August 31, 2011

a city map

This city is a map of love
on this street you met me
here snow joined our lips
here we said goodbye
and your eyes followed me for so long
here our paths married
here our hands found home
here I ran to you in illness
here I drove you for the last time
here you hid yourself from me
here I won't stop looking for you

-- anna kamienska

there's not much to say. this weekend I have four days off, because I've been working myself to the bone all week. I have no idea where I'll go; every single place is a memory. not the state fair, not the beach, not the mountains, not camping, not the park. not the open-air concert, because of the fireworks. even at the barn the other night, I burst into tears.

there are tiny things getting me out of bed in the morning. my beautiful sister sent me a present -- some clothes from quiksilver, where she works. a coworker brought me a giant bag of candy (with the admonishment not to eat it all in one go), and took me vintage dress shopping for our upcoming gala. my riding instructor gave me a hug (because I was crying). I'm trying. it's so hard. I can't remember a harder time, period.

August 29, 2011

on the necessity of sadness

Let me tell you about longing.
Let me presume that I have something
new to say about it, that this room,
naked, its walls pining for clocks,
has something new to say
about absence. Somewhere
the crunch of an apple, fading
sunflowers on a quilt, a window
looking out to a landscape
with a single tree. And you
sitting under it. Let go,
said you to me in a dream,
but by the time the wind
carried your voice to me,
I was already walking through
the yawning doors, towards
the small, necessary sadnesses
of waking. I wish
I could hold you now,
but that is a line that has
no place in a poem, like the swollen
sheen of the moon tonight,
or the word absence, or you,
or longing. Let me tell you about
longing. In a distant country
two lovers are on a bench, and pigeons,
unafraid, are perching beside them.
She places a hand on his knee
and says, say to me
the truest thing you can.
I am closing my eyes now.
You are far away.

--mikael de lara co

today is one of those days where every moment, thought, memory, breath is a pinprick to the heart. I don't know the way through it.

August 28, 2011

the obligatory garden update

holy crap, zinnias!!!

holy crap, tomatoes!!!

holy crap, flowers!
(out of focus bee balm, finally bloomed!)





holy crap, tomatillos!!!
(so heavy some of the branches fell off SADFACE)

holy crap, the first broccoli!!

holy crap, ripe salsa peppers!!

holy crap ... oh wait.

I took one photo of the beans on the trellis, turned my back for a second, and turned back around to discover THIS TRAGEDY.

fortunately I already had nineteen!!!! POUNDS!!! OF BEANS!! in my refrigerator so honestly this is probably a godsend. although I hadn't really planned to spend the next hour in the garden trying to clean up the bean trellis, but that's OK. the beans are down and gone now. the edamame is like, 'who turned on the sun??' but that's good, it's just beginning to develop pods itself.

those beans

I spent the entire day today canning beans. I've never canned a thing in my life so it is a BIG DAY PEOPLE. big day.

first: assemble your ingredients:
please note coffee press on right, completely necessary ingredient although if you're me you'll get too distracted by all the canning instructions and let it get cold and then feel sad because you can't microwave it, since you don't have a microwave

the beans in question SWEET LORD IN HEAVEN

there really were, as I said above, nineteen pounds of beans.

the pressure canner:
I like its heavenly glow.

guys, I gotta tell you. I am terrified of anything that involves things under high pressure. for the love of god, I made scott inflate my bike tire last time, because I was absolutely petrified that it would blow up and kill me. of course, I'd already had a bike tire blow up in my face, but still. and here I am with this machine in my kitchen that has glass jars inside it -- hot glass jars -- and I have to somehow be brave and use it if I want to keep all nineteen pounds of beans.

NINETEEN POUNDS!! I can't get over it

okay, anyway. first I made three jars of refrigerator dilly beans/pickled green beans, because oh man I love pickles and I was kind of scared to start canning, so it was a good diversionary tactic. then, I made three jars of canned dilly beans from this recipe from Food in Jars, which uses the boiling water method. (you can use the boiling water method if you're brining the beans, but you have to pressure can if you're just canning them in water, because of their low acidity).

then. I fired up the pressure canner. I read the instructions like four times. I prepped my work station.


