Monday, February 2, 2015

In Favor of Real Connection.

Not that I haven't threatened to do this before. But this time I actually did it.

I deactivated my facebook account.

I'm tired of the endless hours of useless information. Like what car my coworker bought. Or a photo of friends dressed up on vacation in Mexico. Or an anti-vaccine muse. Or anything really. Does it add any substance to my life? It seems no different than spending hours watching TV reruns.

We kid ourselves that this is real connection.

On Sunday morning, I had breakfast with one of my old friends who I haven't seen in about six months. Both of us encumbered by work and other personal dramas led to the big gap in connection.

I rolled out of bed early, slipped into my rainpants and rainjacket and rolled down the streets. Which on a Sunday morning were silent as the night. The light drizzle was enough to warrant the rain gear but not enought to be any sort of problem. I thought, "This is my church."

We met up at a small wooody Scandinavian place in North Portland. I was a little anxious about the possibility of feeding a vegetarian in Northern European cuisine. I remember Norway as one of the least vegetarian friendly countries in the world. But I ended up with a traditional Finnish porridge with homemade applesauce and potato pancake. Both perfect. And filling enough.

We sat for hours talking over our breakfasts.

I was worried they would kick us out of our table. But no one said a word.

The in person connection doesn't resemble social media in the least.

We left feeling filled up. And joyous at our breakfast together. Saying, "We have to do this in a month again."

I thought of all the times I felt like I was too busy to meet with someone. How I needed to stay home and have time to myself.

I think what we really need- what we really crave- is true connection.

So, I hereby start my social media hiatus. In favor of life with real people in real time.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chocolate Cream of Wheat

Flannel jammies. Navy with tiny pink flowers. Hand-sewn by my mom so we could sleep free of non-flammable toxicity while dreaming.

My dad's stories: the farm, the air force, anything in his caramely deep voice. His smile shined through the dark from the corner where he sat in the hand-painted blue chair that my parents stole from a bar in Red Lake Falls.

In the darkness alone, partial dreamland. Wondering if this is real. When will I wake up? Why hasn't the world stopped? Was it all a dream?

My mom stumbles along, one foot in front of the other. Barely upright. Trying not to die herself of grief. Each morning she prepares chocolate Cream of Wheat for Carrie and me before school.

Bouncing along the green vinyl seats in our yellow Bluebird bus. Gus at the wheel. French-braiding Carrie's hair as we rolled through the countryside to Douglas Elementary. Trying my best to put things back in order.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

coming home

the hush of the portland airport
jeans and plaid and backpacks and beards
lumbering along the wacky teal carpet
i sigh and exhale--  the relief of familiarity

sherbet fog hovering over the morning landscape
white shimmery mount hood peeking out of the ground
year round velvety green grass
that smell of moist winter air- not too hot, not too cool
plodding through the wet grass
squishing in the mud running through fernhill

walking to our grocery store
bailey leading the way
piles of organic produce
neighbors eating quietly

i forget sometimes how nice it is here.

after nine days on an island out east
so glad to be home.

Friday, January 2, 2015


The enclosed space of heat and water. The air so thick with chlorine and humidity it’s hard to see the other side. The ceiling feels like it’s hanging too low and closing in. A few glass-topped round tables and chairs are scattered along the side for parents and guests. We’re in the pool at the Holiday Inn and my dad is supposed to be watching us.

I cautiously drift down the stairs, sensing the pull of the water wanting to suck me in. At the bottom, my feet reach for the ground. I feel nothing but space and movement. I know I should not go further. So I hold onto the slippery silver handrail while I kick and flutter. Feeling the warm water moving between my toes and legs.

I look up. My sister’s coming in too. Down the stairs and right into the too deep water without realising the consequences. I hang tightly onto the shiny railing as she grasps at me, trying to get back to safety. Flailing and panicking, she loosens my grip from the handle and we slide into the deep water.

Tenuous. Life is.

We jump in before we know where we’re going. 

Sometimes we take those we love most with us.

The water's warm and bubbly.

We bob up and down. Gasping for air.

I know she didn’t mean to get us into this place.

She is holding on with a vice grip. Visceral animal fear. Fighting for her life like all beings do.

I’m trying to swim us back, but I can’t move. I try to scream but it's lost underwater. We’re going under. I’m gasping water. Thinking it's the end. I love my sister, but I can’t save us.

If only she hadn’t jumped in.

I keep remembering this. Like a feedback loop. She didn’t mean to. We are drowning and nothing can be done.  

We are still in the pool. Treading water. Trying to save our lives.  

She goes, and I go. I won't push her off and let her drown.

Just when I think we took our last breath, someone jumps in and pulls us out of the pool. It is not the end after all. We get another chance.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Taking Beauty Out of Body Positivity

"If we insist on the primacy of beauty, doesn't that give the word "ugly" even more power to cause us harm? For years now, fat-positive activists have insisted that the word "fat" is morally neutral; that if you don't need to be thin to be considered a worthwhile or complete person, then "fat" isn't an insult, just a descriptor. Similarly, the answer to an oppressive and arbitrary beauty stand should not be to insist that everyone is beautiful, and more than the cure to weight stigmas is to declare that everyone is thin. It is to resist and counter the notion that thin and beautiful are the only acceptable things to be.

Instead of insisting that beauty is necessary for everyone, more body-positive activists are working toward making beauty optional- something we can pursue if it matters to us, but also something we can have full and satisfying lives without. We should affirm our bodies for what they can do, how they can feel, the tribulations they've survived. And the amazing minds they carry around, without having to first justify their existence by looking pretty.

While I stand with and support anyone who finds power, visibility, or joy in reclaiming the word and the concept of beauty, it shouldn't be compulsory. There should be space in body positivity for women like me, for anyone who wants access to confidence, happiness, and self-worth without having to use beauty as the vehicle to get there."

-Lindsay King Miller, from "Pretty Unnecessary- Taking Beauty Out of Body Positivity." Click title for the full article.