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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Identity discovered. Follow along on Story Charmer. It's the Bench and more.

(Post title is linked to the new site.)


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Identity Crisis

Hi Folks,

I'm having an identity crisis. I started this blog way back when to practice public writing. Being out there, getting out there with what I think, how I write. It was a personal challenge then, to be open and naked on the park bench.

Then I went freelance, started selling my name and my services, and all over again, I weigh my personal stories and observations against what I "should" or "shouldn't" say in public. The challenge is still there.

I hate that.

How much do people want to hear about my personal inner workings? Do I really want to write the details of my latest dates--which I love to process aloud, because the dating/mating ritual is to me like watching National Geographic special--with anyone who will log on to see? Not really. But some of it is really funny. Other stuff is heartbreaking as I learn my curve. Not all of it is appropriate for publication.

I hate that word. Appropriate.

What does that mean, anyway?

Another wedge to the crisis is that life has been deep lately. I'm learning to look sad when I feel sad. Learning to show anger when I feel it. Learning to be a dork when I feel awkward. Letting the shine wear down to get to what's real. Some of it is so deeply personal, I feel silly writing about it in a public forum. Even though I know it's something valuable we all have as an opportunity to learn sometimes. It's human.

The point is, I've been reticent. And unsure what to commit to the page.

Until I do, commit, that is, check out my professional site. My company is called Ink Street and you can find me there (.com).


Friday, December 25, 2009

I'm an entrepreneur

Hey Guess What.
The very cool entrepreneur of Upstart Smart, Amber Singleton-Riviere, interviewed 26 women entrepreneurs, and included me in her e-Book, One Entrepreneur's Journey: 26 Stories from Women on the Road.

Check it out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Made Up

Today is my step-mom's birthday. We don't generally get along. Or rather...maybe we don't specifically get along, but do okay as long as we keep it general.

In honor of Mom's bday, here's a specific memory that keeps floating in like a recurring dream. When I was little, I liked to watch her put on her make-up. I would sit on the toilet seat lid while she stood at the vanity and put mascara on her eyelashes faster than anyone should be whipping a wand around their eyeballs. She would dab a runny, tan cream onto her fingers then disappear it into her face. And she would pop her pink Mary Kay eye shadow brush into her mouth to get it wet, and dab it into a smoky brown, a silvery white. When I got old enough to get my own Mary Kay eye shadow set, the colors were enchanting and inviting in lavenders and green. But I never got used to the cool feeling of spit on my eyelids.

Sometimes I would ask my mom not to put on makeup before we went out because she looked so much prettier to me without it. After she washed her face, you could see the tiny fractures in the skin under her eyes. I could see the set to her mouth, and hear it talking before she ever said a thing. I didn't know how or why, I just felt more at ease when I could see her face glower and glimmer this way. She looked happier when she smiled, angrier when she scowled.

I think of that often when I put on my own makeup. I was never a big fan, and still don't love standing in front of the mirror giving time to my own web of fractures increasing monthly under my eyes. But I get it, what my mom did back then, when she was the age I am now. I look better with a little cosmetic help. I look presentable. With concealer and some eyeshadow, and color on my cheeks, I direct people to the pretty, not the weary, or wary, or love worn, or ambitious, or lonely. I cover the tracks, gloss the lips, and smile into public view, knowing that if there were a little girl on the toilet seat lid watching me cover what she knows is real-er than pretty colors and subtle distractions, I might feel a little more revealed.

But there's not. So I creep, y'all. Sneak.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Oh My Gosh

This song is arresting.
I was following the pack
all swallowed in their coats
with scarves of red tied ’round their throats
to keep their little heads
from fallin’ in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
and turn the white snow red as strawberries
in the summertime

Original by Fleet Foxes. Any way you hear it, holy cow:"Everything is transitory. Still, every thing is."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Funny Thing to Forget

I'm in the business of interviews. Often, I record calls with clients, then transcribe them to work with the content.

Today's Realization: I like hearing my voice on a recording. Outside of me. Speaking at a time when my own attached mouth is no longer moving. I like to listen to myself talk. It reassures me that I exist. I guess it's like looking in a mirror to see where I stand, what I'm wearing, how I'm aging.
I exist.

Funny thing to forget, but it happens.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Part Dude

REGINA: Do you have any snacks?

(Opens fridge. Looks at PEMA. Laughs.)

PEMA: Augi opens that and says, "You're not like any woman I've ever met."

REGINA: Doesn't he know? You're part dude!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What the Body Knows

Ye olde break-up and ye olde therapist have had me circled by events past, so much so that I don't know which way to turn to transform them. Ye olde writing teacher says that you have to create chaos in your story so that it can then be ordered. In recent weeks, when I turn to what I know to order chaos in my current life story, I see a shadow or a skeleton looming at me, saying, "wanna fix that? Use me." I see a whole circle of them around me. By shadow or skeleton, I mean certain events from life and youth that have taken up residence in my habits, and lurk there like they were bonafide me. 

And the thing about that is they are. Till they are not. Those habits we pick up to handle our lives in weird moments stick with us and we forget that they still look and feel exactly like the workaround they were when we first used them...forget they are just tape on the glasses to keep them on your face, but dern, you look like a nerd that way. 

So there're all these shadows and skeletons around me every time I reach back to pick a tool out of my resource bag to "fix" something emotional. Something that is usually blocking something else really flipping cool in my life, like happiness or success at work, or a lovely lover happy to play fair and fun.  

Last weekend, I could see this circle in my mind. It was agony. How do I freaking evolve, goddamnit, if I can't see past these creaky bones? How do I make different choices when Bones and HooHoo are chattering at me like chickens on speed? Running in circles.

Today I went to ye olde chiropractor. I was there a long time. He worked on one hip. Then another. He unwound one creak in the neck. And then another on the other side, half way down. When we were done, he said, "It's like you're unwinding in a circle. Your body is moving through these places it got stopped, resetting and then moving on to the next one in a circular motion."

He just raised his eyebrow and patted me on the back when I mumbled, "HooHoo and Bones."


Friday, October 2, 2009


My first trip to San Francisco, I was 19 and found a 1st ed. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. I was blissed out at a coffee bar, belly-up and as far from suburbia as I had ever been. A guy asked me what I got. I held the book in its thin paper bag like it was my dead mother's last possession, recently unearthed.

I was embarrassed to tell him it was Ayn Rand, San Francisco being such a liberal city, and told him so. He was older than me by 20 years and suggested that because SF was such a liberal city, it would be just the place to share that kind of thing.

My bliss increased. My fingers felt the hard cover under the brown paper. Liberation.

Hm. Liberated. Liberty. Library. Libreria. Libro. Libre. Book. Freedom. You could mix them up without knowing it. Knowledge = freedom. There's a topic for another day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chutes & Ladders

I read this in a newsletter sent by author and energy psychologist, Gloria Arenson. Funny timing. Yesterday my therapist sang me the last sentence in the passage. I didn't even have to pay extra for the singing. I'm thinking of asking him to do some singing telegrams for a select few people on my list.

Life Is A Game

My five year-old grand-daughter likes to play Chutes and Ladders. As I was playing with her last week, she became frustrated when she was on the brink of winning and hit a downward chute that sent her almost all the way back. Did you know that this game is derived from the ancient Hindu game called Leela, which charts the ups and downs of the soul's path toward reunion with the Infinite? This is a game of self-understanding that encourages a gradual detachment from the ego's delusions. There are explanations for each step that help the player realize the patterns in his life. Each space represents an aspect of consciousness and each roll of the dice is related to the forces of Karma.

We are all playing this game. Some of us, like the five year-old, just pout or get depressed when life throws us into a slide. This game suggests that you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start [all over] again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I knew a guy who woke up and steeped six bags of Earl Grey in his first cup of tea. And then three more in his second. Daily. I wanted to give him a bottle of bergamot and some caffeine tablets so he could eat them in a paste.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Character Definition

I'm looking at my blog's cast of characters thinking it's time to change it again. I don't write about Allen, the guy I dated a minute, anymore. Grams makes the blog a fair amount, but Nico is so far away, and Suzy. I'm afraid if I move them from the cast list, I will be sad. And my cast will be really small. I don't write small cast productions. I write really really big ones, and then get asked to pare them down. "Combine some of these characters, Pema," is the feedback I've received in the past, and will likely receive again.

