25 May 2010

shout out!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the reading at the Press Club. It was a really great experience for me, and I was honored to be included with my fellow writers, Joanna Rose and Scott Sparling. They both read pieces that were engaging, unique and full of real life.

Reading from the podium was a bit nerve-wracking. Had to keep pulling my breath from deep, like the monks taught in meditation. That seemed to work. Kept me from feeling like I was drowning. Had my game-face, my story-telling voice and my favorite boots. On.

Once I started, I didn't look up so that I wouldn't lose my place (that was the nightmare from the night before, along with the one where I turn the page and it's blank, and so is the next one, and the next...). 

Keep pace. Keep breathing. Don't rush or your tongue twists up. Read my story.

It's a far cry from my 9-year old self. Dyslexic. Displaced, this time into a whole new country called the United States. With a severe lisp that landed me in special education for a few years. (You can still hear it, soft, but still there.)

It's even further from some dark places where I ended up in later years. Spiraled down and dragged along the bottom for far too long. Or perhaps just long enough.

The victory for me last night was just to be there. Bonus points for the positive response to the Wildish Boys.

A big shout out to the Mountain Writers Series. They continue to sponsor readings every third Wednesday of the month at the Press Club. Check their website for the list of events, including the upcoming conference: www.mountainwriters.org.

Another to the Pinewood Table Writing workshop. That's the fancy name for Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose, both amazing writers and poets, mentors and teachers. Both my friends.

I remain grateful. And amazed.


"Make connections; let rip; and dance where you can."
 - Annie Dillard

17 May 2010


Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up and realize the answer to a stuck point. It's the solution to some twist in the story, or blank spot in the plot or one of the characters.

It always feels odd, but I shouldn't be so surprised. It's happened that way for years. When I am doing heavy programming (in my alternate work-life), the midnight epiphany is sometimes the untangling of code or direction of structure. Graphic designs have come to me in the night, a vision of layout or branding.

Occasionally it is so amazing, I have gotten up out of bed and headed to the home office for immediate implementation. Other times, I write it down on some scrap of paper or bookmark. On the headboard, there is a collection of torn-out corners of notebooks, sticky-notes, and magazine pull-outs, each with some middle-of-the-night scribble. Even my cell phone has a set of digital night-notes.

Granted, it's not always the greatest of thoughts or the be-all-end-all answer. Some of my notes make absolutely no sense the next morning. Like this one:

"Anticipation is the 32nd Flavor."

No clue.

The process is what I latch onto. Like simmering a good sauce, distillation of the thought jumble. My brain turns it around and over while I grocery shop, drive to the kids' school and back and forth and back, cook dinner, water my garden. Sleep.

I become our own best fortune teller. Holding my questions forward, the answer manifests. Whether it is in the night, on the elliptical at the gym, or smack in the middle of some really horrific draft of writing.

It's a good day when I get to participate in the process. In those terms, I've certainly been gifted with a lot of good days. I remain grateful.


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.