Monday, December 30, 2013

a moment in the day: the insult

In that moment, the woman was mildly insulting with what she said to me, and I was mildly humiliated by what I'd done to deserve the comment. And for me, mildly is enough to make me feel more than mildly bad. But then it occurred to me that I might write about this. Because, even though it was mildly humiliating, it was also mildly interesting, and I could easily use it for one of those "moment in the day" pieces I sometimes write, one of which I hadn't written in quite a while. This made me mildly happy.

Then I woke up and it was all a dream, and I couldn't even remember what the dream moment had been, and I had nothing to write about after all.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

christmas revels

Recently, I caught the opening of the Christmas Revels down at the beautiful Scottish Rite Building. They always change up their area and era of focus for this annual production of historical wintertime celebration, and this year the Revels takes place in 18th century Central Europe, which made it extra fun since my date for the evening was not only from the Czech Republic but heads up the Czech School of Portland.

Somewhere during the show, she leaned over and whispered that the big illustration on the stage floor was actually a reproduction of a famous astrological clock in the Old Town Square in Prague.

And from further away:

That's one of the things I like about the Revels productions. Their attention to detail. I never would have known the image on the stage was more than just something pretty had my friend not mentioned its significance, yet there it was, another bit of historical detail - which they later made come alive on stage, actually, in an esoteric sketch about the complexities of time.

The players for this year's production are headed up by Eric Stern (the town mayor and clock maker, who plays a mean accordion), Burl Ross (who plays Hodiny, the clock maker's assistant, a charming comic with the chops of an old time European circus clown) and Ithica Tell (the  Empress - stately, full of presence, and plays a great straight man to Ross' clown).

photo by david kinder

Some favorite moments. Let's see. There was a beautiful couple songs back to back: Što Mi e Milo (Macedonian) and Shen Khar Venakhi (Georgian) - amazing harmonies that made me close my eyes involuntarily. The first was sung by all women, and the richness of the harmony was surprising. The second brought in the men, too - slower, softer, almost mournful, which is interesting as this medieval hymn to the Virgin Mary is apparently often sung at weddings in honor of the bride.

Some of the music in the Revels is historical and some is newly composed, and I have to say, I may be a layman when it comes to the tunes of Old Europe, but to my uneducated ears, the new stuff sounded as authentic as the old stuff. I particularly loved Jaschkele (with a Russian feel) and Rachenitsa (in Bulgarian style - and in 7/8 time), both composed by the town mayor, Eric Stern.

Another favorite moment: Nevijska Koleda (from Croatia) - a gorgeous song that started with all men's voices, then a wash of women's voices coming in, a beautiful, pure sound, a cappella, building and building until I had to close my eyes again.

And Dragana I Slaveya, which is (as I read in the program) a fiendish story about a nightingale and a girl having a singing contest. If the girl loses, the nightingale gets to cut off her hair. If the bird loses, the girl gets to cut off his wings. [!] But what beautiful music for such a creepy tale - a sort of call and response that then folds in together, a tune that twirls and hovers around one note like a hummingbird.

I love that the Revels gives me the opportunity to hear music I never would have had the chance to otherwise. Live, in that beautiful space with great acoustics. One other note: we had a third member of our party that night, a boy around... [I have no sense of age in people.] ten? I wondered if he'd be as engaged as the grown-ups with this performance of old, traditional music. Luke laughed and laughed at all the comedy throughout and had a great time.

You can check out more info on the Christmas Revels here.

ulterior motives

Ten years ago today, I wrote an e-mail to an artist I didn't know.

Hi--I'm a member of the Rufus Wainwright message board. In which I go by circusgirl. Anyway, I was in Portland recently on a visit and made it a point to stop by the Froelick [Gallery] and see your exhibit.

Big Venus - Stephen O'Donnell
Wow. I just wanted to say you're quite a talent, in both aesthetic and content. I really enjoyed your pieces in person. When I peeked at the Big Venus on the website I thought it was done in oils. I think my favorite pieces are the Castor and Pollox and the Toilette of Medusa (hope I'm not mis-stating the titles). The Medusa I love for so many reasons. It's so beautiful, but the idea behind it, the significance, just goes in so many layers. If I'm not being unclear. I love the paradoxes--the mythos/mythos, man/woman, good/evil, ugliness/beauty. Very cool. Castor and Pollux I thought was just so pretty and poignant. But I liked them all. Forgive me for sounding silly, but I just left impressed enough to feel the need to call upon you and gush a little.


Yes, that's what I said. The Rufus Wainwright message board. I'm not going to tell you just how much time I spent on that message board goo-gooing over Rufus Wainwright, and I'm not going to tell you how embarrassingly old I was when I was doing this.


In my defense, the artist I was writing to that day was also a member. Steveo, he called himself. Also in my defense, being in the circus can be kind of like being in jail. A jail full of big tops and cotton candy and the laughing, happy faces of children. I'm not knocking the children. It's just that when your life is nothing but big tops and cotton candy, when everyone around you [and most of all your husband the clown] thinks about nothing but big tops and cotton candy, you get stir crazy. And when you find something you like, you grab on and hold a little too hard.

Rufus Wainwright - Detail - Stephen, O'Donnell

It was on that message board that member Circusgirl had heard member Steveo mention that non-member Rufus happened to be playing a gig in Portland, Oregon, right around the time of the opening of his (member Steveo's) art exhibit Mythos at Froelick Gallery. Steveo kind of hoped Rufus would see the exhibit while in town, but the one who saw it was Circusgirl.

I've never been a big writer of fan letters. Well, there was that one time I wrote to Steven Spielberg when I was about thirteen, but that was less about the fan letter and more about my aspirations for submitting my script for the sequel to the film E. T. Which I also hoped to star in.

Well, and there was that time, even earlier, when I wrote to Sally Struthers to tell her how much I admired her acting and her crusading for animal rights, but that time I wrote the fan letter because my cousin told me she wrote one, and I wanted to be just like my cousin.

I'd say most fan letters have ulterior motives. We want to tell the artists, writers, actors, activists that we love what they've done, but we also want other things. An autograph. To feel smart. To congratulate ourselves on our taste. To feel a connection to our heroes.

