Tag Archives: Arts

PORTLAND: UNIQUE, OPEN & PROUD…BUT NO WEATHER EXTREMES, PLEASE!


I love Portland, Oregon! It was love at first sight for me…it had everything I wanted: enough city to meet my soul’s need for that; a very mixed population from business to artists to Deadheads; museums, coffee houses…little individually-owned ones where one could read & write for hours without snarky looks. There was pride in the different identities of the various neighborhoods in a city divided by quadrants; a bus mall & transit system that got me out of my car for the first time in eons & there was greatness: Powell’s City of Books…nothing like it anywhere else in North America; a library system that is actually well-used and greenspace…you could be in the rainforest without ever leaving the city. it had one other thing unique to Portland: weather-phobia! Oh, yes…fear of unexpected weather. Psychology has not given it an official name and , in this case, it seems a mass phobia.

I, like most people, had many pre-conceived notions of Portland: small town, unsophisticated, place where hippies went to die and , of course, rainy. Endlessly, always rainy. I was wrong on all counts. Yes, it rains…actually more mist and drizzle than real rain and ,even then, mostly in the winter months. You see, Oregon has some mountain ranges and Portland happens to sit between two in a green belt known as the Willamette Valley. Being between two mountain ranges keeps the weather quite temperate, no extremes. Being an East Coast native..New York to be specific…I like this. Moderate, somewhat grey winters, equally reasonable and sunny summers. Rare is a snowfall or a heat wave, but watch out if there’s either. EVERYONE FREAKS OUT! ALL CHANNELS GO TO 24/7 REPETITION OF WHAT IS OBVIOUS! STORES ARE TEEMING WITH AN ANGST-RIDDEN PUBLIC FEARFUL OF BEING TRAPPED WITHOUT AMPLE……(FILL IN BLANK, DEPENDING ON SEASON).

The first year I lived here, there were mad predictions of a snow storm. Busses were parked on the mall, getting chained….I didn’t know tire chains were still made or used anywhere; people either stayed home or left work early; weather was wall-to-wall on all stations and citizens were assured that the city was prepared to throw something by way of de-icers on the roads. I drove to work. I arrived to find 1 other person, my boss.. and received a hero’s welcome. Oh, did I fail to mention that at this point it appeared like talcum powder from a clogged container sprinkling down? I thought I was going mad! Where were these rugged individualists? Where was that Oregonian can-do attitude. Apparently, clearing supermarket shelves and scurrying back to the safety of their homes. Schools and businesses closed, sometimes a whole day in advance, based on the Magic 8 Ball of weather. I laughed hysterically at this mania along with my fellow transplants from states that had real winter. Life went on, spring and then summer came…

“HEAT WAVE HEADED OUR WAY!” It blared from televisions to print media and , again, I saw the stores selling ice and water….in a city of water fountains from which to drink everywhere and decorative fountains in which anyone can play…on either side of the river. Fans, as though a new concept, were swept off store shelves; people headed in droves to any of the several rivers and lakes around us and, again, media were there to remind us to hydrate, dress accordingly and check neighbors. Coming from a place where the humidity allows everyone to enjoy a steam bath and at least one reporter will demonstrate how fast an egg can be fried on the sidewalk, I was once again astounded. Had everyone lost their minds? Not to mention that for a place as moist as Oregon in winter, it is wonderfully dry in the summer…virtually no humidity. I don’t tolerate heat well as a rule, but it has been a fact of my life always. We went to Coney Island, the Jersey shore or stayed in air-conditioned apartments and cars….and complained. Again, cheap entertainment for those of us from less temperate zones. My main issue with the heat is that I have a low threshold and I don’t actually sweat..a weird malady that leaves me to bloat like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon. Not fun!

After a cumulative 20 years here with a brief  madness of 5 years back east, I have realized that these events of winter/summer extremes…usually 2-3 days long…occur about every 4 years. Right now, we are in the midst of a 100 degree weekend and aside from my sweltering apartment…my family back east: “Don’t you people have air cnoditioning?”…and non-sweating bloat, I can take comfort in watching the mêlée around me. Oh, if I do go out, my fair skin requires SPF 1000, so I don’t have that healthy Oregon tan/burn look.

