I am wanting
to explore the line between reality|truth[?] that is: what is sharing and what is
ego; what is telling and what is just plain old drawing attention to oneself; what is noise and what is
...and after much thinking on this, I am pretty
convinced that most of 'modern-day [read: The Internet] sharing' is
nothing but drawing [or attempting to draw] attention to oneself, one's
business, one's self-created awesomeness [be it retold with an "Ahh
gee, look what I did---you really think I am great too? Gee" bent or in the intense thumping, SilverBack
style, of and on one's chest] or one's thoughts [which are masked as
'what do you think?' when it really seems to be 'agree with me or
in any case, a lot of self-absorption.
From Me, as well.
I think Warhol got it wrong by 2 minutes. It isn't 15 minutes of fame, it's 17... if you have a blog and/or Twitter account [and most everyone does].
But no more.
I liked it all better when few knew, most didn't care, and it was all small potatoes. Po-Ta-Toads [as Chloe would say].
learned [still learn] a lot, made great lasting friends, great acquaintances,
ran the gamut and gauntlet, but it's time to go away... and keep
learning, listening and growing: just like before but without so much
of me attached to the Me in Me/without so much noise from all the great warbled voices of everyone vying for something, what-I don't know any longer, but some Thing.
We, as a family, are shooting for a small, teeny-tiny
life, far off and as invisible as possible from this EEEE-sized-Lectronic
World: a place and space where I work on trying to not want nor need
anything more than what's directly in front of me [baby-steps, some concrete, my wife, daughter & life].
A friend once suggested, "Close it down with some Thanks and lots of Apologies", so here goes:
Thank You, All. Thank you all very much, and profoundly so [even the dislikers & haters too]. I've learned something from all of it.
yes, I am very sorry for any & all offenses... be them truthful
[where I took well-aimed shots] or be it the ones that were built upon the dark human
foundations of wanting more of something I could ever participate in or need or call my own [wanting to connect with so many folks that
it was driving my soul mad], I am sorry. I have a hopeless side to me that wants to change people [the World] in equal proportion to changing myself [and it's called -I'm pretty certain- Ego].
And -again- I am very Thankful for all this place has done and shown me.
it... this journal stays for those seeking some solace for a process
& journey [or to laugh -or rage- at me placing my foot in my mouth
squarely, or me joking and some not getting it, or me not joking and
some getting it], warts & all.
We're off & out to new things both small and low-key.
Here's to small & low-key...
my electronic netometer is now in perma-off-mode [blog, Twitter, all of it], but please do know-
Thank You for allowing me to share all that has come to be in the last few years,
Apologies...these are certainly in order. I don't post very often. I'm sorry. I have a lot of terrific ideas throughout the day but I am finding it difficult to choose a good time to sit down and put them into words. That said, I am going to try and bring Scott back into this thing as soon as possible to alleviate my own guilt. Plus, he's more interesting than I am. I do like posting though, and it feels good being in touch with all of you on a more personal level. So my plan is to get Scott back in here but continue to add a post of my own every now and then.
Also, we keep putting Chloe off, and she's getting ticked. It's funny, we have more time together these days, obviously, and yet it's difficult to find enough time still. We've promised her she can post in the next few days. We're hoping to make it a part of her lessons. Of course, we're hoping to do a lot of things. You know, things like being more organized, get up earlier, make it to farm markets during their open hours, make candles, and bike tours of America and Europe. You know, everything!
Onto other news...I have finally completed Chloe's handmade Christmas gift. Bless her heart, she has been patient and absolutely forgiving of my tardiness. Lucky for me, chillier weather has settled back into the area. (See, now that is an example of looking upon things positively.) The pic below shows Chloe modeling her new Cowl. She loves it, thank you very much. She thinks, and we agree, that she looks like our 'Little Gerbera of Lovliness'. My next project is a pair of wool socks for Scott. I have started them three times already. Each attempt is looking better but, let me tell you, learning to deal with four needles at the same time is a bit challenging for my stunted coordination. Whenever I master these things, and the term master is relative, (Thank you God that I will be giving them to someone who loves me and knows nothing of knitting.) I have my eye on some absolutely stunning wool yarn in muted blues and greens to make myself a sweater.