The day I wrote the fan message to artist Stephen O'Donnell, I had ulterior motives. Like that one about feeling smart. Witness the incredibly thought-out [but decidedly awkward] wording of my note. You're quite a talent in both aesthetic and content


I also wanted to find someone to talk about art with. I really did think that somehow this accomplished artist would find my comments so engaging that we might strike up a conversation and then I could talk about lovely things like beauty, symmetry, iconography. Motif. Impasto. Chiaroscuro. Whatever that was. Anything, as long as it wasn't big tops and cotton candy.

I also hoped we could talk about Rufus Wainwright. Because, at age thirty-five, I was, in fact, a thirteen year old girl.

And if I'm honest with myself, I'll say I wanted something more. A human connection that I hadn't had in a very long time, out there on the road with all that nothing but cotton candy. A human connection that maybe even held a hint of that tiny, hidden desire I felt while standing in front of those beautiful self portraits of that man in a dress.

The Toilette of Medusa - Stephen O'Donnell

A hint. I didn't need more. Just a quick, innocent fan letter was enough.

My list of ulterior motives was pretty long that day, but it didn't include starting up a quick e-mail conversation that would lead to a longer e-mail conversation that would lead to a deep friendship that would lead to my finding the guts to leave my fifteen year marriage and career and move to Portland to meet and get to know and eventually marry that artist.

But in the afternoon of the day I sent that message, Stephen wrote back.

Monday, November 25, 2013

the gods of second chances: the front cover

I'm excited to unveil the cover art for Dan Berne's upcoming novel, The Gods of Second Chances, which will be published in March by Forest Avenue Press.

Sometimes with a project like this, I have to do a lot of noodling before I come up with something I like. With Dan's book, I just mused on the story, the characters, the lovely straight-forward voice of the novel's narrator, Alaskan fisherman Ray Bancroft, and the idea popped into my head pretty much fully formed.

Granted there was definitely tinkering. To lay out my geometrical school of salmon so that it didn't overwhelm the author's name or crowd the title. To design a fish I really liked. There was lots of fish tinkering...

In the end, I went with a simple fish, which I thought would work best with the geometrical design of the school. One with lots of red to stand out sharply against the background blue.
The art I'm referencing here - even down to the colors I chose - is Tlingit. The Tlingit are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, particularly of the southeast coast of Alaska. Their art, and that of other indigenous peoples like the Haida, symbolize the Pacific Northwest, and Tlingit culture figures in The Gods of Second Chances. There's some really cool info on the Tlingit culture here. From all I've read, Tlingit art seems to represent the connection between man and the greater world - nature, the cosmos, the sacred. It's intimidating to reference an art style from a culture that's not my own, but I hope I've done justice to it. And to Dan Berne's book, which, along its page-turner of a plotline, explores the many different meanings of sacred, whether in the vastness of the ocean or the crowd of ceramic gods on Ray's kitchen counter or the complexities of family.

More information about Forest Avenue Press is here.

And more about The Gods of Second Chances and Dan Berne is here.

Some good information and pictures of Tlingit art can be found here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

a moment in the day: grocery store

As Stephen and I come to the top of the supermarket escalator and step off, an old man is right there, shuffling onto the top step of the down escalator with a small paper grocery bag and a cane. Very slow and very unsteady. Starting down, he sags into the side, balanced against the moving handrail.

Then tips backward.

Then he's gone behind the thick steel armature of the escalator. Behind me, Stephen's voice does a little barrage of, "Oh, oh, oh!"

Now I'm hurrying down the moving steps and the old man's laid out on his back below me, sprawled, carried along toward the bottom. I don't know what to do. I stop stupid in the middle of the escalator. The way he's lying there, his head toward me, both of us moving, I feel more like someone who might hurt him than someone who might help him up.

From behind and above me comes a young woman, smaller than me, long black hair, wearing a Fred Meyer badge. I do the first smart thing I've done since this started. I get out of the way.

She goes past me and down to the man, crouching over him. His cane clunks along beside them. It's painted in big random swaths of bright color. I try to at least retrieve the cane but I can't reach it. They come to a stop at the bottom, bag and cane a clatter onto the floor. Together, they start to rise, slowly, slowly, the woman asking if he's OK, her hand on his arm, lifting him, and suddenly I'm at the bottom and there's nowhere for me to go but right into them. I start back-stepping.

She's helping him up, getting the job done, and I'm an idiot on an escalator, running in place, backward, in slow motion, trying to keep from knocking them both back down.

I do this for what seems like a very long time.

Then it's over. He's shuffling off toward the parking lot and she's stepping back so I can get my feet on the ground.

She smiles at me. "That's so scary," she says. She looks very young. East Indian, with a faint orange dot in the center of her brow. "Last week my boss fell down those steps." Chatting away as we ride together, back to the top.

My body feels like a sandcastle after the tide's washed in. But I did my good deed for the day. I kept out of the way.

Monday, October 21, 2013

a moment in the day: mochas

I'm standing by a table at the Starbucks waiting for two mochas, one soy, one regular. I had to remember to say "tall" instead of "small" and to say "no whip" even for Stephen's soy. Nine years ago today - let me repeat that with incredulous all caps, NINE years ago - Stephen and I met in person for the first time in a Starbucks after our nine month long mostly e-mail friendship/courtship. As I entered the place and, nervous, nearly ran down the ramp to meet him, he stood, looking shell-shocked. Horrified by my hair.

I have it on authority that this was his first impression of me that day. My first impression of him: wow, he has kind of a big head.

Ladies and gentlemen, we endured. And even though today is a workday for both of us, it's only fitting that we celebrate that crazy afternoon with a couple of Starbucks mochas. And that I badly need a haircut.

Friday, October 18, 2013

a moment in the day: window

Lunch is over, and I've just punched back in at the time clock and am heading to the double doors with the little windows you look through to make sure you don't whack the head of someone on the other side. Through the glass is the dark hair of a guy looking down in that way that says he's staring at a cell phone. Our nonstop texting world. I pull the door wide and wait. Still looking down, his thumbs fast on the keypad, he steps all the way through the open door. Then looks up. Smiles.

"Thanks," he says. "I was in the middle of an argument."

His head goes back down to the cell phone and his thumbs get going again and he's off.

