Saturday, May 29, 2010

this man can write intros!

Here's a little guest spot for the day. I stole this [with permission] off of Kevin Sampsell's website. I loved all the excellent intros he wrote for the Portland Noir readings last year, so when he posted them on his site, I just had to repost. For the rest of this, all the words you read will be Kevin, except for those in italics like these... italics are me... except for when I italicize Portland Noir, because I gots good grammar and punctuation...

On May 1st of last year, the Portland Noir anthology came out from Akashic Books. It took a couple of weeks for people to notice it at local bookstores, but when it did, it really took off. Portland Noir has been one of the top 20 best-selling fiction titles at Powell’s every month for a year now–a fact that kind of shocks me. I knew people liked noir and I knew the locals like to read about themselves and their fair city, but the number of books we’ve sold at Powell’s is far more than anything else I’ve been involved with.

There were a lot of highlights in this book’s life, especially during some of the events we had around town. One of the fun ideas I had around this time was to write fictional noir-style introductions to each person at these events. I’d read them in a pseudo-gumshoe kind of voice while Miles Davis’s Round Midnight played behind me. Just for fun, I thought I’d post all the intros here. I suggest playing the Miles while you read them.

Thanks to all the writers. I’m so glad that this book has had such a great run in Portland.

A promo poster made for the book by Gigi Little.

From the Powell’s Book Release Reading:

Chris A. Bolton. This is the kind of guy that makes you suspicious. Why does he have a middle initial and what does it stand for? Adolf? Anarchy? Abraham? The mind races with possibilities. Like many shady characters in Portland, he works in comics, and if that’s not bad enough, he makes his living as a blogger. Who ever heard of such a thing? For a long time I thought he was just another bald guy with a smirk, trying to pull a fast one on anyone he could. But then he sent me this story, The Red Room. It’s a story that takes place at Powell’s City of Books. It involves blackmail and cops—the dumb kind of cop. But this story ain’t dumb. I read it and I said to him, “Not bad, kid. Not bad at all. You really hit me in the stomach on that one. Now here’s your 200 bucks. Get lost before I get really sappy.”

Luciana Lopez. Now here’s a lady on the run. I’m not exactly sure what she’s done, but it turns out she’s leaving the country in just a few short hours. I thought she had a cushy job at the daily paper, writing about pop stars and local bands. I know this kind of chick, I thought. She writes about hip hop but knows her way around a 12-string guitar too. She uses those mysterious dark eyes to get backstage and finds out the inside scoop before anyone else. She’s the kind of woman who plays the players. But now apparently, she’s gone too far. Her story in this book is called Julia Now and it uncovers the motive behind a St. Johns murder in the 50s. That alone could get her in trouble but then she makes it worse by dissing the Shins. But at least she was considerate enough to spare the Decemberists.

Jonathan Selwood. He’s what you’d call a big box of trouble. Some people say he’s a novelist, but to me he looks like a bouncer at the Boom-Boom Room, the kind of guy who’ll make you scream until his favorite stripper smiles at him just right. His fuse is so short that it looks more like a piece of lint. He’ll blow up in your face like a cheap firecracker. His story, The Wrong House, is about a ruthless crook with a crowbar and an arm with so many holes it looks like a cheese grader. It’s the kind of story with language so off-color that you could only read it out loud to a deaf person. With details so vivid though, I suspect that it’s all gruesomely true, and for that, I have to give the thug some respect.

From the Portland Noir reading and party at the Blue Monk:

Karen Karbo. It’s hard to mention her name without someone getting all bent out of shape. Apparently, she’s quite the grifter. And not the kind that walks around with an empty gas can asking for spare change. This dame brings down people and businesses that were thought to be untouchable. Her chosen method: blackmail. Who knows if she does it with a flip of her hair, a batting of her eyelashes, or a slip of her little black slip. But somehow she gets the job done and she gets the photos to go with it. Close-ups, profiles, still lifes. Secret little photos worthy of framing. Yeah—a good framejob is one thing you’d call it. Apparently, she tries to lead a straight life too, as a writer. She’s darn good at that as well. Her story, The Clown and Bard, is a rope-a-dope full of lies, deception, and mail order brides. She writes from a man’s perspective and it’s a convincing trick, but then again, that’s her bag—she’s convincing.

