Sauvie’s Island

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.06.50 PM

Apparently, when the mercury rises in the city of Portland, there is a massive exodus. The seemingly entire Rip City population packs up their inflatables and heads out to Sauvie Island.

If you’re not a local, you’ll pronounce it “Saw-vee” Island, but those who live here call it “Sew-vee” Island. And only one person I know makes it possessive and calls it “Sauvie’s Island” as if Mr. Sauvie was the missing triad to the Lewis and Clark expedition and, travel weary and fed up, decided not to reach the Pacific Ocean, threw in the towel and claimed the island as his and “far enough.”

Truth be told, the island was named after a French-Canadian from the Hudson Bay Company, Laurent Sauvé, a dairy farmer who ran farms on the island in the 1830’s, so it was, in fact, Sauvés Island.

To get to the island, you drive. And drive. You watch the city-ness fade into industry. You ride along industry, parallel to train tracks, for quite some time. The road and the tracks and the industry stretches on for so long that you wonder, “what on Earth gets made, manufactured or shipped here?”

Half-way to the turn-off there’s a Bikini Barista and I highly recommend stopping in for a Bob Marley Iced Mocha and the opportunity to stumble upon Superhero Theme Day.

When you get to the turn-off, you’ve only just begun. You feel like you got picked up and dropped into Technicolor Oz.  Farmhouses, and flower fields and green, green rows of corn.  Rope swings and rusty cars and giant trees and cows. The road winds and winds and you feel like you’re travelling back through time. The road winds ever on into this Little House on the Prairie backdrop, but there is no way Dorothy or Laura Ingalls Wilder is prepared for what’s up ahead.   You slam on your brakes suddenly because the car in front of you slams on their brakes, barely noticing in your nostalgic reverie, that ahead of you has been a steady stream of cars winding through this wonderland for the past 25 minutes.

That’s when you know: you’ve made it to the beach.

The line is long today, because the temperature is creeping up towards 100 degrees, and as you inch along in traffic, knowing full well that this road leads to a dead end, where somewhere along the way, you may or may not find a parking spot. After the 45-minute drive to get there, defeat was unacceptable.  There’s no turning back.

Me and a Porsche saw the reverse lights simultaneously and threw on our turn signals, each aggressively nosing our way into the spot. We fought through our dusty windows for a few minutes, before I suggested: “Rock, paper, scissors?”

Rock beat scissors, (or Porsche beat Civic) and I was back on the search, grinning from the brief interlude. #onlyinportland.

You juggle your beach bag, and your cooler and your inner-tube, and nudge the sunglasses up your sweaty nose. To get to the beach, you have to walk through the Frisky Forest, where the only thing certain to be frisky are the mosquitos. Your hands are full, and you cannot slap them away, so you resolve yourself to the bites as necessary and worth-while battle wounds.

It’s as if this whole journey is a series of passages, taking you deeper and deeper into the proverbial Heart of Darkness and asking “how bad do you really want this?”

When the forest opens up to the beach, there, lining the sandy shores of the Columbia River is the entire population of Portland; frolicking, swimming, strolling, floating and….completely, totally: Butt. Nekkid.

I suppose it should be no surprise. This is the city with more strip clubs per capita than anywhere else in the country, and in a place where you can get married in a doughnut shop, participate in the Naked Bike Ride, a yearly event with thousands of birthday-suit wearing participants peddling their nether regions all throughout the city; the notion of Keeping Portland Weird (or naked) does not exclude Sauvie Island.

There are legends here. Urban, suburban or otherwise. For example, everyone knows of the Mayan man with the extremely big, um….walking stick. I saw him once with my own eyes, like a nudie-beach Sasquatch sighting, and it’s true, his staff is quite substantial.

There are so many varying degrees of nude: the tank top with the penis just peeping out of the hemline, the naked except for a tu-tu, and then my favorite…naked while wearing Teva’s. What’s up with Teva’s, Portland, seriously???