As I head the other way, the thing that strikes me about the tiny encounter is not that the guy was nonstop texting down the hall, and not the argument, but the way there's a little happy left in me from the one moment in the middle where two people looked at each other and smiled.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

a moment in the day: pony

I'm down the aisles in the kids' section of the bookstore, my arms loaded with oversized posters of book covers on foam core for the windows. From behind me comes a mother and her young girl. The mother has that "Can I ask you where" look on her face.

Actually she looks harried. More than harried. Something almost wild in her eyes. "Do you have any children's books?" she says.

The little girl - she must be five or six - is big, happy eyes all around, looking at all the books.

"Do you have any books," the mother says, "about feelings... or manners?"

I remember there's a section for books like that but I can't recall the age range. I say, "Well, let's see," and the mother jumps in over me, urgent.

"About feelings or manners, that she could read?"

I smile down at the little girl.

Her voice is quiet. "I want pony book."

Stacking my posters up against the end of an aisle, I take the two to the information desk where the mother goes through it again to the guy behind the counter, with some edge in her voice that says she's trying to keep it together and not have to scream at us.

"I need. A book. About feelings or manners. That she can read."

As the info guy takes the two off across the store, I go back to my foam core posters, wondering what the story was. I can still hear them, though they're a number of aisles away, now. Actually, it's the little girl I can hear. "I want pony book."

Her voice isn't quiet anymore.

"I want pony book." Then louder: "I want pony book!"

Over and over, pony book, pony book, and now I get it, taking up the last of my posters and heading out of the kids' room as the little girl's voice shrills down the aisles behind me. "I waaant poooooooony book!"

I think I'll put the rest of these posters up in the gardening section.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


The folks at Wordstock recently asked me to put together my dream itinerary for the big Portland lit event. Today as I get ready to head down and catch whatever I can catch, I'm sure I won't be able to get to half of it, but here's what I'd get to if I could make every second of both weekend days count...


My dream itinerary would run from opening to closing, be packed full of readings and panels and somehow still give me a chance to eat and browse along the booths. I’m going to pretend I have the magical powers to fit all of it in. Big loves are Pacific Northwest writers, small press writers, smart, voicy writers and good storytelling.


9:00—Lady in the House: Female Character Creation, with Rosebud Ben-Oni and Holly Berdorff of HERKIND

10:00—Poetry Book Publishers, including Joseph Bednarik, Cecelia Hagen, Sid Miller and Zachary Schomburg

11:00—Whitney Otto

12:00—A Songwriter, A Novelist and Some Poets Walk into a Bar, moderated by Cheryl Strayed and featuring Nicholson Baker, Dara Weir, Nick Jayna and Buddy Wakefield

1:00—Stevan Allred and Eliot Treichel—and if I could be in two places at once, also Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

2:00—BH James and Don Waters

3:00—Power of Print on Demand panel, moderated by Kevin Sampsell and featuring Jeremy Robert Johnson, Jarret Middleton, Cameron Pierce and Laura Stanfill

4:00—Stacy Bolt and Lauren Kessler

5:00—Bringing the Past to Life: Recreating a Place and Time panel, featuring Jamie Ford, Jerome Gold, Barbara Corrado Pope and Karen Shephard

6:30—The 9th Live Wire! Radio Wordstock Extravaganza, featuring T.C. Boyle, Kevin Barry,  M.K. Asante, A.M. Homes, Ian Doescher and musical guests Tanya Donnelly and Michael Hearst 


9:00—How to Write Stunning Sentences workshop with Nina Schuyler

10:00—Poetry Chapbooks: Hows and Whys, with Judith Barrington, Lisa Ciccarello, Susan Denning, Trevino Brings Plenty and Ryan Scariano

11:00—The Short Story Vs. the Novel, featuring Tom Barbash, Alissa Nutting, Benjamin Percy and Leni Zumas

12:00—This one’s a tie. Between Karen Karbo’s Writing Bad and Chris and Kyle Bolton and Barry Deutch. (But remember, I have magical powers.)

1:00—Did I just mention the magical powers? I’m going to have to use them again so I can do three at once: Dangerous Memoirs (moderated by Adam O'Connor Rodriguez and featuring Ariel Gore, Scott Nadelson and Jay R Ponteri), Writing Guides: Help and on Your Journey (featuring Sage Cohen, Christi Krug and Laura Stanfill) and Monica Drake and Beth Lisick

2:00—In Your Own Backyard: The Northwest Novel, moderated by Penelope Bass and including Peter Donahue, James Bernard Frost, Michael H. Strelow and Tom Spanbauer

3:00—Karen Karbo

4:00—Exploring the Personal, with Stacy Bolt, Chasity Glass, Nicole Hardy and Scott M. Terry and moderated by Evan P. Schneider

5:00—Winners of the Sledgehammer Writing Contest, moderated by Monica Drake


OK, now, what the heck have I forgotten?

If you're doing your last minute planning, there's more info here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

my week of living like julia - part three

For me, the end of August was two things. One: time off to celebrate my anniversary with Stephen. Two: my chance to Live Like Julia - in which I chose one of ten rules spelled out in Karen Karbo's new book Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life, and lived that rule for one week. My chosen rule was Cooking means never saying you're sorry. For that one week I pledged to [try my damnedest to] never apologize.

And that's what I did. I tried my damnedest. You can see most of that damned trying here and here.

Actually, trying your damnedest can pay off. By day, Stephen and I worked on our wedding scrapbook, and I didn't apologize for my work. At night, it was movies and food, and I didn't apologize for my cooking, although that's because I didn't cook. Thursday, August 29th, the second to last day, there was a bit of cooking, but Stephen did it.

No apologies.

I love that I chose rule number eight because that chapter also contains this word of advice: "Find yourself a Paul Child" - Julia's lovely husband who played production assistant for tapings of Julia's shoestring-budget television show The French Chef, doing dishes, even "shovel[ing] the snow off the fire escape before lugging in the pots and pans they'd brought from their own kitchen."

"Reader," Karen Karbo writes, "I wish I could offer concrete advice on how to find and land your own Paul Child, a guy who will effortlessly switch roles with you if and when your career suddenly takes off, becoming in a matter of a few short months the wife to you that you once were to him, but I fear it’s mostly a matter of luck."

Well, I've been lucky.