The best part of doing the socks so far is when I was thinking out loud about the pattern. I have decided to use the women's dimensions on the pattern. Scott is totally offended. I assured him that yes, I am still using the manly brownish green wool that he chose, and that no, I am not switching it out for the purple that I have left over from Chloe's cowl. However, his feet and legs are so damn skinny that I am worried about them falling off of him. I also had to assure him that, no I did not think he has "girl feet" and that I will add enough length (very important to males I've heard) that they will fit his manly feet.
We've also been doing a lot of reading around here lately. I recently finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I enjoyed it so much that I am now reading Drown,
which is his first book. A large part of the appeal is that it makes
me feel like I am walking around the NYC area eavesdropping. It's a
great reminder of what it was like to live there. I am also reading
Richard Price's newest book. I love his books, but man are they dark.
of course, is devouring every book that she can get her hands on. She
is, for some reason, fascinated by a series called "Animorphs". I know
nothing about them except they are Sci-Fi. We have found that the
biggest collection is at a nearby Goodwill Superstore. You have never
seen a child who wants to go to Goodwill so much in your life. So, we
have a deal, two library hits and then two Animorphs. It seems to be
working out well, but yesterday we caught her re-reading an Animorphs
that she just finished a week ago. The master plan is that she reads
history books, informational books like insects, weather, geology...
during her lessons and then before bed she reads fiction. We alternate
between her choice and our choice of what she will read before bed
every other night. This way she is reading things like Classics, but
also books that we loved in our younger years. The one thing that is
difficult is finding books that are on her reading level that don't
include unsavory information like teen issues.
reading news around here is that Scott has almost finished a book!
Now, he assures me that he used to read a ton of books but I personally
have never seen him finish one book. I have seen him start a million
of them but never finish one. He decided to challenge himself to break
this habit. He let me recommend the book that would be his first foray
into completion. I thought long and hard about this. Should it be
nonfiction, which I know he enjoys, but which can be difficult to
complete. Should it be fiction? In the end I chose a book that I
discovered last spring. It is fictional, but a very slow
book...another worry. However, the book is so beautifully paced and
the feel of it is lovely. It is Plainsong
by Kent Haruf and it was written 10 years ago. The story weaves the
lives of a small farming community in such a magical way. Anyway, he
is well over halfway and, to my relief, is finding it as wonderful to
read as I did. As an incentive, Chloe and I went to Powell's and picked up a book he has been interested in reading. Jazz Ear
is sitting upright in the middle of the fireplace mantle staring at him
everyday but he has been forbidden to touch it until he finishes Plainsong. Otherwise, the habit will continue with his bookmarks being found 1/3 of the way into almost every book we own.
other news of cultural things...as anyone who has helped us moves knows
(Thank you to all of you beleaguered folks out there!), we cart a lot
of musical equipment around with us. Some of which is back-breakingly
hefty to carry. I am happy to report that we have had a drumset up in
"the drum room"/toy/craft/storage room for weeks now and Scott plays
every day. He is finally enjoying playing the drums again. It is
wonderful to see and hear. We are presently trying to locate other
musicians in the area who enjoy playing Free Music that he might play
with. So far, it seems that the players anyone knows of are no longer
in the area or have stopped playing. So, we'll keep looking. He has
also been talking about the possibility of giving lessons. I think
that would be great, he is a fantastic teacher. One of his former
students is one of our best friends to this day.
Also of late, we have taken up the family rides again. Now, these would have never stopped if it weren't for my lack of gumption. It started with my totally wuss behavior in the Minnesota Winter. No matter what I could not keep my hands and feet warm enough to even pretend to enjoy riding. They hurt too much! Fair weather rider that I am, we picked up our family rides again in the warmer months. By then, Scott had far surpassed me in power and strength and stamina, but he rode with us at our pace and then would go out for another ride alone or we would meet somewhere and he would straggle through a family ride and home after he had used up some of his energy solo first. Then the move came. I have just been too tired since then. Working days and feeling overwhelmed about everything, it was easy to make excuses. Finally, as my bottom half can attest, we are riding again! It feels so good, sort of. Most of our rides have been between 13 and 20 miles each day with a ton of breaks due to my saddle discomfort. Some days I am good for 5-10 before it's killing me, some days it's only 3 miles before the first break. On the upside, the rides rarely end because my legs are tired. So, this small thing makes me feel better.
