Power Wrap Up

My Power Year turned out to be a real mixed bag. Just a mixed up bag of nuts from the bulk section. I surpassed my hiking and traveling goals and learned how to touch my toes for the first time in 20 years, and I think I can claim success on the Opportunities goal thanks to my post-break up Say Yes policy. Friendship, for sure- I’m probably doubled my goal of 102 hang outs, with friends new and old. Lots and lots and lots of glasses were clinked in Portland, Denver, Lincoln City… I did a poor job of documenting those hang outs, but I sure appreciated them. Highlights? A weekend in Breckenridge with my two tightest lady-bros, a convivial wine tour with an avowed vineyard-hater, the front porch confessional with Moose I described in a post a few months ago, brisk walks with Juls in the immediate aftermath, a voyage to the Mima Mounds with some cute crits, and the night at Breiten Bush with Ahab and others following our eight days on the trail. This was a year of big break ups and a few of us newly (shakily) single ladies formed a posse of sorts- cooking simple dinners, signing up for ballet classes, caring for each others pets when trips away were called for. Thank god for good friend is all I have to say. This year would have been impossible without my lovely, funny, frank friends.

But I came up short elsewhere. I don’t even think I tried that hard on my more measurable goals. Well, that’s not true. I tried for the first six months and then when school started again and my self-discipline took a nose dive. No cute pillow shams or shift dresses sewn, only about 22 yoga classes attended, just 3 1/2 songs clumsily plucked on the guitar- only one of which I was confident enough to post on the internet. Music Appreciation? I listened to and LOVED the mixes I received, but didn’t go on to purchase many new records, or attend many shows. I read some of the ambitious books selected for me by Jae and Liz, but also devoured the Hunger Games and reread the Golden Compass. All told I think I read 11 of the 18 I set out to read, and am on average 5 issues behind on the New Yorker- a trend I despise.

So here I am. Happier than before? I don’t really think so. I think I am at the same median level of happiness that I always am- namely pretty happy but not totally happy and with an occasional string of days that are sad in an unfocused way. This has been true for me my whole life regardless of job, relationship or housing status. I guess like everyone I wish the happier times lasted longer and that the sad times came less frequently. I think my Power Year, as I defined it, had the potential to make me more satisfied, but not necessarily more happy.

I think my real, essential goals for this year turned out to be: Part ways with the single most important person in my adult life and relearn to be 1 of 1 instead of 1 of 2; honor the man and grieve the relationship without succumbing to bitterness or regret. Heavier than hikes and record purchases. And in these most important though undeclared goals, I feel good. Our friendship survived intact, and though I will love him until the day I die (I love everyone I have ever loved my whole life long) I was able to make space for someone new. I’m glad that my essential optimism has remained in place and that I can look at pictures of our shared life and feel lucky to have had so many good years together, and lucky that we have more ahead of us as friends.

/Power Year.

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What Goes On

It’s almost my birthday! That means my Power Year is almost over. Let me just say that I did NOT meet all of my goals. Sewing? Two handkerchiefs- by hand, but still. Guitar? Well, once my teacher started going on tour all the time I just quit practicing. Reading? I wanted to read eighteen books and I think I read ten. Yoga? I wanted 52 classes under my belt and I made it less than halfway there. I can touch my toes at will now though!

Other goals went better. I ended up overnighting outside of Portland more than I’d planned! Same with hiking! And I definitely connected and reconnected with lots of friends. Music goal was met, opportunities were seized. I’ll do a digest post after my birthday with the final count, but I think it averages out pretty well.

I mean, the main goal was to raise my median level of happiness through doing things I enjoy but procrastinate on. I am happier than I was a year ago, but I don’t know if my Power Year can be held responsible. I think I would have reached out to friends, explored neglected hobbies and taken some chances whether I’d set these goals or not- that’s how you manage a big ass life change. In my 31st year I lost my partner and I had to try to fill up that vast gaping space. So I hiked around and read The Hunger Games n’ stuff.

Oh, and I also fell in love.