I don’t drive in the snow, can’t use chains and don’t care to mingle among the frantic. I don’t go to the rivers in the heatwaves because I’m not big on being decapitated by someone’s motor boat or drowning among the hoards of people swimming, tubing and getting caught in currents. One big thing I don’t share with many of my fellow Oregonians and that is a propensity for the outdoors-y life.

I’ll shower 20 more times today, sit in front of my fan and kvetch about the heat and wait for tomorrow, when everyone and everything returns to normal…until the possibility of a flurry six months from now and the shutting down of the city…or I move to the glorious coast, whichever comes first!

When the Map Flies Out the Window….


Misleading Road Sign

You’re driving down the road with the top down, best friends along for the ride, top down and, though you’ve hit some bumps and had a few minor breakdowns, the trip’s been great. You’ve got the top down, you’re with your best friends, it’s a great day and you’re making your way to the next exciting destination when, suddenly, the map flies off in the wind! Shit!

Now you’re in the middle of nowhere and you realize that you’re travelling alone.The beautiful day, the best companions you know were a daydream that abruptly ended when that map left your car…not the convertible gliding along on the breeze but the clunker you bought for $500, driving through some blighted area long since deserted by

  

anyone with any semblance of a brain and the only places in sight make the Bates Motel look like a spa vacation. Suddenly your Janet Leigh in a blinding rainstorm, running from a life no longer bearable  and with few options available. What are you going to do? That was how I felt about one the singularly most pivotal moments in my life…except that, unlike Janet Leigh, I had neither a crisis of conscience nor  intention of turning back. Given the circumstances few people would. My back story was different and what drove me was not a crime….at least not one I perpetrated.

In this most unlikely of places, the pre-pubescent shy girl that I was, already feeling that she was an unwilling traveler on the wrong road, found it could be worse…much worse. As I tried to acclimate myself to my strange surroundings, the hands of strangers reached out. Actually, it wasn’t a reach so much as a grab…I was being kidnapped! Yes, kidnapped! Four grown men had seemingly decided, as one, to yank this young stranger off the bleak Main Street on this drizzly evening…from this, the “safe” and small town, away from the Brooklyn,N.Y. neighborhood that had been home to generations of family. My gut always told me this was wrong but what say has a child? Now, here I was, being restrained and driven who knows where and for what purpose?

The drive ended deep in a wooded area. I was dragged from the car & thrown to the ground. They talked among themselves, passing around a bottle of schnapps, from which they eventually forced me to drink. This is when I learned that one never knows what one’s reaction will really be until placed in a situation where “fight or flight” becomes part of the scenario.  Logic would dictate that a petite 12 year-old facing 4 grown men intent on violence would be best served by submission. What I know is that logic played no part in what followed, pure instinct took control of this child. When told to strip my clothes, I refused & found my clothes being roughly torn from me…each garment followed by a demand to strip the rest; each demand refused.

Finally, naked, being told to get on the ground. I did so and as they again talked among themselves about what was to follow, I began scrambling-part crawling, part running. I had no direction but to escape. I didn’t make it more than a couple of yards before being dragged back. My failed escape followed by the first rape and another escape attempt. 

 I fought all four with all my might but the horror of multiple rapes, sex acts I’d never even knew existed and more fighting and escape attempts. I’ve no idea how long this went on but it seemed an eternity. I was oblivious to my injuries as I wondered if my life would end here…and, if so, I wanted it known that I fought. Then, it was over. They threw my tattered clothes back at me, instructed me to dress and drove me to a dirt road. As they let me out of the car they advised me that this was my chance to survive, to find my way home. It came with a warning that this act came with a warning: should I tell the story or identify them to anyone, ever, they would return and this time, it would cost my life. 

I did make it home that night. There was no hiding from my parents…it was 3 a.m.; I entered the house battered, clothes in tatters and refusing to speak. I finally had to tell the tale; spent 2 weeks recovering in an isolated pediatric hospital room and the perpetrators caught. Unlike today, there were no advocates & poor counseling available. My family was left to our own devices and they were not good. In fact, they kept it secret & just tried to move on. The unexplained absence of our large & close-knit clan was unknown to me until 3 years ago, when tears were shed by those who would have helped had they known. To them, my mother’s leaving was not a shock; my father’s decline into the bottle was stunning & my leaving home, the act of an out-of-control teen whose world collapsed.

