This Blog Has Vacated The Premises.

Future snippets will no longer be cross-posted. From here on out, you gotta go over to

Adios, dear blogger. You've been good to me, but I am fickle and I am moving on.



This past week I've seen flower stands along Foster Road, selling cheap hothouse flowers dyed with chemicals and wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. This afternoon's traffic to the Willamette National Cemetery was backed up over 1/2 mile, spilling down 110th Avenue. As I made my way through it, heading home, I thought about my tradition of calling all veterans I know on 11/11, how I don't actually know anyone who died while in military service, how my father threw his purple heart into the ocean, his reasons complicated and intensely personal.

And then I thought of Utah Phillips (wiki link here), whose singing and storytelling touched me, and provided a common forum through which my father and I connected, he a veteran and his daughter a peacemonger. The 1996 album Utah Phillips produced with Ani Difranco, The Past Didn't Go Anywhere, was tremendous and moving. Two tracks in particular, "Korea," followed by "Anarchy," brought tears to my eyes every time I heard them. I have many memories wrapped up in associations of this man, his cataclysmic force and sense of humor will remain in the threads woven through the past twelve years when I was first introduced to his stories and his music.

From "Korea":
I knew that it was all wrong, that it all had to change, and that change had to start with me.
From "Anarchy":
I learned in Korea that I would never again, in my life, abdicate to somebody else my right and my ability to decide who the enemy is.
. . . anarchy is not a noun but an adjective. It describes the tension between moral autonomy and political authority, especially in the area of combinations, whether they are voluntary or coercive. The most destructive coercive combinations are arrived at by force. As Ammon said, 'Force is the weapon of the weak.'
All these thoughts and memories and triggers inform me that now is the right time to publicly acknowledge my next project, to investigate and explore the Great Peace March of 1986. My fascination with the March, with Marchers' thoughts and stories twenty-two years later, with the meaning of Peace as a concept, a practice, a vision, a reality - these things will weave together the next creative phase.

What is peace? What is war? What is between the two? What else is on the spectrum? How do we choose to exist?



Now I Know His Name

For a long time, I didn't know his name, although I saw him almost every day. And then I fretted about not knowing his name.

But now I know his name. It's Jesse. He smiles and waves, "Hi, Mossie!" as I drive by, whether or not I have a dollar or a banana to give him.

The last few times I've had the first-in-line position, where I can roll down my window and talk with him until the traffic light changes, I've been especially sad. Today I was fighting back tears. But I still smiled at him.

He said, "You have such a pretty smile. It really brightens my day. It's great that you are so happy!"

"I'm actually really sad right now, Jesse. But I find that when I smile, it helps."

He smiles at me softly. "It helps me, Mossie. Thank you for your smile."

And so with tears splattering my lenses, I turned the corner and drove down Glisan Street to my office.

Smiling helps. Knowing his name helps, too.



He Said . . .

. . . to K on the phone:
Oh no! [rummaging sounds] Shit! . . . . What the . . . . ? Dammit!
So she asks:
What is it? Whassa matter?
And he says in utter seriousness:
I can't find my phone anywhere!
K laughed until urine threatened to soak her jeans. And when K recounted the story, telling us of "B's blond moment," T looked at me, raised her eyebrows and wondered aloud if he should have taken that last hit.

Maybe he shouldn't have taken those last twenty years' worth of hits.



Fridge Wisdom

Last night I started clearing off my fridge and decided to finally recycle these scraps of paper I've hung in various locations for years. Since I'm not ready to let go of their sentiments, I'm posting them here in the form of a photo.



Besides the fact that it is 85 degrees and sunny in Portland today, news out of California has me all aflutter.

Despite all my conflicted feelings about having gone to law school, those three years getting my JD provided me a new lens through which to interpret news. Links to the decision abound, but here it is again (172 page PDF) for your pleasure.

Marriage is a fundamental right. Felons [edit: Prisoners] get it, and (gasp) gay people should get it too.



Further Perspective

After the 4/11 car incident, I intended to refrain from posting until the story had played itself out fully. [I made an exception for the plea for NineMile Canyon.]