Remember in October when I wrote about how I was done with dating for a while? And I said that dating at 31 is actually pretty fun, but really I wasn’t ready for anything serious? Well, apparently I was full of it. Because right after that the colleague I mentioned in that post, the one I confessed to having a little crush on, became my full on boyfriend (even though I hate that word) and I totally love him. This is what happened:

I have frequent access to a pretty sweet beach house out in Lincoln City. I was chatting with some work friends about it when we had a long weekend coming up, and they encouraged me to book the house. See my cute colleague, who I’ll dub Vincent since he looks (to me) very much like Vincent Cassel, is a surfer and is always looking for an excuse to get out to the coast.

He looks like this but younger. And possibly handsomer.

So the way it all worked out was that two of my girlfriends from work came out on Friday with their babies just to hang for the day. Vincent came Friday afternoon, but his surf buddy, also from work, couldn’t make it out until Saturday. So Vince and I had one whole evening at the beach to ourselves. Now remember, I definitely had feelings for him, but he is very active and I had it in my mind that he liked fit, woodsy, hippie girls. I thought that because over the years we would to go to happy hour and he would tell me all about how much he loved paddling and biking all day with whatever fit girl he was dating at the time. And yes, I do like to bike and paddle too, but I’d just as soon go to estate sales all day and then drink a bottle of wine by myself watching Gilmore Girls reruns.

So we’re at the coast, and we’re walking on the beach and talking about our weird new agey parents, and then Vince is making dinner and I’ve got a buzz on and so finally I say, “Hey, do people at work ever give you a hard time about how we should be dating? Because they always give me a hard time about that.” I admit I was fishing a little, but I fully expected him to say, “Yeah, they give me a hard time too,” and then we could laugh about how old people always think any two young single people should be dating. But he didn’t say that. Instead he paused for a really long time and then told me that he’d had a crush on me for years. To which I very romantically replied, “But I thought you liked super active girls!” And then I told him that I didn’t think he would ever even consider making out with me because he knows I have a big mouth and would probably go and tell everyone at work. And he told me that he didn’t care about that- he’d be proud to be with me and wouldn’t want to keep it a secret. And then I told him I liked him too.

And that’s how that happened. Now he’s my boyfriend. Everyone at work knows. I told them right away with my big fat mouth. I didn’t even give Vincent a chance to tell his grade level teammates. I gave it like two days and then I told them. Because I was so excited!!! Poor Vince. He got to tell one person and she kind of suspected already. Oh, and we flew all across the country for winter break so we could meet each other’s families and we didn’t have a single fight! That was good. And now we’re back and sometimes I do active stuff with him like go to heated yoga and hike around, and sometimes he does urban stuff with me like look at mid-century housewares online and attend lesbian dance parties. He is a good sport.

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Dating Digest

School started; my life stopped.
Or that’s my excuse for not blogging anyway. Though it’s true that I’ve been very busy with my ELEVEN Talented and Gifted students (think about how crazy that is considering TAG means you’re in the 96th percentile or above in intelligence!) So yeah my class is wicked smart and wicked quirky and I ADORE them.

But today I got the following email from Ahab:

some of your fans live faraway now.
and they don’t have many friends.
and they wish you would post on perfect heart.
and also they were kind of hoping you were going to post something beautiful and thought-provoking about your friend’s lover asking you out on a date.
and they would be happier to read that than watch more pan am, because it is a stupid fucking show, but christina ricci is hot, even if she does need a sandwich.
and they miss you.

Well. Remember back in like ’05 when Perfect Heart was all about dating boys and having fun? I have been doing some of that stuff in the months since my Big Break Up. It’s almost certainly ill advised considering that my 5.5 yr relationship ended in June and I’m still feeling periodic (though less frequent) after-shocks. But for years I felt like, “Welp, my days of romance are behind me. I live with my boyfriend, I’m a career woman, my hair is gray, and I wear Naturalizer shoes.” When it was pretty clear that He and I were going to break up I felt so panic-y and sad thinking about how now I’m 31 and feeling kind of frumpy and anyway I can’t think of anyone I’d want to date. When pressed for “my type” a few weeks after the Break Up, all I could think of was “someone who wears soft shirts.” Pathetic, no?

