Monthly Archives: September 2005

Philadelphia to Las Vegas to Portland to Walla Walla

I got to Portland last night at 2 am (5 am east coast time) after an uneventful plane ride. On the Philly to Las Vegas leg, in the three seats across the aisle from me were three adults, a baby and a dog in a carry on-bag. Two very large wedding parties also added energy to the very full plane. I don’t remember much from the Las Vegas to Portland trip, being that I was passed out from exhaustion at that point. My dad picked me up, and my dog cried when I walked in the front door. It’s always nice to know that she remembers me. The cat never does.

Andrea and I hit the road this morning about an hour later than we had intended to (isn’t that always the way). I-84 to I-82 to 730 to 12 and we were in Walla Walla. 200 miles into our drive the downpour had stopped but it was both sunny and sprinkling, and I made a comment that it was perfect rainbow conditions. Minutes later the rainbow appeared, a dazzling quarter arch, with a vibrant purple streak. It stayed with us for a good twenty minutes. I declared it an auspicious beginning to the reunion weekend.

As we drove into Walla Walla (the gas tank on empty) I kept jumping and wiggling around in my seat and repeating the phrase “holy shit.” It seemed appropriate. I hadn’t been back to town since the day I graduated, three days after my 22nd birthday. It is amazing how many things are new and shiny and different. We pulled up in front of the new Student Center, for which they broke ground the day after our graduation. The Student Union Center (SUB) that I had spent many hours in had become a parking lot. I knew that that’s what had happened, but it was still totally jarring because my mental map of campus that had been built throughout my four years of college was rendered obsolete in an instant. I left Andrea for my 4 pm appointment with the Director of the Career Center (worked in the center my senior year and Susan became a good friend in that time) to which I was fifteen minutes late. She didn’t hold it against me. It was really fun to chat, catch up and get a little advice from her, as well as hear about all the changes that have occurred on campus since I left.

After that I went down to use the bathroom, thinking that once I emptied my bladder I’d give Andrea a call and try to figure out where to meet up with her. Turns out she was in the stall next to me, which made meeting up very easy. Good thing I always wear Dankso clogs, they make my feet highly recognizable.

We stopped in at the President’s Reception and began the very surreal experience that is attending a reunion. It just got weirder as the evening progressed. There was a gathering at the Mill Creek Brew Pub tonight for the classes of ’99, ’00, ’01. I ran into the woman who was my lunch host the day I visited the campus for a first time, when I was still a senior in high school. I saw friends that I had missed and some people I never missed. Many of the same social boundaries that kept us in place as undergrads still managed to corral people into cliques tonight, although as the booze flowed, some people crossed over. I started to get tired of having the same superficial conversation over and over again, so at one point, fueled by sleep deprivation and three Penitentiary Porters, asked someone I didn’t really know well how he felt about having the same, very surface conversation 12 times in one evening. He laughed, but a little uncomfortably so. It was at that point that I realized that the peanut shell-covered floor under the bar was starting to look like an appealing option to take a rest, and we headed back to Andrea’s cousin Lindsay’s apartment for the night.

Tomorrow afternoon I attend my department reception. That should be interesting.

Sail Away

This morning my boss asked me to walk and pick up ten large size Fedex boxes at the nearby copy and shipping place for a mailing we are putting together. Being the helpful and accomodating employee that I am, a little while later I set out, into the questionable weather, to obtain said boxes. It drizzled a little as I walked over, but the Oregonian in me is immune to the frustrations of rain, and I kept on. My troubles didn’t begin until I had the boxes and was walking back to my office. Because all of the sudden the wind kicked up, and I went from carrying 10 light weight cardboard boxes, to being attached to a very large, wind-catching sail. I’m relatively certain that I was the funniest site on Market Street today, as I attempted (and failed ) to walk in a straight line down the sidewalk and still hold on to the boxes.

I did manage to get back to my office, albeit with some seriously sore biceps and some freakishly tousled hair.

Walla Walla bound

I’m getting on an airplane tomorrow night that will take me to Portland, OR. Friday morning, I hit the road (with best college friend Andrea in tow) and drive east through the Columbia River Gorge and the wheatfields of eastern Washington to Walla Walla.

It’s been four years since I graduated from college, and already it’s time for a reunion (they have a system of cluster reunions, so you actually get to see people from the classes that surrounded you, in addition to the folks from your own). This is my very first reunion, my high school didn’t have a five year one, and I’m feeling a little funny about the thing.