That'd be a weird note in real life. "Combine these characters." What if you had six people following you around all the time, chiming in to answer something on the tip of your tongue, questioning your involvement in the kiss you're about to get. And someone completely outside you and your six said, "Jeez, ya might wanna combine those, if just to get invited to dinner more often." What would you combine? How would you choose which of whom to composite? And what if these six were people were not shades of you, but actual people who added to--or took from--your life in some way? How would you combine them, and you, then?

Paper: 2D
Life: 3D

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sounds from a Town I Love

Remembering 9/11 on 9/11.
Woody Allen made a short for Concert for NY, a free show at Madison Square Garden for NY's emergency and civic workers, and families of those who died in the attacks. Love letter in a time of loss.

Friday, September 4, 2009

World Smiles With You

You know how it's all exciting when you have a new boyfriend, and you go around saying, my new boyfriend this and my new boyfriend that? Yeah. Me not so much either. I don't know if I ever said, "My new boyfriend." In any case, I do have a new ex. Today, as it stands. For the sake of conversation. I do. And that makes him all new again. My new ex this and my new ex that. Ohmigod! Y'know?

So, yesterday the new ex and I are driving somewhere, taking care of unfinished business. Theoretically I am really pissed at him. He's a big weenie. But on a practical every day level, he's just a guy. He looks over at me from the driver seat and says something funny or endearing. Something worthy of a reaction. I feel a smile on the inside but on the outside I can't decide whether to give him even that much. And then I do. Civility is important. At least I think I do. Maybe I should check.

ME: Did I just smile at you?

EX: I don't know. I couldn't tell.

ME: I felt my face move.

And then we are laughing and polar ice caps melt. Dammit. Feels better than the freeze, though.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Geoffrey Smith, director of "The English Surgeon," says the purpose of the brain surgery patient being awake during surgery is to be the last valve of safety, to save themselves, potentially, from the doctor inadvertently slicing away "1968," in other words, slicing away whole swaths of memories.

Awake. Save your memories. Save what you know.

And others of us so willing to give them away in order to believe a story. Shaking my head in amazement right now.

(Geoffrey Smith, as interviewed by Elvis Mitchell on KCRW's "The Treatment" today.)

Tell Me Lies

Been thinking about truth. Trust. Honesty. Lies. The absolute need for some of us to have the absolute truth. I've always said I'm best with information. Just give it to me.

Wondering if my need for the truth, always the WHAT HAPPENED? is me depending on others to make decisions for me: If I can trust you completely, I can make solid moves in my life, based on what you've said. If I can't trust you to talk to me straight, I can make other choices and feel safe in them.

But what's missing when I cling urgently to the need for your honesty?

I knew my boyfriend had a capacity for the deceptive arts from the beginning. But when the lying began, to cover that other unmentionable that happened, I believed it. Well, almost believed it. I had to hear it over and over again in various ways for it to finally make sense.

What made better sense? What I observed, felt, sensed, saw--knew, really. I knew something was out of place. A lot of things were. Circumstantially. But he was resolute. I wanted so much to trust him that I didn't--hello!--trust myself. What's up with that?

There's a lot of crazy world-changing foundation-wobbling happening on the bigger, broader stage these days. What happens when you can't trust things to be how they have they are supposed to be...fine and good and right? Just like you know 'em to be?

Maybe what happens is you ask a lot of questions. Trust what your spidey sense knows before you do. When you get the spidey sense, ask questions. But listen for the internal answers. Not the external ones that sound right but feel wrong. Maybe we're learning to live in a world of extra-sensory sensing, intuitive knowing rather than concrete evidence that builds a bullshit case. Forgiving bullshit cases, it seems that even the concrete things we have known--economic trends, Twin Towers, airtight mortgages--are melting before our eyes, and maybe it's time the spidey sense came to life.

The moral, Grasshoppa? Close your eyes and trust what you know.

(P.S. I'm joining you in the grasshoppa gallery here.)


Monday, August 31, 2009

Powers of Perception

Power animal—Chameleon

by Amy Katz, MA—

The power animal for September is the chameleon....Subtle shifts in physiology, emotions, climate and camouflage-needs can cause the cells of this sensitive-skinned reptilian to alter pigmentation. It is both a joy and an amazement to see them turn from brown to green, yellow to blue and back again...he proves that our bodies are inextricably bound to our emotions and environment...

Chameleons are also extraordinary seers: their cone-shaped eyes glance in different directions at the same time. This gives them...the ability to know what is coming at them from all directions, and to “see out the back of their heads." As Animal Guide, Chameleons leads us to accept our own abilities to track the movements of others intuitively, and teaches us to improve our own vast but usually untapped powers of perception.

Dinner of Champions

Course 1: Chocolate pudding
Course 2: Corn chips and salsa
Course 3: Corn chips and hummus

Bachelor(ette) living.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Life is good

Homemade chicken soup.
Night music from
And patience.
A whole hell of a lot of it, asking me to have perspective, because who knows what's to come?
Life is good.
And Pollyanna grew up to be my Grandma. That shit is genetic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quiet pulse

While u hear silence, I hear my ears ringing and traffic out my window on the 405. It doesn't stop. Nor does the ringing. Indiscretions in tact and one more thing in my ears: Your silence will not protect you. -Adrienne Rich

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm at a bar.
After indiscretions have been made.
Not by me.
Tally ho, motherfucker.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Home. Ish.

Coming up on a year here in Portland. I arrived Sept 7 last year.

I'm finally feeling inklings of settling in, feeling like everything is not new anymore...even the ways that I think. When I've felt anxious about being new here, still unsettled, I have remembered people saying it takes a year to get used to a place. To feel at home.

A different friend said otherwise yesterday. He said, "Three-and-a-half years."

I almost fell over. "Whyyy????"

"Because cells in the body regenerate completely every seven years. So at 3 1/2, you are more of the place where you are than where you came from."

I love him.

I'm happy the year is up. I came from so many different places in the many past years, my cells may be scrambled. But I live here. Here is where I live. I'm one-seventh home.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I am (hardly) the very definition of discipline.

8:09am and so far a few distractions.
The beeping outside my window at 7am. What the? I went outside for a walk to check it out and discovered it is temporary. Two guys on an airlift, prepping the building next door for paint. In parts of my neighborhood, there are garage doors that sound off a nerve-wracking beeping every time a car goes through. Imagine living above that? I had to go scout the my hood to see if it was coming to such calamity.

Then a little peek at, email. But only a little peek. Then a peek at the Bench. Don't I have to move this over to Wordpress? I'll look! Stop! Get back to the plan. Meditate. Breakfast. Write. Yeah, I'm going to, but I should just post something before I get into...oh, that's a cute entry. I'll just do something quick. Who knows how long it will take to convert/transfer all that content...the Bench might be unavailable a long time...

8:14 and coffee is getting cold because I was going to drink it after meditating. It's wiggling in its paper cup from my tapping on the table. I'm still typing text that wants to be typed but that cut into line and is now giggling and sneering at me, wiggling its tail. If text had tails.


The whole reason I opened the damn laptop to begin with was to start the music from iTunes I like to hear while I'm meditating. Curse that shiny pretty thing. And that one. And that! Oo!...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Already?

How does that happen? Yesterday was the first day in the week I had any energy, and it was busy enough to feel like a Monday.

I have been toying with creative work hours, feeling guilty about the relaxed nature of mine, even though they usually extend into the wee hours of moon in midheaven. But guilty nonetheless about how much more productive I would be waking up at 6, rushing around to get fed and clothed, cramming my feets into heels and clacking out the door to be slave-driven till 5, or 6, or 7 or 8 depending on what drama lay behind the desk at the office. Someone else's vision.

More productive? I've been freelancing full time for a year now. No dry-cleaning. Spare heels. Equally voluminous to-do lists but less pressure to please. I'm going for fewer pats on the head and more strokes for the work. More strokes in the bank account for the pleasure of practicing what I love. Difference: it's my bum on the bottom line. Scary! And thrilling adventure.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Queen of Denial

PEMA: My boyfriend is a real sweetheart.

GRANDMA: You better hold onto him.

We eat a few bites and stare off into space.

GRANDMA: Good friends are good to have.

