Friday, July 23, 2010


Great stories. Well told. Just discovered.

Ed Gavagan
Drowning on Sullivan Street

Jeffery Rudell
Under the Influence

Jon Levin
Elevator ER

Cindy Chupack
'Til Death or Homosexuality Do Us Part

Alan Rabinowitz
Man and Beast

Rudy Rush
Harlem Cowboy
We don't hear enough well-told stories. These are fantastic.

P.S. My friend Aaron often talks about how people want to tell their stories. Or is it that they need to tell their stories? I don't know. I am self-conscious about how much I enjoy telling my stories because I don't always enjoy listening to other people's stories. It is comforting to know that I enjoy listening to other people's stories when, godhelpme, they know how to tell them well.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

heavy things and happy things

Our vacation recuperation day started out promising. I spent most of the morning getting my proverbial ducks in a row. Wrapped a present for my nephew, made calls to verify items I needed to purchase and store hours. I put away travel stuff and took something out of the freezer for dinner. I puttered.

Then, the skies started to darken and that lit the fire under my puttering ass. There was drywall to be bought and unlike wood or fabric, drywall does not reconstitute well once it's been soaked. It turns into, what we call in economics, a sunk cost.

We hopped into that butch and beautiful Tundra and headed over to the place...where in fairly short order, 14 sheets of 4'x10' 1/2" drywall was fork-lifted into the truck bed. When we finally got home (25mph at a time—I know, I know, St. Barbara's caution is all wisdom and common sense) we unloaded the sheets onto the porch just as the rain began to fall. Can I get a hallelujah?

Drywall sheets are often paper "bundled" in sets of two. This keeps the good sides facing each other for protection. So, we maneuvered them into the house two at a time. Just like Noah. We are strong women (St. B is, admittedly, taller and stronger than me...but I like to think I carry my own weight (...that's funny, I rarely stumble upon self-referencing fat jokes)) but this extra-long sheet rock is dense. Of course, I had to look it up: each 4'x10' sheet weighs 64lbs. So we moved 128lbs every time we carried a pair into the house. Seven times.

I figured that was all the hard labor I could expect to deal with in one day. Unfortunately Barbara pulled something in her ribs/back and began to experience pleurisy-type pain, so she was off-duty for the duration. Thank Buddha we were done.

My shirt was covered with sweat (Oh, say ewww, if you must. Sweat is the natural antidote to spontaneous combustion, thank you very much) so I cleaned up and put on a fresh one. We headed back out to finish our errands. And there on the front passenger side was a very flat truck tire. When we picked up the drywall, we got a large nail in our tire for free. Sheeyit.

Now Barbara was out of commission, and much as she protested, this job was for me. I've changed plenty of car tires but truck tires are...well, they're fucking big. And unwieldy. I'll spare you the details. Well, most of them anyway. You have to lower the spare down from under the truck with this ridiculous rigged crank the manufacturer provides. Once it's on the ground, you have to get under there (did I mention it was raining intermittently?) and drag that bad boy out.

To get the flat tire off, you have to put the wrench on one lug nut and stand on the other end of the wrench and bounce carefully, until the tightened nut breaks free, without you losing your balance. Repeat 5 times. Finally, you set up the piece-of-shit jack and try like hell to figure out from the mystery diagram where to set it up so you don't break your truck by setting up under a weak joint. All this while wiping the humidity, grease and dirt off your glasses so you can see enough to kill the mosquitoes draining your blood. Did I mention I just changed my shirt?

ANYHOO...the first round with the jack provided us with a heart-stopping slip. As in, a few thousand pounds of truck starting to slip off a jack the diameter of a cheap flashlight. Cranked the thing all the way back down, repositioned, slipped some wood under it for stability and started over. The best news? The spare was not flat!

I put on the spare, hauled the dead tire and it's hole-making spike into the truck bed. Then, I went inside and scoured the incredible amount of filth I'd accumulated off of we could head to the tire store. Could they patch it? My emotional brain said sure, my frontal lobe said, are you fucking kidding? You've had these tires for 9 years! I threw a tarp over my frontal lobe...

...which was mercilessly yanked off at the tire place as the cute little butch girl measured (in microns, I believe) what little was left on my tread. On all the tires. I know. I know. It was time. Jesus. Four new tires the day after coming back from vacation. Like a vacation stinger.

There you have it. My post vacation blues got pushed out of the way for the crisis-at-hand. This is not unlike the second hammer thwack on your thumb erasing the pain from that first misguided hit.

In spite of all of this, I am happy to be home and grateful for a wonderful vacation. What's more, I've got the happiest event to anticipate and erase these little bumps in the road: my sweet, wonderful daughter is moving back to Houston! She'll be here in the next 2 weeks and I can't wait to kiss her face and give her one of those pick-up hugs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

writing, woodworking, wishing

Ernest Hemingway about his writing:

I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, 'Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'

—Ernest Hemingway, quoted on today's Writer's Almanac

This for me and for my dear Eric.

I've also been reading, in between the house-fixing. And traveling. And breaking bread with my beloved family and friends. I can't write about that now because as I left my son yesterday at the Portland airport, I realized that the only thing I could concentrate on to prevent the tears I'd like to keep so neatly contained was ripping wood on my table saw. Thinking about that methodical and dangerous process edges out the grief. Funny that.

But real grief is losing those you love...this to keep perspective.

I miss him. Dearly. But seeing him again is as dependable as my reality. I will wake tomorrow, in all likelihood, and I will embrace my son and laugh with him again some day, as well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

all good things

I wrote to a friend:

The last full day of vacation tempts some people to begin mourning the inevitable end. But vacation time is too short to waste a single minute whining about going back to one's "regular" life. Besides, one should love great swaths of one's "regular" life and not hate to return to it.
But still. I have waited to see my firstborn again these 18 months and am hard-pressed to keep every seam of my resolve sealed against sorrow. It leaks in a bit.

In my inner dictionary, his face illustrates the definition of joy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

if it's friday this must be eugene

There are few things more wonderful than being transported from a hot, muggy Houston summer into a lovely, temperate Eugene summer.

But one of those things is getting to spend time with my boy. I am delighted to be here.

Monday, July 05, 2010

not quite a collage of vocabulary mishaps

A client once asked me to take a bunch of photos and make a camouflage out of them. I tried to explain that I was so good at what I did that she wouldn't be able to see anything when I was done.

Not three months later another client asked me to make a decoupage of several pictures.

I am intrigued by a collage of d├ęcolletage, however.