But the amazing thing about Sauvie Island is that being naked is the ultimate equalizer. Nobody really looks all that hot when they’re naked. They just look….human.

There, for all to see, is your cellulite, and your nipple hairs, and your tiny penis, and doughy-ness; and when you get a sandy strip of beach lined with a throng of naked humans, you start to realize that all of your notions of hot or cool are just illusions. There are no push-up bras or Spanx.  When you strip it down and peel back all of the layers, all of the outfits that define your personality and style; hide, cover or accentuate the good and the bad, there lies you.

To get to Sauvie Island, you shed your layers. One by one. You shed the city, and the industry, and the wonderland, and a little blood, and then your clothes and all that is left is just you. Flawed, beautiful….human. You.

 

 

 

Wagons and Wine

Attachment-1.jpeg

It’s been a while. And by a while, I mean….a while. More like, a shit-ton of time. The settling down, the union of pen with paper and usually, blissfully,….some wine.

To write. To put all of the hullabaloo and the mumbo-jumbo that passes through my noggin’ on the daily into some semblance of cohesive form. Writing makes me think about my life more.  Encourages me to dig just a little bit. deeper.

Forget about the fact that I just opened a new business. It’s a valid excuse, not to write, if one were prone to accepting the bullshit we like to cover up in the name of “excuses”. I felt like somehow I had to censor myself all of a sudden. Project only a certain facet of me, because now I wear the “boss-lady” label. Who is going to read this? Is it going to affect sales? God forbid people know that I GASP/HURL/SPITTLE…drink wine.

Oh honey. I drink wine.

The truth is, my writing was always THE most truthful side of myself. And I think for any of you who might still be clinging onto the potential next “edition”; the one thing that made reading it worthwhile was my willingness to bear it all…because in our ability to be authentic, we start to realize that only semantics separates you from me.

So fuck censorship. I’m back.

There might be a select few of you who have been here since the beginning. This all started when I first did my teacher training and then continued, writing and posting every single week (until, aside from the intermittent smatterings, I fell face-mother-fucking-first off of the wagon a couple years ago).

We lose ourselves from time-to-time, don’t we?

You followed me through Central America to Kentucky and Prince Edward Island; to Montreal, Brazil, L.A. and in a 1985 tin-box Vanagon across Canada.   You followed me through some shitty relationships, and then (more shitty relationships) but always, there was yoga.

There was always yoga.

And now, I own a yoga studio. I will spare you the details of the process, (you can read for yourself) but shall we say “diplomatically”–aka—me, censoring. just. a little bit—building it was no picnic in the park.

Now this fucking studio is open and it’s so damn beautiful sometimes I can’t even believe it’s real. I can barely fathom that five years ago this was an idea in my head. A hippie at heart and definitely not a planner, not much in my life has walked the distance between pre-meditation to follow-through.

But. Here I am now.

We’ve only been open just over a month and people are coming, and they are coming back and they are CHANGING. THEIR. LIVES. They are coming every day; committing themselves privately to their own 30-Day Challenge, without pomp or circumstance, without acknowledgment or accolade—they are just showing up. They are nicer, softer, more relaxed and open day-by-day. They are sharing with me the things that they struggle with, and sometimes it’s not even in words. It’s the clenched fists in Savasana. The frenetic searching for breath while trying to find balance on one leg. It’s the gentle learning of who they are and then, the grateful gaze as they leave silently out the front door, with only understanding linking our eyes.

It is magic, being here now. And it is only the beginning.

I won’t make promises and I won’t make excuses, but I can tell you this: There will be writing. There will be yoga. And, oh yes, there will be wine.

E=Mc2 or Some Shit Like That

Electricidad

In an $80-dollar Uber ride home on New Year’s Eve, I asked the driver the question, which I had previously been asking every new encounter throughout the evening prior to midnight:

“What do you want to leave behind in 2015 and what do you look forward to in 2016?”

