there are lovely things to be shared here, friends. but I can't pretend. that ferguson isn't happening. that dr. huxtable didn't break my heart. that black friday isn't an ugly, ugly thing. that a personal family crisis hasn't turned my own life upside down since saturday afternoon. I'm at a loss. I'm losing, we're losing, we're all losing.
I don't believe there isn't still room for the lovely things, that the sharing isn't still important. undeniably, it is (now more than ever) but to pretend the hard things don't exist, the things that break us, render us speechless, hopeless, to go on as if nothing has happened, is happening, will happen, well, I just can't do it.
tomorrow, I'll lose myself in the rituals of the day. I'll peel the potatoes, cook the cranberries til they quietly pop. toss the green salad and brown the rolls. I'll set the thanksgiving table for the first time in this new house and I will not forget to be thankful. but I will also remember. just how much work is left to do.
21 November 2014
or, the beginnings of a love letter.
1. the light on yamhill and 10th around magic hour
2. the smell of franz bread baking near NE 11th
3. the used car lot balloons that line 82nd
4. the long, tall aisles of powell's books
5. annie's happy, happy windows
6. and those sunshine yellow booths
7. lippman's bins full of bouncy balls
8. smut's bins full of instant relatives
9. grilled cheese sandwiches eaten on double decker buses
10. cherry snow cones eaten in rose gardens
11. the sound of passing streetcars
12. the smell of coffee everywhere
13. the big, beautiful downtown library
14. the view from my favorite parking deck
15. the occasional awkwardly awkward tall bike
16. the green, green moss that covers everything
17. bipartisan's sour cherry pie
18. little big burger's truffle fries
19. old cameras stacked ramshackle in citizen's windows
20. jumbles of color hung on rerun's racks
21. those five words in neon orange
22. that big loser in the sky
23. the light in the lobby of the ace
24. the secret drawers filled with secret papers
25. the cardboard city on the ceiling of tender loving empire
26. the organ music at the old oaks park roller rink
27. the red and yellow spiral slide at glenhaven park
28. the rainbow of flags that hang above SE third
29. the hidden gem that is the cameo
30. the hidden treasure that is ed's house of gems
31. a thousand different food carts
32. a window full of light bulbs
33. cargo's big red wooden doors
34. lloyd center's tiny spinning ice skaters
35. dance class up on the fourth floor
36. bus number twelve down sandy boulevard
37. chin's perfect neon
38. le happy's perfect yellow
39. saturday morning at the hollywood farmer's market
40. saturday night at the hollywood theatre
41. pambiche's empanadas and sugar cane lemonade
42. mcmenamin's magic saltwater soaking pools
43. my favorite building (the color block building)
44. my favorite thrift store (the secret one)
45. the feel of the downtown train station
46. the daily view from the sacramento ridge
47. every portland bridge, every single one
48. every portland thing, every last one
19 November 2014
this is the jar of magical thinking. aka, the jar that sits on the blue wooden table and holds scraps of paper with ava's and ezra's words scrawled on them. aka, words I want to remember.
I first read about the jar of magical thinking back in 2008 and besides the fact that it was originally inspired by joan didion, here's what I love about it: it's an old spaghetti sauce jar, that's it. and the papers used are whatever is available, whatever is currently within reach-- backs of envelopes, leftover notebook paper, index cards, bits of paper bags, old receipts, anything.
this means I never hesitate to scribble words down, never. I never wonder if the paper is pretty enough or my handwriting is pretty enough. this means the whole thing is so simple it's nearly impossible to screw up. and you know what? six years later and I'm still doing it. I'm still stuffing that little jar full of magic bits. I'll stuff it till I can't stuff it anymore, till there are so many scraps of paper in that old jar it practically hums and hovers from all the magical thinking.
I never finished the baby books, probably never will. and I'm a thousand years behind with all the photo albums, but this. this I can do. and will continue to do until I can't anymore. or until they run out of magical thinkings, which I hope is never.
17 November 2014
16 November 2014
14 November 2014
behold: the last photobooth strips taken in that late, great city of ours. on our last day, our very last hour in portland, oregon. when I saw that the booth at the ace was working that day, I almost fell to my knees with gratitude.
but here's the thing. I've lost them. somewhere along the way, they vanished. in the midst of all the traveling, the packing and unpacking, the getting in and out of the car (and in and out and then in and out again), and then in and out of motel room after motel room and then all the unpacking of the suitcases once we arrived here in atlanta, and the unpacking of all the boxes, and the shifting around of a hundred million things, is it really any wonder?
still, I'm heartbroken. I never lose things like this. I've turned the house upside down but, nothing. nothing but this measly little iphone image. I can't help but wonder, will someone eventually find them? somewhere down the road? and wonder who we are? wonder what our story is? will we turn up at the fleamarket fifty years from now? will we be someone's fleamarket find? one can only hope. you know, a girl can dream.
