creative commons photo by Todd

Father’s Day Anthem

creative commons photo by Todd

creative commons photo by Todd

As I recently noted, I have just bought a new-to-me car for only the third time in my life. The previous one lasted me more than 18 years. Suffice it to say, then, that I am not a car person. My father, however, was – very much.

It’s a little bittersweet, then, to note that I’ve managed to secure a gig singing the national anthem before the Rose Cup Races on Father’s Day. One of my bandmates works for a company that is a sponsor of the races, and he somehow finagled things so that I’m singing the anthem on Sunday, which I think is the day of the main event races. I’m almost equal parts excited and nervous – it’ll be just me, standing in front of a crowd of race fans who are probably eager to get to the whole racing thing, and “The Star Spangled Banner” is a notoriously difficult song to pull off well. It spans more than an octave from top note to bottom, and if you make the mistake of starting out too high (as one friend put it) your “rockets will glare in an unsightly fashion.” I’ve never owned a pitch pipe, but – of course – there’s an app for that. I’m still worried I’ll look like a complete ass holding a phone up to my ear just as they’re asking spectators to remove their hats for the national anthem (“Excuse me, couldja hang on? I gotta take this.“), but I’d rather do that than risk sounding terrible.

The good news is that I know the song – I’ve performed it in choirs for umpteen gazillion years, and I sing it in the stands at every Timbers home game. Now, I just have to pull it off a cappella, solo, outdoors, in front of a crowd. I’ll be thinking of my dad. I’m sure he’d be proud.

And who knows? If this goes well, I’m one step closer to officially singing the anthem before a Timbers game. And wouldn’t that be something?

If you’ll be at the Rose Cup Races on Sunday, June 15th, be on the lookout for me singing the national anthem just before, I think, that whole “start your engines” bit.

Stop the NRA -- creative commons photo by Elvert Barnes

Gun. Control. Now.

Stop the NRA -- creative commons photo by Elvert Barnes

creative commons photo by Elvert Barnes

I don’t know how anyone can look at this latest mass shooting and fail to see a crisis around this country’s attitudes toward both guns and women. We needed gun control decades ago. Our government is complicit in these murders so long as they let the NRA bully them into inaction or – worse – actions that actually inhibit efforts to keep people safe from gun violence.

Gun control now.

  • How the NRA Enables Massacres
    In the USA, "we’ve allowed a group of rich, entitled thugs who run an operation fronting for arms dealers—guys who represent a minority position on pretty much every issue having to do with reasonable regulation of firearms even among gun owners—to dictate our policies to cowardly, careerist politicians."
  • Elliot Rodger’s fatal menace: How toxic male entitlement devalues women’s and men’s lives
    "Just as we examine our culture of guns once again in the wake of yet another mass shooting, we must also examine our culture of misogyny and toxic masculinity, which devalues both women’s and men’s lives and worth, and inflicts real and daily harm.

    “I think of the millions of other women and girls whose names the public does not know, but who have been forced all the same — by institutional forces larger than themselves, by systemic and enduring misogyny and racism, by the sheer bad luck of being at a given place at a given moment — to become statistics or symbols of our culture’s profound disregard for the humanity of women and girls. I am reminded of all of them and I don’t know where to put the pain and anger that comes with that. There is no possible vessel large enough to hold it all.”

  • Christopher Michael-Martinez’s Father Gets It Right about Guns
    "The war against euphemism and cliché matters not because we can guarantee that eliminating them will help us speak nothing but the truth but, rather, because eliminating them from our language is an act of courage that helps us get just a little closer to the truth. Clear speech takes courage. Every time we tell the truth about a subject that attracts a lot of lies, we advance the sanity of the nation. Plain speech matters because when we speak clearly we are more likely to speak truth than when we retreat into slogan and euphemism; avoiding euphemism takes courage because it almost always points plainly to responsibility. To say ‘torture’ instead of ‘enhanced interrogation’ is hard, because it means that someone we placed in power was a torturer. That’s a hard truth and a brutal responsibility to accept. But it’s so.