But then, around the middle of July, I got an email from a gentleman I’d been seated next to at a dinner party months earlier. He’d heard I was newly single and asked me to go hiking with him. I’ll call him Charles, as he was a big Darwin enthusiast. Charles was very smart and very compassionate. We hiked 8 miles, had a few tacos, a few margaritas. I made it clear I was not ready to date. We ended up at the same music festival a few weeks later, had a nice time, went on a few dates after all, and then suddenly we were in Costa Rica together. It all happened very fast. I felt pretty insane the whole time- feeling excited to be with someone new who was interesting and interested in me, still missing my ex and nursing my wounds, not really ready to open my heart up again but wanting to be ready. But school was going to start soon and Charles suggested this trip, and though it was scary it also seemed fun so I went. By the end of our first day in Costa Rica though, it was clear we were not a good match. Our communication methods, under the stress of travel, did not align. Our interests overlapped, but not quite enough. Luckily we realized this pretty simultaneously and decided to travel as friends which took a lot of pressure off. We saw monkeys and a SNAKE!! and went to a beautiful beach and rode a zipline through the cloud forest. We had a very pleasant dinner on my last night there and I haven’t spoken to him since.

So then school started again and it was busy busy busy! but not as mentally consuming as I’d expected and it was sad to come home full of stories to an empty house. I spent a lot of time with my girl friends in the evenings, though. It seems like everyone I know is going through a break up, so we all have lots of time that we don’t know what to do with.

At a certain point I felt like I wanted a “sweet romance” in my life. Nothing serious, no drama. I put it out there to mutual friend that I thought one of my softball teammates from the summer was cute, and the next thing I knew he was calling me up on the phone and asking me out on a date. Real classy, right? I’ll call him Sam because he’s a big fan of Sam Coombs and Quasi (as am I.) I had been warned that he had “commitment issues” which was fine with me because I did not want to commit. I just wanted to go out on some nice dates and feel that feeling of getting to know someone new. So Sam and I went to dinners (he made reservations!) and on walks (with his nice dog!) and to the beach (it was actually sunny there!) But Sam did not have commitment issues at all, unless wanting to find a nice lady to settle down with is an issue which it is not! He knew what I was up for and not up for, but couldn’t resist trying to win me over with sweetness and good humor. I tried to let myself be won over- this man had skills! He could build a house! He could play the drums! He actually WANTED to get married and start a family in the not too distant future! But there was always a knot in my stomach that told me it wasn’t right, and we both felt the disconnect. Today we walked his dog and I told him I couldn’t keep going. I was sooo worried about hurting his feelings or making him mad or damaging his confidence, but Sam, as ever, was full of class. His response was essentially, “Well, I knew you weren’t totally in but I had to give it a shot and I’m glad I did.” We parted with hugs and good wishes and I feel very relieved.

Meanwhile I keep getting asked on dates- sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. I am not complaining about this, by the way! It’s awesome! But also sometimes awkward. Someone I went to college with but didn’t know offered me a ticket on Facebook to a classical music event. I accepted but then it was “I’ll get the tickets, you get the drinks” and suddenly I realized I’d agreed to a date! I was just starting to see Sam then so I backed out as gracefully as possible (which I’m sure you can imagine was not that gracefully.)

Also the gentleman mentioned in Ahab’s letter sent me the most charming message ever, complimenting my new haircut and asking me to drinks. We’d run into each other at Sam’s art show a week or so ago and it was nice to see him. But… I was not available. I responded with my regrets and complimented his approach.

To tell you all the truth, despite the fact that I am single again, I am still not available. My eyes are opening to all of the amazing men out there, and I don’t feel frumpy anymore, that’s for sure! 31 is a pretty sweet age to date it turns out. Men are more direct and mature than the last time I dated which was 6+ years ago. It’s easier to communicate and figure stuff out. But getting to know someone from scratch is just too much for me now. (There is someone I know professionally that I am very interested in, partly because we’ve worked together for years and have a baseline of knowing each other to work from. Plus my heart is already open to him from years of being friends and colleagues- with the others I kept that thing locked up tight but he gets grandfathered in. We’ll see if the crush pans out before I give him a pseudonym, how about that? He’s very outdoorsy and I think he likes active girls but I’ve been feeling a vibe lately so we’ll see.) Otherwise, I’m going to play it cool- decline dates, accept fun with friends. And blog more. I promise.

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Power Progress, part 2

OK, here’s the rest of it!

I wanted to read 18 books in my 31st year (in addition to the mountain of magazines I consume each month.) So far I have read 5.5. I just finished Nicole Krauss’s latest novel, Great House.