I also thought I'd gain some insight on how to talk about news I received earlier in the afternoon on the day of the accident. I haven't figured out that tellling, but the accident story I can now address. The accident played out in the following ways:

1. Statements were given and reports were filed. Photos were taken. Measurements were provided. The story was recounted. Hours and hours were spent on the phone, in tears, telling it over and over. Sleep was lost. Nightmares were had. Eventually, Oregon Revised Statutes were named. Blame was placed. On me. My insurance company made tsking noises and raised my rates. Attorneys were consulted and said they were sorry, they couldn't help me. So much for my naive self-righteousness. So much for recouping money for damages to my car or time lost from work, let alone the nebulous pain and suffering.

2. The upside: I am now receiving much-needed chiropractic care. Oregon law requires that minimum liability insurance provide $15,000 in medical care, regardless of fault, and my body is starting to heal. For that blessing, I am breathing a huge sigh of relief.

3. Housemate N pshawed my lamentations about salvaging my beloved car (named Goldilocks) for a paltry $400. I'd talked to three different body shops, receiving repair quotes between $2500 and $7000. (In tip-top shape, Goldilock's bluebook value is $2200, though her value is so much more than that for oh-so-many reasons.) N was my rockstar savior, my guy, who drove me to the junkyard. On the drive there, I bounced up and down and said, "N, I feel more hopeful than I've felt in two weeks."

We hammered on Goldy's frame a bit.

And then we attached a door retrieved from a Silverlocks which had been in a head-on collision. N later put the window in the silver door, replacing the classy blue tarp that kept the rain out.

Sure, it's kind of ghetto-style, and opening and closing the car door presents its own set of adventures, but I will say this: at least the door isn't red.

4. This whole series of events provided significant distraction, and the further further perspective is just starting to sink in and sort itself out now. For weeks I've tried to encapsulate what happened earlier that afternoon, before the car door was ripped out of my hand, what's happened over the course of the last year, two years, five years - and every choice, every decision, every motivation become so convoluted and twisty that communicating meaning seems impossible.

So rather than force it, I'm going to let the story trickle out as it does. Drip drop. A deluge may ensue, but it could be a slow telling. The unfolding, the mystery. Are you curious? Excited? Confused? Disinterested?

Yeah, me too.


Act Now for Nine Mile Canyon

Though out of character for this blog, I'm posting the following on the chance even one person will see this in time to take action.

Today is the deadline for submitting public comments to the BLM on proposed drilling of over 800 natural gas wells in ways that threaten Nine Mile Canyon. This canyon, home to over 10,000 individual petroglyphs and pictographs, would become an essential highway for hundreds of trucks traveling to and from the gas wells.

This is not an all-or-nothing issue. Many people and groups are urging the BLM to consider alternative routes for the trucks, among other options.

Please see The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the draft Environmental Impact Statement for more information.

Most importantly, send electronic comments to UT_Pr_Comments@blm.gov TODAY, May 1, 2008, even just to send a short comment letting the BLM know that you concur with and endorse the official comments they have received from the NineMile Canyon Coalition, the Hopi Tribe, the National Trust for HistoricPreservation, the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance, and the Utah Rock Art Research Association.

I'll be posting automobile/accident updates in the next few days. I'm sure the masses are terribly excited!



Perspective shifted when my life flashed before my eyes last Friday.

After parallel parking on Hawthorne Boulevard, I checked over my left shoulder, saw no car in the lane closest to me, and started to open my door about six inches. My car door was ripped from my hand. Two seconds later it would have been my body in addition to the car door that was smashed.

I am full of gratitude. This puts a lot of things in perspective.


Unusual Reference

This is a once-in-a-blog's-lifetime-experience. In case you aren't already sitting down, you might want to do so now.

I'm going to mention The Bible.

Shocking, I realize. Not along my general lines of gleeful low-brow humor.

But see, I read this post by Derick about the number of times that homosexuality is mentioned in various versions of the Christian Bible, compared to how many times the concept of peace is mentioned, and of course I had to link it up here.

You can stand up now. The shocking event has passed. But seriously, go check it out. It gave even a heathen like me a moment of pause.



40 years on 4/4

I've recently discovered Blue Oregon and would like to point out a post by Chip Shields: Wages and War - the King Speeches You Won't Hear Today.

My favorite quote from the video clip below? "I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and attack it as such."

