30 Jun 2010, 7:53am
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big bike adventure

day 1
portland to portland
3.2 miles

just kidding. we did leave our apartment yesterday–biked across the bridge fully loaded and stayed at aniss and sarah’s place in old town. packing up all our stuff and getting it into storage in various places was super stressful and i’m glad it’s over. i’ve never packed my stuff up without knowing when i was going to unpack it before. it’s a weird feeling. the next time i pay rent, i’d like to be in a house (with a garden, good insulation, and ideally no mold problem) i plan on sticking around in for more than a couple years. in the meantime, my life is strapped onto my bike. which is already making a funny creak that i will have miles and miles to obsess over and diagnose and hopefully fix. can’t wait! no, i’m serious.

we don’t have a very long day planned today, so a. is sleeping in and later we’ll probably unpack all our panniers and do one last inventory before we take off. plus, breakfast. then back across the bridge and south. to eugene and then east to find america! (or something.)

our last week in portland has been pleasant. summer finally showed up after the solstice.

* picnic dinner on taiga’s front lawn

* picnic lunch with landon in a park

* baked a loaf of bread bigger than my head

* sat on some friends’ front steps feeling blue and staring at the nearly-full moon while listening in on a conversation about how the moon’s orbit is actually just barely a spiral, so the moon is getting further and further away every month, which means that as far as eras go, ours is the only one in which the moon appears to be roughly the same size as the sun, making eclipses possible

* stiff drinks and sweet friends chased the blues away

* threw a rockin’ going away party on saturday–i let my friends get drunk and then handed them scissors and clippers; now i have no hair

* and, of course… bike rides

18 Jun 2010, 10:24pm
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while packing up my life

about packing, Away, and creating our environment:

i got rid of five grocery bags absolutely full of books. (when i moved into this apartment, i got rid of even more.) i still have really mixed feelings about it. i don’t need them, and i will be glad not to have to find storage space for them and carry heavy boxes of them between places, but i feel somewhat like i abandoned a sack of puppies. i would have preferred an adoption process: will you love and cherish and learn from this book like i did? or, will you love and cherish and actually read this book, like i could not or did not get around to?

(this essay doesn’t help.)

the books all went to powell’s, and the ones they wouldn’t buy were left underneath the book & zine exchange mailbox at 33rd and belmont. (seriously, i love that thing. tonight i pulled out my own marked-up copy of pride and prejudice from high school lit class–all that remained of the books we left–and a douglas coupland novel.)

i probably still have more books than is reasonable.

right now i am sorting through clothes. i have a bit of an easier time getting rid of worn-out clothes and stuff i never wear, but it’s still tough. i have the same kind of “but i have to keep this for my kid!” reaction to some things. when i was a teenager, some of my favorite clothes were things my mom wore in the seventies and early eighties (i have since worn them into pieces and/or transparency). i mean, i never really forgave my parents for getting rid of their record collection when i was just a little too young to be made instantly cool by an old record player and my parents’ beatles albums.

this is one of modernity’s dilemmas: on one end, we have Too Much Crap, a lot of it low-quality and more or less disposable, a cheap and ugly state of affairs… but we also are too willing to get rid of stuff. everywhere we hear the advice: simplify your life! throw away your crap! et cetera! (and then we hear: buy this cheap-ass soon-to-be-obsolete item!) the stuff we throw away goes Away and we don’t have to deal with it anymore, but as most of us are increasingly aware, there is no Away. the clothes i am culling will probably go in a free box on the sidewalk, and then in a bag for goodwill, and then from there the possibilities are pretty plentiful, but one of them is definitely a landfill. i would prefer to imagine them as renn fayre costumes at the bins or even as autoshop rags, but all i really know is that i won’t have to deal with them anymore.

my point is that i don’t want to make myself feel too bad about putting things by for my hypothetical kid. in the world i’d like to live in, everyone would do it because their stuff is quality stuff. i am trying to get there with my stuff.

part of the problem is that i have learned about my taste and what stuff i want around me through trial and error, as part of the self-creation of my identity. everyone does this. we need to acknowledge this and find ways to nurture this exploration without encouraging consumption and waste. for example, more clothing swaps please! more personality in public places and businesses would help as well.

during the vbc, mark lakeman responded to criticism he has occasionally received from people w/r/t to city repair: the aesthetic is too hippied-out or too this or that. mark’s response was that for decades we have allowed middle-aged well-off white men to design almost every aspect of our environment; we don’t know what it looks like when children, the elderly, women, people of color, etc, contribute their aesthetics. i feel like this is part of our consumption and waste problem. we don’t learn how to create our own environment or how to figure out our own taste/the tastes of our communities; we don’t feel comfortable in our environment; we fill our environment with useless crap in an effort to feel more at home or to feel like we have some control over our environment. of course it doesn’t work.