    “Speaking clearly also lets us examine the elements of a proposition plainly. We know that slogans masquerading as plain speech are mere rhetoric because, on a moment’s inspection, they reveal themselves to be absurd. ‘The best answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun’ reveals itself to be a lie on a single inspection: the best answer is to not let the bad guy have a gun. ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do.’ No: obviously, people with guns kill more people than people without them. Why not ban knives or cars, which can be instruments of death, too? Because these things were designed to help people do things other than kill people. ‘Gun control’ means controlling those things whose first purpose is to help people kill other people. … And the idea that you can be pro-life and still be pro-gun: if your primary concern is actually with the sacredness of life, then you have to stand with Richard Martinez, in memory of his son.”

  • I Am Not an Angry Feminist. I’m a Furious One.
    On the awful backlash toward the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter:

    "They don't believe us. Hundreds of thousands of women from around the world can weigh in and tell their first hand experiences and there are men out there — seemingly reasonable and intelligent men — who still refuse to admit that maybe, just maybe, we have good reasons to be afraid. A 22-year-old kid spouts the same misogynist rhetoric that my coworkers and I receive in our inboxes on a daily basis and goes on a shooting rampage with the expressed purpose of punishing women for not giving him the sexual attention he felt entitled to and we're still told that we have no right to be scared because #NotAllMen are like that."

Contact your Senators and Representatives. Ask them to stand up to the NRA – for the sake of everyone you know and love.

The End of an Era



In early 1996, I was 24 years old. I had been out of college for less than two years. I was working as an administrative assistant for a mediator in Portland, and living in a one-bedroom basement apartment in southeast.

In the 18 years since then:

  • I joined a rock band, with whom I lived in a town north of Seattle for a little over a year, touring up and down the west coast for three years.
  • I met a guy, bought a house, got married, and got divorced.
  • I worked my way into and online community management travel writing for the web, when the internet hadn’t even been a thing during my college years.
  • I embarked on a freelance career I didn’t think would go well, and that I still love two years later.

And through all of that, I’ve been driving the exact same car. A 1993 Toyota Corolla I bought when it was three years old, when I really couldn’t afford the payments, but when my existing car was showing signs of giving up the ghost. I put a whopping great number of miles on that car during the first year I had it, driving to Portland from Seattle every weekend for awhile to see the guy I would end up marrying, and the car never failed me. It’s only in the last year or so that the car started using oil to the extent that I’d need to add a quart or two between oil changes.

Still, driving a 21-year-old car around isn’t necessarily the best idea – my mother had been worried about me driving anywhere for some time now. So, at the age of 42, I have just purchased only the third car I’ve ever owned in my life.


To be perfectly honest, the look of the Fit doesn’t thrill me. But, then again, neither did the Corolla. The thing that made it most challenging to let go of the Toyota, however, was knowing I couldn’t take the Petal window stickers with me. I had put those stickers in my car in 1996 when I joined the band, and (no surprise) I was the only band member left with Petal stickers in the window – my bandmates have moved on to other cars since then.

I am perfectly happy to have a newer car (with air conditioning!), and I’m going to love the great gas mileage, but I’ll always be a little sad that I’m not still driving around advertising my band.

Unless, of course, I manage to convince Ken to make new stickers…

creative commons photo by Alexis Lê-Quôc

Under Construction

creative commons photo by Alexis Lê-Quôc

creative commons photo by Alexis Lê-Quôc

The end of my street is blocked by orange construction cones and signs declaring that the road is closed. Workers closed the road not long after I moved in. They were already deep into a years-long project extending light rail lines further into the east side of the river. If I thought I would be staying in this neighborhood until the completion of the project, I’d be thrilled. A light rail station within walking distance of me? Excellent news. Since I hope to be long gone by the time the work is done in 2015, however, all I notice are the orange cones.

The road, they tell me, is under construction, and the progress report sign at the intersection tells me the project completion date. Being introspective lately leads me to think that my life feels very much under construction right now, though I have no project completion date. I don’t even have an estimate that I’ll overshoot by a number of weeks or months and over which local politicians will wring their hands. No, all I have are orange cones.

I know that despite my series of rough years recently that I am lucky. I don’t have enough work, but the work I have is work I like, and that allows me to live in a way I love. I don’t love my current living situation, but I know it’s temporary and I genuinely adore the neighborhood in the meantime. I’m dealing with the aftermath of leaving a 10-year marriage, but I am thankful that I had the wherewithal to leave and the support of family and friends when I did.