Stephen hasn't had to do any role-switching on account of my budding chef or television career, but I've definitely been lucky to find a husband who's my kind of wife. Lucky I can be his kind of husband. And all vice versa.

I had to cap this Live Like Julia week with something special for him. My cold was going away and now that I'd spent a week eradicating my over-apologizing ways, it would be the perfect test: to see if I could cook a fancy French dinner for him and not apologize for it. A grand task. I am not a cook. I'm also a vegetarian and Stephen tries to stay dairy-free and wheat-free, so some substitutions would have to be made. So without apologies, I give you:

Coq au Vin à la Julia Child [by way of the internet and some improvisation on my part]

  • 1 pkg. bacon "ends and pieces" that you finally find while aimlessly wandering the meat case at the grocery store because you don't know that bacon is kept the same aisle as bologna and hotdogs
  • 1/3 pkg. freezer-burnt fake bacon you've had in your ice box for a very long time
  • 3 lbs. chicken breasts
  • 2 meatless chicken cutlets
  • 2 yellow onions [Some recipes say 1 yellow onion and some recipes say 12 to 24 small white onions, so you get 2 yellow onions for good measure, and it's the right decision.]
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 2 cups red wine [Avoid bold, heavily-oaked varietals like Cabernet. Instead, you go with a cheap, thin Pinot Noir called Flip Flop.]
  • 2 cups broth
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 10 oz. sliced mushrooms [You choose morels because your husband is fussy about mushrooms - and you add some golden shiitakes for yourself.]
  • Salt and pepper to taste
*Some recipes call for adding cognac and then setting the kitchen on fire, but you decide against it.


1.  Find supposed Julia Child Coq au Vin recipe online and then, just before leaving for the store to get ingredients, notice, at the bottom of your printout, one review: "This recipe was costly and time-consuming. The results were revolting." Quickly find two more supposed Julia Child Coq au Vin recipes online [there are many and they are all different]. Take all three to the store just in case.

2.  Give yourself a goodly amount of time for cooking since, even though the recipes say this will take an hour and forty minutes, you don't want to trust yourself.

3.  Put morels in bowl and cover with hot water. Soak until soft, then remove from water. Set aside in a pretty place and take picture.

4.  Chop one third of one yellow onion until you cry. Leave kitchen and get on computer. Surf facebook until you recover. Return to kitchen. Chop one third of one yellow onion until you cry. Leave kitchen and get on computer. Surf facebook until you recover. Repeat.

5.  Fry bacon over medium heat, then place on paper towels to drain. Keep the bacon grease in the pot. Fry fake bacon in separate pan. Remove before its neon red color turns brown. Add olive oil because there will be no grease left in that pot.

6. Strain the water from the morels and realize you can use it [along with Better Than Bouillon] to make your stock. You are a genius. Gain a nicely-inflated sense of self.

7.  Turn heat to high and sear chicken until golden brown on both sides. Stick the meatless cutlets in their separate pan. Don't they look lovely? Take picture.

8.  Add onions, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Sauté six minutes, then add broth and red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for thirty minutes. Remember you're supposed to be doing the same thing to your pot of frozen meatless pellets and rush to catch up.

9.  After thirty minutes, remove chicken [and in turn now-unfrozen meatless pellets] and place in oven-safe dish and put in oven to warm while you work on the sauce. Realize you were supposed to have preheated the oven to 250 degrees somewhere along the line.

10.  Into the red wine sauce in each pot, stir 1 tbsp.butter [or Smart Balance since your husband tries to avoid dairy] and 1.5 tbsp. flour [since you forget that your husband also tries to avoid wheat]. Bring to a boil and stir constantly. Add mushrooms, bacon [and fake bacon] pieces, salt and pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

11.  Place chicken back in sauce and serve with braised asparagus and a good salad.

Yield: there's nothing wrong with lots of leftovers.

Outcome: satisfied husband.

Time as stated in recipe: 1 hr. 40 min.

Time in actuality: 3 1/2 hours. Not including making the salad and asparagus. No apologies.

Friday, September 6, 2013

my week living like julia - part two

"For all of the equality feminism has wrought," Karen Karbo says in her new book Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life, "women are still the Apologizing Gender."

So true. We are the grand apologizers. But why? Is it a way of politeness passed from mother to daughter? Is it hooked up to our instinct to be the nurturers rather than the fighters? Is it some insecurity we don't want to believe we still have, as women, some sense of being less worthy?

I thought a lot about Karen's statement during the week I elected to Live Like Julia, choosing one of Julia's ten rules to adhere to and then write about. The rule I chose was number eight: Cooking means never saying you're sorry. You can see Day One of my attempt here. It wasn't stellar. In fact it was so un-stellar that I amended the plan to change Day One into what was supposed to be Day Two.

But the thing is, I had a lot to overcome. My very first memory is of throwing my apple on the ground in preschool - and then feeling so sorry for it that I picked it up and apologized, softly petting its mushed-up skin.

Sometimes I think my impulse to apologize all the time stems from my woman's mothering instinct. That want to nurture and make better. Another memory: me as a depressed teenager, in a rage, throwing a glass Christmas ornament against my bedroom wall. Smash of tiny violence - very satisfying for a second - but then it hurt my heart. I laid the pieces together like feathers in a nest, putting them back in my box of Christmas ornaments because I was so sorry about breaking this inanimate object that I couldn't bear to throw it away.


I began my Live Like Julia week on the weekend. Saturday was [the new] Day One of no apologies. Tuesday was our wedding anniversary, and my task for Saturday and Sunday was to finish my anniversary card for Stephen. We always photoshop cards, trying to outdo each other in cleverness, artistry or at least twistedness. Like this. And this. And [for the twisted side of things], this.

My idea this year was to take our wedding picture and switch faces.

The original.

And the image for the card.

As I worked, my mind was already apologizing. I could hear myself Tuesday morning as Stephen opened the card: sorry, I just couldn't get it perfect. I didn't 't know how I expected to change my apologizing ways when I was apologizing, in advance, for something I hadn't even finished yet. All alone to myself.

Stephen was probably out there in the studio right now, working on his card to me. His card wasn't going to be only-perfect-enough, it was going to be perfect-perfect. And even if it wasn't, he wasn't of the Apologizing Gender; he wouldn't feel the need to impulsively apologize for it, not like weak, pathetic me.