Noticing how much these issues are intertwined is imperative if we are to truly find and make change. Forty-plus years later, it's still true.



The gravitational pull at her ribcage sucked everything she was into an eerily rotating mass, drawing her sex up inside herself, drawing her shoulders down and forward, lodging her stomach against her lungs. She sipped shallow breath through a fixed jaw, down the narrow passage of her throat. She barely registered the fading memory of how to breathe properly, how to expand her diaphragm and envision oxygen flowing through her bloodstream, feeding her starving extremities. She was tight, wound up. She sensed herself as dismembered, and cradled a crisp notion that clenching herself together would keep her from unraveling, from flying away like dandelion seeds.

Seeking connection, redemption, she managed a soft smile and eagerly agreed to roll around in bed. Fumbling there, she shyly admitted that she felt like a pubescent boy, groping and grasping, with sheer need and without providing pleasure to the one she groped and grasped. Her admission was met with a demonstrative kiss from her practiced lover, one who knew of topography and riptides and the curve of ocean meeting land. She allowed herself to be prodded toward surrender. Her cries were actually pleads for release, for mutuality, for a glimpse of her lover's slow knowing, for patience, for forgiveness. Gripping hands, eyes squeezed, she willed herself over the sharp edge of the earth, where land and sea dropped away, leaving nothing but cold darkness.

It was there, in the expanse, that she slept, better than she had for weeks.

There is my answer to being tagged by Chicory's if-your-life-were-a-novel meme. I'm not tagging anyone in particular because honestly, I'm not really sure who reads this blog. So you have to be assertive and self-tag if you'd like to participate. Just do me a favor? Post a comment and then I'll check it out and enjoy the opening paragraphs to the novel of your life - beginning last night. Carry on.


Bags of Urine

The cultural exchange in my family is something I love. We tell stories and surprise each other with our varied experiences and perspectives. Some stories are far more entertaining than others. Jorge-Mario is my sister's domestic-partner-husbandish-person, who is called Jorge-Mario because there were so many Jorges in his family that they had to distinguish them somehow. I don't even think Mario is his middle name; it was just made up so they could quit calling him Jorge Number Seventeen. My favorite story thus far from Jorge-Mario about life in Guatemala? The Bags of Urine story. He gave me permission to recount that story here and prove how much my sense of humor revolves around the toilet. You know, in case that wasn't already self-evident.

Where I grew up, people were crazy about soccer. Loco. Totally nuts. You think I get passionate during my soccer games when I tell the goalie he's a worthless piece of shit? That's nothing. Nothing.

When I was eight years old, two years after I moved back to Guatemala from L.A., I went to a soccer game at a big stadium with my cousin Beto. He got us what I thought were really good seats, right down next to the field. But Beto was nervous about the seats. He'd had gone to a game before, and warned me that when he said to move, I should move. He didn't tell me where to move, just that I should move.

At this stadium, there was barbed wire along the top of the fence separating the stands from the players. See, people get so into the game that they've been known to climb the fence and get onto the field. They put up barbed wire to keep everybody in the stands.

So we were watching the game, and all of a sudden, after one side made a goal, fireworks started going off. In the stands. It sounded like gunfire, and I was pretty scared until I figured out it was fireworks. After a quick glance over his shoulder, Beto suddenly shoved me. "Move!" he said. I was staring at the fireworks, wondering if the stadium was going to catch on fire. "Move!" he said again, but I was mesmerized.

And then I found out why I should have moved. Okay, you're not going to believe me, but I'm not kidding: there were BAGS OF URINE, raining down from the seats above us. They were trying to hit the players, but the pissed off (ha ha!) spectators were already so piss-drunk (ha ha!) that they had terrible aim. They would pee into plastic grocery bags, tie them off, and throw them at the field. But they kept getting caught on the barbed wire and it was suddenly raining urine on me.

That was my first experience at a professional soccer game, and I've been hooked ever since.

If you ask me really nicely in the comments, I will recount the Second Floating Turd Story from a Surf-n-Swim outing when I was a kid. That particular version had to replace the Original Floating Turd Story because the Original version would only embarrass the parties involved, and I am above embarrassing other people. Embarrassing myself, however, is clearly not a concern.