I only have one larger pot, other than the pressure canner (which is borrowed from Scott, actually), and so I had to heat up the jars inside the canner, which was at a simmer. the lids got heated up in a saucepan, and the water for the jars boiled on the back burner. it was quite a setup, but it worked. I ended up with seven jars of beans. I'd aimed for eight (all my remaining pint jars), but hadn't quite prepped enough beans. that's OK.

once the beans were packed and ready, I put the lid on the canner, said a prayer, and waited.

and waited.

I expected the pressure to begin to rise immediately upon sealing the lid, but that's not what happened. the overpressure valve was steaming A LOT but it seemed OK (it's supposed to pop off if you exceed 15 pounds of pressure). I got nervous and googled "how long to build pressure in canner" and felt better when the average was 10-15 minutes. OH. okay. so I waited some more.


after about 10 minutes, I was still here. what gives, guys. but then! the overpressure valve? it must have been seated funny or something because suddenly it made a little SCHLOOP sound and all the hissing stopped. it had been releasing steam! then we were IN BUSINESS Y'ALL.


then it was a game called 'crap, move the pot before the pressure builds too high.' the beans had to process for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. the struggle then became how to keep it at 10 rather than higher. I ended up having to bump the burner down almost to off to get it there; obviously the inside of the canner was really effing hot.

but I got there. and managed to follow all the after-care instructions to the tee, so that I did not, as I feared I might, blow up the kitchen. SUCCESS.

I still had so many beans I had to blanch and freeze two gallon-sized bags of them in order to be done. And I threw out two gallon bags which had been in there a little too long. AND I still have a huge bowl of fresh beans in the fridge. beans for everybody!

#21: movies in the park
last night, I met some friends at laurelhurst park for a picnic dinner and a free viewing of the social network, as part of portland parks and rec's movies in the park series. it was great! we got there way too early and had to suffer through the live music, which was ... not so good. but we ate a lot of cheese and hummus and crackers and there was FREE CANDY! and free popcorn, which I can really get behind.

AND!! fred armisen and carrie brownstein, of portlandia fame, were there! here is a photo of them:


super impressive, I know. I have an awesome camera.

anyway, they talked and showed a hilarious clip of portlandia about movies in the park, and then we watched the movie. which was good. particularly because you could look up and see the big dipper!


people, this list is saving my life lately. although the whole truth is, fulfilling list items is a double-edged sword; it gives me a useful agenda, but was written with the intention of doing most of the items with a certain someone. I'm trying, you guys.

oh, right

holy crap, garlic!

this is all garlic from my garden. it's been curing outside in the sun for a few weeks. isn't it awesome?! I grew it!

big garlic, wee garlic: a study:

August 24, 2011

15, 16

15. more boozetues

booze tues, or more accurately, #boozetues, is a sometimes-monthly meetup of ladies who only know each other from twitter. the rules are simple: if you are a girl, you are invited. the word spreads around twitter acquaintances and we end up with a motley assortment of ladies, many of whom have never met. it's like having an open book club, except with no books and more mai tais.

I haven't been to a boozetues in AGES, because I work at the barn every tuesday night, and the meetup generally happens at 5 or 6 PM. occasionally I have gone early, had one drink, and then arrived late to the barn, but I typically hate to do that because the whole evening feels rushed. alternatively, sometimes the ladies are out late enough that I can finish my barn work early and head over there afterwards.

I requested this particular boozetues, thinking it would be good to get out with some girlfriends and drink. many of the twitter ladies have been really kind to me during the breakup, as I dump all my emotions there, and I thought it would be good to see them in person. plus, I'm really trying to be more socially gregarious. and I also hadn't seen heather in like a year and I secretly want her to be my BFF. (heather, this is true).

so! I requested to meet later so I could get my barn work done -- what an idea! I'd never thought to just CHANGE THE TIME. we went to the newly opened trader vic's and drank drinks with little umbrellas. there were curry fries and curry ketchup. I met several nice new ladies. I went the whole day without crying! SUCCESS.