- - - - -

On nature's monthly arriving the day of my 20 year HS reunion...

GRANDMA: I'm sorry that had to happen to you today.

PEMA: I'm glad it happened at all.

GRANDMA: Well, you weren't expecting it not to, were you?

PEMA: No. But I'm always glad to see it.

GRANDMA changes subject.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Names Changed

Some of the reunion people were perplexed at my name change.

Name changes on the weird-o-meter are relative. My grandma thinks "Pema" is the strangest thing she's ever heard. Newer friends think my given name, "Heather," misses the mark. I think "Pema" is nothing compared to the judge's son I once met who changed his name to "Fire Penguin Disco Panda."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Facepaint, Fires & Footstamping

I've decided high school reunions are an important tribal ritual. Last weekend, hundreds of us walked into the reunion oo-ing and awe-ing, greeting after 20 years and laughing over how so many of us looks exactly the same.

Then, someone turned on the reunion video, which was a video that was taken our senior year, for the purpose of playing at the reunion.

Oh my God. We were 17. A bunch of those former 17 year olds now have kids that age. We were children. And we most certainly did not look the same. Or feel the same.

The reunion ritual. Gets us all together to make us see how much time has passed, how much life has accumulated, and to push the go button, the fly, be free of any regret you left back in high school button. The you were a child and now you're an adult button. You're free!

I like the reunion ritual. I got to apologize to Rick Daynes for being such a bitch on the night of our Winter Formal. Before the dance, Jennifer Strauss told me he broke it off with Laura Nero and asked me instead because he heard he could score. Don't know where he got his intel, because that night. My shoulder. Ice.

In years that followed I felt bad I didn't check with the source before putting my Jerky McSourpuss in a party dress. Two decades later, I'm apologizing in front of his wife.

He said, Really? I don't remember that. His pretty wife smiled prettily.

Ah. It's nice to not be 17 anymore.


Thursday, August 6, 2009


Rob's my brother. Sue's his wife. Last visit I made, they were building a 2-story addition to the back of their little bungalow. Garage on the bottom, bedroom on the top. Three months later, the single finished feature is the upstairs toilet, which they have lovingly given two names:
The Think Tank
The Poop Tower.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tonight's Gem

On the toilet, on the phone, head in hand, trying to express in words how long the day has been. It's apparent I'm finding better success peeing than talking:

"My eyes are so...dry they're like...sandkittens in my...forehead."


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Showing Up

Can you believe I'm still deciding whether or not to go to my 20 year high school reunion? It requires a two-day drive there and a two-day drive back. Which requires I decide by Tuesday, as my departure day would be Wed.

My reservation? All that. Plus the cash it would take to do it all and the time away from work.
My compulsion? To show up. I was so shy and isolated for so long in my life, I think that I am missing everyone in every place I've ever been because I am coming into myself in a way that is closer to whole, not so eclipsed by fear or embarrassment or harsh judgment on myself. So I want to go back and see the people I knew before, with the fuller parts of me showing, and with the expanded capacity of taking them in without my self-consciousness getting in the way.

I was visible in high school because I was the girl whose brother died the summer between sophomore and junior years. Then I was that girl, plus the one that cut her hair short, fell in love with the best friend she idolized, and became a lesbian. (Not that I had any idea what that meant at the time.) So when I looked at kids looking at me, who knows what they were thinking, but I was seeing them see me as THAT girl, and that's it. They still were nice. Still said hello and included me. But I was so incredibly withdrawn. My best friend is the only person who got much from me after all that. And when others would try, I wouldn't notice, or I would think it wasn't for real. I would wonder why they were talking to me. Not wondering in a snotty, I'm-too-good-for-you kind of way, but a why-are-you-talking-to-ME kind of way. I just didn't get it.

I think this is related to the emotional hangovers I had when I was in my 20s. I'd go out, have a great time. Wake up the next morning feeling like a terrible dork for how expressive I was the night before. Like I was several people, and the one that wakes up in the morning is a Catholic nun shaming me for dancing and laughing and sitting on a party couch interacting with peers.

In any case, I have this idea that showing up for the reunion would be a great exercise in showing up. All of me, which is so much more than I brought to the party before. Seems like it would be a nice way to mend the past to the present, and make friends with the friends that may have been back then. I'm romanticizing. Who knows such a thing. It just feels like showing up would be a good idea.

To go, or not to go.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Craigslist Poetry - Missed Connections

You were crying in front of Keybank Tower - m4w (downtown)
You were over by the bikes (rather than in front of Spicy Pickle). I was wearing a blue, buttoned short sleeve shirt and carrying a book. I doubt you'll see this, but if somehow you do, I want another chance to ask if you're OK. Include your hair color and the color of the shirt you were wearing so I'll know it was you.

Cute guy with a 2:00 haircut appointment - w4m (Roberts of Portland)
I was sitting in the front when you walked in. You looked like the type of guy with a great job, a house, a dog, a wife and a kid on the way.... but maybe there's a chance you're single? I doubt you check these but figure it might be worth a chance. Anyway.... I was the petite blonde in the yellow flowered dress.

New Seasons Market - m4m - 28 (Scholls Ferry)
at 2:30ish you were outside reading a book. We sort of made eye contact a couple times. Please be gay, please be gay, please be gay. Or at least bi. Hit me up if I looked "doable".

I farted on the max - w4m - 26 (At The back....)
It was packed.... It really stunk... You where the nice looking guy standing next to me that everyone looked at...... Our eyes met..... You knew it was me and didnt say anything......
What a guy...... Id love to meet you... It dosnt happen very often..... please email me.....


Coffee Shop - w4m - 28 (Portland)
To the guy who I'm sitting behind right now at my local coffee shop (NON-starbucks). Damn you are great to look at from behind. Thank you! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hoops and Rewards

Speaking of money and getting personal (weren't we?), I made a big breakthrough in therapy today. I'm so happy to be in therapy again. It's been a lot of years since the last bout, and sanity is worth the investment. The absolutely glorious thing, is that therapy is not just sanity-inducing, it's personal growth. Big fat life lessons learned, with the perspective of somebody outside my head, equipped with brainaical skills, willing to push me through my fortress doors out into the bright of day, the bright of life. Yes, I write for Hallmark, dammit.

Today's breakthrough...I walked in and told my therapist it was over. I ran out of money for therapy. I have to come back when I've got a stronger foundation and extra money for such a thing.

The parenthetical to this is that all week long I've been pining over the school program I left in New York eight years ago. EIGHT YEARS AGO. Holy Jeez. I thought I was over the regret, but New York keeps coming up in the hot weather, in my city walks, in conversation, photos on Facebook. I miss the people I left. I miss the dream I stepped off of, thinking I was stepping further into it by leaving. I am jealous of the success my peers are achieving in their faraway states and camaraderie. I want to be achieving it with them. Practicality states that survival is success and the pace of both for me is just a little slower than the others I'm comparing myself to. But the fact is, I don't have any babies or marriages or award-winning plays under my belt, no fancy grants or creative foundations tripping over themselves to give me development money. Not yet anyway.

I love it when thoughts that seem just along for the ride in life and its circumstances tie right into a day's therapy session. So I tell Ken-the-therapist that it's over and he tells me based on the six or so sessions we've had and the voluminous heat of each of them, that it'd be an apropos time for me to bolt. Ah, yes. I agreed. If only I WANTED to bolt. But I wanted to stay, I just didn't have the means. Then all of a sudden those New York thoughts came breezing in, remembering I left in part because I thought I was going to lose it, and I needed to be in a familiar place if my mind was going to that I could survive the fall. I didn't have the means to survive it. NYC was new, as were my friends and my circumstances. Who would take me in if I crashed? Who could I ask for help if I didn't have a fight in me left?

It's all very melodramatic isn't it? I was in a dramatic arts program, if that redeems me at all. But it's true. I felt a niggling sense of doom, and a faraway call to find a nest, find it fast, and prepare to lose my head.

The parallel of needing help, and not having the means to acquire it, came clearly into view. Even the time span that I've been here in Portland, following another dream, is the same time I was in NYC following that dream before I felt the foundation begin to shake.

Ken-the-therapist nodded as I pulled this all together. Threw in sage words. And offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. Breakthrough: I'm staying in therapy. I'm getting the help that's supporting my creative brain and my business success...and lest we forget, healthy relationships with men, boyfriend in particular. It feels, I feel, relieved. I feel really good. And I feel like I made a different choice than the sad, regretful one I made to leave New York.