It was incredibly absorbing. The story follows an ancient, oppressive desk as it is gifted from one tortured character to the next over the course of several generations. The desk itself is almost a character- a piece of furniture that cannot be neglected or ignored, a constant reminder of one’s secrets, obligations, or shortcomings (depending on who is in possession of it.) The story opens in New York but jumps (along with the desk) to Jerusalem and London and takes smaller forays to Oxford and Chile, among other places. The displacement of people and objects during and following the Holocaust is a constant theme, which makes for a touching and somewhat tenderizing reading experience. The tale is well told, the ending unsettling but inevitable.

I haven’t finished reading as many books as I’d hoped at this point, mainly because Annie Dillard is kind of killing me. I’ve been plugging away at Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for months now, and I’m barely halfway through.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really enjoying the book. It’s just that I can only give it my full attention for about two pages at a time before my mind starts wandering to other, sometimes related, topics. Dillard is a naturalist and a philosopher, her writing goes between acute observation of the flora and fauna around her home, and broader musings on existence, awareness, and man’s relationship to the Present. It is fascinating. But. I think I have become a lazy reader or something because I’ll have about ten minutes of absolute absorption in a chapter and then suddenly I cannot focus at all. So I put the book down. And pick up a New Yorker. And so I’m behind on reading! But I’m afraid that if I abandon Dillard I’ll never come back to her and I really do enjoy our interludes. So I’m going to continue to plug away, little by little. Enjoyable and exasperating.

I have not done any sewing. I haven’t wanted to. I’ve been gardening a lot, but I haven’t sewn a single stitch.

I really wanted to reconnect with friends. In the spirit of quantifiable goals I decided to have 104 (2x/wk) hang outs this year. After a few weeks I realized that measure wasn’t going to be meaningful at all- I already hang out with friends way more frequently than that. I guess what was missing for me was that feeling of Connection- not that I never felt it, but when you’re a busy lady and you’re primarily friends with other busy ladies it’s easy to just grab a drink, catch up, and go your separate ways. Which is fun and necessary, but not richly satisfying in that special way. You know the way.

So I was puzzling out this Friendship goal, trying to think of ways to break routines and access that depth of relationship that certainly exists between my good friends but doesn’t always get tapped in to. And then my relationship ended and my friends were so amazing- each in their own way- and there was Connection everywhere I turned. So the moral is if you want to rekindle your friendships just break up with your long-term boyfriend. (Don’t really do that please.)

Music Appreciation
I have not received any mixes lately but I have bought or been gifted a few new albums. I think I will save my thoughts on them for a separate entry.

I wanted to take 12 overnight trips away from Portland. Since my birthday I have:
* Spent a weekend at the coast
* Visited friends in Atlanta and Chapel Hill (same trip)
* Backpacked in Opal Creek
* Family reunioned in Leavenworth, KA
* Rocked out at What the Heck Fest in Anacortes, WA
* Returned to my homeland (Denver) for a very extended visit

Also on Tuesday I will be traveling to Costa Rica! So Travel is going very well for me! I’m 6 months into my project, and I have completed (or will soon complete) 7 trips! Damn, girl!

Well this is a vague one, isn’t it? It makes it a little challenging to report about it! I have definitely taken advantage of any and all Opportunities that have presented themselves, if for no other reason than to avoid being alone in my house for days on end. I’ve just had a real “Say Yes” attitude (this summer especially) and I’ve really enjoyed the experiences that have resulted from it. My Costa Rica trip definitely falls into the Opportunities category- I would not have guessed in June that I’d be in Central America in August! But the opportunity arose and here I go! (Truth be told I have some anxiety about being soo far out of my comfort zone on this one, but I’m going with a nice person and I’ll only be away for a week and while it is a foreign place it’s pretty mellow over all. Maybe I’ll see a sloth! #PositiveSelfTalk!)

Well that was kind of boring
Bah! It took me so many days to write this and it’s just not that exciting of a post. I’ve got a lot on my mind you guys! Sorry for the semi-lazy/semi-dry reporting. I did feel overdue for a check in but I couldn’t quite muster the energy to make it a super fun read. Maybe if I add some cool animated gifs at the end it will make up for the lacklusterness. Let’s try:

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Power Progress, Part 1

I have a blogging habit wherein every time I post something that makes me feel even slightly vulnerable I immediately try to bury it with other, less personal entries. La la la! It’s happening right now! Not that yesterday’s post was super intimate or anything, but it was a little sappy. I can’t help it, man! I’m just like that sometimes!