16. float

somehow through the grapevine I heard a few months ago about float on, a place out on hawthorne where they have salt water floating tanks, known by some as sensory deprivation tanks. the water is treated with 800 pounds of magnesium epsom salts, which allow you -- or pretty much force you -- to float. the water is at body-temperature, so once you're in you can feel it, but only a little. floating originated when a scientist needed to tone down outside sensory stimuli in order to run experiments on people, and discovered that floating itself reaped a host of benefits. the idea is that shutting off the need to keep yourself upright/fight gravity/remain comfortable in one position, plus shutting out noise and light, allows the body to reach a state of relaxation that's normally very difficult to attain.

I was interested in floating mostly from a novelty standpoint -- I am totally a sinker; floating in water is real work for me -- but I had heard from a few acquaintances that it was a really amazing experience. there just so happened to be a livingsocial deal for float on recently, so I bought one and made the appointment for tonight.

they walk you through the whole shebang: shower, put in earplugs if you want (yes please), put balm on any little cuts you might have, and then get in the tank. there's a whole list of things to do if you should get the salt in your eyes (it's not going to hurt you in the long term but it's gonna HURT LIKE HELL in the moment). otherwise, there was a floaty neck pillow if you wanted it, and have fun!

the first, I don't know, thirty minutes? in the tank were pretty much pure novelty. when I first sat down I thought, "hey, I'm not floating!" but the minute I began to straighten my body out, POP! up it went. so neat! the water is so salty that it feels almost like a syrup, not quite viscous but almost. it doesn't feel grainy but it does dry grainy on your skin.

it really is a sensory deprivation tank, although they don't prefer that term because they don't like the association with "deprivation," which I understand. but still: you really can't see a hand in front of your face, and if you lie still, parts of you can't really tell you're in water. the booth was not soundproof, but with earplugs sound was mostly muffled. you're just in the dark, alone, naked. floating!

so there I am, floating. coming into the tank I thought, what the hell am I going to think about in the dark for ninety minutes? there's plenty to think about but nothing that's going to reduce my stress level. but it turned out not to really matter. I spent the first ... ten? twenty? minutes mostly just playing around with the floating, trying to figure out the best way to put my arms and legs so that they would relax and not touch the walls of the tank. after that, I did a little thinking, but mostly just sort of lolled around. I thought to myself, "well, this is fine but I don't see the big deal." eventually -- if I had to guess I'd say about 40 minutes in, which is interesting for reasons I'll tell you in a minute -- I began to ... not nod off, exactly, but go into that place where you go just before you sleep, where your brain makes up all sorts of wacky stuff and you keep thinking, "oh right, I'm just about to fall asleep, this is the beginning of dreaming." I decided it would be fine if I just fell asleep (they encourage it; it would be damn hard to drown in that tank), but mostly I just ... floated along in that half-dozy state. I did finally nod off, and when the music came on to tell me my time was up, I found that I didn't really want to get out, not because I was sleepy but because it felt really good. I felt sad to resume normal gravity again.

when I left the building, I was a total noodle. who would have thought?! I had gone on a run before coming to the tank, but with the exception of my always-tweaky hip, I never would have been able to tell. I was sleepy and noodly and I felt really good, sort of dopey. I can see how going once a week could make you feel better about life.

the 40 minutes thing is interesting. it turns out, according to the float people, that it's typically after about 40 minutes that exactly what happened to me happens to most people. I hadn't read that when I went in, and I had estimated the 40 minute mark as I was walking out, so it's fascinating to see that what they say isn't just woo-woo science. and the salt, which you would expect to make you feel like a raisin, actually does -- just as they say -- make your skin feel super soft and nice.

in short: recommended. it's pricey ($50 for 90 minutes) if you have to pay full price, but worth it at least once. I'm now in bed, still feeling nice and noodly and sleepy. zzzz.

I'm better than I was on monday. I'm still very sad, but I've made it two days without crying. I don't want to keep talking about this part of my life; in fact, I nearly deleted what I wrote the other night, not because it isn't true but because there's nothing to do about it. that said, it's honest, and writing is what helps me process, so there it stays.