In Case You Hadn't Heard

One of the things I really enjoy about living in Oregon is the spectrum. Right here, in this one state, we have legislators who tell gay folks to shut up and compare Oregon to Nazi Germany by virtue of its anti-discrimination law. There are fierce and ongoing legal battles about the afore-mentioned anti-discrimination law and statewide domestic partnership rights. And now, Oregon is home to a widely publicized transgender pregnancy, the original story appearing in the 4/8/08 Advocate. [I've fixed the link that apparently wasn't working when I first made this post.]

Blogs I follow that have commented:
* Recovering Straight Girl on 3/25/08
* Stumptown Girl on 3/26/08
* Firecracker! on Lesbiatopia on 3/27/08
* More from Recovering Straight Girl on 3/28/08

What I find most striking is not that a transmale is pregnant, nor that he and his wife are afforded federal protections because they are legally married. Nor am I surprised that they have encountered significant discrimination and lack of support.

What is interesting to me is that legal gender identity, personal sexual and gender identities, and interpersonal identities intersect in interesting and unique ways. This situation, and the resulting discussions, cause me to reflect on the importance and relevance of my undergraduate degree in Women's/Gender Studies. I spent much of my early- to mid-twenties unpacking and assessing matters of gender, social "reading" of bodies, identification, and meaning.

In both my undergraduate program and in law school, the greatest lessons I gained with my diplomas was that THERE IS SO DAMN MUCH THAT I JUST DON'T KNOW. Gaining comfort with that level of ignorance, without settling into complacency, is an ongoing and humbling experience that has provided an entry into connection and compassion with my fellow beings whose life experiences differ from or parallel my own. It's an imperfect comfort, and is often more riddled with fits and starts than endowed with a smooth glide into true connection. But ultimately, I consider the journey one of the most precious aspects of my life thus far. One teacher in particular, S.Pace, is and was a key catalyst for that journey. To her, I am deeply and eternally grateful.

Kudos to the parents-to-be in Bend for their candor, and best wishes for a smooth birth experience for their child, expected in July 08.

Stretching our concepts of reality to include the experiences of others is one of the most blessed opportunities of being human.


Not About Courage

So I really set myself up, making my last blog post about courage and then saying I'd dig deeper in my next post. The result? Waiting 16 days to post again.

The only way I could compel myself to compose today was by giving myself permission to break with the whole courage bit (how cowardly!) and just put something, anything, up. I'll get back to courage when I can stomach the thought of going there. My reticence shows me how I'm not ready to really explore what I had intended and that itself is further food for courageous thought and action.

In the mean time, enjoy this important piece about the Christian Gene. What do these findings mean to you? Should a person be held responsible for something that is genetic? What kinds of religio-engineering processes should be ethically permitted?

Yeah. This one's definitely NOT about courage. Au contraire.


Courage Part One

Eleven years ago I told my then-partner that I wanted to get a pet snake and overcome my intense fear of slithery creatures. What did I get for Solstice that year? You guessed it. I didn't mean I wanted to get a pet snake quite so soon. It was more of an in-the-future idea and one that I expected to tackle myself, not through a holiday gift. At the time, I felt freaked out and slightly resentful, although simultaneously invigorated with what was probably adrenaline. All of a sudden I was responsible for this living being whose mere existence caused me heart palpitations and sweaty palms.

I named my snake Hygeiea and she was a wonderful companion. After about a year, she went many places with me, wrapped around my neck for warmth. She and I were connected, and I continued to explore my own associations with snakes and serpents as "male" in juxtaposition to ancient traditions of snakes representing femininity. During Hygeiea's growth spurts she would shed her skin once a month, during the same time I was menstruating. I felt a profound systerhood and strong Knowing during those times.

Additionally, the life-death cycle played out in my tiny one-bedroom apartment when my partner acquired another snake and we began breeding rats rather than buy pinky rats to feed our snakes from the pet store. Now, years later, I revisit the conflicting emotions of seeing the mama rat frantic, pressed against the glass, whiskers quivering, as we fed her babies to our snakes in the other room. It is an image that haunts me. Life-death-life-death-life. It was intense.

What ended up happening to Hygeiea, some time after that partnership ended, is another story entirely, and ultimately one of liberation and joy. But the experience of caring for her was perhaps the first time I realized that my inner strength and ability to delve into new, terrifying realms is deep, wide, and mysterious.