I was a woman photoshopping her face on a man's body, obsessing over whether she was less than a man.

"Stop it!" I said out loud.

The soft brown curl of Chihuahua on my lap put up his head, quick, at my outburst.

"Sorry," I said.

Those musings on how my apologizing must stem from some nurturing impulse inside me? A crock. Do you want to know what's inside me? It's that thing I pretend isn't there, that spends a little too much time reminding myself that women are men's equals. That thing that weirdly, inconceivably questions - every day - whether it's actually true that women are men's equals. That thing that has no place in the life of the daughter of a strong, capable woman, in a family full of strong capable women. I don't get it, but this thing inside me believes somehow that the apology embedded in my psyche is there because I'm lesser.

When really, the opposite is true. The lesser gets embedded there because of the apology.


I sorted through my proposed apologies as I continued work on the anniversary card. Some, I realized, were instances where, if I apologized later, I wouldn't have to work harder now. So, I worked harder now. In the spots where working harder didn't make it perfect, I let it go. By Monday morning I had my card printed and ready -  no apologies - and Stephen and I were on our way to work for a quick half-day before our anniversary celebration would begin. 

"I've been thinking about your apology thing," Stephen said.


"What if you used the words excuse me instead? Sometimes when you say sorry, what you really mean is excuse me. Which is different."

Thought number one: would that be cheating?

Thought number two: I like this idea.

"When you think about it," he said, "excuse me is much more active than I'm sorry. Excuse me is an order."

Maybe I was going about this all wrong. I was being contrite when I could be contrite and a badass at the same time.


As I went about my day, all my thoughts were a double-exposure with the question of apology superimposed in front. Trying to listen to myself and stop any sorries that wanted to pop out. Trying to perform the sleight of hand that would slip in an excuse me instead.  By midday [this was Day Three], I'd gone from saying "I'm sorry" to "I'm sor-" and sometimes "I'm s-" With periodic bouts of "I'm sorexcuse me."

Passing a coworker in the hall, though I was nowhere near her, I said, "Excuse me."

She put one eyebrow up at me and kept walking.

I felt like queen of the world.

By Tuesday morning, our anniversary, I was knocking off those excuse mes like a champion. I was still letting fly with plenty of "I'm s-" but something in me had changed. In that region of my brain that churned out sorries routinely and without thinking, there was an awareness.

We had mochas and macarons and exchanged anniversary cards. As Stephen studied my card, my mouth wanted so much to apologize, but I just kept shoving cookies in there.

 Stephen's card to me, playing on his recent injury and subsequent tweaked back.
- - - >

[I didn't notice the "excuse me" in it until just now.]

Mid-morning, Stephen made us omelets. And you want to talk about Julia Child? That man can cook. His was the one with dairy-free cheese, mine with real. He made his first, so mine would be hottest when we sat down to eat.

But as he worked, I heard him cussing in the kitchen.

"Oh, yours is kind of destroyed!" he said.

"It'll taste lovely."

"Mine should be the one that gets destroyed," he said. "Yours should be the pretty one."

When he set the omelet down in front of me, he said, "Sorry, sweetie."

The man was apologizing for his cooking.

I was so excited.

I said, "Let me give you a lesson in Julia Child."


Stay tuned for part three, wherein I attempt to cook one of Julia's recipes and present it with no apologies. #LiveLikeJulia

[For more information on how you can Live Like Julia, check this out. To pre-order Karen Karbo's lovely book Julia Child Rules, go here.] 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

my week of living like julia - part one

Writer Karen Karbo has a fun month-long project going on over at her blog Karbohemia, to help promote her new book Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life. The idea is this: you choose one of Julia's ten rules and live that rule for one week, then write about it.

I chose rule number eight: Cooking means never saying you're sorry.

"[Julia] knew that mastering anything was a process," Karbo writes, "and just because you were serious, that didn’t mean you wouldn’t mess up, a lot. Her own show is a real-time lesson on this philosophy: the nonsensical instructions, the occasions when things are overdone or underdone, or something that’s supposed to adhere, doesn’t. This is simply the way of it, or so the unspoken message goes, and there’s no need to apologize, ever."

How freeing, I thought. And how... impossible.

I apologize for everything: for my cooking, for gifts I give people, for social engagements I can't make. When I have a nice conversation with a friend I've met at the supermarket, I later apologize for having kept her so long from the peanut butter aisle. I apologize with my face when I haven't yet gotten around to apologizing with words. In writing group last Thursday, the low-grade apologies I tossed out about the excerpt I was about to read had my fellow writers bringing up the theoretical "apology bucket" so much that we found ourselves in a discussion about how cool it would be if we had an actual apology bucket, with actual money, and could take up a pool where someone could win the pot.

"Why all this apologizing?" Karbo asks. "It’s a terrible and silly tic, and it’s not remotely polite. Instead, it creates the mental habit of feeling apologetic."

Alright it was time to change. For years, my sorry-sorry-sorry had been driving Stephen crazy, and now we were on the brink of a week in which we'd taken time off to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary. The timing was perfect. I determined that with Julia's help, and Karen Karbo's, I was going to spend the week of Friday, August 23,  through Thursday, August 29, not apologizing - and break this habit forever.

Of course the first thing you learn when you agree to Live Like Julia for a week is that you can't just instantly turn on your inner Julia and turn off your inner you. In the car on the way to work that first morning, Friday, I was feeling terrible that we were approaching our anniversary celebration and I'd suddenly come down with a bad cold. The apology popped out as naturally as an exhale. It wasn't just the guilt over the bug I'd contracted [which I had no control over]. It's also pretty automatic with me whenever I sniffle without stopping myself:

Sniffle. "I'm sor--"

"What?" he said.


I decided that Friday would be pre-Julia day. As preparation for my week of no sorries, I'd have a day where I just observed my sorrying habits - which is to say, I moved my start date back a day because I obviously wasn't ready. That day I apologized to my boss because I was taking time off work. I called and apologized to Stephen when I wasn't ready to be picked up at five ... then when I wasn't ready to be picked up at five-thirty, then five-forty five. Stephen didn't care. The only thing that was annoying was the apologizing.

"Starting tomorrow," I told him that evening, "I'm not apologizing for a week."