I'm going to try to stop writing about it here. there is nothing to be done except to keep going, and hope for better things tomorrow. the truth is, I am always thinking of him, and will for a very long time, even if we never patch up the space between us. it hurts terribly; I love him with all my heart. but I don't want this to turn into a breakup blog, and frankly, I am even a little tired of hearing myself talk about it. so, let us not dwell. let us search for something that looks, if not like joy, at least like peace. know that above all I am committed to love, to mindfulness, to compassion, to forgiveness. for him, for myself, for all of us.

August 22, 2011

look as long as you can at the friend you love,
no matter whether that friend is moving away from you
or coming back to you.

- rumi

I am really struggling. I don't think I have ever been in so fragile a state for this long in my life. last week I thought I had turned a corner into something that looked like recovery, but then this weekend I had to lock myself in several public bathrooms to cry. today at work I burst into tears four times, each time prompted by someone's kindness, just asking how I was doing today. trying to work through this is slow torture, but there's nothing else I can do.

I don't know how to heal this tremendous heartbreak. I'm doing all the things you're "supposed" to do: staying busy, asking for help from my friends, making plans. tomorrow night is boozetues; wednesday I'm lunching with the librarians, and then floating that night. friday is barn night, and then I'm volunteering for a certain someone's hood to coast team, because I had already offered to do it and did not want to back out, knowing how hard it is to come by volunteers. (your team is disqualified if you don't provide 3 volunteers -- or if your any of volunteers are no-shows). I'm watering the garden. I'm brushing the horse. I'm working on my budget.

I'm running.

I need a break; I'm exhausted. but when I get home, alone with my thoughts, all I do is cry. it doesn't matter if I'm just sitting here or if I'm unpacking or watching TV or what. a coworker says, "maybe you should just go there, maybe you should just cry until your body is done with it," but my gut feeling is that the crying is like digging a hole; I can't seem to get back out of it. there is no done with it. instead, I just cry until I fall asleep. in the morning, depending on what I've dreamed, there is a momentary respite before the fog descends again.

it's a fine line between assessing what happened and dwelling in regret, and I don't know where I fall in the spectrum. my greatest sadness is how often I think, "I wish I could tell him this," or "I wish he could see this," or, most poignantly, in the moment before I remember, "we should do this together!" I regret all these moments because the feeling -- that I long to share my life with him -- is all he wanted all along. here it is, babe. I'm sorry it's too little, too late.

and how I regret ever feeling that I was friendless. if it weren't for the profound love of my friends, I would probably not get out of bed. what an idiot I was, for closing myself off and then feeling sorry for myself. and for not ever realizing that scott was my best friend. I never thought of him in that way because I've never had a boyfriend be a best friend; that's what your girlfriends are for, you know? but now, without him, I'm bombarded by all the things I want to tell him, to ask for help with, to laugh about. it feels like a double loss.

now we deliberately have no contact. it's this that is so hard for me; the not knowing. is he okay? how is he doing? did his workload calm down? is he sleeping, is he eating, does he miss me too? does he have hope, or is he closing the door on this life and moving on? I don't know; I can't know. I pick up my phone probably fifty times a day and think, "just one text message," but I put it down again. it is maybe the most difficult thing on earth to stay silent, to not reach out. even this blog feels like a transgression. one calming word from him and I could go at least a week without crying. and yet. I have told myself that this is the true practice of love: to love a person in the way they need, not the way you need. but right now, it's the hardest thing on earth.

I know what I'm supposed to do now. I'm supposed to be sociable, get my work done, fix up the apartment, work out my budget, deal with my problems. I'm supposed to learn my lessons. I'm supposed to sleep and eat and read and breathe and move on. I am really trying; I am trying harder than I can say. I have a stubborn streak a mile wide an iron will, but it does me no good. I don't know what else I'm supposed to do to help these feelings, except wait. despite knowing that it's dangerous, I can't help the tiny wisp of hope I continue to harbor, though hoping hurts. hope and doubt are two sides of the same coin, and I flip back and forth between them.

internet, indulge me. I'm so sorry that this blog has ground to a halt, but there it is. this is my life right now. I have nothing else to say, except I wish I had known how much I loved this--

christmas hats

-- and I wish I could get it back.