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. But I'll dig deeper in the next post.


Random Peeps

One of my favorite things about blogging is to watch what search engine queries lead the poor unsuspecting searcher to my ever-random and undeniably self-indulgent webspot. Ah, sitemeter, thank you for feeding my voyeurism.

Dirty Eggs gets the most hits because somebody tagged it "cock" on a del.icio.us page, and apparently google sends people there for "how roosters fertilize eggs" and "chickens don't have penis" and "chicken eggs vagina or ass."
Internet rovers are so curious! Just a few months ago, I ran the same searches trying to find out how to spell cloacae. The cycle of internet life continues.

S*x Reading and Mainstream S*x Stories also get hit, usually from ISPs in India and Indonesia and Ithaca, probably because people living in places with names beginning in the letter I are more prone to search for sex stories on the internet than people from Latvia or Liberia or Lafayette. Or so goes my theory of the moment.

Those who accidentally stumble across me don't usually stay long. Their desires for hot erotica unsatisfied, clickity-click, and off they go. I'm not sure what the chicken-seekers think.


Moved Me

When I watched this video today, I felt so much. My reaction was visceral and more profound than anything I've felt for an exceptionally long time. Perhaps ever. Sitting with my love at our dining room table, bearing witness via YouTube, tears streaming down our cheeks - it made for an incredible Sunday morning. I may write more about my reaction later, but for now, I'll simply hold this out as a humble offering. Maybe it will move you too.

Something else that moved me: Waking up early on Tuesday morning, the first day of the bar exam, padding into the kitchen to turn on the gas fireplace and make coffee, glancing out the sliding glass door, and seeing a beautiful bouquet of flowers, left for me by an incredible friend at 5am. I love to feel love.


*Updated* Bouncing Back with a Tag

After a longish blogging break in the weeks leading up to Tuesday and yesterday's bar exam, it's nice to reemerge with a tag from Chicory.

Grab the book nearest to you, open it up, and turn it to page 123. Write down the first 5 sentences on that page. Then tag 5 more people. [*This post is updated because I didn't properly follow the directions and only listed five lines instead of five sentences. Doh.*]

The book closest to me in this moment is Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, a title with much serendipity for me lately. In one day I saw it at two people's houses, exclaimed that it was the next book I was going to read after the bar exam, and also learned that Oprah is doing a free ten-week online course with Eckhart Tolle starting 3/3 (see www.oprah.com). Having been unplugged from TV for several years, I was totally out of this Oprah loop until someone told me this news, but I am so excited to see that television and online media is being used in these powerful ways! Because the course is online, I'm absolutely going to sign up! The first full five sentences on page 123, from the chapter entitled "Role-Playing: The Many Faces of the Ego":
There is a "me" that feels personally offended or resentful, and a huge amount of energy is burned up in useless protest or anger, energy that could be used for solving the situation if it were not being misused by the ego. What is more, this "anti"-energy creates new obstacles, new opposition. May people are truly their own worst enemy.
- People unknowingly sabotage their own work when they withhold help or information from others or try to undermine them lest they become more successful or get more credit than "me." Cooperation is alien to the ego, except when there is a secondary motive.
And now, I hereby tag Jehara, Lori, Derick, Zilla, and LeviZoe.

* * *


Clogged Up With a Lot to Say

Posts have been percolating, but I find myself unable to get there. I get stuck because my filter is mucked up with too much too much too much. Those posts might have to wait until after those magic days in 2.5 weeks when I take the bar exam. But they are coming.

I'll be back at the end of the month.

* This post was edited to remove gratuitous and unnecessary references originally included for my own amusement and probably not amusing to anyone else. *


Cassie's Birthday

Dipstick's posting about her snow dogs is prompting this post in honor of Cassie. It's timely, given that LittleGrrl turned six two days ago.

Cassie was born February 1, one week before the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, and is my very first dog. Given the totality of the circumstances, leaving her with B and K was assuredly the right choice. The prospect of taking her away from her home and her best friend was unacceptable to me. Nevertheless, moving 766 miles away from my canine companion was one of the hardest choices I've ever made. The privilege of caring for animals is a blessed responsibility, and making that particular decision about Cassie's future was perhaps the most unselfish thing I've ever done. Maybe there's hope for me yet!

