Monday, January 28, 2008

How 'bout I cut the crusts off for you?

Those of you who used to work with me at Sisters know how much I rely on lists. And preparing for this trip is certainly no exception. This is my "countdown" list - and actually, since I took this picture yesterday afternoon, I've scratched a few more things off of it.

But, I am whooped boys and girls. I'm sitting here kind of dazed. I just finished my last session with Regina - we'll still see each other over the week, 'cause I'm not done at the gym; and I'm taking her out for lunch on Thursday, so I didn't have to say goodbye just yet.
I did have a little meltdown this morning though and found myself getting all weepy as I was walking home from Sisters. It kind of came up out of nowhere, but it's not surprising. I called Joan, who was wonderful as always, and helped talk me down off that ledge. It's just leaving stuff - grieving I suppose.

I wanted to acknowledge the little one who was acting up; so I marched on home (literally) and made myself a PB and J. Delish (I haven't had one of those in who knows how long); I even cut it into quarters.
Then I went to Goodwill and found the perfect Merino Wool dark blue sweater to finish my hiking ensemble.
All better now.
Except I probably need a nap.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

bittersweet symphony

Completely unbidden, my mind drifted into melancholy this afternoon. There I was, tooling around, taking care of business at Next Adventure when I came across Them.
I run into this couple from time to time. The first time I saw them, it's probably been 4 years now, they were slow dancing at Holocene - completely unaware of anything else in the room except each other. It was very romantic. They're still together, and that's romantic too. One of the women in this couple makes my heart stop every time, god....and I think....damn!
And that 'damn' can mean so many things...I won't go into it - you know what I'm talking about.

I was at Bolt today, buying pillow stuffing and ran into Gina, who owns the shop (and looking beautifully pregnant, I might add). She asked me what I was up to and I told her; and I pretty much get the same reaction from everyone who finds out what I'm doing - there's this excitement for me, a little envy and they look forward to "living vicariously" through this journey with me. Which is all very good and sweet.
And it's funny what that brings out in me - today I'm tired of moving my shit around and a little frantic about getting everything done - so I'm a little less than excited myself. There's definitely a feeling of "what the hell are you doing!"
And then I saw this couple and I thought, man, if I had this -- I wouldn't have to be traipsing across the countryside to settle the romantic in me, 'cause it would be here already. Grass is always greener right? People say, "yeah, but if you had that - you wouldn't get to do this amazing thing. So true - and trust me, I'm not belittling my privilege or my fortune in getting to do this - but there are times...
And then I was cruising through Old Town, coming from REI, and I saw some of my former customers - still tethered to that scene - and this song came on the radio. It's a song I used to drive my bartender crazy with at The Shanty. I'd play it over and over again, while I smoked and drank pint after pint of Sierra Nevada and get deeper into my little pity party of the day. And as I'm driving over the Burnside Bridge back to the Eastside I thought - god, look where you have come from.
It's gonna be fine and I know that.
And she'll show up one of these days.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"pretty impressive" (if I says so myself)

You know, I'd be the first to say I don't have a huge cache of skills at hand - but there are a few things I've been able to tuck in my belt over the years.
For instance:
I do pretty well with a softball bat.
I can, without much fuss, organize and prepare a menu for 50-500 people.
I shoot a decent game of pool.
And damn if I don't know how to pack a storage unit.

I don't know that I'm preternaturally good at it. I think, as with many talents, these types of skills are born of necessity. Yes, I'm a packrat and I move around a lot, so there's that. But I think I really learned how to do this sort of thing through my work as a caterer and having to pack my truck with boxes of food.
When I worked as the kitchen coordinator down in Mendocino with the science camp, I had to drive out and get the order for the week's menu. It was a long drive and the whole time = money thing really played there. I didn't want to have to endure the dreaded "second trip," so I learned how to pack my truck with the tightness and efficiency of a Rubik's cube. And then of course during my 4 years at Sisters, I was in charge of picking up the Food Bank order at least a couple of times a month.
But I do have to give credit where it's due. Even the most skilled packer (me) wouldn't be able to rock a 5x5x8 storage unit this well without the invention of the stout and sturdy milk crate. So here's a shout out to the makers of these wonders, and for how readily they have fallen into my hands. Bless you milk crate people, I salute you for your wisdom and generosity; and for the ease in which I was able to box and stack my worldy goods away.
There it is - my life in a plywood box. Be well.

bit by little bit

My buddy Sam came by this morning to help me with the painful final phase of my preparations and I am sooo grateful for her help. Sam and I have had weekend morning breakfast dates for awhile now, one of the things I will dearly miss!

