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Archive for February, 2008

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Thursday, February 28th, 2008

This hot news item got my attention. It points to the execrably stupid fact that the USA incarcerates more people per capita than anywhere else in the world. This is an invitation to my friends John Speer (who is on the verge of gigantic life changes and may not have time) and Stephen Brody to chime in on this topic, about which they are quite knowledgable. Anyone else with strong feelings, opinions, knowledge, or experience of the subject is welcome to have their say, too.


Thursday, February 28th, 2008

 This comes from Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, which I enjoyed watching last night: “The best moments in reading are when you come across something–a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things–that you’d thought special–particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met. Maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” I can’t agree that those are the best moments in reading (there is also much to be said for the pleasure of encountering inner and outer realms one has never seen or imagined, for knowledge of the unknown, and for ideas one has never had), but I do relish that hand Bennett speaks of, and it seems to have been the theme of the day yesterday. [read on]

A book, Chinese aerobics, a garden

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

 Portland continues to uncurl to me. I’m discovering what it’s like to be free of wage-earning employment, moving forward on my current writing project. Yesterday I received a copy of a book of poetry written by homeless women in Seattle. Monday and Tuesday I attended the Chinese Aerobics, and this afternoon a new friend took me to the Japanese Gardens. [read on]

Calming down

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

This dumb-slap from Stephen: “Oh for heaven’s sake Kendall, calm down, you’re having one of your spells, you’ve just changed addresses again, nothing so remarkable for you, and this saccharine-tinged mania will end in tears I warn you.” So while I am calming down (and calm is good, I agree) I want to examine (not just for Stephen) why I’m having this spell I seem to be having. It’s much more than a change of address. It’s a change of life as profound as marriage, having a child, divorce…moving to a different continent…but I’ve done all those things, and none of them was so disorienting and so promising as this. This makes a complete change from everything I have ever known before. How? [read on]

Waking up

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I woke at 4 a.m. today, gasping in wonder at my privilege in being alive and here in this moment. I couldn’t go back to sleep and miss a moment of this. Will it ever feel “normal”? I sat up in bed and watched the traffic crossing the on-ramp and off-ramp to the Columbia River Highway Bridge; and I basked in the pleasure of (a) what is to come: my couch and chair will be delivered today and my new apartment will be fully assembled; (b) what just happened: a night out at the film festival with a vivacious new acquaintance during a total eclipse of the full moon; and (c) luxuriating: in my new adjustable bed with deep latex mattress that sucks me into its cushy stillness, in the view out the window, in the joy that keeps on coming. I could burst with so much happiness. Only my certainty that everything changes allows me to admit to it. This is as good as it gets. [read on]

Needs Assembly

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I made another trip to Ikea yesterday, and now I think I’ve finished buying stuff for my new apartment. It should all be here and fully assembled by the end of the day Thursday, and from that point I think I’ll be finished “settling in” and can get on with living in Portland, Oregon. I think this is the first time I’ve ever been so clear and intentional about assembling a new life around myself. Is that because I’ve been absorbed in child-rearing, the needs of various partners, and whatever my job was, for the past four or five decades? Probably. So how does one assemble–not just the furniture with screw-holes in the wrong places and instructions that seem to refer to pieces not included in the package–but a whole, vibrant life: without a job, without family, without pre-existing friendships or any form of anchor? How, as Alice Walker says, do we choose to “be free indeed”? [read on]

Starting the blog again–from Portland

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

I’ve just moved to Portland, Oregon and am starting a whole new life as a full-time writer. I retired from college teaching in December, and so far, everything about the move is good, right, and wonderful. I left Houston Feb. 4, stopped in Arizona to visit my elder son, Chris Virden, and his family, and arrived in Portland Feb. 10. I’m not sure how much I will write in the blog, but I am in motion in a different way than I have been in the past–and a few of my friends have asked me to open the blog again, so I’m doing it today and we’ll see how it goes. Stephen Brody, who came into my life via the blog when he picked up on a tag to Sintra, the town where he lives, was a frequent commenter to the blog. I’ve invited him to write as often as he wants to. He is (I think he will agree) a little more cynical than I am, and (in my opinion) his views–even when, maybe especially when I don’t agree with them–add a little spice to the blog. I am not interested in being one of the world’s most popular bloggers, nor in making multiple entries per day. I am fascinated by Eleanor Roosevelt’s columns. I thought she published them once a week, which seemed reasonable to me; but then I learned she published them SIX days a week, which I think is a bit much. I will begin with a 3-page piece I wrote a few days ago to describe my trip to Portland and my first impressions. Here that is. [read on]