We are taking full advantage of The ElDumbino. Almost every family ride has some errand attached. Scott is getting a workout! He has been hauling Chloe and anything else that I can think of. Problem is, I am still suffering far more than he is!
In December, Chloe crafted a gift for President Obama. She fashioned a replica of the White House with mounds of Qtips and Scotchtape (Doing our small part to keep our friend Bob employed). We finally mailed it out today. Included in the package was a self-portrait she did along with a letter and a list of things that she would like him to accomplish for the US and the World during his reign.
Below are some pics of the finished masterpiece:
So, to wrap this tome up, I will say that Scott is fine, also since he has been riding a lot on the El Dumbino w/Chloe & lots of cargo he looks like he is dropping more weight. So, I forced him onto the scale, and it read 175.8 pounds. I'm gonna be really pissed when he weighs less than me.
Oh, and this happened too:
An expensive, celebratory Trappist ale can mean only one thing when you're unemployed... you've found a job and are celebrating! Which we are...
This is going to be a work in progress. Two days ago I had a lot of ideas, many of which have gone away. This blog thing is tougher than I thought. I think I'll give control back to Scott sooner rather than later.
Family Stone. This is a movie that we like a lot. There is a scene where they discuss flying your freak flag versus trying so hard to be what you think people want you to be, or better yet, who you think you should be instead of who you truly are. I like it because it makes me think of our evolution as a family. Also, our evolution as people.
Scott was meant to hold a banner, not just a flag. Or maybe a flag the size of the one they hung off the building in Manhattan overlooking the WTC site right after the buildings came down. That is about the right size for him.
He was one of those who couldn't wait to leave his small town and go to 'The Big City'.
Now of course this was sparked from his drive to play music. Of course, not just any music, but no...Jazz. Wait, not just Jazz, Improvisational or Free Jazz. Definitely one of the less popular genres. Even paying gigs end up costing you money if it's your gig. You share whatever the money is, unless you are bringing in someone you feel is higher up the food chain than you are, or someone who had to travel further than everyone else. These people get a bigger chunk. As the initial chunk is so small, the rest comes out of your pocket so as to not be insulting to your fellow musicians. Did I mention that there is very little audience except maybe students who were sent to watch, other Avant Garde Jazz musicians themselves, or the occasional small group of Japanese tourists (for some reason, the Japanese, at least those visiting NYC, are insanely crazy about New York avant garde jazz)?
So, he plays freakish music and, on top of that, he's overweight. Thus he learned to fly his flag even higher. Unless you can be funny and opinionated, outgoing, or otherwise remarkable, you can't make people forget that you are fat.
Then there is me...I spent the first 32 years of my life fitting in. I followed every rule that either made sense or made life easier and I just sailed along. Nothing remarkable, everything smooth.
Then I met Scott. I'm not sure if it's the old "opposites attract" thing or if I was just repressing my freakishness. In any case, here I am leading a pretty unconventional life. Certainly it's more exciting, but also harder in so many ways.
Just one small piece of it is our food.
This is so difficult to maintain sometimes. Not for the reasons you would think.
We really and truly don't miss the old foods. We talk often about the way we used to eat. It's become a game. Sometimes we'll just talk about a specific restaurant we used to frequent and try to remember our favorite dishes and some of the other stuff we used to get there. Sometimes we'll try to recap a typical day for us and marvel over the kinds of things we ate, and of course, the quantity. Some days we ride our bikes through a drive-thru joking about what we are going to eat, each trying to outdo the other. Chloe usually wins.
Eating at home is easy. We talk about what we feel like having next until we come to a consensus, then we shop and put the resident chef to work. Scott makes enough for at least 4 or 5 meals and we pop it in the fridge. Each night at dinner I prepare the salads and heat up whatever pasta is current on our menu. Chloe eats hers while we all hang out and talk or sometimes watch something we all like on TV. By the way, just to put this out there...did you know that "How It's Made" On Demand is sponsored by VIAGRA? Who in the hell decided that this was an appropriate ad for this series? I know that program appeals to all ages, but really, it's definitely commentated in an educational manner.
Anyway, after Chloe is finished, off she goes to get ready for bed where she gets to read and Scott and I sit down with a glass or two of wine and our dinner and a movie.