I know that when I get there I will have a good time, and will enjoy seeing some people, but I’m also feeling a little insecurity and anxiety starting to emerge. Rationally and intellectually I know I’m doing an relatively good job with my life, but sometimes I’m not sure if it shows outwardly.

All I can say at this point is that it will be an adventure, and hopefully I’ll have some good stories to bring back to this space for you all.

A taste of everything

When I was growing up, my parents had a rule about eating what was for dinner. It wasn’t the clean plate rule, but instead was a more gentle “tasting” rule.
Specifically, you were obligated to at least take one bite of everything that was for dinner that night. I think the philosophy behind this practice was to make informed and open eaters out of my sister and me. I think my parents were also hoping that through repeated exposure, we’d actually start to like most foods.

I wasn’t a really picky eater, but there were certain vegetables that “weren’t my favorite” (the phrase my dad insisted we substitute for “I hate it”). As the child in this situation, it was important to me to make sure that when I took the obligatory taste to make sure one or both parents were watching. If they didn’t see it going into your mouth, they didn’t believe it, and then you’d have to eat an additional piece of tomato (boy did my parents feel bad when my doctor discovered I was allergic to raw tomatoes. Allergies were the single legitimate excuse to avoid something) or another little brussel sprout head.

I think about this rule now, because last night, for the first time in my adult life, I chose to make myself brussel sprouts (I grew out of the tomato allergy in my late teens). They were high on the list of distasteful veggies when I was younger (partially because my mom had a tendency to space out while cooking and let things overcook).

Making brussel sprouts for myself made me feel more like a grown up than anything else I did that day (especially since half an hour earlier I had had a temper tantrum because the normal Monday night Sci-Fi Channel Stargate SG-1 marathon wasn’t on). It was the good kind of grown up feeling, the one that makes me feel like I am able to make smart life choices, to take care of myself and to move my life in the right direction.

I never knew that brussel sprouts could carry such meaning!


So as you can tell, I’ve made some changes around here. It’s my first big blog remodel, and as a total code novice it’s a little scary for me to put in my little extra bits, but I think it’s working so far. If you have any problems, please give me a shout. I got it here, if you are interested in checking out some free templates for your own use. Let me know what you think.

Coming out…

About a week ago, I had dinner with a bunch of Subud people, in town for a meeting of the region. One woman who was there is an old family friend, who has always been very dear to my heart. I’ve taken care of her kids at various times, and her oldest daughter and I share almost the same name. When I’m in DC, they are the people I stay with. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen M, and we quickly caught up on the details while we walked over to Creisham Valley Cottage for dinner, a couple of steps ahead of the rest of the group.

I asked how her oldest was, and she said, “She’s still living in Portland, engaged to a woman.”

While it was new information to me that her daughter was a lesbian, I was really thrilled to hear that she was doing so well, and seemed to be happy.

I innocently asked M, “How do you feel about this?”

I was not prepared for the answer that I got, which was, “Heart sick.”

This statement took me aback and saddened me. She wasn’t surprised or acclimating to the news, she was feeling deeply pained. I realize that for many parents, having a child who comes out as gay or lesbian isn’t their very first choice, but I really thought that these days it had become pretty normalized. That it had become one of the known possibilities. I realize as I write that last sentence, the depths of my innocence, because if this woman, who in my experience has always been extremely liberal and accepting, was having a hard time adjusting to her daughter’s sexual orientation, then there are many more people with even more deeply seated positions of prejudice and rejection.

I listened to her continue to tell me how she wasn’t even sure if she was going to go to the wedding, which is planned for next summer. This is the point at which I did something that continues to disappoint me. I said nothing. I nodding and listened, and let her think that in some way I agreed with her.

I didn’t say what I was thinking, which was, “This is your daughter you are talking about. I don’t care whether you like the fact that she has chosen a woman to be her partner or not, you need to give her your support. The idea that you would skip her wedding and somehow act in a way as to reduce her happiness is inexcusable. Get over it and walk that which has been your talk for as long as I’ve known you.”

Each time I’ve gone back and relived this exchange, I’ve felt a little sadness for not speaking up. I know why I did it, I wanted to protect my relationship with M. I was afraid that if I spoke up and disagreed with her on such a personal topic, our friendship, which has meant much to me over the years, would end in an instant. But in protecting that relationship, I did a disservice to my friendship with her daughter. I thought I went with my instincts in the situation, but now I’m certain I went with my fear. I know that all I can do now is chalk it up as a learning situation and behave differently in the future.