Justin Hocking. Some see him as a cultural emissary, the head honcho at someplace called the IPRC. They make it look like some kind of commie printing place, where hippies and hipsters go to make their flimsy propaganda, but I know better than that. Go there during the off hours and you’ll run into all sorts of scum. From tweaked out gangsters to old strippers with pupils bigger than their pasties. I got it on good authority that IPRC actually stands for International Pharmaceutical Redistribution Center. Mr. Hocking, the guy behind this shady organization has written a story that takes place partly under the Burnside Bridge. A place where skaters get out their aggressions on the curved concrete and any new kid that slips into their scene. Burnside Forever is a cautionary tale and I caution all of you not to forget it.

Justin Hocking and me at the Blue Monk reading. I wore a tie to every event. Pic by B. Frayn Masters.

Monica Drake. I’ve got enough dirt on this woman to bury her three times. 1985: As a teenage follower of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, she poisoned a salad bar in The Dalles, causing an outbreak of Salmonella. 1992: After the Portland Trailblazers lose the NBA championship to the Chicago Bulls, Drake wins a huge bet through her Las Vegas bookie and the following week gives half the money to Clyde Drexler. 2003: a Dear John letter is found in the L.A. home of dead rock star Elliott Smith revealingly signed “Monica D.” Calling this lady a murderer, cheat, and heartbreaker is only the first layer of this onion. The more you dig in, the more it burns your eyes.

In her story, Baby, I’m Here, she follows a sad sack bunch of burnouts as they take a little field trip to visit a friend at Good Samaritan Hospital. And the shape that these people are in, they may as well reserve a bed for themselves.

Gigi Little. The story goes that she’s a former clown who just happens to be good with some rope. She was also an author of children’s books. That is, until she became disgruntled and left those days behind her. She also left behind three dead editors and their appreciation for happy endings. The weapon that they never found—six feet of nylon rope. When her face started popping up on federal posters, she went underground and changed her name. She thought Gigi Little sounded pretty harmless. She cut up her credit cards and moved down into a secret corner of the Shanghai Tunnels until it all blew over. In an odd way, her story, Shanghaied, is a homecoming of sorts. But in her story, she makes herself out to be the one you feel sorry for. Of course, we can usually figure out when someone is playing us for a fool. Usually, anyway.

Tahoe Jackson. (Tahoe was our musical guest of the evening and she not only turned the event into a party but she also turned the room into a soul inferno) I thought this lady would be the only touch of class on this stage tonight, but then I got the scoop. It turns out that she was hatching a master plan to throw Beau Breedlove off the Sellwood Bridge before he went off and blabbed all over the KGW news. Why would she do that, you might wonder. Well, I’ll tell you why. This babe is on the record as a full-fledged Sam Adams stalker. That’s right. It doesn’t matter to her that he butters the other side of the bread, she still has chocolate and champagne sent to his home every other week since 2006. In 2008, she went as far as to send him a life-size blow-up doll of her likeness. When Beau started causing a fuss she put a target on his pretty little behind and had him silenced before he said too much. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and poor old Sam still wasn’t falling for Tahoe. That is until she started camping in his front yard and serenading up to his bedroom window. Now I’ve heard that Sam and Tahoe have been spotted together having happy hour nibbles at the Slow Bar. It just goes to show you what a good woman and a good song can do when there’s a lot of passion to throw around.

Tahoe Jackson serenades me at the Blue Monk. Pic by Leann O'Rourke.

From the reading at Looking Glass Bookstore:

Ariel Gore. Even her name has the kind of bizarre twist that’ll make your stomach turn. Ariel: sounds pretty and soft, like a mermaid and it actually means “the angel of healing”…but then her last name is Gore. As in “blood and gore.” Makes me think of a dame with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. And although she’s written several books, I think this is the first time she’s actually written about murder, and in her story, Water Under the Bridge, she writes about it with such pizzazz that it’s like she’s been waiting all her life to get the rage out. If you see her sometime at Dot’s, just make sure you don’t talk to her about your art.

Floyd Skloot. What can you say about the guy? He’s been playing the game for a long time and just when you think he’s knocked out, he’ll throw down a vicious hand stacked with kings and queens and take all your money. Sometimes he plays the sap, breaks out his cane, regales you with stories of his baseball dreams…but I don’t trust the guy as far as I can throw him. And he’s a small guy so I could probably throw him pretty far. His story, Alzheimer’s Noir, could make you cry if you were a big softie but it’s also full of uncertainty, false memory, and double talk. A sticky web of mystery that’ll make you hallucinate like you smoked a funny cigarette while hiking through Oaks Bottom for the first time. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for the guy.