As for missing places in general, I've been doing that a lot lately.

I miss the rosewater ice cream in Hollywood, and my old mob of cohorts at 415 in San Francisco, and the Fritz Blitz festival selection committee in San Diego, and my friends and the the foothills and ocean running path and the ocean itself in Santa Barbara. Melissa Lion wrote a cool book called Upstream. In it a teenage girl comes to grips with a devastating loss, and in her healing progress realizes that what she misses is who she was. I miss that sometimes, in the gap between what I am and what I'm becoming. Thing is, I've been becoming for a lot of months now, and I forget who I am in the meantime...making me remember who I've been and miss myself.

Curious, if I didn't think so much of myself, I'd think I were a narcissist. ;-)

Thanks for hearing my breakthrough today. It's a big one and I am happy. I feel older. By two days. At least.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cash for Crustaceans

Money makes the mood go up, the mood go up, the mood go up.
Money makes the mood go up, the mood! go! up!

Was walking and driving around, composing today's blog post in my head. Watching my mood sway with anxiety, resolve, encouragement, anxiety, resolve, thinking it'll be one of those deep days, posting about my internal life. My bench on the inside. I started a new writing schedule today, and I guess anytime I'm in between things new and old, I get soft like a crustacean growing out of its shell. Soft and vulnerable and worrisome, wondering if the end is near, if the sky is falling, and if I'll be an unfortunate soft and squishy when it lands. On me. Squashing me dead. Hm. Maybe that's the point. To be squishy, so that you're not broken, but malleable when it hits. Maybe then I'd squish into a whole new kind of creature. A giraffe, maybe.

But the sky is not falling, or at least, the confidence of money in the mail pops a parachute on that gravity and tells it to take its time sweet time. Sometimes when confidence is lacking, money makes up for it. And caffeine. I now have introduced both into my bloodstream.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Birthday Weather

My blog is doing something weird. It won't let me comment on my own posts. Sorry, friendlies, to whom I would like to comment back. I'll look into that. In the meantime, thanks for reading and commenting.

It's 40 minutes before my birthday. Late night, dark and warm, make that really warm, with a breeze that's kind of thick. Humid. The kind that opens you up and gets you all nostalgic for what once was or what is to come. Hm. Appropriate birthday weather.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Little Line Was Blue

The month of July has potentially seen the most transformative days in a row of my whole adult life. I could be wrong. I have had some swerves and misses. Some direct hits. My friend/boss died in a plane wreck. I moved to another state. I left 15 years of day-jobbing to leap into doing bizness for myself.

But two weeks ago I peed on a stick and turned it the faintest shade of blue. It was so light blue, the little line predicting the rest of my life, that the digital readout read, "Not Pregnant." My girlfriends, however, are all sorts of savvy. Peeing on sticks is a national sport in some households. Every last symptom under their belts, they know when the jig is up. And these pros in the field suggested I pee on another one, then bust that thing open with a hammer to read it the good old fashioned way: White strip. Thin blue line. You can only have the hormone in your system that turns sticks blue if you are pregnant, they said. Even if it's a tiny bit blue, you're 100% knocked up.

So I got out the hammer. Opened a fresh test. Peed. And waited. Three minutes later, it read, "Not pregnant." I got down on the floor and bashed that digital thing open. What did I pull out? White strip. Thin blue line.

Here's the calendar of events.
Wednesday - My boyfriend and I break up.
Friday - I'm four days late. I pee on a stick. It's negative.
Saturday Night - Pregnancy jock girlfriend instills doubt about my negative.
Sunday Morning - Pee on the stick. Doubtable shade of blue. But blue. No. Can't be. Yet.
Sunday - Six days late.
Sunday Night - Undeniable symptoms. Come to Jesus. My very molecules changing everything I know. Pema Teeter, This Is Your Life! I'm telling you, everything changed. I woke up the next morning recommitted to my core values, my spirituality, my purpose in life.
Monday Morning - Can't eat breakfast. Tastes funny. Nauseated. Make appointment for doctor.
Monday Mid-morning - Period comes. Seven days late, and one transformation later.

Now that we have the calendar down, I'll go back and tell you about the boyfriend. We broke up because of my complaint. I felt like I didn't exist for him, that I was a convenience, and that he was wholly self-absorbed. I tried hard to be a good girlfriend, being open and understanding, slow to judge, slow to anger. Simply put, he was in a better relationship than I was. And based on weeks prior, each of us battling to be satisfied in our worlds, he seemed happy to head for the door once I opened it.

Then I asked him to come over to help me with something. He brought flowers. Truce, he said. I told him I was four days late. His eyes got gentle and settled into me. He watched me a while with a slight upturn in his mouth. He said quietly without ever looking away, "Okay." He went out and came back with a bottle of wine, a box of pregnancy tests, and a bag of donuts. We clinked glasses. Hugged. Then I peed on the stick. We hugged again when it read negative, and amid all the relief, I felt sad.

That was day four. As the days progressed, we talked and talked. Not about being late or pregnant, but about what had us break up. I was traumatized by the event that kicked it off for us, and so I called him each night my head was spinning, to ask him to help me through it. Every night he would. So by night-six and morning-seven of my thin blue line journey, he was right there with me, offering whatever he had, to let me know he was with me all the way. Want me to go to the doctor with you? I will. Want to marry me for my insurance? We could have a courthouse wedding. He showed up in ways I had doubted he ever could. Just days after I had doubted him so completely as to call it off.

Sometime in that week, he asked if I was sure about wanting to break up. The afternoon of day-seven, leaving the doctor's office with him and a negative pregnancy test, I couldn't help but ask myself, "What's important?" We broke up because he wouldn't show up, in my estimation. And then, at a time like this, he shows up like a house afire.

A few days later we had a conversation about what we want in a partner and a relationship. It turned out we want each other. We were two single people living in a relationship a couple of weeks ago. Then we saw what was possible from what seemed inevitable. And we like each other a whole lot better. I for one like myself a little better, too. My therapist (good time for one of those right about now, wouldn't you say?) suggested that I had shown up in ways I never had, asking my (ex-)boyfriend for his help, being angry at him out loud, pulling him into my process to make it our process. So for all my complaint about his not being there in the relationship, apparently, neither was I. We need each other, people do. I guess if we don't offer, we don't get.

It must have been a big week for transformation in the cosmos. Because that weekend, I went to a Fire Starter group session with Danielle LaPorte. She said, “Go farther on your blog. Keep it personal. Take it a little crazy.” She said a good many things to all of us entrepreneurs awaiting enlightenment. And can I say, my world wasn’t just rocked. It was cracked, wide open like that damned pregnancy test, splintered and exposing what matters: White strip. Thin blue line. Me. Positively on. Being what’s possible. Seeing who I am. What I am. What I bring into the world. Pregnant with possibility. So just do it already. It’s time to give birth to it all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Click It - Addicted!

In the interest of word game addictions, have you tried this one?


I think I've posted it here before, but, my, is it evil in the best of ways.

What's your high score?
Or better put, how many people did you feed with your addictive behavior today?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

more word gaming

wow, you guys are good.
you inspired me...

pupu incense = 1,620
rickshaw trollop = 1,910
niggle swarthy = 2,680

Saturday, July 18, 2009

sweat salamander

mink bikini = 34,300

milk biscuit = 4,320,000

silk sangria = 2,200,000

bilk bourgeoisie = 14,000

my friend, lisa, plays a party game on google. the gist is to enter the two words that generate the least amount of hits. 

try it. 

log your best shot here. 

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chicken Sex

Leave it to my lesbian friends to raise a rooster named Mathilda, and a hen that crows.

Mathilda the boy chicken is not such an uncommon development. It's hard to tell what sex those fuzzy little chicks are when they pop out of the eggs. When you get them home and growing in their little box, and then coop, you just gotta keep your eye, and ear, open for tell tale signs that your hen is becoming a man-bird. Like noticing the red crop growing on his head and the adolescent crackling that's trying to be a crow.

They had to get rid of Mathilda--dubbed Clark soon after puberty--because roosters aren't allowed in suburban backyards.