We had our standard fare of chicken miso and then she retired to lounge mode while I sat on the floor and held up items for her inspection ("no", "yes", "absolutely not").
Sam has a lot of experience with multi-day backcountry excursions so her opinion was invaluable as I tried to determine what stuff I'm taking with me ("nik, you don't need to take scotch tape. Really. Or those scissors, put them in the 'no' pile right now.") We actually got a lot done - even to figuring out my clothing situation - so I'm feeling very well set . With so little time left in town I'm happy that I can spend my final week just futzing and get in a few last minute visits.
It's weird to think that by this time next week I won't be in this room anymore (Debbie moves in on Thursday). I'll either be crashing here or at gwen's - maybe a little of both.
Egads guys!

Friday, January 25, 2008


I'm tired today. I got up early and started packing. Kate came over this morning and sat with me while I moved piles around - it's always so much more helpful when you've got someone to say, "don't pack that," it's especially helpful for me. Kate interrupted my packing a ream of scrap paper. It's in the recycling bin now. Thanks Kate!
Sorry for the poor quality of the photo - I took this in the late afternoon light - yesterday Henry said it was kind of funny that I was obviously moving things out, and yet nothing really seemed to change in my room. And then gwen made the mistake of peeking in and saying, "wow - you still have a lot to do." But, noticing the snap in my voice and deep furrowing of my brow, she
changed her statement to, "well, you know where your at."
I'm in flotsam mode for sure - what the hell to do with that half burnt candle - ugh, makes me crazy. Anyway.
Had my next to last session with Regina today - how sad! I'm not feeling so up to snuff either, so we worked abs and arms, she laid off the legs 'cause I just didn't have it (hey, but don't think she was a total pussycat - she's got a reputation to consider) We have one more session on Monday and that'll be that.
It's all entered the land of the surreal now - just little things that come up -- you know, I was in the store today and I was thinking...I shouldn't buy that, 'cause I'm not gonna be here long enough to finish it. That sort of stuff.
Still have some nuts and bolts stuff to deal with for Monday - getting my absentee ballot figured out and try to see if my W2 from Sisters is ready. Then it's all about, what the hell do I take with me? I have this crate full of stuff that will either go or stay. I think I'll have Sam help me with that when she comes over in the a.m.
Anyway -- it's coming together -- jeez, I have 10 days left here. This week went SO fast, I can't believe it's Saturday tomorrow already. Criminy

Thursday, January 24, 2008

bye bye mansfields!

No, this isn't a frozen wind-up doll...'s Hank! It's a hysterical picture of him - it looks like you could just tap him and he would start moving around in herky-jerky animation. And it would be believable, 'cause he's four and that's pretty much how he moves. The sound effects would be truck noises.

So the Mansfields and I bid adieu today. In a weird bit of timing I am saying goodbye to them first as they take off for several weeks down south. I've been in this house for over 2 years - the longest I've been anywhere for quite some time..and definitely the longest I've ever lived in community. It's been a blessing for me to be here and surprising that I've lasted this long given my history of lonerdom.

A couple of years ago I was living in a crappy apartment, paying way too much rent and having to do my laundry in a coin machine. I decided to look for a community house, but it took me months to find a suitable fit. I cruised craigslist, looking for that perfect combination of quiet and comfort - I had a list of absolutes - no children, no couples, had to be able to have pets, and it had to be quiet.

So, I don't know what god or goddess was having a laugh when I became curious about an ad from a guy who was renting a room in the house he shared with his wife, 18 month old child and a female punk rock drummer housemate. "Perfect!" I said - and made an appointment to interview.

Oddly enough it's been a really good fit - I've learned a lot, enjoyed the company of our strange little family and learned some tolerance for a lively scene. Which should be helpful as I prepare to live with a couple hundred people for the next five months.