As I explained the plan, I fully expected Stephen to praise me for the initiative I was taking in honor of our relationship, but what he said was:

"I hate to say it, but--"

"What?" I said.

"But you're not anywhere near as bad as you used to be," he said. [Surprise.] "When we were first together, it drove me nuts."

Hmm. Maybe he'd gotten so used to my apologies that he hardly noticed anymore. Or maybe it was true. Maybe I wasn't as bad. Maybe this would be easier than I thought.

Saturday morning, I awoke feeling good. The game was on. As I brushed my teeth and gave them a floss, I didn't feel apologetic at all. When, a little later, I apologized for stepping on what I thought was Stephen's toes but turned out to be the rubber rim of his flip flops, I was not concerned. It was a momentary setback in an otherwise promising morning.

A little later:  

Sniffle "Sorry," I said, and then immediately, "There I go again."

"What?" Stephen said.

"Oh, sorry, I apologized again." I said. "Oops, and again. Sorry."

This was not working.

I decided to amend my goal. Instead of I won't apologize the whole week, the plan would be, by the end of the week, I'll have gotten myself to stop apologizing.


 That I could do.

#CliffHanger #LiveLikeJulia

[For more information on how you can Live Like Julia, check this out. To pre-order Karen Karbo's lovely book Julia Child Rules, go here.]

Monday, July 8, 2013

birthday showoff

Stephen and I have a little tradition going where, for birthdays, anniversary and Valentine's Day, we get all creative with Photoshop in making cards for each other. I like noticing how often we come up with similar angles, similar themes, similar approaches while working separately on each other's cards. This year has been like that. At least with our birthday cards. First, we both went a little overboard. Second, we both went for a movie theme and multiple pages. Third, we both alluded to (this one's not surprising) Stephen's recent injury and recovery. Stephen's card to me (it was actually a second card - he made me two!) referenced With a Song in my Heart, one of his favorite movies. He cast himself as the suffering star Susan Hayward and me as her plucky nurse, Clancy, played by Thelma Ritter. You can check out his blog post about it here.

For my birthday card to him, which I'll be giving to him at dinner tonight, I chose one of my own favorite movies, one that I believe has become as much a favorite for him as With a Song in my Heart has become for me. Or anyway, I hope so. Here is Stephen's recovery from injury a la Metropolis. It's mostly just pictures. After all, it's a silent movie.

And one more small one for the back of the card:

A Simplified Map of the Real World - the cover

When I designed the book cover for Stevan Allred's story collection A Simplified Map of the Real World, I knew I'd have to start with a map. Not only because of the title, not only because I personally love maps, but because this collection is a world in itself, centered around the make-believe town of Renata, Oregon, a town so fully imagined, it deserves a map.

It was an exciting prospect because, whereas I love working with "found objects," utilizing and manipulating photographs in design, for this project I built the entire thing from scratch. Every river and road. Well, kind of. I based the placement of those rivers and roads on the stories in the book and on a real place in the real world - the town on which Stevan based his town of Renata. In a way, then, I was still working with "found objects" - that real town and that imaginary town - fitting things into place according to where they must go. But it wasn't until I had the whole map laid out that I found one more object for my design, the final element that pulled it all together and said what I believe the collected stories in A Simplified Map of the Real World are saying.

So, here it is.

A Simplified Map of the Real World comes out in September from Forest Avenue Press. Check out the press and news about the book here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

swingin' down the lane

During the six weeks Stephen was laid up with his injury, I hardly wrote at all - too difficult to string together the amount of time my brain needs in order to get any good wordsmithing done - but I had just enough time to work on a graphic design project for a really cool indie CD cover. An album of show tunes performed on one of those great old Wurlitzer theater organs, the kind with a forest of pipes.

Not only pipes but instruments - trumpets, strings, xylophone, glockenspiel ... some instruments I'd never heard of like the unda maris and the vox humana, both of which sound like the names of evil overlords from 1950s alien movies. The Hardman Studio Wurlitzer started out on the Paramount Studios movie lot in 1929, had a stint in radio with KNBC in San Francisco and now lives in a huge barn in Virginia, where organ masters like Clark Wilson give live concerts. On Swingin' Down the Lane, Clark Wilson plays the music of composer Burton Lane, who you've likely never heard of but whose songs I'll bet you recognize.

I like New York in June / How about you?

On a clear day, you can see forever.

You know that famous clip of Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling? The movie is Royal Wedding and the tune is Burton Lane.

Literally the night before I first chatted with the producer about designing this cover, not knowing yet who the subject of the album was, Stephen and I watched the movie Babes on Broadway, for which Burton Lane got an Oscar nomination, for the song "How About You," sung in the film by Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. In fact, Burton Lane is credited with having discovered Judy Garland. Graphic design plus old movie musicals - this job was made for me.

One more lovely movie poster for Royal Wedding.

I decided to design the cover of the CD to look like one of those old movie posters. The kind with the couple dancing, he in tuxedo, she in a big gauzy gown. That was the hardest thing about this project - finding the dancing couple. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to find a good royalty-free stock photo of a dancing couple that doesn't look like it was shot at someone's wedding in the 1990s.

I finally found this, courtesy of

 It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but doing a little Photoshop work and adding some outside elements, I came up with a couple I liked. Her dress is pieces of my wedding dress. [Which Stephen designed and made, by the way.]

And her hair is the wig I wear when Stephen and I play Madeleine and Penny.

Changed-up shoes, changed-up tuxedo, added lapel flower, added color...

Whoops, that was before I added the flower. But close to the final product.

Actually, the hardest thing about the project was building the swirling keyboard for my couple to dance on. Somehow I thought I could just play with warp and distort tools and twist the Hardman Wurlitzer into the shape I wanted. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to do this before I gave up and got out a pencil to finish the job. Once I had my organ "lane" curving the way I wanted it to curve, I went back in and photoshopped it together.

I was fairly obsessed with the project for much of the time Stephen was laid up with his injury. Tinkering between work and physical therapy and doctors appointments and trips to the store was a way for me to have a little respite from the stress of worrying about Stephen's pains and frustrations and the long healing process. It occurred to me, at some point in the month, that this design project was doing for me what those old movie musicals did for the moviegoers of the time. I was creating a magical, little fantasy and it was the perfect escape.

Check out the Hardman Wurlitzer here.