Megan Kruse. Now here’s a lady who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. You might think she’s just a lonely soul with mommy and daddy issues, but she’s a master of the slow seduction. Once she’s gottcha, you’ll be stuck to her like glue, afraid to stray too far because her charms—and her whiskey—will make you feel like you’re addicted. Not just to her smile but also to her tears. That’s right, buddy. You’ll be in deep. Lost in a dark well without a ladder. In her story, Lila, she tries to play her romance games with a stranger at the Tik-Tok. But it turns out she has some competition, and it’s the kind of competition that makes you do things you don’t want to do.

From the reading at Murder By the Book:

Bill Cameron. Here’s a character if I ever saw one, and believe me, I’ve seen plenty. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bill without his trademark fishing jacket. It’s almost like he sleeps with it on, going through all the pockets in his sleep like a nervous twitch. I think I have a good idea what’s in those pockets. He’s not foolish enough to carry bullets in there, but he’s got cyanide capsules disguised as aspirin in one pocket; A dart-blower that looks like a Sharpee in another. Hair spray that’s really pepper spray, one of those Kung Fu throwing stars, a mini cheese grater, some brass knuckles, and perhaps his secret weapon, razor-sharp fish hooks. But you know what—he rarely has to use any of this stuff. Cuz this guy’s sly. In his story, Coffee, Black, he writes himself as a retired cop, staking out a new Starbucks store that’s been the target of regular vandalism. His caffeinated investigation takes him on a wild goose chase that turns as chilling as a hazelnut frappuccino. I don’t know what’s more frightening in this story—the anarchists or the insurance agencies.

Kimberly Warner-Cohen. She may look small but she’s someone you don’t want to mess with. I saw her take down a sumo wrestler once with a good flying chop to the throat. Before she moved to Portland, she lived in New York where her street name was K-rock Man-Slayer. She published a novel a couple of years ago called Sex, Blood, and Rock and Roll. When I read it I thought it was non-fiction. I was scared for my life. In her story, People Are Strange, takes your emotions and tosses them around like a rag doll. One moment you’re experiencing phantom twin syndrome, longing for the sibling you never knew you had; the next minute you’re surrounded by naked ladies and beer stench in the darkness of a strip club-shaped like a jug of moonshine. But in that darkness, you make a discovery, one that fills you with joy for a moment, until it’s snatched away with brutal coldness and disregard. It’s the kind of moment where decisions are made and sometimes you have to live…or die…with the results.

From the Wordstock Portland Noir P:ear benefit reading:

Jess Walter. To tell you the truth, I’ve always been a little suspicious of the guy. Who else do you know spends most of their time in Spokane, Washington, cranking out award-winning novels while pretending to be a normal family guy? What’s he’s hiding from out there? Once I was on a greyhound bus and I heard some tweekers telling stories about the potent crystal meth that comes out of that town. They kept talking about some meth-chef called “J-Dub” and I deciphered their ghetto pig-Latin to mean Jess Walter. Especially when one of them pulled a beat-up copy of Citizen Vince out of their backpack. For his story in Portland Noir, good ol’ J-Dub slips into the persona of an Oregonian editor, slyly manipulating the daily horoscopes to harass an ex-girlfriend. It’s a tale that asks us the timeless question: What love isn’t crazy?

Zoe Trope. Here’s a case of the hunted becoming the hunter. When Miss Trope published her high school memoir, Please Don’t Kill the Freshman, a lot of her teachers were none too happy with the skewering they got in her book. They tried to blackball her and they gave her mountains of extra homework. They toilet-papered her house and crank called her cell phone. They hung chicken feet from her locker.

And then a funny thing happened. These teachers mysteriously started showing up to school with black eyes and broken bones. Some of them disappeared for days on end. One of them was found tied up in the back of a swinger’s club with a vibrator throbbing on the floor nearby—the poor trigonometry teacher was in tears. People started pointing fingers at the teenage Trope but she was long gone by then. Moved to Ohio to get a “higher” education. And no teachers messed with her there.

Back in Portland now, Trope’s been playing nice, innocently studying to be a librarian and writing stories like the one in this book. It’s about girlfriends, orgasms, creepy guys on the Max train, and of course, revenge.