August 21, 2011

morning, frank o'hara

I've got to tell you
how I love you always
I think of it on grey
mornings with death

in my mouth the tea
is never hot enough
then and the cigarette
dry the maroon robe

chills me I need you
and look out the window
at the noiseless snow

At night on the dock
the buses glow like
clouds and I am lonely
thinking of flutes

I miss you always
when I go to the beach
the sand is wet with
tears that seem mine

although I never weep
and hold you in my
heart with a very real
humor you'd be proud of

the parking lot is
crowded and I stand
rattling my keys the car
is empty as a bicycle

what are you doing now
where did you eat your
lunch and were there
lots of anchovies it

is difficult to think
of you without me in
the sentence you depress
me when you are alone

Last night the stars
were numerous and today
snow is their calling
card I'll not be cordial

there is nothing that
distracts me music is
only a crossword puzzle
do you know how it is

when you are the only
passenger if there is a
place further from me
I beg you do not go

August 17, 2011


blog, in any given day I feel grief, doubt, hope, fear, unbridled love, hurt, and relief. I could possibly run through that whole spectrum of emotions in an hour. my friends, without whom I would surely be a lunatic right now, patiently listen to me and hug me and let me eat their candy. they understand when I can't stop talking about MY FEELINGS. they gently remind me that, you know, meals are a good idea, and on days when I haven't even been able to bring myself to brush my hair, they have politely pretended I looked OK.

I am intensely thankful for them. they are oftentimes the kind gesture from the universe.

in an email this morning one of them asked how I was. "I am doing the things you're supposed to do," I replied, "although not with very much heart." so it goes. blog, we have to keep things rolling around here or I will bore you all to tears with my sorrow.

speaking of tears, I unexpectedly burst into tears when our general director, today in the copy room, kindly told me he'd heard I was having a hard time and gave me a hug. so now I'm pretty sure I've officially cried in front of everyone on the planet. if you feel left out, let me know and I'm sure I can oblige you.

anyway. I have a garden. perhaps you remember. it turns out that a heavy dose of chicken poop and a little benign neglect go a long way. before I left for the beach, everything was ... small- to medium-sized? then I set up a bunch of soaker hoses, threw down a bunch of chicken manure, and left town for two weeks. I thought, 'well, hopefully it doesn't die.'

observe the magic of nature:

knee-high lettuce.

a kale jungle.

edamame, sunflowers, and volunteer cilantro are crammed tight in one corner.

brussels sprouts!!!
HOLY CRAP THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS. they are gargantuan. no sprouts yet, but it's still pretty warm outside.

the peas just kept producing. you should have seen how long it took me to shell them all one night.

the pole beans.

okay, hold on. we gotta talk about the pole beans. these are malibu beans, a strain I bought from territorial seed based on their nice catalog write-up. UM, guys. these beans. well, look:


I threw in the tomato for scale. That is easily ten pounds of beans. I picked them in ONE WEEK. I am up to my ears in beans. the entire vegetable drawer of the fridge? full of beans. and they are SO AWESOME. look how big they are!



OK, I'm better. back to the garden.

the tomatillos are outrageous. they nearly didn't make it, remember? and now they're branched out all over the place, and totally full of adorable little green papery lantern-shaped husks. that will hopefully fill with tomatillo so I can have jars and jars of salsa verde.

THE FENNEL IS TALLER THAN ME, pardon my stupid face

peppers, which are now beginning to turn their respective colors (purple and yellow)

the edible flower bed. I planted the entire packet of seeds in that row, so they're all over each other. I have very little idea what any of it is, save a few of the herbs, but they're supposed to be the following:
Cornflower 'Polka Dot Mix'
Dianthus 'Wee Willie'
Pansy 'Swiss Giants'
Mint, Lemon
Johnny Jump-Up
Hyssop, Lavender
Daisy, English

so, there you have it. there are some that are just gorgeous. I've eaten a few. the dark blue ones taste lemony, very subtle. I'm hoping to grab a whole bunch this weekend, both for salads and for around the house. I also have edible mums that you can eat about one petal of before the taste is totally overwhelming.

the best part: bees!


