20 Nov 2009, 11:30pm
1 comment

things to think about in winter

portland is beautiful tonight as i walk home from the theatre. i zigzag through my neighborhood–i try to take a different route every time. it has not been a beautiful week for me, but now, at the end of it, well. i turn off of belmont and turn around again, when i hear happy shouts, to see a small parade of bikes pass by. porch lights illuminate the last yellow leaves of trees so they look like translucent ornaments. there’s a small fig tree i walk past sometimes, with as-yet firm green fruit. i pick one off of the ground and hold it in my palm; it feels nice to carry. i peek inside round rooms in huge old craftsman mansions at bookshelves and string lights.

i finished the spell of the sensuous about a week ago–here’s one last quotation from near the end:

In North America this spontaneous and quietly growing movement goes by many names. In truth, it is less a movement than a common sensibility shared by persons who have, in Robinson Jeffer’s phrase, “fallen in love outward” with the world around them. As their compassion for the land deepens, they choose to resist the contemporary tendency to move always elsewhere for a better job or more affluent lifestyle, and resolve instead to dedicate themselves to the terrain that has claimed them, to meet the generosity of the land with a kind of wild faithfulness.

i have been thinking a lot about that as i try to understand the possibilities my future holds. about the land that has claimed me. or lands? my future has changed in the past few weeks. in may, “i thought, if it does eventually end, what then? and i thought, oh my goodness, it will have been so worthwhile.” and it has been. but perspective comes and goes, of course.

now i am simultaneously reading two books, farm city: the education of an urban farmer, by novella carpenter, and the botany of desire, by michael pollan. a year ago in hawaii, a friend and i got a ride into town from someone who was listening to what i assumed was a radio program, about the history of the apple in america, and sweetness. it has stuck with me since then, but it was only after i bought the botany of desire and was flipping through it that i realized that it was exactly that book that our ride was listening to on tape or cd. when i say everything is telling me to go there, to go back, this is what i mean. i guess i mean i am so eager to interpret everything as a sign that i should go back, and that eagerness is enough sign for me, really. the other land that claimed a part of me.

i finished the chapter on apples and sweetness today. it is also about america, this whole big land that has always claimed me. and wildness (which we ought to cultivate). i recommend it.

another thing i have read lately, while i’m at it: 1491, an old atlantic monthly article (the author has since written a book by the same name; it’s on my reading list) about the environmental impact on north and south america by 13,000 years of human occupation before european settlement, and about the political implications of such academic research. it’s fascinating, and ends (i’m not giving anything away, really) with “they will have to find it within themselves to create the world’s largest garden.” yes.


i am running sound for hand2mouth’s newest production, everyone who looks like you. there’s two performances left, tomorrow and sunday at 8pm. it’s about family, and it is funny, weird, and at times moving and beautiful. i have also never worked on a show that has changed so much after opening. which is kind of cool, ’cause obviously theatre is not a static artform and that’s why it rocks. i don’t really want to or intend to offer a review here, though i will say: if you come, start laughing early. the best performances have audiences who aren’t afraid to laugh at the kind of stuff you would only laugh at if you were laughing at family… you know? a little cruelly, but lovingly.

anyway, there is some live projection in the show, and we have a little monitor in the booth for the camera that’s hung up on stage, always pointing in the same direction. in low light cues, the camera tries over and over to focus and fails, so the tiny image is clear and then blurry and then clear. sometimes, the accidental compositions that no one but me will notice or see are beautiful. once during warm-ups the actors were rotating their arms through the air above their heads and one solitary hand at a time would sail into the frame and then sail out again.

here’s a tiny bit from a song in the show:

when we’re older and full of cancer
it doesn’t matter now, come on get happy, ’cause
nothing lasts forever
and i will always love you


* i crashed my bike on a leafpile yesterday and landed pretty squarely on my left kneecap; today, the bruise is bluish purple.
* two orange pumpkins from my mom’s garden are turning into an elementary school science experiment in my pantry, growing white and green mold.

21 Nov 2009, 7:41am
by Matt C.

This winter, so far– and it feels like winter right now, not fall– has been an interesting blend of the awful and the ecstatic so far. Last year was more peaceful and ethereal. Let’s make some warm and yummy drinks soon.



web site

leave a comment