Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Corner of Ainsworth and MLK

Today is HOT. Around 4:30, I noticed a guy riding his bike across MLK--he took his baseball cap off and filled it with water from the "Benson Bubbler" on the corner there. I'd never noticed that one before. But this guy was appreciating it.

Monday, July 27, 2009


At Albina Press on Hawthorne, I noticed a guy with two heads tattooed on his calf. They looked like drawings of busts. I had to ask him about them: "Can I ask you who the two guys on your leg are?"

He said, "Actually, there are four." He showed me the inside of the same leg. Sure enough, another two guys' heads. "They're four great Russian writers." He identified each one for me when I didn't go away.

I remember he had Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and I forget who one of them was--maybe Turgenev?--and then he had Gogol, which I thought was interesting. I don't think of him as one of the Mount Rushmore of great Russian writers. I don't know who I'd exchange Gogol for--but thinking about it later, I was surprised he didn't include Chekov. And then there's Babel, Akhmatova, Nabokov, Gorky, so many more I know nothing about.

Rachel and I spent the rest of the day thinking of various groups of four people one could have tattooed on one's leg. None of them were really anything I could live with, but then I'm not much for tattoos. Plus you'd have to explain it all the damn time. I already have one of those. Curious to hear other people's ideas though. Also, if you're suggesting the Beatles or some other group of four that evolved, I'm curious what era of the Beatles you'd get tattooed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Representing Race

Just read an interesting blog post by writer Justine Larbalestier about a recent battle she got into with her publisher over the cover of her most recent book, Liar. The cover features a long-haired white girl hiding behind her hair; Larbalestier describes the main character as "black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short."

I don't have much to say about this, but think it's worth sharing and thinking about.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Walking to a coffee shop yesterday morning, I passed a little old lady fiercely spraying weedkiller on all the little wildflowers popping up in the cracks in her sidewalk. Her lawn is green, unlike most in Portland right now, and she has bunches of yellow fake flowers "planted" in her front yard.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Blog

I started another blog: http://somethingaboutmyselfhaiku.blogspot.com/

It's all haiku.

Explanation here: http://somethingaboutmyselfhaiku.blogspot.com/2009/07/explanation.html

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A sad story about my tattoo

I'm waiting for my food at Pine State Biscuits and a girl next to me says, "Your tattoo's from that one book--The Little Prince."

"Yeah," I say.

"I knew this one guy. I knew him for a night, I guess I knew him. He had that same tattoo, in the same place. And he thought it was like the greatest thing ever. He went on and on about it, how great it was." She rolls her eyes. She says to the guy next to her, the guy she's with, "I met him at a party. I went home with him. He had to show me the gun he built."

"He had a gun?" the guy says.

"He built his own gun," she says.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The time to extend

One of the nuns from my high school wrote a great essay about her father that was printed on the NYT website June 19. Find it here: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/a-mother-superior-remembers-her-dad/

I liked this, which feels so relevant with all the health stuff I'm dealing with right now:

“Of all the things Dad taught me, the most important is this: now is not the time to retreat, but to extend. When the waters rise, row in and help out. The oxygen you provide others just might save your life.”

Thursday, July 2, 2009

epitome, umlaut, metamorphosis, grandiose

The title is a few of the more pretentious impressive words I remember learning as a kid, always through books. I never had any idea how to say them, nor did I really have much occasion to, so mostly they just stayed in my head. Sometimes I managed to include them in my writing. Though sometimes, I assumed the pronunciation was obvious, and embarrassed myself. (Thanks, mom, for remembering e-pi-tome.)

I have a post-it note in my planner that I just like having there. I wrote down one of these words that one of my eighth grade students used earlier this year. He has Asperger's Syndrome and is incredibly bright--so he often uses those words that I wouldn't have used, because I was too shy and concerned with what other people would think. I already got teased for always having a book with me, but that was just something I had to deal with--I was not about to leave the books behind.

I don't remember the context of my student using this word--though I wish I did. But I only wrote down the word. And predictably, when he used it, everyone rolled their eyes, there was some groaning, and at least one person said something along the lines of, "Why does he talk like that?" or "What the hell is he talking about?" or "Who cares?" He appeared not to notice, pleased with his observation and his use of a new word. His classmates weren't making fun of how he said the word. They were making fun of him for using it, for knowing it. No one else had any idea what it meant, or if they did, they were not about to admit it.

The word was posthumously. He said it the same way I said it the first time I tried it out--probably not until the end of high school, or maybe college. I wrote it down how he said it: post humously, like postal, and like humorously. That's what it looks like!

I didn't correct him. Maybe I should have. It's always hard, as a teacher, to know what will normalize a situation and what will make it even more awkward and potentially painful.

I couldn't catch him after class, either, because he leaves five minutes before the bell, so he won't get harassed by the other kids in the hallway.