Breakfast and lunch is just as organized. Same palette of things every day. Same routine. We play around with the soup changing up the flavors and additions and Chloe's menu varies between cereal, oatmeal, breakfast fruit tortillas, and her favorite: Bagels toasted with olive oil, garlic, basil, and salt and pepper. Lunch is a beer and a wrap. The ingredients inside the wrap always include hummus but the rest changes depending on what the Chef has roasted or made.
Okay, so we have this part down. No sweat. The problem comes when we step outside. We have to come prepared. If there will be a snack, then the snack has to be brought along. Scott always has a banana and ideally, so do I. We won't talk about my occasional reality. I don't think I want to share all of my weaknesses so quickly. Suffice it to say, Chloe and I have rarely met a sweet that didn't fit our criteria for "Healthy". Other snack possibilities are nuts, seeds and berries. Berries are good but don't always travel very well and are outrageously expensive most times. Nuts and seeds are amazingly unsatisfying unless you eat a boatload- a very buoyant boat that would be, what with all of the oils contained in the nuts. This isn't bad for a daytrip or family ride. It's second nature, like a water bottle.
This all gets harder when you start talking about overnight, or say, a trip across the country. Now we're getting somewhere. It took days of review and refinement just to come up with a menu plan and shopping list for each of our big moves. We needed to decide how many pounds of hummus and pasta; how many croutons, how much salad dressing, etc. Next we needed a plausible time line for preparation and food storage capabilities. Lucky for us most hotels have microwaves these days, if not in each room, at least in the office.
On the road, food was a major commitment. It was amazing when we realized how much easier it would have been had we been able to slip through any of the drive-thru's along the way. Good coffee was a bear to find, but you could get McDonalds or TacoBell anywhere. If we were really in the middle of nothing and nowhere, all the gas stations and truckstops served some pretty great smelling wings, fried chicken and french fries. They always looked and smelled fresh. The turnover must have been pretty regular as we were the only ones not buying them. One place even had something we called catfish kabobs- they were huge hunks of breaded catfish on sticks.
We held out, stopped at the cleanest rest stops we could find; opened the truck and prepared hummus wraps in the cold. Hummus wraps made ahead of time aren't very tasty believe me, so we made them fresh each time.
Every night we dragged the cat, the litter box, the gerbils, the food and condiments and utensil bags (including the salad spinner), the cooler and whatever toiletries and clothes we needed, into our hotel room. Half the time these were on the second or third floors with no elevator of course. Then it all needed to be prepared. You try making a salad in a motel room without letting anything touch anything that doesn't belong to you. It's challenging. I mean, I'm a great believer in the magic of the immune system, but in a motel room? Come on, I've seen those expose's too.
Anyway, you get the idea. The whole thing was an incredible pain in the ass and we looked like The Beverly Hillbillies. Believe me, those hummus wrap stops got odd stares in all those red states that we traveled through. We saw one other couple along the way who stopped and prepared sandwiches for themselves at a rest stop in Montana. We gave each other huge smiles in a kind of "It's Us against Them" way. It all gave us tremendous respect for our moms from trips long ago when we were children. And, depending on our level of exhaustion, it made us really pissed at all of the people we saw popping into the fast food chains or having big cheesy pizzas delivered.
We don't eat out. Part of this is knowing what's in the food. We know what it is when we put it there. Also, part of it is cost prohibitive. Price a few prepared vegan dishes in the market. Whew! A big part, of course, is the unknown. What if we take away our routine? Will that switch flip again? Will something trigger a lack of commitment? Will something magically transport us back to the land of fat and will all of our healthy habits slide through our fingers? Will the temptation of ease and convenience finally be enough of a pull to take us to the other side that is in our face 24/7? Back to the mainstream? Where is the line that protects us from everything that is waiting to deconstruct us-to suck us back into The American Way?
For us, for now anyway, this is the way it is. No exceptions, no conventional input, freakishness only...
Prepare for at least a few days of absolute boredom. I am no dynamo of excitement for sure, and Chloe...well, Chloe's 9.
For better, and certainly for the worst, at least lately...Scott is much more interesting than Chloe and I. However, in an executive decision instituted by the matriarchal side of the family, Scott is banished from posting.