However, I’m also pretty far overdue for a progress report on my power year. You may recall that I set some goals for my 31st year, and while I’ve kind of fallen off the documentation wagon, I have been working on them. Here’s a little recap of what’s happened lately:

Well I am doing just great on my Hikes goal. I wanted to take 12 hikes, and if I count the seven I took on my Opal Creek trip (and it is arguable that I can count them as 7. Maybe they should just count as 1? Since it was all in one trip? Feel free to argue this point in the comments.) then I’ve hit my goal of 12!! There was the North Carolina hike, the three short walk/hikes to ready me for my trip, seven hikes in Opal Creek, and then an eight mile Eagle Creek hike a few weeks ago.

Oh actually I’m at 13! I went to a family reunion in Leavenworth, Kansas in June and hiked along the Missouri River with my dad, his godmother/cousin who is a nun, and some other relatives. It was amazing! I saw probably 8 different types of butterflies and a frog and some very fancy yellow birds.

I’m going to Costa Rica in two weeks and I will doubtlessly hike there as well, in the effing CLOUD FOREST you guys! And on the effing BEACH! (Although beach walks don’t count as hikes in my book, even if they’re challenging. Hikes need mountains, so say I.) As you can see I am slam dunking Hikes.

Hmm. How am I doing on yoga? Well, I’m at 14 out of an eventual 52. I was doing great there for a while, but after my backpacking trip I sort of fell off the wagon. I can sometimes touch my toes now (!) and I am generally more flexible than before, especially in the ol’ hamstrings. I do need to go more often. I found a studio that’s close-ish to my house that I like, and it offers other classes that are also interesting to me i.e. pilates and Bollywood dance, but it’s a little too spendy. Maybe it’s worth it. It is worth it. I need to motivate.

I can (poorly) play 4 songs, my goal being 6. I have only uploaded one video of myself playing, but I will try to add more soon. It feels super goofy to record myself plucking away and singing slightly off-key, but that was part of the plan and I will stick with it. The songs I can (poorly) play are:
You Are My Sunshine
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
Unknown Legend
Angel From Montgomery

I would like to learn a Little Wings song. I would also like to learn a Bruce Springsteen song.

During the school year I brought my guitar in and played for my students. They ranged from skeptical to supportive in their responses. 8 year olds keep it pretty real.

OK. That is my update for today. I will get back to you guys about Sewing, Friendship, Music, Books, and Opportunities in the next day or so. I have plenty to say but dwindling stamina. Plus if I break this update into two entries I can bury the sentimental stuff even deeper in the archives. So sneaky!

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A Beacon

I’m in Denver. I arrived Friday night and was promptly swooped up to the mountains by my two best besties (who I cannot think of pseudonyms for. Do I need to make a pseudonym for everyone? Ahab thinks I do- she says it makes my posts more tantalizing, but that may be more suited for new dates rather than old friends. I dunno. Also I’ve referred to many of these people by their real names over the years, seems funny to change now, but then I do see her point. Pseudonyms are exciting.) Anyway, we went straight from the ‘port to Breckenridge where we spent the weekend drinking champagne, sitting by an alpine pool, and eating- in various combinations. Amazing! Every time the three of us hang out I eventually get real sentimental along the “you guys are like my sisters- I don’t know what I’d do without you” line, to which they respond, depending on their levels of intoxication and tolerance, with similar proclamations of lifelong devotion or punches in the butt. Both are acceptable.

Back in Denver I was able to spend an evening with Moose, another deep, old, and great friend. You can find many references to him in the archives. We were camp counselors together twelve years ago and though we live thousands of miles apart and go years between visits when we do see each other we’re able to immediately bridge the time and distance and get right to the real talk. We spent a good few hours sitting on the front stoop of the house where he was staying, while mosquitos bit the hell out of my back (through my shirt!), and confided and reassured in turns. Such a gift.