Shit. Really?

Thank you Sharron, Henry and Hank for two-plus years of making me part of your family, much love to all! Oh, and don't worry too much about the party I'm throwing in your absence - I'll make sure at least one person stays sober to keep an eye on things.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

our little house of chaos

Hey guys - here's a picture I took of my room this afternoon. To be kinda fair, it doesn't look much different when I'm not moving, but even so (I know, I'm amazed I'm still single too).

We have a lot going on at Mansfield Manor these days. I'm moving out. The woman who is taking my room is moving in bit by bit a couple weeks ahead of schedule; and Henry, Sharon and Hank are leaving on Thursday for a month long work trip down to Los Angeles. It's busy here. Everyone is a little frantic - it's good we all get along so well. Hank is lucky, he's four so he gets to act out in appropriate childlike fashion to all of it. Tonight he stormed into the kitchen where I was eating and listening to the radio and turned it off. When I turned it back on, he cried, "I don't want any music and I don't want any lights! I want dark rooms! I want have NO LIGHTS ON!"

Yes Hank, we all want a little peace and quiet, it's true. So it was bath time for Hank and a little computer time for me.

Those of us here in Portland were treated to a gorgeous sunny day. Yes, it was windy and bitterly cold -- but did y'all see the moon this morning and check out the brilliance of Mt. Hood all proud and beacony this afternoon? Both made me smile.

So I got a good load of stuff into storage as well as some other little dealings done (change of address and the like..ordered a Xena Fan club video, you know, the important things. BTW, what's amusing about this phase in my XWP addiction is that anything I order now..I won't be able to see until I get back..but by then I might be at least I'll have all that stuff to sell on Ebay).

Anyway, tomorrow is another moving slog - should be mostly cleaned out by the afternoon. I've had a raging headache all day, and am just realizing I haven't had any water at all......dummy.

Oh, and in "jar contest" news - my father wanted it to be known that he was going to guess the number seven at first, but then changed his mind at the last minute. I'm so sorry you missed out on that glory Dad; but I'll mention it here to let folks know that you can be an honorary winner. But only because, you know, you're my Dad.

Monday, January 21, 2008

alright we go

I'm back from my wonderfully quiet and fairly productive weekend on the coast. I'm glad I enjoyed the solitude as much as I did, 'cause that's the last time I'm gonna have some of that for quite some time.
I love the Ocean..I truly do. The weather was pleasant enough for a few beach strolls and crappy enough for me to not feel guilty for staying tucked in my yurt working on my writing projects. I got a lot of reading done and was able to finish my first Street Roots column (I think, we'll see how the editor likes it) as well as my intro blog for the Longest Walk website. I also was able to do some research on a couple of magazine queries that I'll get out this week.

And that was pretty much it, I did take a little Xena out there with me (Hey, c'mon, I was all alone for crying out loud). Hmm..I did eat clam chowder, fish and chips....and two hot dogs (I ate miso and greens too, but I think the good stuff was completely saturated by the bad). Regina is going to kill me on Wednesday, god I feel like a heifer right now. A flabby heifer no less, and that ain't pretty. At all.

So, I leave in two weeks. I have a lot to try to take care of this week so my last week in town isn't completely frantic. I'll keep ya posted. It's been nice to be away, but it's truly good to be home for now.

Oh, and by the way..Lisa? Your kids are absolutely exempt from having to travel on Chuck E. Cheese airlines. And I do believe that there are no bad kids, only complacent parents (that's for those of you who have this strange idea that I don't like children..where would you ever get such an idea?)

well the votes are in and the winner is.......

Yay Joan -- she was thrilled too, by the way.
"I'm very pleased," she said, obviously overwhelmed by emotion.

Oh, she guessed the correct number of: 7
Not 59 (jeez, Big G - whaddya think I drive around in a fricken semi?)
The other two highest votes were 17 - both offered by friends named, Lisa.

You guys do realize that a CASE of jars is 12. I own a lot of jars, I'll admit..but I don't have a case of them at my disposal. Lisa #2 said that she figured it was that high of a number because, "yeah, I've been in your truck..I know how much shit you can store in that thing." I have to say, even though you were WRONG - I'm impressed that you think I would ferry such a load.