Check out Clark Wilson the organist here.

For some great stock photos, check out GeekPhilosopher here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

a diary of dad

For Father's Day, I thought I'd pull out a quick moment from an old diary, like I did for Mom on Mother's Day. Well, I fell down the diary hole and came out with a few more than one. One of the interesting things to me about this little series is how much my voice changes from April of 1983 (I was 13, about to turn 14) to March of 1985 (when I had learned about things like using big words and metaphors). Also, get ready for some poor spelling. I think I get that from my dad.

From April 7, 1983

The 2nd draft papers are due tomorrow. Dad typed my whole paper out for me on his computer! I wrote it & he copied it. I have the best dad in the world!

From January 13, 1984 [the pool room is the room in our house with a pool table in it]

Comming into the pool room, I heard sounds of music and dingings. Dad had the Jukebox on, playing pinball and so we ended the day with a long round of pinball (He got over 1 million on one game) to the jukebox. Whoever said that Friday the 13th was bad luck? Well, days like these really show me one of the meanings of life.

From October 7, 1984

Dad and I went to a football game today, (Rams against Atlanta) It was a great game. It was really close all through the whole game. Today, was when I was first introduced to "the wave". It was really neat. At the end of the game, the score was Rams-28, Atlanta-27 and there was about 7 seconds to go. Atlanta had the ball and had perfect position for a field goal. The croud shouted the seconds outloud but it was no use. They won. We all watched the debate of the President Reagan and Walter Mondale. From what I know, Mondale seems far better than Reagan but, most of the time, I don't know what they're saying. 

From December 9, 1984

Dad and I went to the best Rams' game today. Of course the Rams won (They played the Houston Oilers) but, that's not what made it so exciting. One player, Eric Dickerson, broke a record today, made by O.J. Simpson some 15 years back having something to do with how far he runs in a season. We were yelling 'Er-ic, Er-ic," until our throats were raw. I cheered and screamed so much. It was also the last season game except they won and get to go on playing. We drove home in the convertible with the top down. It was the greatest game!

From March 3, 1985

We awoke early this morning. Coco, Noni, and My Dad were going to take a balloon ride and we were going to watch. The balloon rides were given my a woman named Dawn who is a stunt-woman. She did stunts for the Steve Martin movie, The Jerk.

Dawn and her partner brought the balloon in a truck. They pulled it out and layed it on the ground. When she took down names of the ones who were going to fly, she said, "we have room for one more." Mom strode over to me and asked, "Do you really want to go up?" because, I had wanted to. "Yes," I said, and, finaly, she allowed me to.

Dawn and her partner began, then, to fill the balloon with air. It filled very quickly, puffing out, enlargening. It was soon fully filled and lying on its side, and then they warmed the air. Dawn pressed a button on a metal device at the top of the basket, and flames shot out of the device, up into the balloon. Slowly, the balloon began to rise, until it was floating above the basket, huge and colorful.

I stood and looked at it. It was huge, squares of rainbow colors running diagonally all over it. The basket looked rather small—very small, and Dawn stood inside it, occasionally turning on the gas to heat the air. We ran over to it, and grasped a strong hold onto the basket, to hold it down.

One by one, we boarded—Coco, Dad (holding his video camera in one hand), myself, Noni. Kathy filmed us from outside, and Dad from inside the basket. I grasped one corner and readied myself. I couldn't believe I was really going.

Thunder blasted above me, as the fire tumbled into the balloon, once again heating the air, and the others backed away from the balloon. Edina, Frankie, and Sal were shrieking things. Mom was yelling for me to "hold tight", as were others So, I hugged tightly to the strip of basket that descended to the balloon. But, I didn't feel at all scared. Excited, I did feel.

We lifted. I felt the gravity drain away. We ascended into the sky, the peoples, cars, houses below us getting smaller. Frankie was running after the balloon as we floated further up.

We began to move across the sky. The fog that had been spread across Canyon Lake was not here, in Peris. The mountains were smeared with snow on their pointed peaks, jutting upward like dunce caps. Canyon Lake, surrounded by hills, was filled with feathery white fog—a bowl filled with whipped cream. The cities below looked like toys—the cities of the train sets Dad and I were going to build, once, long ago.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


It's been a month since Stephen's fall. A month of lying on his back with his leg up, of physical therapy, of worrying, of enduring not being able to paint. For me, a month of taking care. On the weekend, I ran down to the Chinese restaurant and got us takeout, which was luxurious because Stephen hadn't been really feeling right enough for a long time to care about having a treat. Dinner came with three fortune cookies.

Mine: A small act of charity will go a long way.

Stephen's: Keep up the good work. You will be rewarded.

Nicholas': You will be traveling and coming into a fortune.

Monday, May 27, 2013

a simplified map of the real world: the galley

Here's a quick sneak peek at the galley for Forest Avenue Press' first fiction acquisition, Stevan Allred's linked short story collection A Simplified Map of the Real World. For anyone who doesn't know what this is, a galley (or advanced reader copy or ARC or uncorrected proof) is the pre-publication edition of a book, something that goes out to magazines and other publications in hopes of reviews or to bookstores in hopes that the title will be carried there. A galley is also a great tool for the publisher to use in order to find any last minute errors - hence the "uncorrected proof" designation.

Some galleys look like the finished product, just with extra marketing info on the back and a stamp designating it as a galley somewhere on the cover art. Others have mostly blank front covers with just title and author shown. I like the ones that fall in between, that show the cover art but smaller than actual size so that when the final product is unveiled, the impact is splashier.

In putting together the galley cover for A Simplified Map of the Real World, I also wanted to create a model for Forest Avenue Press' future galleys, something that is recognizable as an ARC but is uniquely Forest Avenue Press.

For more information on Forest Avenue Press and A Simplified Map, you can check out their website here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

a moment in the day: post-op

It's the day after the surgery. Evening. Stephen's in bed with his leg in the brace and up on piled pillows. It's late but he hasn't eaten since he's been nauseous and somewhat heart-burny, maybe because of the pain medication, maybe because of all the lying on his back. On the TV is Montgomery Clift in a priest costume. We've paused the film to tend, again, to the after effects of Stephen's fall of two weeks ago. Ice pack for the knee. Ice pack for behind his back since he threw his back out somewhere between the first and third physical therapy sessions. Water for the latest thing, the twelve-hour bout of nearly ongoing hiccups.