But before that we went to the bar with his hosts, who also happened to be old camp folk. They are engaged, after meeting at camp and seeing each other for the better part of the last six years. I don’t presume to know much about their relationship, but they did say that he was classically uncommunicative and under affectionate for a good few years in the beginning of their relationship, which eventually resulted in a brief break up. On reuniting he committed himself to being more openly appreciative and expressive as evidenced by the following:

He proposed on a Wednesday. He presented her with a ring and a bicycle- two great gifts, right? Before they went to bed that night she joked, “You really outdid yourself today. What are you going to do next Wednesday?” And thus began a weekly ritual wherein he proposes to her, in a special way, every Wednesday. Some weeks she finds a poem in her purse, or a piece of cake with a “Will you marry me?” post it on the plate. I asked how long the proposals would continue. Would they go all the way up until their wedding day, a year from now? “They’ll go on forever,” he said, while she nodded. Forever!! It’s his way of ensuring he stays true to his promise to be open and loving, and anyway he enjoys the creative challenge.

I present this anecdote to all of us- single, married, co-habitating, casually dating, polyamorous, stuck, free- as a beacon. It can be like that. I know many examples of loving, long-term relationships of course. I just so appreciate the sustained, loving intention that goes into this weekly gesture. I wish they would start a twitter account with which they could chronicle the proposals. I would follow those tweets! But sharing them out is beside the point, I suppose. I hope their tradition does continue, but even if it peters out one day what a great way to start a marriage!

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moves, moods, changes

It’s been a challenge trying to decide what to post here these last two months. I am making progress on my Power Year, but I want Perfect Heart to be more than a place to give updates on projects. For it to seem really natural and interesting, to the reader and to myself, I feel that I should just be posting a lot and folding updates into the posts instead of waiting to post until I’ve accomplished a goal. My mission with Perfect Heart, all those many years ago when I started it, was to report myself with utter transparency, to chronicle my day-to-days in an honest way. A lot has happened in the last few months that I’ve wanted to reflect on here, so that my toe touching and hiking and everything could be placed, by you and I, into the greater context of what this 31st year has been and could yet become.


Two months ago my partner of 5.5 years and I decided to separate. There was no drama, no betrayal, no smashing of dishes or dumping of belongings onto lawns. Instead there were months of talks with and without the help of a professional, about whether and how we could stay together when our visions for our futures just didn’t align. We tried very hard to compromise, to find common ground, to make each other happy without sacrificing too much of our own needs and dreams. We pursued every avenue but we found we could not make our way together. It was a heartbreaking realization. We separated our kitchen items. We separated our finances. He found an apartment in another neighborhood. I found a way to stay in the house. He packed while I was on the trail, and when I returned, with not a few tears shed, he left.

This has been a difficult time.


It has also been a time of possibility.

My world had been so fixed and narrow, in a way that I loved for the most part. My routines went like this, my relationships worked like that. With everything upended I can’t help but just be open to… well everything. I’ve had to reach out to friends more, in a way that’s humbling and raw, but that has made me so grateful for the good people in my life. With summer here my time is almost entirely unstructured which has been frightening and liberating in turns. I’ve made a habit of saying yes to every invite just to get myself out of the house and into the world. Noise show? Sure. Activist panel? OK. Hikes, softball, happy hours, beach trips, river trips, yard sales… I’ve said yes. And with surprise, and some sheepishness, I’ve found myself having A LOT of fun! It’s such a paradox to be grieving and celebrating at the same time, but I’ve LOVED my summer so far. I’ve felt parts of myself waking up after years of napping. Like the part of me that stays up too late! The part that goes to shows alone! The part that’s flirty, the part that dominates the dance floor. Nothing, no one, was holding me back from that before, it’s just that as I said my life was fixed. But now it’s in flux and it is exciting! I’ve even had some nice dates with a nice person which has been very unexpected but feels so kind.

I’m not done dealing with the end of my relationship. I still think about it every day, and each time I have to tell someone new that it’s over I get choked up. “I know I seem upset but I’m actually doing really well.” I miss the casual day to day knowing what’s happening with each other, and the jokes, and that special kind of friendship that comes with years of living side by side. But if I could go back in time to change things I wouldn’t. We made the right decision. I feel nothing but tenderness and warmth toward he, my former companion, and I am very glad for the grace of our parting.

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Signal Fire

Signal Fire: Opal Creek 2011 from willowonder on Vimeo.