My father pointed out (with his guess of 11), that he figured the number of actual jars was less important than the number of corresponding lids. Good point. You're still wrong.

Gwen went for a range of numbers, from 5-7, but actually settled on 5..she was pretty darn close. But wrong.

Okay, no doubt you have noticed that in the "dirty jar" picture, there are only 5 jars there, in varying degrees of "experiment." After I took that picture I found another jar lurking in a cooler, but had already snapped the shot, taken them inside and washed them.

"Hey!" you say, all blustered, "that's still only 6!"

How true. Sadly, one jar didn't make it. I found it, scattered in undignified shards in the bed of the truck. Shattered, was heartbreaking really. But you know what..that jar just didn't have the stuff. It was a Ball jar, and you know..I prefer those Atlas jars because they can take the kind of roughshod treatment I hand to 'em. Ah, Atlas. How I'll miss you on my journey.

Hey Joan - Congrats again. And thanks everyone for was fun to see all your responses - maybe next time we'll tally pounds of newspapers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

back home for a minute

After being forced to endure exactly 104 minutes of screaming children on my flight back from San Francisco - I came up with what I think is a stellar new investment possibility.

Chuck E. Cheese Airlines

Fun for the whole family! I can't believe someone hasn't already put this into play. Just think - kids could scream and holler with other kids - parents could sit by and coo - appreciating their munchkins without having to tolerate the seething glares of other passengers!
They could build one of those plastic ball rooms - maybe in the cargo bay - put an arcade down there. Have a fire pole leading from the passenger cabin down below. Chuck E. could come out and busk a little bit -- I'm doing it. Absolutely.

Did I tell you it would be THE mandatory airline if flying with children 5 and under?

It's good to be home in my own little room - I'm heading out tomorrow for three days on the coast - gonna sit and work on my first column for Street Roots, which is coming due as well as try to finish up a couple of essays I've been working on.

I'll be mostly out of cellphone and computer range - will be back late Monday afternoon.

BTW - the contest has three days left - the responses I've been getting are...varied.

last stop - the levi-sanchez'

I'm writing this morning from my dear friend Susi's house. Sus was my best friend in high school and I love that we are still part of each other's lives. She live in San Francisco with her very sweet husband Danny and two gorgeous girls, Rebecca and Taina.
We didn't get much time to visit, but I'll be staying here the weekend before I take off, so we'll able to catch up more then.
It's about 9:00 on Thursday morning and I'm getting ready to take a walk down to the BART station and head over to Oakland for a 1:50 flight home.
This tour has been pretty tiring, but very sweet and I'm glad I was able to make the trip. I do love the Bay Area - I will likely never live here again, but it will always be home, you know?
See you Portland-ites soon!

"think I'll go polish my shoes."

My friend Gina (who I affectionately refer to as "Big G"), makes me laugh harder than just about anybody on the planet. Here she is on the left with her partner Michelle (who I refer to as..Michelle) - an equally hysterical counterpart.
Big G and I met in Eureka under somewhat nefarious circumstances (which I won't go into here) - suffice to say, we are both in better places. However, I am grateful we have remained friends, 'cause she brings out the ultra silly in me, which is always a great quality in friendship.
We met up at a coffeeshop (where she broke a chair for no apparent reason) and then met up with Michelle and went to have Indian food (where she spilled water everywhere and made no attempt to clean it up).
We laughed a lot - they are starting a list of phrases that I may likely hear on the walk - I'm to report back the minute I hear them. Here's an example:
"I need to make a balm."
"Do you have an extra pair of socks?"
"I think we need to process this."
There were others, Big G - maybe you can send them along?

Anyway, it was awesome to see them both. I won't be able to visit with them when I come back in a couple of weeks because they are heading off on a cruise to the Carribbean with some chick named Brandi Carlisle - someone else called Shawn Colvin - I don't know - I think they make all this up, quite frankly.

Love you guys!

the dad visit

Here is my dad, Bob and his wife Liz. On this day we had stopped by Liz's office. She is the Development Manager for the Fremont Meals on Wheels program. They serve between 250-300 clients a day and we went outside to watch all the volunteers load up the coolers and head out. Quite the operation.