Rooster gone, this morning they woke to Daisy, the bossy hen of the brood, gurgling out a half-cocked screechy croon. In the absence of a rooster, she's taking on job. How very butch of her.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dirt Where You'd Least Expect It

When I lived in New York, I had a lot of surreal experiences. Like the time I walked past a huge advert pic of a swimming pool and actually smelled chlorinated water on hot cement. And that first week I was there in that raucous loud city, seeing a homeless, deaf teenager, and imagining what NYC would be like without sound...I think it would be like being under water.

And there was the time I saw construction in the street. They had the road ripped up and I could see the dirt underneath. Dirt. Brown, sandy earth. In Manhattan. I stopped and stared before I realized I was gripped by the surprise of nature holding us all up.

Saw the Mannahatta Project today and it reminded me of that surprising earth.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


A: Hey I think I can select my iPhone apps with my nipple. I'm gonna try it.
B: What? It should work. It's warm. Maybe I can take a picture with my Johnson.
A: Oh, it's working!
B: I just took a picture of my leg. I'm going to send it to you.
B: Oh my God, I'm scrolling through my pictures with my Johnson. Wait. Check your email.

"Penis Poems"
K sZ
G blog

Typed by my Tip


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Law School vs. Baby Uncertainty Principle

My brother has three nearly grown kids and some variation of a constant question whenever I see him:
"When are you gonna have kids?"
Or, "Why don't you go get some seeds?"
Or, "Isn't your clock gonna explode soon? Get all rusty and freeze up on you?"

Eloquence runs in my family.

Kids don't. Out of 5 adult siblings, only 2 of us have procreated. I'm not one of them.

My mantras: I *think* I want kids. I don't want to ruin them. I don't want them to ruin me, which will ruin them.

Snake eats its tail.

Yesterday, after the course of some high pressure darktime hours with God, I get it. Yes. Kids. Babies. Offspring. I'd be a good mom. And maybe a nutter of one, okay. But yeah. Kids and me would go very well together.

Then I saw this post today on THE HAPPINESS PROJECT and it made me snicker while giving me perspective in all of 20 seconds. It's in the video linked here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hollywood Movie

Been okay. But tonight I'm a girl. A regular girl the kind I always wondered about who loved "Dirty Dancing" and swooned over boys and babies. Everywhere I look are couples aging and sophistcated on a Saturday night, young and cute in the giddy twilight. And everytime I hold back tears. Tears! Are threatening my eyes and slipping down my throat. I force myself into the street into a bar with a book and I hide behind the menu mystified that I'm crying just looking at wines. Or trying to keep from crying, lights dim, bar marble-topped, music perfectly jazz. The lights just got dimmer and my red is served. I wonder if I will be someone's story tonight, to see and consider as they go to sleep, the woman at the bar brushing at tears before her book even opens.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


My boyfriend and I broke up yesterday.

My HS reunion is in a few weeks. To go or not to go.

Kittens slept on my head last night.

I just woke up from a three-hour nap.

Window washers dangled outside my 10th floor apt today, adept as spiders.

Yesterday I was angrier than I have been in a really long time.

Like maybe ever.

Anger is cumulative over years and bursts open like a storm cloud.

I am the same girl I was in high school. More talkative maybe. And as poetically morose.

I'm looking out my window at a river right now.

My friends make me feel so special I cry.

I ate halves of five different flavored cupcakes yesterday, with two of my besties, all of us in the haven of my bed.

We drank prosecco in the afternoon. Also in my bed.

I am tired.

I wonder a lot of things. Mostly about progress and reproduction and people.

I missed yesterday's blog post, busy living its content.

I miss New York sometimes.

Life is always just beginning.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Office Deluge

My eyes have an office-y ache and a laptoppy strain. But success was found on my new scanner today. Even though I failed at the fax.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A General Ick

What can be attributed to this ICK? I woke up and before I even opened my eyes, I hated my apartment. I loathed where it is located, isolated at the end of my block. I regretted the home improvements I made last weekend, and couldn't believe I bought that ugly little table and chairs. It disrupts everything with its wicker cuteness and caramel-colored brightness infecting my apartment's darker tones.


In my late 20s I used to wake up with an emotional hangover. I'd have a fun night out the night before, no alcohol (special diet), nobody in my bed (no reason but shyness), and before I even opened my eyes, I'd be regretting all that laughing and joking and general self-expression of the night before...usually it involved meeting new people and having a really great time. And it wasn't just regretting, I was doing. It was a physical sensation. My insides churned in a kitchen mixer, getting folded into a batter headed for the flame and skillet.

What the hell is that about? Does everyone feel this way when they wake up? Is this why people drink coffee? Mood enhancer of happy prancers once static dancers. Stop me.

I'm still in bed. I wrote some morning pages then made a list of all there is to do today in lieu of hating myself. When I have stuff to do there is less time for that. In between lines, I considered when I have felt like this and remembered high school. Precious days of hormonal Jekyll and Hyde. Girlhood sucks sometimes.

Today is a girl day. In all the literature of all time, all those pagan fertility rites recorded and allusions to the power of women during their "moon time," why does none of it, not one speck say one thing about PMS?

If you know of an ancient reference to lady dragons, please post. I'd love some redemption in history.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I missed yesterday's post!
I was independent of the blog while celebrating our country's independence.
Now, a lot could be debated about what our country and its individuals are independent from--or not--these days. Oil? A crazy craving to always be buying something? Debt, and the Industrial Revolution hours it makes one keep?
But systemically, ritually, we are free.
And a lotta folks work to keep us feeling that way, from red tapers to storm troopers to grocery markets that stay open till midnight.
And for that I give thanks on Independence Day.
Powerful stuff, freedom.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Note the Floral Toes

Still learning to be a girl after all them bruthas...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rhythm is Gonna Get You

My best dancing days all added together have not seen as much dancing as there's been in my life since Michael Jackson died, all that rhythm comin outta everywhere, radios all around.

I want a jazz funeral when I die. But if you play a little MJ when I go, it'll gimme some more boogie to woogie outta here on. And I won't mind a bit. As long as you keep marchin and swingin down the streets with them trombones and sassy colors, lovin the life I led as much as I did.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lawty Lawty Got a House Pawty

This is three-fourths of my core Welcome-to-Portland crew. Note the cute girl on the right. That's Stephanie.

And this is the farewell crew.

Saying goodbye to Stephanie. Portland's loss. New York's gain.

We'll miss you, girl.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Specs Addict

One dark and stormy night, I lost my glasses.

I was traveling, and was headed for another airport in the morning. So, I made arrangements to cab it directly from the Portland airport to Sears Optical to get new specs. And you know, sometimes life has more adventures than time.

So I met a blind date there. At Sears Optical. He helped me choose new glasses. He helped a lot, actually. It had been a sad, heavy winter and along came a perfect stranger to help me lift it.

A few months later, back in Santa Barbara, I met another stranger. It was windy on the night of our first date. Really windy. We went to the movies. Watched. Then ducked back into the wind. He walked me to my car. Whereupon I discovered I had lost my glasses.

I began to wonder if my glasses are connected somehow to the people I date, and what, if any, metaphysical meddling might be manifesting in my losing them. For, once, on a first date, I lost my wrist watch. And lemme tell you, I still haven't stopped mourning the time that went missing from the year that followed that night.

For the record, I lost my glasses *again* shortly after I met my current boyfriend. But I figured the metaphiz got balanced or redeemed or something because the glasses were found and returned by a cross-dressing furniture dealer named Woody. ...something about "if it comes back to you it's yours. If it doesn't, it was never meant to be" rings a bell. And the cross-dressing. That's a representation of balance, right? Male and female in one?



Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Support for Spelling" ?

It's hard to swallow a hard-to-swallow rule.
But once you get used to it, sing-song a little mantra about it, and then become an editor, for Pete's sake, enforcing it with red pens the rest of your days, it's hard to let it go. Oh, i-before-e, must we? Part?

New Britain Teaching Guidelines Nix "I Before E" Spelling Rule


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tools To Live By

My friend and colleague, Jillian, was over yesterday, giving me counsel on my life architecture.

We were talkin story and she told me about how, after a big change in her life, she got rid of almost everything she owned...appliances, furniture. She wanted to keep it simple. So she didn't buy a TV. She made her coffee on the stove.