Dan DeWeese. Back in the 90s, he was known as “Danny Boy the Weasel”—the most unassuming but dangerous bookie in the Portland gambling scene. He’d take your over/under, your knockout predictions, your trifectas, your college basketball brackets, baseball bets, what-have-you, and he’d turn them either into big happy cash for you or a night sleeping on the couch with a take-out pizza box for a pillow and an angry wife.

There were others that tried to move in on his turf, tried to pass out their calling cards at the Rialto or buy you a drink at the Portland Meadows, but they quickly disappeared. “The Weasel got ‘em,” you’d hear people say with a shake of their head. “Bit his nose clean off his face,” they’d laugh. And those stories aren’t just myth. 1994 was the busiest year for nose surgeons in Portland history.

But now Danny Boy is flying straight. Ten years clean from Gamblers Anonymous, he’s now focused on writing and recently even sold his first novel to HarperCollins. His story in Portland Noir, The Sleeper, is a haunting tale about a newspaper delivery guy trying to come to terms with the shambles that his life has become. Set in the early morning quiet and gloom of Highway 30, the narrator’s thoughts are sure to take over your head and in the end, you won’t know whether you’re winning or losing.

Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones contributed a comic for the anthology so they never read at any of the events. But if I did, I would have pointed out that Jamie is a convicted dog stealer and arsonist (he once burned down a whole Safeway) and that Joelle is a world-class pool shark with a Swiss bank account and a collection of severed fingers in the glove box of her car. It doesn’t get more noir than that.

So cool! OK, me again. Thanks, Kevin. Check out his memoir A Common Pornography. It's really great.

Love the photos Frayn Masters took of the Blue Monk event. I'm going to have to post a few more. Here are...

Chris A. Bolton...

Monica Drake...

Me... Hair by Stephen O'Donnell...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Shelf talkers hadn't arrived yet this morning, and I said, oh, don't worry, I have a template, I can make some stand-ins. The guy I was with said, "Did you just say template or dumplate?"

Kind of wish I'd said dumplate. What a cool word. He said, yeah, like a template you can just dump whatever you need into. But I pictured it more like a template dumpling. A nice, fresh blanket of dough to wrap my words up in. Yum.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

pacific northwest reader spotlight #12

You know it's going to be a good story if it has a good opening. Well... actually, that may not always be true. Why do we say things like that? But it's true in this case. Rem Ryals' (how's that for an awesome name?) essay in The Pacific Northwest Reader is an intensely personal story with an opening that grabbed me right away. Not just because it starts with a ghost story, but because when I got to the end of that section, I knew it was pointing me in a very particular way toward the rest of the piece. Artful!

"When I was a teenager I worked at a summer camp near Leavenworth, a small mountain town near the geographical center of Washington State. There, on warm summer nights, with the sweet smell of ponderosa pines in the windy air and the distant roar of Icicle Creek in our ears, we heard the story of the Leavenworth Nurse.

"She was a nurse who worked at the hospital nearby in the 1950s. Her husband was a logger, and his arm was severed in a horrible accident at the mill. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died on the operating table. In all the confusion no one made the connection that she was on duty, and the way she found out about it was that she found his arm in the Emergency Room. Just lying there, the wedding ring still on its finger, the plaid shirt hanging off in tatters. They were newlyweds, deeply in love, and in the story, in that moment, she went completely, irrevocably insane. Her hair turned sheet white and she ran screaming out of the hospital into the nearby woods. She was never heard from again. Well, at least not by anyone except small children, young teenagers, and a variety of other people unlucky enough to encounter her in the woods, where she murdered them with an ax. Also, the arm disappeared as well, leaving behind its own victim, an orderly with vicious strangulation marks around his neck. Over the coming years these two specters terrorized the surrounding countryside, killing many, leaving mysterious remains of campfires and gutted animals. Depending on who was telling the story, the Nurse was a beautiful, silver-haired rescuer of lost children, or a screaming, ax-wielding, bloodstained vision of female revenge.

"For a long time I believed this story was true. I mean, I knew it wasn't true, but it seemed to express some essential truth about these mountains, something about beauty and danger."