13 November 2014
on day two and three (of the big cross country road trip), we hit the 101. highway of all coastal highways, charmer of road trip takers everywhere. there were trees, lots of trees, some of them, fallen. nothing to do but climb up inside and peek out. we wondered, is there anything better than a magnificent, monolithic root system? it was decided, there is not. somewhere outside crescent city, we said our goodbyes to the pacific ocean. breathed in that dense, salty pacific air one last time, promised to return. elk meadows were stumbled onto and the spectacular avenue of the giants traversed, both experiences that only confirmed my sincere belief in the existence of a brilliant, loving God. experiences that left me feeling infinitely humble, endlessly small. and well, wholly alive.
other things: a few large trees were driven through and the boots of paul bunyan climbed up on. he talks to people, you know. there's proof, should you need it. initials were carved into gargantuan tree trunks (thus, souvenir pocket knife collections put to good use). houses made from one log were visited, as were places claiming to defy gravity, as were eternal treehouses, as were many, many gift shops. urges to buy large wooden clocks were miraculously resisted. children were made to pose in abnormally large wooden shoes. a night was spent at the endlessly charming madrona motor court. well, charming til around midnight, when the toilet overflowed and we found ourselves wading through the kind of water you never want to find yourself wading through. lesson learned: pretty much everything about a 1940s roadside motor inn is charming except for the plumbing. still, I loved that little place, loved it to pieces, midnight raw sewage and all. I wouldn't trade our night there for anything.
by the time we drove through our third (and final) tree, we were all off schedule. this will not come as a surprise to those who know us well and would be a running theme throughout the trip. but early on, we decided we didn't care. and as we drove out of the last of the redwoods and down that last stretch of the 101, further away from our beloved portland, oregon, I loosened my grip on the schedule. I felt my resolve soften. about an hour outside of san francisco, the sky turned a fiery, incandescent pink. as it turned out, we were right on time.
11 November 2014
maybe you're tired of hearing about and/or seeing engineer prints, I don't know. they're all over the internet, have been for years. but that doesn't really change how I feel about the one I recently (finally) had made of a favorite photograph of my mom. when I unrolled the finished product, I wanted to cry. my mom in amsterdam in the early sixties, fresh out of college. those penny loafers, that camera case. the flip of her hair, the look on her face. the details on the sleeve of her dress, the details in the background, bits and pieces of a nineteen-sixty-something amsterdam. and my mom.
like I said, new favorite thing. favorite of all my favorite things. and I'll tell you, that's saying a lot.
10 November 2014
after crater lake and the last of oregon and the first of california and the weaving and winding down roads that snaked through the beginning of the redwoods, this. the spectacular curly redwood lodge in crescent city, california. it could not have been more perfect, not even if it tried. when I say it was a little like stepping back in time, I am not kidding around. people say that sometimes but I don't know if they really know what they're talking about. anyway. the second my dear friend shana recommended it, I knew that's where we'd spend our first real night on the road.
and when I read that it had first opened in 1957 and had been built from a single (presumably enormous) curly redwood tree I thought, yes. yes, this is our place. and it was, for the sixteen hours we occupied it. oh, I don't think the kids really cared one way or the other (okay maybe ava did a little) but it was really as if we'd stumbled back into something like june of 1963. the chairs, the lamps, the giant rooms (built to accommodate luggage from a different era, no doubt), everything: perfect. and when we turned on the tv and flipped through the channels, the only really watchable thing we could find was an old cary grant movie which is when I thought, hey. maybe we just blow off the rest of this crazy trip and move in here at the curly redwood. the ocean is just across the street, what more do we need? maybe this is how it plays out for us.
but then around midnight, there was projectile vomiting (ezra+winding roads+ spicy cheetos) and the fatigue of the day had officially set in. and exhausted as I was, the thought of long, glorious stretches of the 101, a few days in san francisco and palm springs, days and days along route 66, the very thought had me swimming in giddy. sixteen hours at the curly redwood lodge would have to do. sixteen hours would have to suffice.