Afterwards we took a drive out to San Jose and up Mount Hamilton to the Lick Observatory. Built arond 1870 by prosperous real estate developer James Lick, this telescope was the largest of it's time. It has a 32-inch diameter lens and took some of the first clear photographs of the moon. It is still in operation, though it is only used a couple of times a week. Current astronomers prefer the newer computer-ready telescopes, of which there are 8 or 9 up here at the site.
In the odd note department: James Lick died before ever getting to make the 5 hour trip by horsecart to see his telescope in action; after his death they loaded his casket into a carriage and trucked him up to the observatory. His body is entombed in the base of the telescope. What I found a little odd about that factoid is that, according to the tour guide, "James Lick is one of the only people entombed at the base of a telescope." I would think he would be the only one.
Who else out there in such a state?

Anyhoo - that was the Dad visit - I got dropped off at BART and headed back into San Francisco to finish up my whirlwind tour.

the jardins

After San Francisco I got on BART and headed over to San Leandro to visit my grandparents, Bill and Elenor Jardin. They've been in the same house for over 60 years and it's always kinda nice to see it hasn't changed that much. They also have a cabin up in Sonora, in Twain Harte, where we spent many a summer, swimming in the little lake, taking small hikes and playing miniature golf.

Bill's people come from Portugal, from the Madiera region I believe. I think he was born there (Matt - you can probably clear that up if I'm wrong). Both he and my Uncle Lindy (who lived next door) worked for Pac Bell - Lindy as a lineman, Bill in supplies.
Elenor's family came from Northern Italy, but I believe she was born in Colorado. She worked as a secretary and raised three sons (my father is the oldest).

They are still in very good health as they reach their mid-eighties and get to travel and all-around enjoy their retirement together. I always enjoy seeing them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

mill valley

So folks, this is where I lived when I went to High School here in Mill Valley (the top story apartment). It's beautiful, as you can see - Burt was born in this neighborhood, which is just off one of the main streets and down a little alleyway. We had moved over here from Berkeley when I was a sophomore in 1981 - the business was just starting to take off - it was an exciting time. (I was a sullen teenager and didn't want to move from Berkeley, but that's another story)

At this time, in the early 80's, Mill Valley was just starting to emerge from a sort of San Francisco bohemian bedroom community. Now it's completely ritzed out and for me has lost all of its charm. I used to feel quite at home here. But now most of my old haunts are gone, turned into fancy boutiques and french bakeries. Even the venerable Sweetwater Saloon, where folks like Bonnie Raitt would show up to try out new stuff, closed last year. As a teenager I would stand outside and talk to the doorman, trying to charm my way in - no dice, but I could still listen to the music from the street.

At least the park has been untouched. This is the remains of the Old Mill - one of the first saw mills in Northern California - for better or worse, this is where a lot of the redwood logging took place 'back in the day' and the lumber would be shipped across the bay to the City.

As teenagers, we hung out at this spot for hours. My best friend Susi lived up the Dipsea Stairs, which are right on the other side of the park..Lars lived in the neighborhood too..and we would meet here frequently. The best part of this park, other than the sweet little creek, is all of the bay trees. Today I walked through and picked up the fallen leaves, crunching them in my hand, releasing that wonderful, spicy smell - I forgot to grab a few extra leaves to pulverize in my pocket.

For all of the drama that takes place in our teenage years. I'm grateful I had such beautiful settings to muse about it all.

good ol' san fran

I love coming home to San Francisco - even though I grew up in the Bay Area, it still seems like a magical city to me. I don't think it's just the sourdough - which is certainly divine - it' more the feel and the memories it brings.

For a few years I lived in the Sunset district - I was a little kid, second-fourth grades. I remember falling asleep to the sound of the old air-powered foghorns - those classic "ow-wooooo-gah" foghorns. They are all electronic now, but I would listen to them late at night and they brought visions of far-away travel and intrigue - pirates and adventure. My brother and I would play in the park near our house, which neighbored a golf course. On more than one occasion we would hide by the greens and steal the golf balls as they would come rolling onto those pristine manicured lawns, and laugh as the golfers would come a-searchin. Good times.