I am out of the woods!

My seven days in the Opal Creek Wilderness were incredible. It’s an ancient, old growth forest and the trees are so big! And the creek is so clear! And the ferns are so charming! And the stillness is so complete!

Our group was amazing as well. There were 13 of us, of which 11 were women. There were visual artists, musicians, dancers, designers, and writers. And one second grade teacher/fitful blogger. We all had highs and lows on the trip but one thing I really appreciated was how respectful everyone was of each others space- mental and physical. There was no drama, no major complaining. Instead there were jokes, quiets, musics, book talks, trail talks, and nature talks. It was very companionable.

We gave and got trail names. Mine was Lil D because I brought a little deodorant with me. Later someone suggested it be changed to Teapot because Teapot is a funny trail name so there was some experimentation with Lil Teapot, Lil D-Pot and the like but mostly I was just Lil D. Other trailnames that I enjoyed: Battleaxe, Pajama Jeans, Liam, and Gisella. It’s so fun to be like, “Hey. PJ-J, want some more couscous?”

I documented this trip like crazy and I’ll post some photos as I go through them, along with more specific stories from the trip. I also kept a video diary. I’m going to release one video a day on facebook but you can watch them all here if you like:
My Video Diary

It was such a beautiful experience. I was not ready to come home.

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Hitting the trail

Well this is going to be a real quick post because I am about to hit the trail! I’m going with Ahab and the Signal Fire arts organization to the Opal Creek area for 7 days and nights of backpacking. Urban Honking’s own Flossy Logs is coming too. I’ve done a few practice hikes in the last few weeks- up Mt Tabor, in the Mima Mounds area, and at the Tualitan River National Wildlife Refuge. More of walks than hikes I suppose but they got me feeling pretty ready.

I am worried about:
Being wet
Being cold
Not having stuff I need
Getting sick
Being the slowest
Fellow backpackers think I’m a weirdo

I am excited about:
Being outside all the time
Seeing critters
Learning about birds
Making jokes around a fire
Getting buff
Having a break from Real Life
Feeling tough
Making new friends

I’ll report back when I return! Bye!

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Catching the Beat

Moose sent me another three mixes! That man is prolific. Do you know he’s also writing his dissertation, applying for professorships, serving on cool committees, conducting research for other historians, etc, etc, etc? Well he is. And somehow hes like, “Well yes I will make three volumes of amazing music from the 1970’s and send them through the mail to Willow. Oh and while I’m at it I think I’ll create a cool mix-of-the-month club where I’ll thoughtfully curate a mix on a theme and send it to 20 or so of my closest friends. But gosh that could get spendy so I’ll just send a SASE along with the first disc and ask people for a humble $6 to help cover costs.” That is what Moose is like. That project he’s doing is real and it’s awesome. It’s called Music from a Farther Room and the first disc just came in the mail! I listened to it every day on my commute during my last week of school and it did me so right. The last song, We’ve Come a Long Way by the band The Good Old War is maybe the best love song ever made. Maybe.

I also got a mix in the mail from my friend Chuck in D.C. All of the songs on that mix were about getting older which is definitely something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Chuck and I went to college together and used to make each other lots of tapes. Actually now that I think about it he made lots of tapes for me. I hope I made lots for him! I might have been intimidated about that because he knew so much more about music than me. He made some cool zines back then, including some punk music zines. In the letter he sent along with this most recent mix he reminded me of the Hot Water Music show he took me to in college. On the way I was like, “Is this going to be hardcore?” He was like, “Um, kind of.” And then we got there and it was so hardcore!! And loud!! And there were so many Dudes there! At that point I was a “punk fan” in that I liked Bouncing Souls and Tilt. I was not very hardcore. But Chuck shepherded me through the badassness with patience and good humor. And ten years later he put this song on a mix for me, it’s by the HWM frontman Chuck Ragan (thus the pseudonym, btw):

I also really like this one that came about halfway through the mix. It’s by Liam Finn and it’s beautiful and brutal:

The best part of this whole power year thing has been reconnecting purposefully with old friends. Moose, Chuck and I live in different states, we have different friends, we go years between visits. But swapping letters and songs just brings back, in the deepest way, how much I love these dudes and how crucial they were in forming my adult person.

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