The hearings and final trial took almost 3 years. In that time, I endured being ostracized by the locals because I was new and these were 4 well-known guys, washed-up post high school jocks with little potential; my father began drinking and spiraled down into alcoholism and eventual death; my mother ran away…from the situation, from her own guilt, from a family that was never her wish to have. She lives alone, isolated & bitter, turning on anyone who attempts to bring the world in or her out. After many periods of no contact, our estrangement seems permanent, she unable to look at me…a mirror of all that went wrong; me tired of being the hated child whose presence was always just tolerated. I have many family members, both blood & not, who love me as I am; value what I bring to the world and teach me self-acceptance. I no longer need to seek out a mother who will never love me and always see me as a reminder of a life she never wanted.

So, the map flew out the window long ago and it was the best thing that could have happened. I left the wreckage of my family at 15, had a crazy brief teen marriage; found myself in the ’60’s, no longer the timid girl. I participated in the various movements of the time; moved to a commune in Canada..where I found myself  keeping  journals, where I lived on and off for 3 years and would leave on hitchhiking trips….no maps, no destination. I managed 48 states; Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula on one of those crazy buses filled with locals & livestock. I married 3 more times…all great guys. My wanderlust was too great to stay settled. I’ve had several amazing careers; attended several colleges & universities…my thirst for knowing about so many things and writing, always writing. Reading old entries and amazed at where life has taken me and certain in the knowledge that all experiences that take us out of the status quo are part of who we are today. To change any one of them would be to change ourselves in unknown ways. While the kidnap/rape brought years of tragedy, it also freed me to go on a journey far beyond my imagination…no regrets & no do overs needed. Writing is marking life in the present and leaving amazing reflections for the future.

 Until this blog, it was my secret. With the exception being long letters to extended family, resulting in “you must write!” phone calls, I hid what I believed would wither when exposed to light.

the next four journals

Now, my uncharted trail has led to another place I never thought I’d be…online, writing for anyone in the world to see & I am so happy right here, right now! From Brooklyn, N.Y. to Brooklyn, Portland, OR…and the journey continues.

On My Writing & My Blog


Shake It Out
Shake It Out (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been told for years and by many that I have talent, a natural flow and the capacity to make one both laugh and then cry all within a paragraph. Well, I ask myself, where the hell are you, oh great one? I do my best writing in the late night/early morning hours; I rarely think but rather write in a more stream-of-consciousness manner.I also avoid editing when at all possible as it seems editing triggers over thinking, over thinking followed by changes that eventually result a piece that is no longer what I began with..and that is frustrating & bewildering to me. I know that not editing is not a common teaching, but writing is a craft in which, I believe, the writer is best left to instinct and experience. For me, my first instincts always seem to spawn my best work.Of course, all of this is based on my full acceptance of the concept that I have an innate talent which I should practice and not hide away in journals. I am not fully convinced yet. I am a harsh critic when my work is exposed to others,as though it goes horribly awry upon leaving my private little page. When I started my blog, I resolved to write at least 3 times a week. So far I’ve accomplished 4 (not counting the 5th and inflammatory to some close to me) in a month. This will make 6 & I feel good about that.

It seems that each time I am on the verge of a good topic or an idea is brewing, something bizarre occurs. The first time was the sudden death of a friend. This week it was a home invasion. Is the Universe sending me a message or a topic?

POINT of VIEWS @ SCHIPHOL AIRPORT : Amsterdam ...
POINT of VIEWS @ SCHIPHOL AIRPORT : Amsterdam : The Netherlands : Experience MORE, Feel MORE, Explore MORE, Fly MORE! WORLD : SENSE : Enjoy! 🙂 (Photo credit: || UggBoy♥UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL ||)

Someone whom I love dearly & tease unmercifully about being pompous in his critiques did give me some sage advice: a good piece is one in which the reader is left to turn it upside down and shake out that which is hidden among the prose. This is what keeps the reader turning the page; keeps the interest going and allows the reader to find the unwritten but significant bits. More often than not, I phrase so tightly that one could shake til it falls to shreds and still not find the hidden treasures within. I’m still digesting that concept…..