Monday, February 27, 2012


On Sunday, when there was a break in the cloudbursts, I hopped on my bike. Twenty miles for training, but the day was cold and wet. So, I chose flat, north-south, and didn't think there'd be many folks on the Springwater. There weren't too many.

After the Steel Bridge, so exciting to ride next to a moving train, all steel and noise, I had to move through a crowd of folks lining up for some free meal beneath the west side of the bridge. There was a gap in the line, so I had no problem riding through.

Awhile later, after potholes, train tracks, loading docks of Front Ave, crossing the rail yard and coming back to NW via Yeon, I came back under the Steel Bridge. There was no gap in the line. But one man saw me, yelled ahead of me at the men in line, "Move aside. Taxpayer coming through."

His gristled face, my cold face, we shared a laugh, big, full, the joy in his words.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Land of Inside

If I were just an English instructor, I'd ask, "Inside what?" and my mind would grind and whirl on prepositions and their dependence on objects, the way they finish each other's sentences, the coffee ready in the morning and left in the thermos, hot and ready.

But instead I heard, "It's been a long time since I've been inside," and the Land of Inside spread out before us last night, the writers around the table: carpet, painted walls, chairs. And heat and doors that lock and clean water. And lights that make waking and sleeping their own thing. The Land of Inside keeps some out, can give some such dignity.
random inside space

When you're not from the Land of Inside, you enter as a stranger, and sounds can knock the lid off, can pry open. Especially electronic sounds, like TVs and fans and central heating vents, the smallest rattle because what's Outside is bigger.

I didn't know. Being an Insider, I haven't known Inside.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

a new week

It's taken a week to be able to write about the first session of the Write Around Portland group I'm facilitating. I was right: this group will change me.

The first meeting was more challenging than I had imagined it would be. I've never facilitated a group with so many folks managing so many things pulling on them, tugging from the outside and the inside. Unfortunately, one writer couldn't manage the strain of those forces, and I didn't know how to help him. The group unraveled.

But they wrote a lot.

This week the sun is out, and I have support coming to the group, and I have more plans, a better idea of who and when and where and how much. It's such a privilege to be able to walk in.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a crossing

This morning the view across the water is dark teal, a little muddy, maybe silver here and there. I've stood at a ferry dock before, stood on the deck of the ferry, rumbling with huge engine power, and understood: the shoreline ahead will change me. Fact. No doubt. And I'm choosing to move right into whatever I will be, after the crossing.

Today I meet with someone from Bud Clark Commons who will answer questions, show me around. Today I head into change.

Have a sweet Valentine's.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

in their eyes

Last Thursday I found out that I will be facilitating a Write Around Portland group at the Bud Clark Commons, for chronically homeless men. I'm very excited.

And on Friday, Cheryl dropped me off to bike around Sauvie Island and back through NW Portland, in the sun, in the wind. On parts of the island I was biking sideways, the east wind gusting probably 35 miles an hour. A little crazy, but it was the first longish ride of the season, a long season. It was good to be out, to hear that crackly throat of the Sandhilll Cranes, to see a dozen Snow Geese, white and tall in a field.

And weaving through the streets of NW, I was tired from fighting the wind. There were many people in the shadows, doorways, walking on the dried mud of the sidewalks, where last week there were rivers. And about the woman who raised her head as I rode by, her face flat without her teeth, I wondered if I'd be writing with her. And to the man walking in the bike lane toward me, his wool hat low on his face, his Carhart jacket doing little against the wind, I nodded. Will we write together? 

Now we all have pens. Before, we were so different.