I was totally vibing on her story, drawn in like, yeah, I get it. Cathartic. Get rid of that stuff. And then I remembered my own moving story--story of moving, that is.

I am in New York to be a student, from San Francisco where I had a job. To get here, I have sold or trashed 75% of the possessions I laboriously accumulated between the ages of 19 and 30. Rent and tuition paid in the big city, I am so broke I am manufacturing air. I eat a lot of canned beans at this point in my life. You can buy 'em cheap and season them well, toss in an egg (yep an egg) and have a super high protein meal that lasts till lunch time.

That is, if you can open the can. Simplified and broke, I don't have a can opener. (Does this sound like a theme to anyone?) But I have a tool box.

I spend a week opening my nightly can of beans with a screwdriver and hammer. When I finally receive the student loan check and go to the store to buy a can opener, it is the best $1.27 I ever spend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sing it with Me

This is the way we gaze at our navel
gaze at our navel
gaze at our navel

This is the way we gaze at our navel
early in the morning.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Click It - Clock

Need a wake up call?
Or a reason to keep hitting snooze?

Bring home "The Perfect Valet."

(Click the audio samples for your daily laugh dose.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mi Familia

SUE: My big toe is smaller than my middle toe.

ROB: Your big toe is smaller than your little toe?

SUE: Yeah

ROB: That lady we were with today, her little toe went straight up like this. Did you see it?

SUE: What lady?

ROB: That lady. The one with the one eye.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dinner With Grandma

My grandma is the only person I've ever seen eat a taco like a sandwich.

When I tell her that, she asks me, "What are you eating?"
(She can't see what I'm eating because she is blind.)
"A burrito."
"What's a burrito?"
(She doesn't know this because she's from Missouri circa 1910.)
"Everything that's in your taco rolled up in a tortilla."
"That's why I've never had one. I don't like those flour tortillas."

We are quiet a while. She and my grandpa used to come to this Taco Bell together a long time ago. They used to bring my brother and me here on get-out-of-the-kitchen nights. I loved the yellow paper my burritos came rolled in and the cheese shredded in super skinny slices. Grandma's vision has dimmed over the years. I am fully sighted. But we're both seeing the same history in our minds.

"I almost died laughing at Orin eating a tostado," she says.
"Why's that? How'd Grandpa eat his tostadas?"
"He had such a long nose." (And now she's laughing.) "Couldn't take a bite without getting it in it!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Click It - Toof

My Milk Toof

Possibly the funniest, and the cutest, cute/funny combo ever.

(Web Cred - Thanks Kristin Thiel at Indigo Editing!
Ever the fresh source for mental rest stops along the road.))

Friday, June 19, 2009

BackFencePDX - Lawdy Lawdy Lawdy

Damn that was a good night. Sold out crowd of ~250, people in happy moods, lost in the stories, like they're sitting at a campfire, feeling the heat and sharing the love.

A stripper told a story about finding her vibrator in the bum of a half-dead man.
A preacher's grandson told the story of his accidental terrorist act.
A So. African ex-pat told a remarkable story of race, revelation, and The Jefferson's.
I told a story of childhood fantasy turned...fantasy.

If you're on Twitter, go to BACKFENCEPDX and follow some of the tweets on the night. What a great show, and so much fun!!

Catch the next one in Portland in September.

Video links to follow, I think.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Appliance Challenged

My trip to Trader Joe's so fulfilled my need for familiarity, that I walked out with items it turns out I wasn't prepared for.

To my delight this morning, I remembered I bought my favorite TJ's toaster waffles! Opening the freezer...grabbing the box...thinking of my topping choices...yum! almond butter? honey? Then I remember...

I don't have a toaster.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Caught Red-Handed

Hey Folks,

I'm on stage tonight at BACKFENCEPDX, storytelling on the theme, "Caught Red-Handed." Uh-oh. :) Check it out!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I have an inordinate love of fresh basil.

I heart basil.

I order Thai food, just for the basil dishes.

I love the scent, the soft feel of its leaves, its rich, rich green, and that taste, mm mm mm.

I finally found the Wednesday farmers market downtown in Portland's South Park blocks, an came home clutching a bunch of basil. Happy homemaker, I put it in a glass of water near the sink and off I went, back out into the day.

That night, when I walked into my studio, I went straight to open the window. WHAT is that smell? It's, it's like B.O., old, stale, stinky B.O. that has been sitting in a gym shirt in the corner too long.

I did the laundry. The air circulated. The scent diminished. Until the next day. I came home, and there was that...grapefruity, no, stale, six-day-old sweat stink again. Trash out, recycling emptied, I nosed around the house to discover it was the basil, the pretty, thriving in its glass, scentsational, scentrageously overpowering essence d'sweat herb.

Who knew that's what basil smells like in an urban studio?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rebel Yell

In favor of peace between my dad and me, we skirt topics on race and politics. But when I was a kid, we would get into arguments. At 19, I began to harbor fantasies of moving away from home, and coming back with long, wild curly hair, tattooed and smoking, on the back of a motorcycle driven by my boyfriend, who would of course be black. (FYI, I am white, my hair is straight, and I was into girls at the time.)

Today over breakfast, 18 years later, my boyfriend and I were digging at the source of bigotry in an age that makes limiting beliefs about one's skin color sound archaic at best. My boyfriend, handsome as I find him, describes himself as a cross between Andy Dick and Woody Allen--5'6", near-sighted, self-deprecating, and a Midwestern shade of so-white-he's-pink. When I told him about my old fantasy, he looked slightly defeated and then offered:

"I could wear black-face."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Love is a Battle Cube

SETTING: Hotel Bar.

TIME: Evening, after day one of "Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women," a self-help seminar.


Bartender mixes drink.

WOMAN: One thing I do know is he falls for people he works with.
So if he ever gets his divorce and we get married, you better believe I'm gonna keep workin' with him.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Joe Sweet Joe

Q: How long does it take a girl to come to her senses and make herself feel at home in a new town?

A: As long as it takes her to find and frequent the nearest Trader Joe's.

I love a good farmers market. There are 6 of them within walking or biking distance from my house, selling yummy, locally grown organic fruits and veggies, and all kinds of other delights. But when I walked into Trader Joe's last weekend, I felt like I had found home in a dream where I had been lost a thousand years. There it was. Same as in every town I've lived in. Had never moved. It was only I who had forgot it was there. What familiarity it held. The scent, the layout of the place, the friendly faces and floral shirts and pre-packaged gluten-free gourmet-ish...foodstuffs, microwaveable plastic shrink wrap, and fruit in...plastic boxes...from...Argentina...or Chile. Yes, somehow, Trader Joe's is an island in the sea. Its non-local, non-recyclable, organic-from-far-flung-republics products calling to me a lover I should have long ago outgrown but is too damned good to let go. Ahhh. Sweet Joe.

Friday, June 12, 2009

To Pee or Not to Pee

So, would you find it kind of weird if you saw me walking along with my friend downtown, and I stopped, pulled down my panties and peed right there on the sidewalk?

Would your shock be resolved if only my friend pulled out a water bottle and doused the pee puddle away?

Mine would. That is, if it were you I saw peeing on the sidewalk, and your friend doused your puddle, I might be more forgiving of the transgression.

So why do drunks get tickets or jail time for the same thing 100 dogs do every day outside my building? Why don't dog owners get ticketed for not hosing down the lakes o' pee that make downtown smell like a public toilet in summertime?

Two words. G-ross.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back on the Bench...and Watching

I'm back.
Too many observables have occurred to keep my mouth shut and brain quiet. Maybe more to the point, I'm over the hump in my move to Portland, making space and time for my brain to activate its Pemascope. It's a vast and airy place the Pemascope observes: Imagination's underbelly, and scruffy top. It's sparkly underpants. Thank goodness for airy there.

Here, I'll scoot over. Join me on the Bench and let's watch a while.

Things to tell you about as we sit...
Trader Joes
Women at Work
Birth Control
Boys in the Yard
(Just kidding, those last two, I just got carried away by the B's.)

For now, because it's clearing as prayer and sufficiently odd, I'll make another list for you. I'm a lister.

They're poetic, lists are. I can't get away from them, keeping them in odd places, on post-its, in backs of books. Lists are at once ominous because they forebode so much responsibility, and glorious because they pat me on the head everytime I cross something off. I love the "good-girl!" I get from my internal grade school teacher every time I cross something off.