I have been thinking about this entry for a few days. I have been all over the place with what I wanted to say. There's so much that I am lost. Also, much of it has been Mother Hen-like. I don't want to create further rancor among the readers of this thing.
I think that I want to remind people that this blog has been authored by a person. That's it...good, bad, beautiful and ugly...it all comes from a man. Sure he can be an Ass, so can I, and so can you I would imagine. (By the way, he's always been the same size of an ass; it has not fluctuated with his weight, whatever you think-I know, I've been here the whole time!) I think that a lot of the time we forget how big this blog can be. When Scott feels insulted or hurt, he mouths off. Quite loudly. Unfortunately, it has far-reaching effects.
I think through years of writing this and sharing, it has made it feel like writing a journal or sharing with friends, not publishing something that so many people will read.
A lot of people are dismayed at the feel of the posts lately. Some of you get it, some have, unfortunately, piled onto this huge character assassination.
Lest anyone forget, our family has been in a whirlwind. Yes, we did it to ourselves, but we're still in it. It's hard to look through rose-colored glasses and be funny and entertaining when the ground beneath you is shifting relentlessly.
The same thing happened when we moved to Minnesota. We felt lost, but we persevered and in the process made some absolutely wonderful friends. Certainly it was worth everything that we went through. We became a part of a beautiful community of cyclists. It didn't matter that many were younger and single and that we dragged our daughter everywhere with us...people were warm and accepting. It didn't matter that we like to bitch...it's an East Coast thing, I think...it's cathartic, and they excused us.
The weather got us. I think maybe I was not tough enough. In any case, we decided to uproot our small family and go to a more temperate clime. What better place than Portland.
Portland is purported to be liberal, laid back and accepting. This is important to us because our life is not very conventional. The hours we keep are certainly not normal. I work a day job with an income level that I have worked 23 years to obtain, and Scott takes care of us. He cooks fantastic food for us, he home schools Chloe, and believe me, the things she learns are so much more interesting and thoughtful than anything I ever learned cruising through the traditional educational avenues. The nastiness that has been said regarding his "coasting" and getting a "free ride" are ridiculous. Would you have said that about your Mom? or Caroline Ingalls? As I said, we needed an open and accepting community in which to live. Best of all, it's said to be a Cyclist's Nirvana. Wrongly on our part, we had the feeling that the cycling community across the land was one big contiguous blob, not so segmented as it is in reality.
A few things happened that we didn't count on. First of all, we ended up in Beaverton. Now, I know that Scott has caused offense with his unrelenting criticism of Beaverton. But you have to know, we are city people. In all the years back East we left the city proper, I think, four times. In Minneapolis, we left the city two times. One for a Drum Corps show in Stillwater and another to pick up Otis for Chloe, all for a total of about four hours time. We are not comfortable in the suburbs, and to find ourselves living in them was hard for us.
So, we pushed and were moved into the city. That would be better, right? Well, sort of. Now we were even more exhausted and living in a sterile box like gerbils in a habitrail.
The other thing that we crave is character-filled older homes. Our brownstone apartment back East was full of character. If you spilled water in the far back right corner of the kitchen, it would run to the front windows on the other end of the living room in under 10 seconds. It had a crack in the wall that allowed you to see into the abandoned brownstone next door. Over the years, the bedroom settled enough that you could see sunshine coming through the seams between the walls. The wood floor was tattered and deep dark brown from use. That was home. Our house in Minneapolis was full of old woodwork and ladybugs that flew around all winter whenever the sun or the oven would heat the walls. This is the stuff we love; the stuff that makes us feel warm.
So now we went from the suburbs in a RULE-FILLED apartment complex with neighbors who didn't look at each other to a sterile box whose predominate color was white. Here the neighbors tattled on each other and we could only go outside through an elevator and a sterile lobby.
Then, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. Beautiful, for about a day. Heartbreaking. Wasn't this what we came here to avoid? Wasn't this why we have been struggling? Why we left our good friends? So, we bitched. Come on, we were feeling pretty demoralized by now. Just to point out, even the natives who found it all so charming in the beginning, started bitching. Everyone was grumpy at work. Very little was open or running. We made the best of it with riding in the parking ramp and trudging through the snow on long walks in the city. But now we were encased in white-both inside and out.
