10 May 2010

not so big

My extremely fabulous friend Mary Milstead spent time with me yesterday, on Mother's Day no less, to help me work on a chapter in my novel. We started out sitting on her front steps in the sun until it got far too bright and hot for May. Then we moved to the backyard, dubbed Little Italy for the fig tree and the big wooden table that was built by the neighbor, Mike Suri (of Suri Iron, and my daughter's metal sculpture mentor).

I am so grateful for Mary and the community of writers of which I find myself a part. I came here 15 years ago and at the time knew only one person in all the the Portland/Vancouver area, and he has since moved away (Love you, Max!). And yet I am blessed to be surrounded now by so many dear friends and colleagues, some of them talented writers, musicians and artists, many of them wonderful spouses or partners or parents, some with bevies of busy children, or skilled professionals completely willing to share their time and craft. There is a vibrant culture of cooperation and collective well-being in this area, and I am often overwhelmed with gratitude for having landed in this place when I did. I was so broken when I got here, and in large part, the community that embraced me has also helped heal me.

In a job interview last week, one of the questions was: how did you hear about this job? And why did you apply?

"Well, one of my friends, Jen Kilcoyne, a really amazing graphic designer, knew I was looking for work, since all of my friends knew I had been laid off, and she sent me an email forwarded to her from one of the businesses in the building where her office is located saying that another business that was doing really well and had recently moved to a new location had an open position. I met Jen some years ago through a programming friend, Eric Miller from Squishymedia, with whom I worked on a complex back-end-front-end website project, and he introduced me when I needed a designer to do a company rebrand. A year later, I worked with Jen on another really cool project where I worked with a super great team of programmers and designers (we should do Happy Hour again sometime, guys), after which I moved to another company when another friend called to say they had the perfect job for me, which it was until it wasn't, which left me unemployed, so I applied here because this looks like a great opportunity."

Or the short version:

"A friend forwarded me the job announcement, and since my previous contract was not renewed, I have been looking for a job just like this."

Tomorrow I meet with Joanna Rose, from The Pinewood Table Writers (I think the actual table that inspires the name is hers) to prepare for our reading at The Press Club. Then to the local university to check out their program. Then good coffee with one of my former supervisors to talk shop and compare life stories.

But first, I have an appointment with my trainer at the local gym, where she is still mad at me because my previous employer is responsible for the installation of the billboard near her apartment complex that features a mega, super-sized photo of her ex-boyfriend. With lights, so she can see it at night. Yup, that's it at the top. (sigh)

The world is not such a big place.


07 May 2010

reading at the Press Club

Pinewood Table Writers are reading at The Press Club
Monday, May 24
7:30 - 9 pm

Joanna Rose, reading from her new novel, Ruby's Roadhouse.
Scott Sparling, reading from his new novel, Wire to Wire.
Sherri H. Hoffman, reading from her new novel, The Wildish Boys.

The Press Club
2621 Southeast Clinton Street
Portland, OR 97202

*Update: Hosted by the Mountain Writers Series. Suggested donation at the door: $5. Visit their website for more information, or download the event flyer (note: the flyer has a 7:00 pm start time, but the correct time is 7:30 pm)

Follow Scott on Twitter: @sparling
Follow the Press Club on Facebook
Follow the Mountain Writers at www.mountainwriters.org

Very exciting! Look forward to seeing you there.


02 May 2010


A pair of finches is working really hard to make a nest in the hanging bowl of jasmine on the front porch. They both flew out of there, incensed and squeaking, when I watered this morning. Is it the same pair that battled for that spot last year?

The robins are back, same as every year, to the nests in the arbor, and there's a red-cheeked flicker on top of the suet feeder, practicing his shrill scree for the annual mating performance from the chimney cap on our roof. The tulips are almost gone, but the columbine is up and the oak trees are filling in green and thick. In the garden, violets are everywhere. The first daisy is about to bloom.

It is an awkward juxtaposition of familiar cycles and my own unknown path. I am out of work but not without options. My daily schedule fills with writing and tasks, meetings with friends and people, job possibilities and networking. Time goes both fast and slow.

Another turning point, to be sure. Anticipation feels just like being in trouble. I stir the wet garden dirt with my fingers to hold me in this moment.

By this time next year, there may be finches in the planter again. There will be these same spring days of hard rain and sun breaks, columbine and daisies in the garden.

Perhaps exactly like today.


"There's no normal life, Wyatt. There's just life."
 - Virgil Earp (Sam Elliott), Tombstone, 1993.