Rem Ryals has worked at Village Books in Bellingham for 14 years. Born in Spokane, a graduate of Seattle University, he has also lived in Richland, Olympia, Leavenworth, Port Angeles, and Eastsound. When not escaping into the world of books, he enjoys knitting, meditation, and botany.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

old-time romance

When I was a kid, I was always lamenting the fact that I lived in the present and everything worth being romantic about was over. Old steam locomotives and world's fairs and black and white movie glamour queens. What did I have? Freeway overpasses and 7-11s.

Then I ran off with the circus and had all the old-time romance I needed. Granted, I was still following the show across freeway overpasses and gassing up and getting the occasional awful snack at a 7-11 (what else are you going to do when it's the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and you've got a hundred mile jump?). But I also had big tops and ostentatious ringmaster words and clown shoes.

Now I realize I'm in another modern place of old-time romance. More and more as bookstores and books with actual paper in them are disappearing. It's a strange place to be. A scary place. My life is... what?... seventy percent books? Spend my days reading them, shelving them, creating displays for them, paying tribute to them. Spend my nights working on writing them. I can understand the move toward e-books, to using fewer resources, but oh those things, books.

Maurice Sendak once said when he was a little boy he loved books so much he would bite them. Feel and smell and taste that wonderful book in his mouth.

I don't want to lose this. Sacred object. I read this line this morning in a blog I follow by a writer named William Michaelian:

"I’ve suspected for quite some time that books also read people, and that pages remember sighs and fingertips."

[yes, i realize the irony that i read it on a computer]

Someday books will be like dirigibles and cobblestone streets and bumper bangs. A way to show, in a movie, that it's the old time. And I'll be an old lady with floor to ceiling bookcases. I'll know that in my youth I lived during the romantic time of books. The young folk will laugh at me because I'm so old fashioned I refuse to let the doctor use the booksaber and drill a tiny hole in my head to insert the new book transmitter that's all the rage. I think I'll also have bumper bangs.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

pacific northwest reader window display

I love the fact that both books with my work in them, that I've had the privilege of creating a window display for, have been visually beautiful books. Makes my job extra fun. I get to make my display not only a tribute to the book but to its cover art--just as a good piece of cover art is a tribute to the book nested inside.

The Pacific Northwest Reader's cover--and all the rest of its physical layout--are the work of Ecco's Greg Mortimer. Who, like the rest of the contributors, offered up his eye and his hand gratis, to benefit the ABFFE--the American Booksellers For Free Expression. Here's my take on his lovely cover. The two pieces below are the top and then the bottom panel of the display--in jpeg form since photos of window displays, with all the glass glare, just never do the display honor.

The empty space in the lower right-hand corner of the top panel is where the actual copies of the book go. In fact: shiny, glare-y photo in entirety below...

There was a little girl wandering around the Powell's porch, an hour before opening time, as I was taking my pictures. Mother sitting up against the adjoining wall like they were camped out. I kind of hoped to capture the little girl's reflection somewhere in my pictures, but I didn't.

Alright, one more shot, this one from inside. That great display space in the Purple Room, directly at the top of the stairs.

[i love love love greg's use of slant. to see more of me loving the use of slant you can go here.]

[portland noir window display post here]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

pacific northwest reader spotlight #11

Do you remember getting your first library card? I don't remember this at all. I do remember the wonder of a place with that many books that you could just take, and I remember harboring great terrors that I would lose a book and have to go to jail or something. Or have to tell my Mom. Who would probably have been as understanding as she was the day I came home from playing with a friend and apparently said something along the lines of, Mommy, guess what, Shannon taught me how you can sneak candy from the Minit Market.

She was very understanding, but I didn't come here to talk about my one brush with petty crime.

Here's Susan Scott's lovely library memory, from her essay "The Wilmot Memorial Library," in The Pacific Northwest Reader...

"At a very tender age - those were simpler times - I was allowed to visit the library alone, since it was so nearby. And when it was time to check my books out, I'd been instructed to explain that my grandad's card was 'there' under the glass - I could barely reach high enough to point - and I was allowed to use it. This worked well unless there was a new employee, who had not yet been introduced to the eccentric borrower down the block, let alone his very young granddaughter. The whole story had to be explained all over again and a co-worker fetched to corroborate, before I'd be allowed to leave with my books...