My favorite lists are grocery and drug store receipts. How often does one buy a garlic press, Q-tips, condoms, and ketchup in one visit? Or mail twine, eggs, a toilet scrubber and birthday candles? I could make an art installation with mine.

For now I'll list the web windows I have open at present. Ironically, if I were not such a lister, such an out-of-sight-out-of-mind type, I would just write these open windows down and return to them when I had time. But these are live lists of a sort.

As they stand, open, they are portals I'll climb through, someday. Soon, I hope. But if closed and written down, who knows which misplaced post-it or which random book jacket I'll find six years down the line that reads...

Yoga Pearl
Tin House
Magnetic Attraction Analysis - White Hot Truth
Ojai Playwrights
Arts Club Theater Company
Tropical Salvage
Find a BEST Practitioner
Reiki Healing
Bettina Yelman
Portland Parks and Recreation
Windows Hotmail
The Student Loan People
Shawn Colvin Lyrics - "The Story"
Feminine Principle - Google Search
Community Cycling Center
The Hundredth Monkey Studio
Pacific Northwest Hikes
Capoeira Portland
195 Riders
Improv Everywhere
Amazon - Love You Forever
Upholstery Classes Portland
Consignment NW

...and what course in life I'll have missed because of it.

(Incidentally, can anyone tell me why my computer is so slow?) ;)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Overheard Kid Talk

He's five, the kid from the sidewalk. It's a surprisingly sunshiny moment under Portland's gray sky, and as he swings his arms and walks with his family, he engages his little sister. He is totally amused...

KID: Remember that movie? Remember the Wizard of Oz? Remember those Munchkins?! They were like tiny grownups! Isn't that so cool? They were SMALL grown ups.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Poetry of Living

Remember scratch n sniff stickers? This is listen n read blogging.

Play this:

To read this:

Sometimes you drive around doing errands, buying office tools, buttoning up against the rain and eating a fast lunch so you can get back to work.

And then you get home and dive in. To the work. Organizing paragraphs and making up story lines. You're listening to George Winston because you remembered that pretty sound recently, when it was way past midnight, and you were suffocating in wordsand--a letter-y kind of quicksand that writers fall into, especially after midnight. It can show up right there in the middle of their apartments, one step backward and s-s-s-squish, there they go, if they are not careful, and they are barely surviving a Code Bleak, wordsand kind of night. If you still have a hand sticking out, though, you can open iTunes and see what can save you. For me, three nights ago, it was the memory of the sound of George Winston's piano. The sound of it bounced inside my skull. Such non sequitur memories get squeezed out of the desire to survive.

Then day returns. Lunch is finished. You've turned on George's DECEMBER. And you're working, and you look up, out your window at the bridge. And over the rooftops, it has begun to snow. It's snowing. And you're writing, in the middle of the day. And you're listening to DECEMBER and you remember, of a sudden but softly as snow falling, you've dreamt this again and again your whole life through. To be a writer. By day. With a window. And quiet. And snow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

But Wait! There's More! TALKING DOGS Jan 30

Here I am, back already.

For your theatrical pleasure and nighttime intrigue, you are welcome to TALKING DOGS, my new comedy about men and marriage, er, I mean, divorce.

My new play, TALKING DOGS, is receiving a staged reading at Portland Center Stage's the Armory. It's part of the new FERTILE GROUND FESTIVAL, garnering a national focus on Portland's local theatre scene. Come be a part of the scene, literally, in the Armory's gorgeous reception venue: My crazy farce is set at a wedding reception.

(Email me here to receive updates on pre-party and play info)

PURCHASE TICKETS: Click here to buy tix online and save yourself a seat.


TIME: 11pm (Pre-party starts at 9pm - details to follow)

LOCATION: Portland Center Stage's Gerding Theatre at the Armory, Mezzanine Stage

TALKING DOGS, by Pema Teeter
"Sit! Heel! Stay. A fetching comedy about men and marriage."

Marriage is not about getting the girl anymore. It's about keeping her. Grab a cocktail and pull up a chair to this raucous comedy about five men facing various stages of divorce and dissolution, all while discovering love they never noticed, and possibilities they never knew they possessed. Set at one man's second wedding, a group of lifelong guy friends--straight, gay, transgender, young and old--all face the same hard challenge: not tying the knot, but breaking it.

See you there!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year

Hi Friends and Park Benchers.

So, uh, where HAVE I been?

What have I been doing to be so neglectful of the Bench?

Something happened.

That ever occur in your life? Something, that isn't necessarily any one thing at all, but some turn occurs in your direction, and you are cruising, or trekking, or careening along on another path a fur piece before you turn around and realize what you left behind? In my case, a (mostly) daily exercise in painting pictures in the ether.

Park Bench Daily is going to continue slumbering a while. It started in a poof, one day when I kept running into funny, and thought I should share. It became a practice in writing for the public and included many exercises in stretching and scratching past being shy and inhibited.

I still have to stretch sometimes. But I don't have to try as hard anymore. For your audience and participation and curiosity, I thank you.

PBD will be some incarnation. Whether it's more internet text, or a few books, or more plays, all these thoughts and observations will find a landing, and you will be invited to read them. Send me a comment with your email address if you want to invited to the new blog, or be updated on my work. I will send you a note when the letters have landed, so that you can be the first to read.

From the comment section, your info will reach my inbox, won't be published, and I'll add you to my distribution list for notices (new plays, published articles, random observations on a less frequent scale, etc.).

For immediate fixes, you are invited to read the archives.

WHAT happened?

Well...I'm writing a book on a deadline, producing a staged reading of my new play, "Talking Dogs", transitioning to Portland, setting up a new freelance writing business, writing occasional articles for others, looking for an apartment, playing with my new iPhone, and watching snow fall. Snow!

Till the next incarnation...
...sit naked.


Happy New Year

Hi Friends and Park Benchers.

So, uh, where HAVE I been?

What have I been doing to be so neglectful of the Bench?

Something happened.

That ever occur in your life? Something, that isn't necessarily any one thing at all, but some turn occurs in your direction, and you are cruising, or trekking, or careening along on another path a fur piece before you turn around and realize what you left behind? In my case, a (mostly) daily exercise in painting pictures in the ether.

Park Bench Daily is going to continue slumbering a while. It started in a poof, one day when I kept running into funny, and thought I should share. It became a practice in writing for the public and included many exercises in stretching and scratching past being shy and inhibited.

I still have to stretch sometimes. But I don't have to try as hard anymore. For your audience and participation and curiosity, I thank you.

PBD will be some incarnation. Whether it's more internet text, or a few books, or more plays, all these thoughts and observations will find a landing, and you will be invited to read them. Send me a comment with your email address if you want to invited to the new blog, or be updated on my work. I will send you a note when the letters have landed, so that you can be the first to read.

From the comment section, your info will reach my inbox, won't be published, and I'll add you to my distribution list for notices (new plays, published articles, random observations on a less frequent scale, etc.).

For immediate fixes, you are invited to read the archives.

WHAT happened?

Well...I'm writing a book on a deadline, producing a staged reading of my new play, "Talking Dogs", transitioning to Portland, setting up a new freelance writing business, writing occasional articles for others, looking for an apartment, playing with my new iPhone, and watching snow fall. Snow!

Till the next incarnation...
...sit naked!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

To Blog

I told Tania, who is visiting, that I need to write down a list of blog topics, as they have been adding up. She suggested I blog the blog topics. So here they are, in no particular order.

Coming to a blog near you...

- Racial Profiling
- He really does resemble your dad!
- Portland Snot!
- Actually, that was a typo. Should say Portland Snow!
- Tania's visit

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What U Did Last Summer

Don't you hate when it comes back to haunt you? Need an exorcism? This one's FREE!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dolla Dolla Bill Y'all

Hey folks, KISS MY FACE offered you all 30% off at their webstore:

The promo code is at the end of this article I mentioned them may remember it. If you already read it, snoop around elsewhere on the site for cool stuff to read. :-) You won't have to look too far.