Though it brings a lump to my throat, my heart swells when K sends pictures to my phone, like the one above from a hike in Memory Grove. I miss her fiercely, but it brings great comfort to know she is happy and cherished. Many thanks to B and K for continuing to give all the Avalon Animals such a good home. (They are now giving daily insulin shots to Buddy, whose obesity resulted in an unsurprising feline diabetes diagnosis a few months ago.)

So happy birthday to Cass; may your next six years be as joyful and full of adventure as the first six!


Mah Suthuhn Gal Loves Her Faux Meat

My grrl gets around. She spent her childhood in Oregon, adolescence and early adulthood in the south, eight months walking across the country on a peace march, brief time in D.C. and Minneapolis, and then migrated west for twenty years spent in Zionia being a local bluesy/rock and gardening icon. Infamous, if you will.

Despite her varied geographical identities, I can't help but think of T as inherently southern, and not only due to that sexy drawl she's prone to whip out during intimate moments. No, I take her fervent love and commitment to meat - albeit faux meat - as a southern quality, especially the way she gets excited about the "bacon" and "sausage." (If so inclined, you may insert a joke here about other types of faux sausage we grrls may enjoy . . . )

Yes, indeedy, folks. Mah soy-lovin' vegetarian gal is suthuhn. (She even told me how to spell southern phonetically. Whattagal.)




"The children sucked my personality out," she said limply, after babysitting for an entire three hours.


How do I? Tell me, wiki, do!

I love wikiHow. I learned how to tell it I loved it at Say-I-Love-You. Before I loved it, we were just friends. I learned how to become its friend at Become-Friends-With-Someone-Who-Knows-You.

Of course, first I had to learn to Meet-New-People-Without-Being-Creepy. And now wikiHow tells me I have a problem and that I need to Control-a-wikiHow-Addiction.

The place slays me. The culture, the audience - it's this huge mash of humanity that is at times bizarre and touching and surprisingly insightful and always, always, good for a laugh. My faves lately:


consume this

Victor Lebow, a post WWII retailing analyst:
"Our enormously productive economy . . . demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption . . . we need things consumed, burned up, replaced, and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.
This article, and the above quote, have prompted me to find creative ways around outright replacing my dear technological companion, though the prospect of being away from her again for repairs tears at my heart. (Why do they make these things disposable?! They told me I was LUCKY to get three years out of my laptop!)

So again I tell myself: Buy less. Live more.



Men's Abortions & The War Mentality

Two weeks ago I read two articles about abortion on the same day. I'm glad I read them in the order that I did because the first one placed my paradigm in a more inclusive rather than exclusive stance.

The first article (A Change of Heart: From Pro Life to Pro Choice, AlterNet 1/9/08) included a perspective I needed to hear: "Our beliefs are not created by what -- or who -- we are against. They exist because of what we are for: comprehensive reproductive health for all, and the ability to decide for ourselves if we will or will not have an abortion."

A line from the second article (Changing Abortion's Pronoun, LA Times 1/7/08) elicited an audible groan from me, and my mind went to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and Starhawk's description of The Southlands in The Fifth Sacred Thing. A man, discussing his personal regret about several ex-girlfriends' abortions: "'I never really thought about it for the woman,' he says slowly." What?! He never really thought about the woman part of the equation in an abortion scenario? Excuse me?

It's an interesting catch-22. Though it disgusts me, it doesn't surprise me that anti-abortion activists will utilize women's termination regret to influence the courts toward the incorrectly-perceived need to "protect" women from their own choices. But would they do the same with men's regret as a motivator? To protect men from themselves? I do not doubt that some men experience loss or sadness over the termination of a pregnancy in which they played a role. But is regret the best measure of whether or not government should permit certain reproductive medical decisions?

Back when I was a married-to-a-man queer grrl, before the polyamorous part of our marriage was predominant, my husband and I terminated a pregnancy. In Utah. I wrote about it here, when the South Dakota mess was in the news. In the post, I half-heartedly pretended it wasn't me, but it was probably pretty obvious. Many women have termination stories; I have one. I don't see why men shouldn't get to tell their stories too.

