Monthly Archives: October 2006

Random Friday–Right in Time

So I’m a little late getting on the Random Friday train here today.  But I still have a good 45 minutes of the day left, and so here it is, my random set.  Allow me to reiterate the very simple rules once again.  Set the old pod a’shufflin’ and report back the first ten songs it spits out.  No skipping, omitting or obfuscating allowed.

1. Your House, Jonatha Brooke (Steady Pull)
2. Respectable [Live], The Yardbirds (Smokestack Lightening)
3. That’s Alright, Elvis Presley (The Sun Session)
4. Tollin’ Bells, Paul Butterfield Blues Band (Strawberry Jam)
5. Right in Time, Lucinda Williams (Car Wheels on a Gravel Road)
6. Build That Wall, Aimee Mann (Magnolia)
7. Symphony No. 5, Beethovan (The Philadelphia Orchestra)
8. Be My Yoko Ono, Barenaked Ladies (Gordon)
9. Midnight Special, Van Morrison (Bang Masters)
10. Eyes Have Miles, G.Love and Special Sauce (G.Love and Special Sauce)

Favorite Song: Midnight Special by Van Morrison.  “Let the midnight special shine it’s everlovin’ light on me.”

Favorite Album: Strawberry Jam by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.  “My head ain’t so heavy when the sun starts sinkin’ low.”

Need a little more?  Check out these folks…


For the first time in a long time, I am actively loving what I am doing in my life.  It is such a refreshing change to be able to tell people that I am actively happy when they ask me how I am.  That I am deeply content with the ways in which I spend my hours and days.  The satisfaction came on slowly.  It had been absent for so long that at first I didn’t recognize it, simply noticing the slight erosion of my discomfort.  Then suddenly, about a week ago, I recognized it for what it was.  General, unlocalized joy.  A sensation of learning and growth.  Mental and emotional movement.  I am so grateful that I chose to change my life and go back to school rather than continue to sit behind computers that contained work that held no interest for me.  My bravery makes me giddy on a daily basis.

Shaken by film

In my life I’ve only ever walked out of one movie, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. I was 13 years old and went to see it with my grandma Bunny and my mom. My mom had driven south from Portland to LA to pick me up from summer camp and we were staying with Bunny for a couple of days in Woodland Hills before heading back home. Unforgiven features a great deal of horror and violence and it was too much for me back then. Half way through I leaned over to my mom that I couldn’t watch anymore and left. I slipped into the theater across the hall and spent the next hour watching that summer’s inane hit, HouseSitter.

Tonight I went to see a preview screening of Flags of our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s newest movie. I sat through the movie with my stomach churning, fingers splayed in front of my eyes in an attempt to avoid seeing some of the worst moments. I felt a lot like I had when I was thirteen, and had not been the fifth person in the row, I might have stepped out for a minute or two in the middle. Several times I had to consciously think the words, “breath deeply Marisa, this is only a movie.”

These days I have a little more distance and perspective with which to watch a movie like this, and I started to see it as a distinctly anti-war movie (some said that Unforgiven was statement against violence, I wasn’t able to see it at the time). In depicting, with absolute specificity, the graphic nature of war and death, he shows the level to which we waste humanity when we send young people into battle. We experience the relationships that the men in the movie have with one another, and when they are killed, it feels for a moment as if we have experienced a real loss as well. It’s not a movie I think I will ever need to watch again, but I’m grateful to have had the experience of it.

Cool Beans

I just got an email from a friend who followed the link to my sister‘s song on Neil Young’s website that I posted last week.  It seems that a whole lot of people went to check out her song, because she jumped from position #555 up to an unbelievable #20.  Thanks to everyone who went and “voted” for her by listening to her song.  If you liked that, wait until you hear her album.  Last night my dad sent me the first three tracks he’s finished editing (we like to keep these things in the family) and all I can say is that they’ve been making some terrific music down in that basement studio.

Apple Pickin'

Close up apples

Saturday afternoon Seth picked me up behind my building. Once I was seated and belted in, he turned to me and said, “Okay, so where we going?” I told him Linvilla Orchards and pointed him in the direction of 95 South. Less than half an hour later, we pulled into a row of cars parked on hardened dirt, next to a enormous shade tree. We were there to pick apples, but once we got there, we discovered that Linvilla had a whole lot more to offer. There was a bedraggled corn maze and a straw bale maze that was surprisingly challenging. We rode a very small train that took us three times around a circle the size of my high school track. We drank hot apple cider and fed a goat. I bought buckwheat honey in the market while Seth got two pies (apple and pumpkin).

Finally it was time to pick apples. We were given cardboard bushels (in opposition to my mental picture of wicker and wood baskets) and sent out to the fields. We wandered for a while, tasting apples until we found a tree whose produce was particularly sweet and crisp. I filled my box carefully, Seth was a little more haphazard. When we our boxes were full up and we had eaten the equivalent of three apples apiece.

When I got home, I piled my apples into bowls and sat down to enjoy the indulgent abundance of having more than 20 pounds of fruit in my dining room.



Today was my Aunt Anne’s 87th birthday. I drove out to New Town Square with a bakery box that contained two cupcakes (one chocolate, one vanilla) and my camera in my bag. I called her before I headed out, because the day before when we had talked she had said to me, “make sure you call me in the morning, because I’m planning on dropping dead any day.”

She was still alive at 11 am and so I risked the trip. She happily ate the tuna fish sandwich I brought her from Wawa, packing half away for later as she always does. She proudly reported to me that she had been buying quarter pound containers of tuna salad from the deli counter at her local Acme, a manuver I had talked her through on my last visit.

