Sunday, February 22, 2015


Moving has always been difficult for me.  It's the rootless feeling and the uncertainty of change, not to mention change of address madness.  It gets easier as I get older, but still, I'd rather not.  As I anticipate me next move, and hopefully the last one for awhile, I'm struck by how many people I now know are in this fluid state and all for such different reasons.

My family is currently searching for a place to own so that we have some control and certainty over the critical process of our aging and some say over where we would like to live.  Our town, like many, is changing so rapid that people are being out priced or out spent about these decisions.  Rentals are high and higher, and prospective home buyers are being out spent by those who have cash.  And then their are a few couples I know who seem to be separating.  Half of these twosomes will be seeking a separate home for at least a short while.  Their distance show their commitment to changing what's gone wrong in their relationships.  Kids, of course, suffer because they have m resistance to change times ten.
The eldest members of my extended family are contemplating the moment when they leave their homes for some sort of assisted living.  They too are resisting this most unavoidable but but inevitable decision.  So here we are in the same tub, wondering how this will all play out.
Unlike past experiences, I intend to live in the moment and resist my temptation to awfulize...I think...I hope.
Moving makes me put m life in perspective too.
Thinking about refugees, the dispossessed, the war-torn, and those running for their lives, I have no right to claim anxiety.  I get that.  I think, too, about the contrast between those moving away from neighbors and those moving away from people or toward their own autonomy.  Both face uncertainty, maybe exhilaration, at some point later down the road.
When I used to move years ago, I'd start with boxing up all my books and records.  If either were not shelved, I knew I meant business.  In this age of email and I-Phones, I wonder if we feel less unconnected when we move.  Something to keep in mind.
Moving, for me now starts with more downsizing and I must admit I am enjoying that because it underscores more new beginnings.  Unburdening myself from furniture, rugs, more books and recordings, and some of the material possessions I identified as "impossible to live without" for some now unknown reason.
What to keep and what to move on?  Everything.

Friday, February 13, 2015

From the Bottom

Spent the day with the Oregon Writing Project at the annual Renewal Day.  I always look forward to what kind of poetry or fiction or memoir will emerge.  All writing is creative writing, isn't it?
In an exercise about writing about place, this arrived:

My focus was a classroom,
Another home for 30 years,
Behind carved desks, a wall of faces: Flannery O'Connor, Little Richard,
                                                        Roberto Clemente, Little Rascals,
               Alice Walker, a devilish Steinbeck, Langston Hughes smiles down,
                         On Josephine Baker,
Lunch bags, Kleenex, scampering ants,
A discarded note,
                           Home to lockdowns, life choices, fishbowl discussions,
The quake of '89, the fire of '91, a place to cry for untimely death,
     I am no longer the abandoned school building,
          The grattified wall, or the secrets in the teacher's desk,
I became the river that springs from the side of a mountain,
     With hand-painted trout, families of otters, and lightning to make
A fly rod tremble,
I see stoneflys and Blue Winged Olives hatch,
     Like the child I was born in L.A. music clubs,
A hatchling crawling out of pop music and the Vietnam War,
Into the web of America's stolen treasure,
     From an Ashgrove of legends-- I saw them all,
                      -Howlin' Wolf
                     -Big mama Thornton
                     -Son House
 All, gone now, like the scene: played out,
  But sometimes, I remember Sunday afternoons, when I'd wander in that club,
                        To find Taj Mahal, with his gospel/Jazz bloodlines,
                                     Teaching the next generation.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lucky To Be

All those cliches come to mind.  Stuff about "in a heartbeat", "a split second", and how life changes on a random whim.  Straightaway, here's the news: I lost control of my wife's car on a 12 hour drive home up the Interstate from the Bay Area to Portland.  Another list of cliches begins with "wake-up call", thought I could just push through, and "lucky to be alive."
We skidded, hit a semi truck, spun in a circle, and ended up on the shoulder of the freeway perfectly tucked away from any more danger.  That last point is the only thing I feel good about.  "Not my time " or somebody "watching over us" fits well here.
I will not drive when I haven't had enough sleep again.  How many times do you want me to write that?  I'll do it because I take full responsibility for not taking responsibility.  That's hard for me because I live my life carefully.  Usually within strict borders that keep risk-taking to a careful minimum.  I'm being hard on myself here because I need to be.  That nobody was seriously hurt is an eye-catching miracle.  I now know this.  Only my sweet wife, Katie, seems to have suffered any physical consequences: a bruised rib probably caused from the tight seat belt.  This week I'm reminded of my colossal fuck-up every time I hear her groan when she rises out of bed or off the couch or in and out of my truck.
So, I ask myself, what have we learned from this, since it's clear when you walk away from a car that's totaled you are lost in thought now and again?
I'm taking stock and will return to respond here after more deep thinking.
Here: my list of learned facts:
                             Your brain can turn itself off in an instant.
                             Seat belts work, even if air bags don't deploy properly
                             A totaled car is only the beginning of another list of consequences that cost
                             everything from money to bruised pride and self-esteem
                             If your eyes start to feel heavy, get off the road immediately because
                             your brain can turn itself off in an instant
                             There are good people everywhere waiting to help you when you need it most