On this day, I got off the bus from Mill Valley and just marched straight down Market Street, where as a teenager I spent many a day and night being wild and teenage like. In later years I would hang out at our comedy club in the Embarcadero - and on weekends I would fill my backpack with a couple of books and food and head out on foot, walking the neighborhoods. I liked cruising North Beach and Chinatown - watching the tourists at the Wharf - saying hello to the sea lions at Pier 39. Sometimes I would ride the Cable Cars, happy that I got to enjoy them whenever I wanted. I ended up here a lot, at the lobby of the Hyatt Regency - walking into this amazing expanse of terraced greenery I would sit at this sculpture, and run my hands through the mirrored water of the fountain below - wonder what it would be like to stay at the hotel. I spent a lot of time writing here before I would head out again.

Even now, after over 20 years of walking into this place, I still get a moment of awe - it reminds me a little of what Charlie Bucket must have felt when he saw the Chocolate Room in Willy Wonka's factory for the first time. I think it's the contained expanse of it all. That, and they even have great glass elevators! Which I also ride to the top every time.

I'm heading out tomorrow - hope to post a little more of my visit with my father and grandparents. I've had a surprisingly difficult time finding free Wi-Fi here. I'm at my friend Susi's tonight where I was able to tap in - so we'll see how much I can get posted before I leave.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

fox family

Hey guys -- can't add too much text here at the moment, 'cause I only have a few minutes on this computer - somehow Jon's pic got lost, but I'll get it back up there. This is my mom, and those two handsome young men are my brothers, Shane on the left and Jake on the right.
We had a nice little visit - and I'll tell you all about it later. It included one of my mother's epic Scrabble games, that lately have tested patience as well as vocabulary.

Off to the East Bay.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

HEY! It's a Contest!

So, it is an amazingly beautiful day here in Portland. Warm, sunny...a total blessing after weeks of gray and rain. I took advantage of this by cleaning out my truck. I know, I know..I can hear the gasps, the horrified shrieks..but even I have my limits and it was definitely time. Plus, I'll be in the Bay Area all week and Henry's going to borrow the truck while I'm gone and I wanted him to be able to put something in the cab without fearing for its loss.

My truck is a dump, no doubt about it..and I hear it ALL the time from friends who have to sit on a foot of newspapers, or dig through cassette tapes, matches and wrappers to get to the seatbelt buckle. Your words obviously go unheeded, I have no shame in this area. I will say that Chaela is my very best passenger and will actually express concern for my well-being when the truck is relatively clean.

So, as I was shovelling out the debris I started the usual process of gathering jars for cleaning. Let me explain:

When I go to ESSR in the morning, I take my jar of tea with me and enjoy it while enveloping my morning serenity. After the meeting I tend to unceremoniously dump the empty jar into the truck. Sometimes in the back, sometimes on the seat. Now, when I put it on the seat, in invariably stays there for....a while. Then, if a friend is going to ride along side of me, I will take that jar and put it behind the seat (along with newspapers, wrappers, cassette tapes, etc.).

Hence the contest.

So, my friends. How many jars do you think I dug out of my truck? Back of the seat, bed of the pick-up...a combined number.

Winner gets, well, nothing but the disturbing notion that they know me fairly well.
I'll give you guys a week and post the answer when I get back from San Francisco and the Coast next Monday the 21st. You can either respond by commenting here, or emailing me.

Hey, don't ever say I never did nothing for ya!

oh, that sweet country livin'

Just got back from a quick trip down to Southern Oregon where I was gleefully visiting with my buddy Bruceroy and reuiniting the Carpentry by Force crew. Several years ago the two of us (and Bob) built a fine shed out at the river, and I'm proud to say it is still standing! I do have to say I was a little disappointed to find out that Bruceroy is building her house out there and has succumbed to using professional help. But..........I suppose it's understandable as our carpentry skills are, while enthusiastic, umm, a little ragged around the edges.

However, this ditch digging project was right on up our alley and we were out there in the mild rain, playing in the mud and diverting water from pooling up underneath the yurt. Corbs got off a nice quote which summed up our day, "Isn't it great being an adult? You can eat hot dogs for breakfast (which we did) and play in the mud all day."