After lunch and cupcakes, I asked if could possibly have one of the old wicker laundry baskets I had seen in her basement the last time I was there. She looked at me and said, “Honey, you can have whatever you want.” I ended up with two laundry baskets, a dusty little folding chair, one nice old picture frame, some random kitchen utensils and a dirty glass pitcher will several dead bugs inside. I piled my haul at the mouth of the garage door and we headed back upstairs to sit and talk a little while longer.

Just as I was getting ready to go, she sat down heavily in the chair that faces the tv and asked, “If you were me, how would you go about killing yourself?” I choked on my own saliva and lost use of my words for a moment. Seven consecutive thoughts dashed through my mind and I was torn between wanting to give her advice that could possibly bring her a pain free end and yelling at her that this was not something she could contemplate. She is deeply independent, and can’t bear the idea that a time might come when she won’t be able to drive or take care of herself. In the end I simply said that this wasn’t something I could talk with her about and she accepted that. But I can’t stop thinking about it.

I called my mom as I drove home, and told her what Aunt Anne had asked. We talked about the situation for a few minutes, until my mom interrupted, “It’s 11:11 in Portland, make a wish!” Normally I wish silently, still somehow believing that a wish shared with others won’t come true. Today, my hopes came pouring out and I couldn’t stay quiet, “I wish that Aunt Anne dies peacefully and easily in her sleep.”

May it be so.

Random Friday–On Your Way

Set your iPod a’shufflin’ and report back the first ten songs that float to the surface.  No skipping, omitting or excusing allowed, stand tall with your music. 

1. A Long Day, The Polyphonic Spree (The Beginning Stages)
2. Let’s Just Get Naked, Joan Osborne (Relish)
3. Carnival Lights, Patty Smyth (Greatest Hits)
4. West Point, Jonatha Brooke & The Story (Plumb)
5. Red-Eye Express, John Sebastian (The Best of John Sebastian)
6. Dead in the Water, David Gray (A New Day at Midnight)
7. Dead, They Might Be Giants (Flood)
8. On Your Way, The Album Leaf (UO Sampler #14)
9. Reasons, Earth, Wind & Fire (The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1)
10. Look Back, Sam Ashworth (Paste Magazine Sampler 17)

It’s kind of a weird set today.  I have no outstanding favorites, but neither is there anything I’m militantly against.  I do love Joan Osborn, but there are several songs I prefer from that album, most specifically her cover of Bob Dylan’s Man in the Long Black Coat. 

Other players:


Loud salads and quiet rooms

Salad II

One of my favorite things about not having a job is being home for lunch. Yesterday I made braised swiss chard and quinoa. Today I made a huge bowl salad with Boston lettuce, feta, turkey bacon, avocado, tomato and red onion. It was really good.

I met up with some friends during the afterwork hour tonight to attend a meditation circle. I’ve sat with this group three times now, and each time has been lovely. The sensation of being intentionally quiet with a room full of people all doing the same is charged and heady. I find myself looking forward to the group each week with the same level of desire and anticipation I feel when I’m preparing for a trip home to Portland. Luckily, meditation doesn’t cost nearly as much as a plane ticket.

Roadway Deer

Driving home from class tonight, just about a minute off City Line Ave., I almost hit a deer in the road.  I take a back way that abutts Fairmount Park and links up to West River Drive, but I’ve never seen any wild life up that way until tonight.  I was going along, talking to my mom about how class had been that night, when I saw something in the road in the lights of an oncoming car.  I tapped my brakes and stopped talking, my brain spinning in circles trying to interpret what I had seen.  I looked like four brown poles, running parallel to each other in the road.

One and a half seconds later, the lights flashed again, and I realized that what I was seeing was a young deer.  I went for the brake pedal but came to a gentle stop as opposed to the jerky one I had been expecting.  The oncoming car had stopped too, and the deer stood in my lane, looking at both of us with expectation and curiosity.  The other car continued on slowly, and the deer walked back to the shoulder of the road, to let me pass.  I stayed stopped, seeing if I could be the car that would ensure that the deer would make it safely to the other side of the road.  He looked at me, appearing to take my measure, and headed back into the woods with a clumsy first step.

The entire experience lasted less than two minutes, but I felt altered having lived it.  I was once in a car that hit a deer.  I lay stretched out in the back seat while two friends chatted quietly in the front.  I didn’t see it coming but was jarred and shaken by the impact.   As I shifted the car into first gear and rolled away, I felt grateful that I hadn’t had to have a collision experience and that my car had been so willing to come to an easy stop.

Home again and Neil Young

Friday night I slept on a camping mat in the corner of a room that smelled like tempura paint, while drunken Iowa football fans caroused under my window.  Saturday night I found myself under a Pokemon covered head board, having displaced a five year old who spent the night on the floor of his brother’s room.  The unusual sleeping arrangements aside, I had a great time in Iowa.  The weather was beautiful and Iowa City is a surprisingly cute town.  They have a nice Unitarian church, a great bookstore and a fantastic food co-op, which is enough to recommend it in my book.

I got up this morning kind of late, my body stealing more sleep than it was entitled to in an attempt to catch up from the weekend.  Staggering out to my computer, I found an email from my sister in my inbox.  It seems that her song, ‘Nursery Rhymes’ has been discovered by Neil Young and his team of website folks.  They have compiled a list the top 600 war protest songs out there and Raina’s song is number 555 on the list.  The way she’ll stay on the list and possibly even move up is if people go and listen to it.  So, if you are interested and have a moment, please go take a listen!