# of instances of “i guess” and “i think” that i deleted from the above paragraphs: 6, and i left some instances of “i feel.” i’m trying to own my opinions, but it is frustratingly hard.



had an awesome dream a few nights ago in which some unbelievably huge shift actually had occured in everyone’s consciousness. everything (time, money) was suddenly valueless, and so everything (time, relationships) suddenly had value. some dude went wild on a piano, playing amazing free jazz improvisation while a whole room of people sat across from each other and drew each other’s faces, just because they enjoyed it, not because they thought they might get better at drawing if they practiced or because they wanted to sell the drawings later or even hang them on a wall to look at to remember the person they were drawing or something. but just because it was what was right to do in that moment.

15 Jun 2010, 8:38am
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went backpacking this weekend with a., sarah, aniss, and sarah’s amazing dog, jack. we hiked this loop. it was an excellent adventure, and really beautiful, but i would not wholeheartedly recommend the route we took without some caveats. it was tough.

we started out on friday in late morning on the eagle creek trail, which a. and i hiked part of last fall. in the spring there is lots more water! and different things blooming, different colors and so on.

eagle creek trail:

(signs of magic)

then we turned onto trail 434, which we eventually dubbed “hubris trail.” we saw not another soul on this trail. it was steep! we climbed for the rest of the day.

after the initial tough climb but before we’d gotten very far, we reached wy’east creek, which was briefly remarked on parenthetically in the directions we were following: “no issues crossing.” we bet whoever wrote the directions hiked in fall. we spent about twenty minutes debating whether to go back down the steep climb we’d just come up and stick to the (crowded) eagle creek trail for the weekend, or press on. eventually a. dropped his pack, courageously clambered across, came back, and did it again with his pack on, then heroically helped the rest of us. we all managed to get across and stay mostly dry, except jack, who was toweled off easily enough.

a bit further along, we turned around and saw the waterfall downstream of where we crossed. made some giddy jokes about how we were glad we were getting that view and not another less comfortable one.

we climbed and climbed. every time our spirits got a little low, though, we came upon gorgeous vistas, like this one:

we thought about camping there (it was getting on towards dark), but it was pretty exposed and the wind was picking up, so we moved on.

another gorgeous vista; nature’s anti-anxiety meds:

we finally stumbled onto a lovely roomy campsite just before dark. our attempts to start a fire failed (a recurring theme; all the wood is just too wet from our rainy spring), so we set up our tents, made some dinner, and crashed.

in the morning, we finally made it to the pacific crest trail / the end of hubris trail! we were on the pct for only a mile or so before turning onto the ruckel creek trail.

found some snow:

crossed some streams:

and found a rockin’ campsite (seriously idyllic) right next to ruckel creek in the afternoon. we spent the rest of the day wandering the woods in search of firewood–yup, all too wet, but we made a good effort–and hanging out.

day 3 was the descent. slow and steady. day hikers kept flying by us!

these power lines were the last landmark mentioned on our directions before the trail ended at a service road (from there, just a short walk back to the eagle creek trailhead). we were pretty excited.

bedraggled backpackers back at the trailhead:

oh also! backpacker burrito = tortilla, peanut butter, banana, granola, and (optional) honey. om nom nom. (thanks to aniss.)

4 Jun 2010, 4:19pm
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thanks to various impetuses both positive and negative, i have been thinking even more than usual (hah) lately about my values and priorities and what i want to have and experience in my life. here’s some of what i’ve done:

made a list of all the things i can remember ever wanting to be “when i grow up.” found some trends/drew some conclusions:

lots of things on the list are artistic (not surprising). lots of things on the list, especially from when i was young, have to do with animals (sort of surprising! somehow i had forgotten).

mostly i have been better at dreaming than at acquiring the practical skills that would allow me to be financially successful at the things on the list, but i have dabbled in most of them.

clarified the values that are important to me in a “career”: personal sustainability (i.e. energizes and fulfills me in addition to providing some amount of financial security); environmental sustainability (i.e. not feeding the growth economy).

also: the three values i chose in an exercise during the cornerstone institute last summer as the most important to me in art-making and in life: communication, respect, and adventure.

made a list of things i want in my life (trying to think from the perspective of the old woman i want to be, as suggested to me by my friend laura):

* a happy, communicative, curious, loving family. a partner, a child, some cats!

* a community of close friends with whom to celebrate joys and work through challenges.

* a local multi-generational community invested in itself and its future.

* a home. a sense of physical and psychological ownership of my immediate environment. i want to make my home the way i make my love.

* a productive and beautiful garden and, ideally, animals (chickens, goats).

* creative outlets. some personal ones (art, writing) and some social ones (music, storytelling, placemaking, theatre).