"Eventually, I asked one of the library ladies if I couldn't have my own card. 'Well, you could,' she said, 'but you'd have to be able to write your name.' Well, that was no problem, I quickly explained - I'd been able to write my name for ages. She looked at me skeptically, but the 4- or 5-year old girl before her could, obviously, write her name and, indeed read, so the form was duly filled out, and on my next visit to my grandparents, I skipped happily down the street to pick up my newly minted Seattle Public Library card. As it was handed over, the librarian told me I was the youngest person in town to have one!"

Susan Scott is lucky enough to have begun her bookselling career at the legendary Books & Co. in New York City, 30 years ago. She is now the manager and buyer at Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle - but she still checks books out of the library.


Mini-story improvised by cell phone. We meet our heroes in the middle of a back and forth in which I've bugged out on a proposed plan to hang out with my brother. [notice he's the one who texts with proper english and i'm the one doing txt spk.] The action begins...

[Frank] Just remember, not only do I know where you live, I have a key... so beware!

[Me] Release the hounds!

[Frank] I'm stealthy like a ninja. I fear no hounds.

[Me] OK. I hide under bed. Theres not much room under here with the books & wedding dress & joses old bed & - whoa - what the hell is that!

[Frank] It's me... I already snuck in!

[Me] Eep!

[Frank] ::sinister laughter::

[Me] Theres a tussle. Books fly out. As the dust clears (there's lots of dust undr there) Im standing unharmed & u crawl out in my wedding dress.

[Frank] I'm just as deadly in lace as I am in black...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

tattoo weather

When the weather gets sunny here in Portland, it's time for Stephen to comment about the kooky Oregonians going crazy with shorts and flip flops even though it's in the sixties, and it's time for me to do some happy tattoo watching. What have I seen today? A semi-crude skull and cross bones at the back of a guy's neck. A bar code on the back of someone's arm. Some really intricate sleeves including imagery like water and anemones (sea. i didn't realize for a long time that an anemone is also a land flower). A two-toned five-pointed star on the back of a guy's neck (is that something in particular? i've seen that same tattoo before. same spot). Some really nice black and white work on a guy's legs--an eagle, maybe and... I can't remember. I remember the images were scattered across his legs like they'd been tossed and just left where they landed. I was saying the other day that I tend to be distracted by placement. That good tattoos can be diminished by a poor choice of where you put them. Stephen wasn't as finicky as I about that. He likes that passport stamp aspect of tattoos. How each one tells a little story of a place in your life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Overheard while walking past the workspace of the Blue Room (Literature) at Powell's today:

"Would you have some time for the letter O?"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

pacific northwest reader spotlight #10

I'm just a day away from putting up my window display at Powell's for The Pacific Northwest Reader. Today I've been doing some printing and assembling. I always have fun putting displays together but I do have to admit, it's extra fun when a little piece of the book is my own.

A little piece also belongs to Sarah Hutton, who, in her essay elaborates on one of the defining characteristics of the Pacific Northwest. Her piece is appropriately titled Dreaming of Rain...

"I think the rain is the first thing that people think of when they think of the Northwest. What eludes most is the constantness of it. In most places, 'rain' is a finite weather pattern. You can say, 'Oh, it started raining,' and then an hour or two later look out the window and say, 'Oh, it stopped.' Just as the Eskimos have dozens of words for snow, there are dozens of words for rain here, from misting to spitting to drizzling to pouring. Each carries its own nuances.

"And even if it is not raining, the sky is often gray for months at a time. It has its own beauty in a way, the flatness of color, the shifting of clouds, the muted light, but some people just can't handle it. There was one year, early 1999 I think, where the region had had more than a hundred successive days with precipitation of some kind. Three straight months. I was talking to my mom on the phone during this period about how wretched the weather was, even by Seattle standards, and I said, 'I'm starting to understand why people jump off the Space Needle.' (I realize in hindsight this was not the best thing to say to a worry-prone mother.) A few days later, a box with 'Priority Mail' stamped all over it was waiting for me. My mom had sent me a Sun Box: Sun-Maid raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, sunglasses, sundae toppings, lip balm with sunscreen, Sunkist oranges, and some chocolates wrapped in smiling sun foil. I lined the items up on my kitchen counter like an altar. The sun finally did break through a few days later. (Coincidence?)"

Sarah Hutton graduated from Seattle University with a B.A. in English and Philosophy. She is currently the store manager and children's book buyer for Village Books in Bellingham, Washington. She still likes the rain.

[photo courtesy of bradleyolin, flickr creative commons.]