Oh, and this is what Sophie was doing while we were out there saving the home from the ravages of winter:

I love going down to the quiet. I got out of the car at night and was greeted by starlight stretched from hilltop to horizon in such a way as to make one say, "wow."
We don't get to see that kind of starlight here in the city.
I haven't seen Corbs (Bruceroy) for awhile, since the Indigo Girls concert last summer so we had a nice visit. Also got to catch up with Regs (Bob)on the phone which was an added treat.
Every time I'm down there I wish I was able to stay longer. It also strengthens my committment to live in the country again someday. I love the quiet and the ruggedness. At one point I was standing outside and heard what sounded like the highway until I remembered the nearest highway was about 30 miles away. What I was hearing was the wind sweeping through the surrounding pines and cedars and wished for that moment that I didn't know what a highway was.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

away, you squirmy little bastard, away!

I woke up the other morning and decided that I needed to shift my thinking.
I had spent a long day walking the day before and was running the fear tape in my head..all day long.
So enough is enough with that.

Several years ago, gwen gifted me with a deck of Motherpeace Tarot Cards and I've been using them ever since for divination comfort. I got introduced to the Tarot back in high school, but had been working with the Morgan-Greer deck..which is pretty patriarchal, but its what I was given, so that's what I knew.

So I figured I would do a little three-card spread to try and see where all this fear was coming from, and why I was having such a difficult time shaking it. (Psychologically I know the answer...drama and fear can be oddly comforting if that's what we're used to..and me, being a Libra, am all about comfort. Even if I'm miserable.)

So I drew three cards for Past, Present and Future and damn if the friggin Hierophant showed up in the Present position.

The Hierophant is essentially the patriarch's patriarch. An oppressor of women in particular, but also symbolic of oppressing anything that doesn't fit into his line of thinking, his rules. When this card comes up in a reading I can look around and see if there is something going on outside of me that is squashing my spirit. Most of the time though, that squasher is me...telling me stories...riddling me with untruths, keeping me scared and immobile. So..that was telling, and validating and so I've been working the past couple of days to rid those tapes from my head.

And it's pretty much working as I'm starting to get excited about this journey and leaving the melancholy behind, which is a welcome change.

In other news:
I've been gifted the opportunity to be one of the people who will be regularly blogging on the Longest Walk website. There are 5 of us at the moment who will be adding content and pictures as often as we can so that people who are interested can "be there" with us as we travel across the country. I spoke with the websteward this morning and he gave me a tutorial on how to post to the between that and this little blog and my Street Roots column, it looks like I'll get to do quite a bit of writing along the way.

If you guys want to check out the website (it's chock full of info), go to: and navigate around in there. The "Forum" tab will take you to a fun little page where other walkers are starting to talk to each other. The "Voices" tab will take you to the blog site. Also there is "route itinerary" tab that will give you a day-by-day look at where we will be.

So..things are well. I'm off to Southern Oregon tomorrow for a couple of days of hanging with my buddy Corbs. I'll be out of cellphone and computer range, which will be a nice respite I think!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Presenting The New Jan Brady!

I know I've told some of you this.
A friend of mine (I can't remember who now) jokingly suggested that I show up on the first day of the walk dressed like Xena, Warrior Princess; act as if nothing was amiss and proceed along in character for as long as I could pull it off...sword and all.
And, you know, if I had any semblance of balls I would absolutely do it.
But, I am a funeral giggler and couldn't stifle a grin if my very life depended on I'm gonna have to just let that one slide.
Besides, I'm way too short to do Xena justice. It would have to be Gabrielle.

I think there is always a desire to reinvent ourselves when we are setting off to new places...thinking we can become the person we want to be without the old mirrors of the friends we left behind.

I have spent my life moving from city to city..coast to coast. I've had countless jobs and morphed in and out of several industries. And each time I think...this time I want to present a "new" me, a better Nik..cooler...more accessible...more desirable...more good.

I went to a gargantuan speaker meeting tonight and afterwards had this exact thought: "god, I am so not a mingler." I wafted in and out of there like a ghost. It's truly amazing I know anybody at all. How did I ever meet any of you? And then I thought, jesus how long will it take me to make friends on this trip? Will I? Or will I spend a few awkward weeks being the wierd new girl who can't quite fit in.