I hand him the glass. He takes it with his good hand - which is the sore hand but at least not the one connected to the broken elbow.

"So, my nose is getting stuffed up, too," he says.

"You have gout yet?" I ask.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

a moment in the day: september, 1985

A little memory moment for Mother's Day. This is from my diary, September, 1985. I was sixteen. Frank would have been just nine. Horatio was our dog.

Poor punctuation and overblown teenager, already-want-to-be-a-writer language intact:

I was feeling really sick Sunday night. Mom & I were watching the T.V., she on the couch, and I on the floor. “Death of a Salesman” with Dustin Hoffman which was well done but depressing as hell.

Frankie got a hug from mom because his teeth hurt, and I wanted one, too. I came crawling over to her, feeling just like Horatio. When Frankie was gone, I got a cuddle from Mom. Oh, I could just feel the mother, daughter love we had between us. I remembered that feeling from times long ago when, as a younger child I got cuddles, and the feeling brought tears to my eyes. I must have looked really funny, my legs curled on the floor, half teenager, half child. I thought for a moment about having lived with her all my life. It was one of the best feelings in the world.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

nicholas and the injured man

At first, Nicholas wasn't at all sure he liked the situation. When the man who calls him Dog came through the apartment door wearing the robot leg and with one arm in a sling, Nicholas didn't like that robot leg and barked at it. It was black and full of big hard plastic parts and straps and went all the way from the man's thigh to his ankle, and Nicholas suspected that this wasn't really the man at all but a cyborg lookalike.

"Hey, Dog!" the man said. "Stop that!"

Nicholas was mostly reassured.

The woman with the lap was running around the apartment grabbing weird things like frozen blue ice bags and rattling pill bottles. She put the man in the bed. The man used all the pillows in the house, which wasn't fair, because those pillows belonged to Nicholas.

No, this was not how it was supposed to be at all. The woman with the lap was supposed to be at work and the man who calls him Dog was supposed to be in the studio room, painting, or sitting at the computer and pretending to want to be painting, and Nicholas was supposed to be sleeping on those pillows.

Nicholas was polite and didn't say anything.

But then, there next to the man's ankle on the pile of pillows was a patch of sun. The man smiled a tired smile and patted the bed beside him, and Nicholas made one short, efficient jump up onto the pillows. Making sure to be careful, Nicholas curled up in the sun next to the man's foot and closed his eyes.

It was warm there and he was happy. Yes, he could get to like this injury thing. He could get to like this a lot.

Monday, April 22, 2013

clybourne park

Good theater should be a conversation starter. I’ve always loved the live experience of theater, the laughter of a full audience, the sets, the way actors bring life to a story—but I really love it when, after Stephen and I have enjoyed a play, we leave the theater in deep conversation over the themes and issues brought up. I’ve noticed lately that Portland Center Stage in particular seems to choose their plays with the aim of initiating a dialogue. In fact, after Friday night’s production of Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park, we and the rest of the audience were invited to stay in the theater for a Q&A with some of the actors. And the same open dialogue is offered after almost every performance of the play down at the Gerding Theater. How cool is that?

Those who stayed behind for the Q&A had plenty to talk about. The Pulitzer Prize winning Clybourne Park is that kind of play. It's a re-imagining of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, told from the outside in. In A Raisin in the Sun, a black family buys a house in a Chicago neighborhood that happens to be predominantly white. In Clybourne Park, the same happens, but the family we meet is the white family, still in the process of selling their house but already packing and getting ready to leave. The action in the first half concerns the argument, at times hesitant, at times heated, between the family and members of the community over whether this sale to a black family should be allowed to go through. The second half takes us fifty years down the line to examine the subjects of prejudice and ownership from yet another angle. The Clybourne Park neighborhood has gone from predominantly white to predominantly black to that period of flux called gentrification, and this same house has been bought by a white family hoping to tear it down and build something bigger and grander in its place. The resulting debate slash battle, which includes the great niece / namesake of Lorraine Hansberry's original Lena Younger character, highlights not only how incredibly difficult it is to kick prejudice out of our souls, but also how feeble and muddled our attempts to communicate about it usually are.

We talk around it. We talk over and under it. We're afraid to offend and are afraid to find out just how deep our own prejudices might go. A question this play seems to ask is, what kind of racist are you? I'll tell you the kind I am. Not necessarily the same kind as the character Lindsey (Kelley Curran) who, at one point, blurts, "Half my friends are black!" and at another, "I even dated a black guy!" - but similar. With me, there's something inside that makes me automatically like a person more for being black, for being any minority. This is both an instinct and a half-conscious decision. For example, looking at the cast list, wanting to pull a couple standouts from the lineup to talk about in my little review here - which was a difficult task as every actor in this play was, to me, a standout - I found myself thinking first of Sharonlee McLean (white), who is both hysterical and heart-breaking in her roles, who perfectly exemplifies the overcompensation that I feel in my own reactions to race - but I found myself stopping and changing tack. I would talk about Sharonlee, yes, but first I would talk about Kevin R. Free (black), who in one of his roles portrays the affable Kevin with a beautiful just-below-the-surface pain and anger that the character doesn't want to face. It's a nuanced performance that gauges the way you feel as you watch the show - and, in a way, lets you know when you can be comfortable even in the midst of the rising tension - and when you can't.

But you see what happened? I wanted to talk about both actors but, because he's black, my brain wanted to put Kevin R. Free first.

Driving home with Stephen after the play, I tried to talk about this tendency of mine but kept falling all over my words. And I realized that I was doing what all the characters in Clybourne Park were doing throughout much of the show. Hedging and hesitating, being stymied by the weight of the topic. And that was one of the most fascinating things to me about the evening. Because beyond the heated subjects of prejudice and gentrification, Clybourne Park is a play about communication and the ways and reasons in which we avoid it.

I should also say that  for a play with such serious and tension-filled subjects, it's uproariously funny.  Even as I was deep in thought over all the issues that arose during the production, I was laughing my head off. Clybourne Park is a top-notch play with sharp, wonderful writing, and Portland Center Stage made beautiful work of it.

It's playing now through May 5th at the Gerding Theater in the (quite gentrified) Pearl district. More info is here.