August 14, 2011



this morning was bridge pedal. I've wanted to do it for years but I've never had a bike. they close the bridges down, a few at a time, and you get to bike over them! most of them I had already biked over, but during bridge pedal you get the opportunity to cross two highway bridges that are usually inaccessible to pedestrians.

it has been the hardest two weeks I can remember, and in particular the hardest last several days. this morning I awoke at 5:32, unable to sleep anymore, having slept fitfully for only about four hours. I woke from a bad dream involving a certain someone. I felt sad and sick from exhaustion. I might have gone back to bed, but bridge pedal is on the list, and only happens once a year, and besides, if I don't get out there and do things with my life instead of wallowing, then I've learned nothing from all this suffering and it is all in vain.

so, I picked up my bike (it was at the opera) and biked to the start of the ride:

starting line

the longest ride, ten bridges, was 36 miles. no sweat, right?

from the top of the marquam bridge
top of the marquam bridge, one of the highway bridges.

I had grabbed my camera to take the above picture when two guys next to me said, "we'll take your picture if you take ours!" so of course I had to oblige.

burnside bridge.

the towers of st johns
st. johns bridge.

the view from the st. johns bridge.

biking up the fremont bridge
the bike up the fremont bridge, the highlight of the bridges in my opinion. maybe because my emotions are right on the surface these days, I actually choked up a little as we got to the top.

fremont bridge view

fremont bridge view
the city, seen from the fremont bridge. views from these bridges seem so alien; all the other bridges are familiar to me, having crossed them so many times. I drive across the fremont bridge on occasion, but not the same way I use the others.

from the top of the fremont bridge
nerd alert.

biking down the freeway
BIKING DOWN THE HIGHWAY THIS WAS THE BEST PART. I didn't expect it to be the best part but it was a total thrill to ride bikes down the freeway! it is a great place to ride a bike when there are no cars around! plus the hill on the way down the fremont bridge is SO MUCH FUN.

so, I survived the ride. it was touch and go, to be honest. there were several hairy miles between miles 25 and 30 where I truly thought I was going to have to pull over and puke on someone's front lawn. I was so tired I thought I could also probably curl up on the side of the road and fall asleep. it occurred to me as I was struggling through those miles that if I couldn't begin sleeping or eating normally in the next few days, I was going to end up in the hospital. this is not hyperbole -- it felt that bad. and things have been that hard.

how I am: continuing to struggle. I moved out of a certain someone's place on friday, one of the longest hardest days in a very long time. because I couldn't move into my new place until saturday -- yes, by some miracle, I secured a new apartment -- I slept on my friends' couch friday night. yesterday was the move. you know how moving is. I ended up moving about 95% of the things I had in storage to the apartment myself, because I am stubborn have an iron will and there was extra time before my friends arrived.

last night, alone in a foreign apartment with all my belongings -- so many belongings, after having so little of my own stuff at scott's -- I felt overcome by feelings of terror and loss. I kept finding myself thinking, why am I in this place? I should be at his house, what is this, why am I here? I wished I had smuggled out a blanket of his to wrap myself in. I wanted desperately to call and talk to him, to see how he was, to be comforted. he was having a birthday party, which it felt devastating not to attend.

alone with my fatigue and my fears, the monsters in my brain have been crawling all over everything, saying terrible things like he probably never loved you and he's probably having so much fun without you that he isn't thinking of you at all and I bet the other girls are all over him right now. no amount of trying to reason with these monsters helped last night, and it was too late to call any friend and ask for encouraging words. these feelings felt like a knife in the gut, like a cancer. no way to eradicate them. finally, in desperation, I sent scott a message. please, just one kind word would help me, I said. as I waited in fearful hope for a response, I put out an emergency cry to the universe, a prayer directed at whatever benign force may or may not be out there. suddenly I remembered all the wonderful mornings we have spent curled up into each other, and the monsters subsided a little. a few moments later, he obliged my request for a momentary kindness. this might be magical thinking, but I'll take it.

internet, somehow I have to start taking care of myself, despite wanting so much to take care of him. his absence -- we have agreed to mostly not talk for awhile, in order to get some space and perspective -- is like a gnawing void. right now there is not a moment I don't think of him. this morning I was watching a tv show and kept thinking, that looks like such fun, we should do that before remembering: it's just me now, whether I like it or not. it is so hard. there are no words for it.