When I was in the middle of 6th grade our family moved from California to New Jersey. Horrendous. I was a tomboy in a locker room full of girly girls who were demurely preening in their training bras while I was still lumbering around in an undershirt for christsakes. No wonder I started smoking.

It goes back to the old saw of acceptance I suppose. Faith that it'll be okay. Recognizing truth from the fictitious stories we tell ourselves.

But where's the drama in that thinking?

Bring on the wigs. And throw in some leather.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fashion and Funerals

Listening to the strenuous protesting of my muscles and bones I decided to take it easy on the ol' bod yesterday. I enjoyed a nice, leisurely stroll to meet up with Joan at a Burnside coffeeshop where she helped me with a little online shopping for raingear.
I don't care to shop for clothes. I find it unbelievably tedious; which is probably why I am still wearing the exact same "fashion" I've been wearing since I was old enough to pick out my own Toughskins and T-shirts.
Pity my poor mother, who has always had impeccable fashion sense, that she be gifted with an only daughter who will never know the difference between a blouse and a top (and could care less) and who probably commits all of the "top ten fashion mistakes" on a regular basis. She would tell me that she was afraid my coming out would lead to a lonely, spinster-esque existence and that she was sad she would never see me in "that big wedding all mother's dream about."
I think she was secretly more terrified that I would start sporting a mullet, a leather vest and painter pants.

I never wore a mullet.

Anyway, so we got the shopping done and I headed out into the rain towards home.

I decided to stop over at Lone Fir for a little visit as I hadn't been for a few weeks. These are the Stephen's. Aren't they sweet? These were the folks who had staked a claim on this land back in the 1860's. JB Stephens ran the Stark Street Ferry back and forth across the Willamette. He buried his wife and father here and eventually sold the property to a guy named Colburn Barrell; who in turn dedicated 10 acres to the city for a cemetery. Lone Fir is the oldest cemetery in Portland and is now at 33 lovely acres. With over 1000 mature trees, it's been called "a living arboretum in the city" and is, without a doubt, my favorite place in Portland.
In strolling through I went to the little grove of Redwood trees (there are four standing in a square cradling one little headstone)and found a small downed branch. I'm going to whittle it down to fit my staff crest that Ryushin gave me (warning...craft project ahead!!!).

All in all a lovely day...played a little poker with the girls, watched some XWP with gwen..and, after much muddlement, decided to have a little send-off shindig. Joan came up with the title: "Less Talkin', More Walkin" - I have aka'd it the "get the hell out of here already" affair. It'll be on Sunday, February 3rd from 4-8.
Details to follow!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

"At least I can still have all the cheese in the world." -- ESSR

A gentle reminder that while we may not always get what we want, there is plenty to be thankful for.

I will always be thankful for cheese.

And that I'm not lactose-intolerant.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Howdy January 2008!

Spent my New Year's Day walking around town. I was working on 20 miles today...had originally planned to hit the Springwater Corridor Trail; but decided in the end that sounded a little desolate for my mood. I set my sites on Arbor Lodge for a lunch stop and headed out.
I do love cruising Portland neighborhoods; they are all so beautiful - plenty to look at what with all of our trees, contrasting architecture, a wonderful variety of landscapes both ruffled and refined. And it was such a beautiful day; a little blustery, not too cold and not a drop of rain.

It was nice just wandering and eye-spying cat loafs on porches, I threw a tennis ball for a dog in a yard. These guys took kind of an interest in me....what fun to turn a corner and encounter untethered chickens. Gotta love that.

I wore my iPOD today..something I haven't done yet. I think I just wanted company for my head and the music helped. I've made plans to go to Southern Oregon at the end of next week, followed by a trip to the Bay Area and then out to Newport for a few days of unencumbered beach time. Things are feeling a little rampy and it'll be good to get out of my routine for a week or so. I'm hoping it'll help me focus a bit. At this point I can't do too much else except wait.
So, I ended up doing probably 18 miles today, a little shy of my goal - I'll give it another go on Thursday I think. The body is feeling good - definitely started feeling a little pain after about 4 hours, but a little rest and food helped push out that last couple of hours without much complaint.
All in all - feels like a nice way to start out the year..hope y'all had a nice one!