment.  You get an Americano for good measure.

###

At the end of the day you collapse on the couch on the heating pad.  Your mind is still going: “I need to write this report.  Apply to this writing conference.  Make this phone call. Check on this client.” Your brain doesn’t have an off switch but your body does.  Your eyes are unfocused, body melting into the couch, brain fuzzy.

This is adrenal fatigue.

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Abortion-Two (Part 1)

Almost fifteen years to the day you had an abortion you go to Fred Meyer in your 2016 Subaru Outback wagon and buy a pregnancy test, organic kale, lemons, coffee, and tortilla chips.

You’re late but think there’s no way you’re pregnant. You’ve been on birth control for three months. The same birth control you’ve taken on and off for years and years. You missed a pill a few weeks back but took it the next day.

You’d done that over and over and over. You hadn’t been consistent with the birth control in the past and never got pregnant. “Besides, I’m 38.  There’s no way I’m pregnant,” you think on the drive back home.

It’s Wednesday afternoon. You unload the groceries, pee on the stick, put it aside and pick up things in your cluttered house.

The one you own.

Right after the first pregnancy you picked yourself up and stopped drinking. You never wanted to go through that again. You went to AA, got a job, an apartment, wrote a manuscript, got an agent, stopped writing, rented some apartments, took some trips across the world, started your business, saved money, bought a house, and started writing again.

You scoop the cat litter, take out the trash, and almost forget about the pregnancy test.

You go into the bathroom and pick up the white stick. “Pregnant.”

You can’t believe it. But you know what to do: work, work, work and stay busy.

The next day you call Planned Parenthood and schedule an appointment for Saturday.  Two days away.  You’ll pick up the abortion pills.  They tell you they’ll have to do an ultrasound at the appointment.

Fifteen years ago with your punk rock boyfriend they didn’t make you have an ultrasound.

You feel like you might have a panic attack if they do one.  The person on the phone can’t make any guarantees about whether or not they’ll do one.

At your last pap smear your nurse practitioner asked if you wanted to take a Xanax.  You’re been anti anything most of your life.  You sucked it up and made it through the pap smear even though your knees knocked together, you stared at that spot on the ceiling and disassociated and zoned out and then she told you it was over.  You didn’t breath during the entire thing.

Your tall, skinny, Italian boyfriend of three months says he’ll go with you to Planned Parenthood.

You want him there.

You play in your mind how the appointment will go: blood test, he’ll come back after the pregnancy test and be there as your support.  You won’t have to have an ultrasound because you’ll tell them about your trauma history and they’ll understand.  You’ll get the first set of pills and take them in the office.  The next day you’ll take the second set of pills and abort.

You go to therapy and talk about the pregnancy.  You’re scared even though your work ethic will get you through this.

You know what to do.

You don’t want kids.  Neither does your boyfriend.

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Abortion-One

Abortion – One

After your first abortion in 2001 you felt not so much:

No regret

Just relief

That thing was gone.

You could go back to drinking in two weeks.

You had the leftover Vicodin to tide you over until you could drink again.

You were twenty three, glaring at the people on your bus commute into downtown Portland daily and in a boring administrative job in a big grey high rise.  You went to Planned Parenthood with your nice, but heavy set punk rock boyfriend who listened to bands like The Softies, Shins (before they got big), and the Wedding Present.

Eventually he’d form his own band after you broke up.

 

The day of the abortion your punk rock boyfriend came to your house in Lake Oswego, rubbed your back while you layed sideways on the floral futon and cramped your life away.  Your landlord, a sixty something born again Christian named Louise Continue reading

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