My ambivalence toward abortion topics is deep and multi-layered. I believe it important to let stories and voices be heard, and yet I also recognize the deeply personal realm of reproduction, coming from a family where fertility, miscarriage, and ectopic (tubal) pregnancies were wrapped in whispered conversations, kept from children, spoken about with solemn secrecy.

The more we share, all of us, the more information we have, the greater likelihood that we might just be able to see each other and really connect and not live under the illusion that our way of experiencing the world is the only way it's experienced. The more information, more connection, more understanding, more empathy, the better. That includes having empathy for people who truly believe that abortion should be illegal. If I can empathize with their feelings, it may be a vital step in bridging the gap in our perspectives, and maybe that person will one day believe that even if abortion is not a choice s/he would make or want a loved one to make, it is a choice that should nevertheless be available in a legal and safe way. The "fight" is more about increased connection and communication rather than fighting. Give peace a chance, wo/man.

. . .


Blessed Intention

Upon reviewing yesterday's post I feel that much of it sounded like "wow, I'm so great," and that's not what I meant. Or at least not what I wanted to convey. I really wanted to express that seeing this guy, connecting with him the various ways I've connected, that's a blessing. Especially. Predominantly. Blessings can and are found in all sorts of circumstances. He is my blessing on the way to work everyday.

And the fact that I don't know his name, that's embarrassing. It's as though he is this objectified opportunity for me to feel good, to feel connected with a stranger, to experience heartfelt humanity. And that really sucks. Romanticizing poverty and homelessness is downright shameful. Though I'm not sure that's what I'm doing, the mere possibility of my complicity with it - that's something of which I want to be well aware.

Until I moved to Portland, I didn't witness homelessness in such a visible way, so spread out throughout the city. That's not to say there was no homelessness in Salt Lake City - there is/was. But my experience with it was different than it is here. I need to unpack my emotions and reactions as I process this new reality.

Ah, the process.


I Don't Know His Name

I see him almost every day on the offramp at I-205 and Glisan Street. When I don't see him, I wonder where he is and if he's okay.

Hard lives can age people; I really have no idea if he's sixty or forty. His right leg is missing below the knee. He has a white beard and kind eyes and holds a tattered sign that says, "Anything is a blessing. God bless." Based on my experience and observation, I think he really means that. Anything is a blessing. Some days my blessing is a smile. Some days it's whatever extra food I have in the car. He's always grateful, and he always smiles back at me, unlike the younger men who squint incredulously when I offer them fruit or a granola bar. They want money. But my guy, he's something else. After I handed him a tangerine he said, "Ooooh! These little oranges, they sure are good!" I smiled, "Yeah, they are. They are really sweet!"

The difficulty with his location is that if I'm not the first car stopped at the light, he usually can't reach me for a tangible exchange because of his crutches. Many days I have something for him besides my smile, but I can't give it to him without stopping a whole line of cars at a green light. So one day, between Christmas and New Years, when there was little traffic and I felt particularly flush, I gave him a crisp $10 bill. I'd been saving it in my glove compartment for him. He looked shocked, shook his head, "Too much!" My eyes welling with tears, I said, "I see you every single day and many days I can't give you what I want to give you. This makes up for that." He smiled at me shyly, his tears matching my own.

As I turned the corner and drove toward my office, I realized the truth in his sign. Contact with a person so humbled as to broadcast his need, to stand out in the freezing temperatures and precipitation, leaning against a cold guardrail with his crutches, to ask his fellow humans for anything they can and will share - I am blessed to be reminded of our shared humanity.

Anything is a blessing.



Important Stuff

Twenty minutes. I'll be bold and say that you can't afford not to spend this twenty minutes. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but this is one of those things that feels Important.

Maybe you don't want to watch it. Maybe you say to yourself, "But I like not knowing. If I don't know, I'm absolved of my participation." Or you say, "Look, I know, but I have a XYZ factors in my life that require me to live the way that I do." Or maybe you say, "I already know. And I live frugally and consciously and watching this is unnecessary."

But this is Important Stuff. Seriously seriously important stuff. And even the most examined life can use a boost, a reminder, a tool to share with others, perhaps. I'll embed a teaser below, but more importantly, go spend twenty minutes watching or listening to the film The Story of Stuff. Let a kid watch it. In fact, please, encourage your kid to watch it. Important Stuff.