Despite the orange cones circling my personal work zone right now, I am more optimistic than I have been in longer than I can remember. No, it’s not despite the cones – it’s because of them. Those construction cones represent progress. They indicate movement. They tell me that work has started. There may be no project completion date I can put on a calendar, but it is satisfying to see the orange cones surrounding jagged holes in the pavement, hard-hatted workers hip-deep in the ground, shovels in hand.

Cutting through the surface to reconfigure what lies underneath can hurt, but letting something sour fester there is far worse.

I am doing my best to let go of the guilt, the sadness, the worry, the part of me that was willing to quietly accept unhappiness. There is nothing that offers hope so much as potential, so I am choosing to see the orange cones as harbingers of positivity. What’s under these top layers, what the workers will find when they dig a little deeper, and what they’ll build next – I don’t really know. Whatever it is, I don’t want to be on the sidelines anymore, watching from behind the safety ropes. I’m wading in, hard-hatted and shovel in hand.

Hong Kong City || creative commons photo by Nathan O'Nions

Where Nobody Knows Your Name

Hong Kong City || creative commons photo by Nathan O'Nions

creative commons photo by Nathan O’Nions

When Marco Polo came at last to Cathay, seven hundred years ago, did he not feel – and did his heart not falter as he realized – that this great and splendid capital of an empire had had its being all the years of his life and far longer, and that he had been ignorant of it? That it was in need of nothing from him, from Venice, from Europe? That it was full of wonders beyond his understanding? That his arrival was a matter of no importance whatsoever? We know that he felt these things, and so has many a traveler in foreign parts who did not know what he was going to find. There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you.

-Richard Adams, “Watership Down”

Amuse-Bouches [Links I Love]: April 8 – May 1


Here’s the latest list of stuff I found interesting on the interwebz, April 8 through May 1:

  • Over 200 Girls in Nigeria Kidnapped Because They Attended School
    Sometimes there are stories that hit me so hard, that hit squarely in the soft spot of one of the issues near and dear to my heart, that I can't even talk or think about them logically. My heart is in my throat the instant I hear them. This is one of those stories.

    These girls were taken on April 16th, and they remain missing. Sign the online petitions (linked in this article). If you're on social media, use the hashtags listed to add your voice to the outcry. Tell your friends about this horrifying story. Keep it in the news until the girls are returned home.

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Welcome to the Finger-Wagging Olympics
    I was glad to hear the NBA acted quickly to ban Donald Sterling for life – until I heard more about Sterling's very public and very racist past. Something about the previous look-the-other-way attitude made me uncomfortable. I couldn't have said it this well, but thankfully Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did.

    "So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.

    "Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.’ Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs.”

  • Death and Taxes
    The first act of this "This American Life" episode is a lovely portrait of hospice workers & the work they do. It made me wish we had done hospice care for my dad instead of just being at the hospital (where no one was there to guide us through the dying process).

    Having someone on hand to think about the things you don't even know you need to think about, to answer the questions you don't even know you have… It's impossible to overstate the importance of this at a time when your brain isn't capable of dealing with what's right in front of you.

  • You’re a Stranger Too? Have Some Soup.
    My friend Pam captures my feelings about Passover pretty beautifully in this post. It's been too many years since I attended a Seder; next year I need to find one.
  • Iranian killer’s execution halted at last minute by victim’s parents
    The photo of the two mothers embracing & sobbing together is just… Wow.
  • GoldieBlox Means Well But Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

    "It's just hard not to feel like GoldieBlox has rocketed into public consciousness not because it's a magical play experience for kids, but rather because it gives grownups something to argue about."

  • ‘World’s Most Haunted Island’ For Sale In Italy, Poveglia Is A ‘Crumbling Collection’ Of Abandoned Buildings
    So… Anybody wanna buy a haunted island in Italy? I mean, I'm willing to go halfsies on it.
  • This Pie Chart Is Delicious And Statistically Sound
    In which a baker creates a pie chart of America's favorite pie flavors using… PIE. The actual flavors in the survey, as a matter of fact. It's hilarious & brilliant.