P.S. I LOVE Kiss My Face. Fabulous products.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meditation is for Meditators

Talking is for do-ers.
Just saying
(Click to see me latest on


Monday, November 24, 2008

Sponge Breakfast

CAUTION: Breakfast making and bath tub cleaning don't mix. Just ask Gina, who was making French toast and handing the sponge to Regina. Oh sad fate of the naked bread, never to be bathed in its French Toast future.

It wasn't fun cleaning the tub with cinnamon egg yolk either.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Antibiotics Kill Even Pride

REGINA: Pema, do you have acidophilus?

PEMA: No but I have fixyourpussilous.

(Mama said there'd be days like this. Be prepared, with these two supplements in the herb cabinet: 1. Oregano oil capsules, and 2. Cell Food trace minerals.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Love School

Maybe to a degree we teach people how to love us. If love fails, is it we, personally, who have failed to teach our partner how to best love us?

If we are not loved the way we want to be loved, should we not take it upon ourselves to teach our partner how to love us?

And if they fail, do we call it a personal failure because they have not learned from the best person to have taught them?

Do we take any accountability for that?

No doubt, it takes a willing student. But I've always found that a student's capacity to thrive increases with the enthusiasm, commitment, creativity and drive of the teacher.

As a chronic single person who finds plenty of reasons not to date people past a certain knowledge of them (something to the effect of: we'd never get along, that would drive me crazy about him, no, no, that's dangerous, and i would never want to deal with that the rest of my life...), I wonder if it is a matter of picking an apt candidate and teaching like my love depended on it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How to Be Sesame Street

Remember that little Sesame Street guy who is learning to read? Big and bold on the board in front of him is the word he is learning. He sounds out each of the letters and slowly--with so much suspense!!--pulls the sounds together to say the word:


Buh Ll Ah Guh

BLl Ah Guh

((Meanwhile you're pinging in your seat, "blog! blog! it's blog! say BLOG!!!"))


((BLOG! BLOG!! SAY IT!! (boing! boing! boing!))


And then he's pleasant and pleased and you, whew, are spent and relieved.

((Blog, I told you.))

The suspense of learning has really worn me out over the years, and my doctor suggested I do something regular to balance it out. So I turned to my pen and decided to share some tips of my own, sneak over to the teaching side a little while.

Take a peek at today's post on Five Unexpected Tips to Get You Writing. Go ahead. Sound it out slowly. You'll be pleasant and pleased, like on Sesame Street, richer for your knowledge, like on Main Street, and maybe even a bit surprised, like on Wall Street.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SAVE THE DATE - Jan 30, 2009

No, I'm not getting married on that date. One of my characters is!

Come visit me in Portland, OR, on January 30, where my new play TALKING DOGS will get its first public reading.

Taking place at Portland's poshest digs for theatre, Portland Center Stage's The Armory, you can grab a cocktail and pull up a chair to a wedding reception featuring five men facing various stages of divorce and dispossession, all while discovering love they never noticed, and possibilities they didn't know they possessed.

TALKING DOGS is a COMEDY. A farce. A run-around-naked good time. Oh wait, that's the honeymoon. I haven't written that scene yet.

Drop what you're doing and come play with me this winter at the first ever FERTILE GROUND FESTIVAL. I'll promise you a rose city.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lovin' Feeling

Wanna date on the cheap without looking like a cheap date? Allow me to show you how...Check out my latest on C&

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gut Feeling

If you pardon the typos, you might like my new post on trusting your intuition at C& I knew I was going to say that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coffeeshop Overheard

Man: I'm not a germ phobe or anything, but--eww.

Woman: I'm not borrowing a swim suit. It's a yoga mat!

Woman (cont.): Do you have those tiny spoons? I love a good cappucino with a tiny spoon.

(Man hands her a cappucino)

Woman (cont.): That's not a really tiny spoon, FYI.

Man: Maybe you should get back to yoga and get a little more zenned out.

Other Man: Or have one of these white chocolate chip yummy cookies with coconut and cranberries...

Woman: You lost me at white chocolate.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


On Alberta Street in Portland, I dropped into La Sirenita to bring home dinner. The Mexican restaurant sits in between two others, La Bonita and La Playita, all on the same block.

I haven't eaten at the others, but have wondered about them. While waiting for my food, I got confirmation I was in the right place. A woman wearing a black apron that had a red embroidered "La Bonita" on it came in, got in line and placed her order.

Dinner break? Good thing she works so close to a good Mexican joint.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In the Name of Research

I ate grasshoppers last night.

Served sun dried in a bowl with chili flakes and lime. Garnished with salsas, cilantro, and corn tortillas.

I resisted temptation to wash it down with a shot of tequila. I was on a date, after all.

The bigger story is that I'm doing research for a story that involves entomophagy. The grasshoppers were listed on the menu as appetizers, under "pre-hispanic" food. With the opportunity right there in front of me, I didn't know how I could rightly refuse it. Granted, I wouldn't kill anyone if I were writing about murder. But...I felt a little guilty thinking I would pass up such accessible research. I felt the draw of exotic adventure. And I felt curious enough, both, to say I tried them, and have an excuse to be so bold as to order grasshoppers on a date.

They were less crunchy than I thought they would be. Not a lot of taste. They felt scratchy in my mouth. They were indeed little carcasses. I couldn't bring myself to pick one up and eat it by itself, or any part of it that had fallen off in the bowl. Actually, there was a moment there, as I sat and chatted with my date, grasshopper-stuffed tortilla rolled in my hand, that I glimpsed in my peripheral vision a bug sticking out of my food!! I jumped. Then realized I just hadn't taken that bite yet. I tucked it back in the taco and took a deep breath, allowing myself only a half second to wonder what the HELL I was doing.

As we left the restaurant, my date joked, "Ah, grasshoppa-eater, you have come so far."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gray Skies All Day

The thing about Portland is that it's morning all day long. At least that's what my history in SoCal tells me, where coolness and clouds clear out by 9am.

Under the perpetual morning skies of Portland, I have no indicator of time passing. Now that I work from home, I am prone to wake-and-work--I fire up the laptop before getting out of bed in the morning. I eventually move the work down to my basement office, but somewhere along the way, I forget to change out of my pajamas. And pink slippers.

You'd think when it's 9pm and nearing bedtime again, I would be happy for being that much closer to ready for it. Truth is, it's jarring. "Dark outside? But I'm still in my P.J.'s. Bedtime? I just got out of bed."

Today, I put on a bra and called it progress.

Photo Credit

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Sometimes the substance is a person and abuse feels nothing like the word.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sound Play

I had a funny experience. Actually, I had a fun experience and parenthetically encountered a funny one. Portland hosts a literary festival called, Wordstock. It's a weekend of readings by authors from all over the country. Before I moved to town two months ago, I signed up to volunteer. I'm a word nerd.

Last minute, I got a call to pick up an author at the airport. It was Stefan Fatsis, book author, writer for Wall Street Journal and New York Times, but more importantly, to me, NPR commentator. I'm a radio junkie.

Back story, I have better aural recognition than visual. So when I picked up Mr. Fatsis and accompanied him to baggage claim, I couldn't help but laugh at the ten years of radio listening that stood up in my memory on hearing him speak.

Better, when I sat at dinner and asked him about his latest book, in which he, a sports writer, plays on an NFL football team in order to write about the experience, I reverted to the memories that began the evening, but with a slight Alice in Wonderland twist: I was now sucked INTO the radio, one of the radio hosts, interviewing Stefan Fatsis, sports writer and NPR contributor, who diligently, dispassionately answered questions in the clipped and animated way I had heard from OUTSIDE my radio for years.

God that can warp a person's brain.

Shortly, I forgot the man was Stefan Fatsis, and he became some cool guy again, who'd flown into town to talk at the literary festival.

But the funniest part came this morning, when I called Mr. Fatsis to let him know Regina and I were on the way. Regina sits on the Wordstock board, and we were taking him to breakfast. If you've heard the man's radio segments, you know he is always in conversation with the host of the show. You know that his inflections are all over the sound map, making for an interesting listen. And if you're at all like me, you notice the way he gets off the the thing is over and he's had enough, already. His sign offs are unmistakably complete: "BYE, BOB." He'll say it with a flat directness. I love these goodbyes. They always make me laugh.

Our brief phone conversation ended this morning. Stefan Fatsis signed off...and there I was spinning in ten years of radio again, but this time they were distilled into my phone: "BYE, PEMA."