So, we decided that it was more important to let the rest of our nest egg be used to find a place to live that would feel like home to us. We did. We love the house and the neighborhood feels good. A lot like Seward, where we were very happy. Along the way, we have become more and more exhausted.
The time of repair was coming. We would be home and in a permanent job at the hospital. We could start putting some money back into our nest egg after we caught the bills up and also we could start reaching out to people here and becoming a part of our new community. This was our daily, and sometimes hourly, refrain.
Now, no job and no money. The best laid plans...
So, Scott's posts have reflected some of this. I wonder why? Maybe this is a lot for a family to be caught up in. Some days are hopeful, and some have tears and hopelessness. Underlying everything is exhaustion and a real sense of having left our friends.
Some people here have reached out to us and have been wonderful. Thank you so much for your invitations and offers of inclusion. You have no idea how much they mean to us. We have taken almost no one up on the offers. Mainly because, as a family, we are tired. If they are still there when we have gotten our collective energy and enthusiasm back together, you will hear from us.
Now, this is where a great deal of disappointment and, on my part at least, sadness, hurt and anger kick in. Some people are rescinding their offers and jumping on the Scott has become a bad person bandwagon because he hasn't gotten back to them or accepted offers for things. That's not fair. Every offer that is forwarded is talked about and seems like a fabulous idea, and then it has been promptly forgotten in our stupor. Days fly by like you wouldn't believe.
And the whole thing about the 'Boy Prince of Portland' had NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING to do with money. How can you not get that? It was about getting a nod, about feeling valued, about feeling some respect. Scott was absolutely WRONG to air this publicly, and I have soundly beaten him for it, not that I needed to...the asinine death threats are enough I think. However, my theory is that this comes back to the beginning. It comes back to his having written this thing for so long that everyone feels like a bunch of friends sitting around with a beer in their hands. What a mistake. No, that is not the case. We communicate with so many of our friends this way (online) that it felt natural to him to air his complaint here.
So, where do I want to wind this up? As I said, I have thought of so many things that I want to say, I am swimming in them. I think I'll end with a reminder that I touched on in the beginning.
Scott is one man. He is not perfect, by far. Unfortunately for everyone, his imperfections are usually loud. He cannot shut his mouth sometimes, and he thinks that everyone likes to be examined the way that he likes to examine himself. I try to tell him that that is something he learned that is SOOOOOOO erroneous...I think the lesson is settling in. I personally do not like to examine my mistakes nor, god forbid, have someone else help me to examine them. I prefer to have them slip away forgotten.
Scott, however, is the best husband and father in the world. I cannot imagine how much less my life would be without him. Certainly far more boring.
He is one of the more intelligent people that I have ever met. He talks a lot, but mostly it is interesting. His take on life is so different than the way I learned to think how could that not be interesting? Through him, our daughter is already more interesting and well-rounded than I am. His absolute dedication and devotion to music, cycling, his friendships, and most of all his family, is more than I have ever had to anything. He is far more caring than I am. He is full of ideals that I, in my pragmatism, have never held. Unfortunately he holds himself and others up to them, and many of us, including himself most of all, are found lacking. This is where the lack of being able to shut up and stop the bleeding fails him the most.
So, think what you like, but please cut us some slack here. If you aren't ready to ride out the waves with us, then just stop reading will ya? Believe me, if his posts are feeling dark, then our days are dark. We need support, not some lineup of people waiting to kick at us, huh? So, enough analysis already. I don't subscribe to it. I don't think it's as healthy as he does and I think it can be hurtful. If you are still pissed at him, then just quietly be pissed, okay? Do this for me? I personally think his skin is thinner than you all think it is. I know mine is and I've had enough of all the painful and judgmental crap. Enough character assassination has occurred-believe me, if you are one of the pissed people, you can feel vindicated. Our days are feeling a little more cloudy than even the Portland skies.
So, if you still feel kindly toward us, then please keep including us. It feels fantastic and we will eventually recover and join in and reciprocate. If you're feeling unkindly, just go away for a while. We've got enough going on right now.
Tomorrow I promise that the really boring stuff will begin..like a nice conversation about my recently rediscovered joy of knitting, with maybe some Enya and sleepytime tea. We'll all think happy thoughts together.