Inexplicable Joy

A woman sat two rows ahead of my in church this morning with her five month old son. She faced forward, while he faced me. His energy caught my attention and kept me rapt throughout the entire service. This tiny human took such joy and delight in his existence that I was awed and honored to be around him. He would look quizzically at me, studying my nose, eyes, mouth, and then throw his head and torso backwards, crowing with excitement, happiness, marvel. It was if he was saying, “This life thing, it’s really great. I’m so happy to be here and you should be too.” With each explosion of giggles and grin he was releasing the non-stop build up of joy that coursed through him, like there just wasn’t enough space inside to hold it all.

I told my mom about this delighted baby as I walked home from church. She said that she remembered my sister standing in the middle of the living room in our house in LA, spontaneously dancing and singing, overflowing from within with love and happiness. I feel sad that as we age, we lose the ability to be so unabashedly excited about nothing more than being alive.

I’ve actually been feeling inexplicably happy lately, like I’ve raised some internal curtain and suddenly the light is able to stream in again. It feels almost like the sensation of the initial slide into new love, full of promise, hope and excitement. Maybe I’m like the baby I watched this morning, in love with being alive.

Friday Random Ten

So I’ve seen several other people play this game, and while I always wanted to join in, something (distraction? shyness? elementary school desire not to copy?) always held me back. But today, I throw off that something and dive in.

To play (stolen directly from Matt at The Tattered Coat): put your digital music player on shuffle, click play, and list the first ten songs that show up. You must resist the temptation to click past the bad or embarrassing songs.

Here’s what I got:

Barrel of a Gun, Guster (Lost and Gone Forever)
All Used Up, Eric Hutchinson (This Could Have Gone Better)
Wrapped Around Her, Joan Armatrading (Square the Circle)
Catch Me Now I’m Falling, The Kinks (One for the Road)
4th of July, Ani DiFranco (Puddle Dive)
Jemima Surrender, The Band (The Band)
My IQ, Ani DiFranco (Puddle Dive)
Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana (Nevermind)
Thinking About You Again, Shelby Lynne (Epic Recordings)
Good Enough, Sarah McLachlan (Mirrorball)

Favorite Song: All Used Up
Least Favorite Song: Wrapped Around Her (I don’t really know why I keep this album on the pod)
Favorite Album: The Band

I find it a little weird that with 4451 songs on my pod, two from “Puddle Dive” show up. There is a lot of Ani in my life, but from the same album. Weird.

The 16th Floor

The last couple days, when I’ve gotten on the elevator, the button for the 16th floor was pushed. The first time it happened, I thought it was probably just someone’s visiting grandchild, hitting an extra button on the way out (my sister and I used to like to do this. I do believe that once, we pushed every button in the elevator right before we got out. The next person to get on the elevator sure loved us that day). But then, the next time I got on the elevator, the 16th floor was still illuminated. And it stayed lit after stopped on the 16th floor and the doors opened and closed. Some sort of electrical glitch. So over a matter of 36 hours, I got very used to the 16th floor being lit up and hitting the “door close” button each time we approached that floor (not that it actually works very well, but at least I got the satisfaction of getting to jab at something).

My impatience with the elevators stems from the fact that my apartment building has the slowest elevators doors known to humanity. I live in a building where the average age is 79, and 65% of the population use some sort of walker/scooter/cane. To say they move slowly is an understatement. Add to that the fact that just as the doors are finally starting to close, someone will yell, “Hold that,” and thrust their cane between the doors, forcing the computer that controls the opening and closing, lifting and lowering, to start the count down process all over again. It can take up to three minutes from the time you board to the time that the doors actually close and you have liftoff. Three minutes may not sound like a long time, but factor in seven people, someone’s take out chinese dinner and an armful of mail/drycleaning/dirty plastic containers from lunch and three minutes starts to feel like 30.

Today I got home from work and managed to dash onto an elevator just as the doors were closing. I pushed my floor and noticed that the 16th floor was pressed as well. As we approached the floor in question, I moved to the panel and put my finger on the close button, preparing to depress, hoping to shave 2.5 seconds off my trip home. Just as I start to depress the close door button, the little old lady starts to make her way to the door. The light behind the 16th floor goes out.


I guess they fixed it. It may be the only speedy thing ever about our elevators.