Having recently gotten out of a relationship that was fulfilling on many levels, one of the things it lacked was connection. We never really shared hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, secrets or that kind of human intimacy that goes deep into the guts. Feelings made him uncomfortable. So I squashed mine. Or dimmed them down to reading-light wattage. Barely perceptible without squinting.

So 2016 is a year that I want to find spiritual, real, raw and meaningful connection with humans who want to gruesomely feel, share, emote, wail, lament, grow, learn, dissect and eviscerate their insides. Electric. Connection. Like two fingers barely not touching after dragging stocking feet over carpet. But maybe not with men for a while. Or boyfriends, in any case…I’m a little afraid of things with penises at the moment.

Her response was this: “Well, I lost two of my best friends to suicide last year, so there’s that.”

And suddenly, we spent the remaining $63 dollars talking about the thing that nobody talks about, especially not with strangers driving cars during 3.3 times the normal rate: Mental illness. Depression.  Suicide.

It’s acceptable to talk about your skin rashes and your knee replacements. We send sympathy cards when our neighbors’ kidneys need dialysis, and we tell our friends about our UTI’s and our gallstones, but nobody talks about the days when life seems like such an uphill battle all you can do is mitigate the sadness in pajamas and then feel guilty for all of the things you didn’t get done that day.

Nobody even knew her friends were sad.

Not long ago, and for the first time, I saw the watery depths of my darkness and it was a terrifying and shocking place to be. Shocking because I had never previously had any notion that such a place existed within me. I had never felt so annihilated; so worthless, hopeless or insignificant as I did then. I feel better. Much, much better, but sadness is persistent and there are days when I’m just proud of myself for getting out of bed every day, putting food in my mouth and actually being somewhat productive by most peoples’ standards.

It wasn’t always like this. Or rather, I think that for a large part of my life, I was naïvely optimistic. I guess the older I get, it all starts to seem more scary and overwhelming.

Or perhaps it’s because I’m starting to do things that only grown-ups do. And I am throwing a full-out, toddler-style tantrum.

Because I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to apply for health insurance or have mortgage payments (which, actually I do want to own a house, but I’d rather win Powerball and pay for it outright) or have denture care on my health insurance (that I didn’t apply for) or save for my retirement. I feel like I’m too old to grow up. I’m 37 so, like, if I haven’t grown up already, then I’m probably not gonna.

I was supposed to scan 25 pages of business receipts to be sent to our accountant on my sister’s scanner; a beast of a machine, which takes approximately 18,571 hours per page to scan. The thought of sitting at her desk for the rest of my life if I’m lucky enough to live until 90 was giving me major anxiety, so I drove down to the FedEx Copy Store in the middle of a snowstorm, where the dude scanned all 25 pages and saved them to my memory stick in 13.6 seconds for $12 dollars. And since time is money, then for $2.08 per page, I just bought 2.12 years of my life back in 0.54 seconds flat!!!

Obviously, this just makes good business sense and basically proves that I’m a grown-up.

Forget the fact, that I just spent an hour on my flight to New Mexico creating and then solving a problem I didn’t have or need or get paid for, so now I guess I’m out .00011 cents, which is probably why I’m terrible with money and can’t save for my retirement.

And pretty much why I’m awesome at math.

Needless to say, the $80 dollar Uber ride was priceless because the first interaction I had with the first person in the New Year was real and open and raw. We both genuinely said “thank you” when I got out of the car and it was her just being honest that spawned a connection that needed no introduction or preamble. Honesty speaks the language of a thousand heart-songs and sorrows.

Life is hard. Overwhelming, big, dazzling, terrifying, exhilarating, long, tedious, beautiful and perfectly unperfect.

Connection is available only if you’re open to it. You gotta intentionally drag your feet across the carpet, hold your finger out and wait for the shock.

Math, on the other hand…..is easy-peasy.