* a living that meshes with my values (above).

* continued spiritual growth.

* continued learning, on physical, social and intellectual levels.

to be continued, expanded, revised, and refined, of course.

meanwhile: getting ready to leave at the end of the month. so many little things! can’t believe how many things i still need to worry about and deal with. can’t believe how many things there are for a. and i to squabble about and then discuss endlessly and then make up about. hah! i am having a lot of fun.

and my bike is finally coming together–yesterday i built my front wheel! i mean, i took a pile of (dynamo!) hub, spokes, rim, tube, and tire, and i put ‘em together. it is true and well-tensioned. my coworker tommy showed me how to do it (he built my rear wheel) and helped me out. all that’s left in building up my bike: installing the rear cassette and chain and adjusting derailleurs and brakes and so on now that i have wheels; installing fenders (ordered ‘em yesterday); putting on pedals (ditto); installing the front rack (hopefully ordered, but it was out of stock last time). oh and figuring out how to install the awesome dynamo-powered lights. and bar tape! then i will take it for a GLORIOUS test ride (heck i will probably take it for a glorious test ride before i’ve finished all that stuff)! and then i will start taking books to powell’s in my panniers to a) “train” and b) have less books to pack into boxes and put in storage for i-don’t-honestly-have-any-idea-how-long-(and-that-makes-me-a-little-uncomfortable-and-a-little-excited).

bike backstory: in june 2008, two weeks after getting hit by a car, i was in a lot of pain, on a lot of narcotic painkillers, and feeling very sorry for myself and very angry at cars and drivers everywhere. it was pretty clear that i was going to get some kind of settlement from the insurance company of the woman who hit me, though, and somewhere in that haze i decided that i was going to use it to buy The Most Amazing Bike In The World and get back on the horse. so i put down a deposit for a sweetpea frame and fork. behold, this spring, at long last, the resultant objet d’awesome:

this is the photo natalie ramsland sent me to let me know i could finally come pick it up!

yes. i am so excited to see where this bike takes me. and i love that even as i ride out of portland, this little piece of it will be what carries me to whatever is next. with tommy’s help, i have been building it up myself, so that hopefully if/when any problems arise, i will be able to diagnose and fix them myself. as a bonus, a.’s bike has pretty similar parts, so i should be able to help him out, too. (is it worth mentioning that “bike mechanic” was on that list i mentioned at the top of this entry? hah.)

on tuesday night at the vbc, starhawk talked about a book she is writing that will expound on eight principles. i can’t remember all of them, but many of them were similar to permaculture design principles (starhawk is also a permaculture teacher) applied to life in general. her first principle, for example, is that abundance comes not from money or material goods but from relationships. compare to the concept of one design element’s waste being another’s resource (a simple example: veggie scraps fed to chickens and chicken manure used as fertilizer to grow more veggies). it is obvious to most permaculturalists these days that permaculture principles can be applied to situations beyond land use. in our class this winter we heard from folks who have applied them to things like teaching and education. i love the way permaculture shifts perspectives and prods gently at assumptions.

anyway, my 25th birthday, and the end of my first quarter-century on earth, is coming up next month, and i have been thinking–probably inspired in part by the amusing and insightful blog my year of everything–about doing a “my year of permaculture” type personal project during my 26th year. cheesy, for sure! but possibly useful as a framework for observation (principle #1!) and reflection. something like examining and reflecting on one principle a month. maybe not very interesting for anyone but me–probably not book deal material ;) –but worthwhile.

i thought such a project would be impossible ’cause i won’t be settled and stable next year, but i think that is maybe exactly the situation in which such a project would be useful. how can i apply these principles to my life as it is, here and now, as opposed to how i want it to be or imagine it will be someday? this unsettled time will not be a time-out from my life–it is my life. it may also be easier for me to make productive changes than it will be later in my life.

anyway anyway anyway. starhawk also led us in an amazing spiral dance. the room was packed full of people and at the end of the dance we all knelt to touch the floor, then stood up again and sang an endless chord, on and on. i lost track of my own voice in the voices around me, but singing my own note helped me hear the whole big resonance all the better. it was pretty beautiful.

my vbc notes:

(and a couple other recent mandalas for good measure)

a. got a tattoo:

“The experience of aporia reminds us of limits: our limits, the limits of our understanding, the limits of our language. We see these limits not as explicit barriers that block all movement, but as paths that lead us in some directions, while also sometimes preventing us from getting to where we are trying to go. They help us to get this far, but they prevent us from getting any further. At this extremity, we encounter a deeper kind of aporia: a doubt that never goes entirely away…. The goal is not to eliminate aporia, or to regard it as simply a loss, an absence; but to see within doubt the questions that make a new understanding possible.”

(from this essay)