 

 

Winnebago Wisdom

Screen_shot_2010-06-24_at_2.32.37_PM_400x400

“I suppose we’re all possessed in some way. Some of us with dependence on pills or wine. Others through sex or gambling. Some of us through self-destruction or anger or fear. And some of us just carry around our tiny demon as he wreaks havoc in our mind, tearing open old dusty trunks of bad memories and leaving the remnants spread everywhere. Wearing the skins of people we’ve hurt. Wearing the skins of people we’ve loved. And sometimes, when it’s worst, wearing our skins. That’s the worst….” –Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy.

I am trying to ponder on what I would like to put forth for 2016. I am trying to come up with positive sentiments, a bright and cheery outlook and that ethereal silver lining that puts it all into perspective. A motto, an intention or a personal mantra of sorts that will inspire my dwindling readership to throw celebratory arms up in the air in conciliatory support.

It’s there. Somewhere. Like, right on the tip of my tongue.

But what the fuck? Why fake it? Because truth be told, the last three months of 2015 have been shit.

Shit, shit, shit, shit…shit. Shitty, shit, shit. Honey Buckets, Sani-Cans, and Porta-Johns overflowing with rivers of brown, (and blue, cause what is that stuff anyways?) stinky, smelly, Taco-Bell-bean-paste-cat-paté–fois gras-baby diaper-chocolate pudding-liverwurst-doo-doo.

And well, I want to leave all that of shit behind me in 2016.

So what do you do? What lessons do I take from the suffering? When the shit hits the fan, how do you move forward and not feel hardened? Blocked? Like the bowels of a celiac that just binged on biscuits, bagels and beer. How do you turn all of that constipation into unicorns happily dumping rainbow sherbet soft-serve into sugar cones with sprinkles

Santa still hasn’t brought me my Squatty Potty.

I guess the first step is acknowledging and accepting which piles are yours. Oh yes, there is a smattering of little rabbit-turds left behind (my behind) and a lot of them are mine. Hunched over and armed with those biodegradable shit sacs, I am scooping up pellets of bad decisions, enemas of regrets, and undigested moments that probably stemmed from a cramped and clogged sense of self-esteem. Picking up your own poo is a VERY humbling experience. Hopefully, armed with humor, compassion and a Costco-sized bottle of Febreze, we are able to take responsibility for our mistakes and clean up our mess.

“Whoops. I done fucked THAT one up.”
Smooth move, Exlax.”

Within that cleaning-up process, I also need to learn to find confidence and TRUST in my intuition. Sometimes it whispers, but most of time it yells.  And even though I habitually stuff bits of toilet paper so deep into my aural cavities that it tickles that weird little, stirrup-shaped bone, my intuition has been bang-on.

Every. Single. Time. And yet still, I refuse to listen.

So for better or worse, here’s my list for 2016:

I will stop incessantly trying to come up with poo puns.

I will stop buying shit on Craigslist that I already have and don’t need and then resell.

I will stop dating men who have weird, unresolved shit with their exes.

I will not allow hardship to harden me, but will strive to stay open and keep the faith that positivity and love will win in the end.

I will take risks and I will live bravely.

I will not dumb-down my emotions, my sensibilities and my intuition, which guides me like a compass, even when I walk in the opposite direction.  I will work hard to listen and pay attention.

I will not be anything less than real: with myself, with others, but mostly with myself, because nobody likes a liar.  I will not self-medicate with sentimental sentiments (red wine will do) and even that will fall by the wayside in 2016—the wine, or the sentiments?? Hmm…jury’s still out on that one. We do not grow by being happy all of the time. Sometimes anger has its’ place.

I will not self-deprecate. I will accept my follies and my failures. My successes and my triumphs.  I will work diligently and with fervor to define what I want and what I deserve and to draw that line clearly in the sand so that I do not settle or compromise for anything less. I will stop convincing myself that I am not worthy or unlovable.

So there you have it folks. Without sugar coating, or seeking sentimental satiation; my motto, and my mantra for 2016…and as the wise Winnebago man once said:

“I don’t want anymore bullshit from anyone. And that includes ME!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: