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Sunday book review, movie round-up & anything else i can throw in here. Happy 2015!

January 11th, 2015

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“We are the night ocean filled
with glints of light. We are the space
between the fish and the moon,
while we sit here together.”

– Rumi

“Bottom line is we’re all flawed in this world. No one’s perfect,” film director Richard Linklater, accepting his Golden Globe award for directing, “I want to dedicate this to parents that are evolving everywhere and families that are just passing through this world and doing their best.”

I’ll see how many categories I can hit here… Ready? Ready-steady-go!

* Pacific Ocean: It’s beautiful. It makes me happy, i love my negative ions i get from the ocean, and the wildlife is so fun to watch. The sea lions in that picture are making what’s called a “raft.” They all hold onto each other and float around. Hippies :)

* Book review? Here’s what on my nightstand (and on the Kindle): Re-read “Wild,” re-reading “Torch,” re-reading Carol Shields magnum opus, “Unless,” reading “Quiet” and learning all kinds of stuff about introverts, extroverts, high reactives and the modern age, just finishing Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” genius, and… that’s all I can think of.

* Recipes:

Oven-Fried Spuds (excellent, best potato recipe ever)
Soup! (Steve’s recipe. This one clears up your head, fast)

1 onion, sliced thin
1 bulb garlic
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
6 cups water

Saute onion and garlic (I like whole cloves, but you can chop or press) on low until soft. Add bouillon cubes and squish. Add water and bring to boil. Can be garnished with fresh slices of jalapeno for an extra sinus kick. Wasabi would be good, too.

Reduce water and bouillon by half to thicken.

* Work… is going well. Super well. I love working at a school (computer lab again this year), I’m with the best staff and boss in the universe (no I’m not saying that because they might read this — they really are gifted, funny, smart, wonderful with the students and everything else I was hoping for) and I love that my students are willing to work on my Spanish with me. #yohabloespanolmasomenos

* My own kids… are great. Whoever said, “Eh, you think that when they’re little they really need you, but when they’re teenagers? That’s when they really need you,” that person was so smart. (Seriously, probably 20 people said that to me when the kids were toddlers, and I thought they were joking.)

* Nekkid Neighborsremember them?

* Sex? Not at work, people, keep that in mind, always. Or with the Nekkid Neighbors. Just a bad idea, aight? Lol. We’ve been watching Californication on Netflix, and swear to God, every time I watch it, I feel like I’ve been in an orgy, and it was kind of great, but equally horrible. Yeah.

* Speaking of pop culturemovies. We saw “Wild,” loved it, “Nebraska,” also great, “Boyhood,” one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously.

* Holidays: How can 2015 be a real year? It’s so space-age sounding.

* And in the category of Pets, Stupid… Our sweet, loving, funny Wacky Cat 2 passed away last month. I keep looking for him, thinking I see him, missing him. It just sucks.

* Houses & Homes: We’re cleaning & rearranging & opposite-of-hoarding like mad right now because we’re moving again.

In five years.

But, as one of my 80-something-year-old neighbors told me after New Year’s, “Every year, I don’t know what it is. The days go slower and the years go faster.” Then he gave me a big smile, I smiled back, and he pedaled off on his bike. I know just what he means.

All for now, xo,

wm

did you know no one ever blogs anymore? and here’s a book round-up for you… On the Nightstand

October 6th, 2014

that’s right. Blogging is so four years ago, with the exception of those of us who still keep our online journals: Zoot, Y from the Internet, who I’ve known for so long I call her that, Amalah, Doocie, and me.

The big five, baby, that’s where we’re at. Not the big 5-0, the big 5. Kidding.

I will persevere.

I mainly blog nowadays because I need the archives — especially for updates on my kids (my daughter is driving now, btw) (uh, it’s true. This little girl…), a cookbook (you can always buy a hard copy), school work, and whatever else I need. Quotes of the day, funny jokes. Ha. Funny to me jokes.

So you know that your Facebook archives aren’t really archives, right? And that your photos might or might not disappear eventually, if that’s where you’re storing them? Just saying.

So here’s what I’m working on reading this school year. And first things being, as always, first: the potboilers.

I read Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie” when I was an 18-year-old college freshman and knew everything. I would like to talk with that girl and have her answer a few of my several hundred questions, now that I know nothing. Dear Lord, what a difference between 18 and 50.

“You should see her ass in that dress.” — my friend Nicole, to my then-lover, talking about me and my brand-new little black dress, circa many years ago. We were at a bar downtown. It may have been the Virginia Cafe. Or Hamburger Mary’s, or the Veritable Quandary, or that place where they served the delicious little Cornish game hens? The Vat & Tonsure. Then (to me): “You hit 27 and your ass just falls. I don’t know what it is.”

My main concerns then:
1) how am i going to get these bills paid?
2) where are the parties this weekend?
3) what about this “27 changes everything” thing? (defer)
4) why does she (neighbor/friend/family member/co-worker) put up w/ that shit? (from spouse/children/grown children/neighbors/co-workers)

I have to go water the yard now, and write more when I get back. No more bars, just chores, out here on the farm. I could really use another load of manure for the east 40.

Back! So. “Sister Carrie,” which I always throw together with “Portrait of a Lady,” “Anna Karenina,” “Madame Bovary” and “The Awakening”… Well, it’s its own animal. I just love the book.

Finished it up, and on to “An American Tragedy” (also Dreiser), which I’ve been meaning to read ever since I saw the Elizabeth Taylor/Montgomery Clift classic, “A Place in the Sun.” God, it’s brilliant, too. So I’m happy, with lots to read. And I have a good excuse (for the moment) to put off reading all of these for work (ps check out this week’s issue of The Nation. On the cover: “Saving Public Schools: A Growing Movement Confronts the Failure of ‘Reform’”:

Being Bad: My Baby Brother and the School-To-Prison Pipeline: Being Bad (Teaching for Social Justice)
by Crystal T. Laura
Powells.com

Bon appetit!

– wm

QOTD

November 30th, 2013

“No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.” ― Assata Shakur

Gleneden Sunset

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

#freepussyriot, my 30th high school reunion and movies! movies! movies!

September 23rd, 2012

(Pretty much everything in this post I swiped from the People column in yesterday’s Oregonian. Oh yes I did.)

Item one: John Travolta says he feels for Kate Middleton, who apparently had her nipples photographed when she was sunbathing topless in France. a) if you’re a princess, don’t show your ta-tas in public. Kate, did you learn nothing in charm school? b) well, it is France, after all. c) Travolta says he wants his privacy. Even though he allegedly likes to be topless — and pantless — with masseurs, and allegedly requests R&Ts (see: a Rub & Tug) from them. d) people who live in glass houses…

Item two: Steve and I went to my 30th high school reunion last night. The 30th, for those of you who aren’t there just yet, is the one where you walk in and think, Dang, everyone looks so old. But I’m sure I look just the same. (see: delusions of the middle-aged.) It was so fun. And I’m teasing — everyone looked great, and it was good to catch up.

Item three: But we couldn’t stay for the whole thing. They were having a revival showing of Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby,” my top-favorite movie of all time, at the Hollywood Theatre in Northeast Portland. It’s right up there with “Harold and Maude” (which, like “Rosemary’s Baby” also features Ruth Gordon), “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And “Muppets from Space.” Those are my top five. (see: devil, suicide, Xmas, Xmas, muppets.) (What is the meaning of this, d’ya think?) I say, the quality of the restored print was quite good, and I noticed all kinds of things I never noticed the first fifty times I watched “Rosemary’s Baby.” ie — Polanski’s use of the color yellow throughout the film. (I say, I have to add some Cary Grant movies to my list. see: “North by Northwest,” “The Philadelphia Story” and “Bringing Up Baby.” I say, I must thank my late theater teacher from high school for turning me on to these old movies. see: “The Women,” “Auntie Mame” and “The King & I.”)

Item four: When you don’t drink alcohol, and everyone is getting toasted, well. I can’t see the allure. Also, you know they’re not going to remember any of the conversations they had, so why bother? (see: man, people really like to get hammered at high school reunions.)

Item five: J.K. Rowling’s house in Edinburgh is for sale for 2.25 million pounds. I don’t have 2.25 million pounds, but if I did…

Item six: A picture in the People column of Yoko Ono and the USA executive director of Amnesty International giving the LennonOno Grant for Peace to the husband and daughter of a “Russian band member” who has been jailed. What’s the name of her band, Oregonian? Pussy Riot! Just say it! Pussy Riot! #freepussyriot

Item seven: Back to the reunion for a minute… I went to the same K-8 for nine years, and the same high school for four years. So that means I can go in the way-back machine to 1969 with some of these people! How cool is that? Yeah, 43 years ago, we were 5-year-old kindergarten babies, and now…. Whoa. I don’t write about school politics anymore. (“It’s so… tedious,” as Beth untactfully put it one time.) Yeah, I guess it is boring, but I’m glad that I grew up in a time when most of us in the neighborhood all attended the same school. It made us closer. There was usually someone around to watch over me, and that was good.

Even if we don’t hang out all the time, we keep in touch (thank you, Facebook). Some people live in their parents’ old houses and are still in the neighborhood. Some (like us, and a few of the people I talked with last night) moved away specifically to be shut of the Portland school district. It was nice to catch up with everyone, especially my theater geek friends. Ahhh, now I need a nap. Cuz I’m old is why.

Item eight: Performer Chris Brown, on his “controversial” tattoo that some say resembles a battered woman (perhaps his ex, Rihanna): “I’m an artist and this is art.” No, it’s not. And how about you try not to be a dick, Chris Brown? Thankyouverymuch.

Have a great week.

xo

wm

Msg to Betsy Hammond & Tom Hallman: Please will you learn to write please.

September 2nd, 2012

Betsy Hammond asks, Is the children learning? Maybe she and Tom Hallman can give lessons — pretty soon they’ll all be writing like m@th!rf&*ers smh ;)

From Thee O’s comments section:

hermtownhomy
“The irony flag was up in my head before I even started reading, and I knew it wouldn’t take long. I made it to the third paragraph. ‘But with class sizes swelling and teens more prone to text and tweet than string paragraphs together, schools and teachers face a tall order.’ And I could go no further.”

thoughts on pulling up stakes: one year later

April 12th, 2011

So, just about a year ago we put our house on the market on a Monday. By Friday, we got an offer and that was that. Sold to a young couple from Oakland who were picky and fussy and kept bitching about this and that. Yeah, that’s precious. Have fun, kids. Maybe you should start a blog? Call it “This Old House is 100 and Fussy as Hell Just Like Us.” Put a bird on it, it’ll be fine.

The decision to sell came after years of… this and that. Go read the archives under “School Politics,” “Pets, Stupid” and “Remodelling” if you’re interested in trippin’ down Wacky Family Memory Lane.

We found a new house, it had just gone on the market that day. Made an offer, snapped it up, off we went. (Now I’m thinking we didn’t move far enough away — working on the next ten-year plan and am thinking out of state, or country, even. Really fucking sick of the rain. But it is sooooooo nice to be closer to Steve’s work.) We moved over Easter weekend and our son’s birthday, and everything for the last year has honestly been one big blur. April to April, and I realize I haven’t written much about what the transition has been like, how things are for us. Geez, I have about four readers now (hi, lovies!) so this is more of a diary entry than a blog entry, ha.

Good, is how things are. Good and good. Yeah, people drive like maniacs on the west side, but it’s “car culture” that is more L.A. than crazy-ass North Portland, so that’s alright. They mostly stop for pedestrians in cross walks. They mostly follow the rules, good enough.

Culture shock? Little to none for Steve and the kids; a whole lot for me. I’ve never really been around middle-class and upper-middle class people in my life, it was lower middle-class and poor people up until now. I have friends from grade school, high school, college, various jobs, The Internet, neighbors… so there is no shortage of socializing, if I want it. I’ve made good friends over the years, I am blessed.

I do miss my old world, but you know? I never fit in with a lot of ‘em. A number of our friends had moved away, and even the ones who were still in town? Good luck finding time to see each other, especially with everyone at different schools, with different schedules, different sports teams. None of us on our block and the blocks surrounding us went to the same schools. My daughter had one buddy down the street she went to school with, that was about it.

My son is supposed to be writing an essay for school: “Tell about an experience you had visiting Portland.” I told him to write about the SWAT teams and the sharp-shooters who wouldn’t let us go home cuz there was a bad guy in our driveway, and about the pitbulls and the drunk neighbors who used to play YAHTZEE!!!!!!!!! all night long and… yeah. Portland! Wow! Portland is rilly rilly fun and put a bird on it, why doncha? Right away!

When we went to a birthday party (years ago), and all the grandparents were my age, and were making drug references that ha! ha! they were so sure that the kids weren’t getting. Yeah… that didn’t work for me. Grade school, high school, fights and messes and people burning their houses down for the insurance money and almost killing their kids in the process, and having to learn how to drive when you were 11 or 12 because if your parents were drunk, or the dad you babysat for wanted to drive you home and he was loaded, you did not want those people driving you around, fucking give me the keys and I’ll drive. “I know how! It’s OK, give me the keys. Thanks.” That was my neighborhood, growing up. Put a bird on it!

People bragging about their guns, their fucking stupid dogs and their stupid dog parks (“He is like my child!”), their wildass, tattooed, branded and pierced lifestyles. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, how avant garde you are.

Then there’s the truly harsh stuff. The desperation that comes with poverty. The neighbors who don’t look out for each other. The sadness of realizing that no matter how much time and money we threw at the neighborhood public schools, it wasn’t going to help. All of the work we did. All of the money we raised, grants we wrote for playgrounds and everything else. Whatever.

There are a whole lot of well-to-do families in the Portland Public Schools district who count on the “generosity” (ha. a bitter, bitter ha.) of the poor kids to finance their kids’ education. Cuz if you only have so much to spread around, well. They think they deserve it all and they just fucking take it. Take it and run and say mean, crappy things like, Sucks to be you, doesn’t it, poor people? Here is what I say to them: Backstabbers.

It’s different out here, in the suburbs, miles and miles from where I grew up, from where my son spent his first eight years and my daughter spent her first ten.

It’s equitable, for the most part. The schools do their funding differently — the rich parents can’t all get together and “buy” a music teacher (or any other teacher, for that matter) cuz then… you would have the haves and the have-nots, and the rich schools would have all the goodies. Hear that, PDX? So it’s sauce for the goose/sauce for the gander, so to speak.

It’s ethnic (Oregon, overall, is white as hell, so that’s not saying much, in any part of the state), but it is diverse. There are 90 different languages spoken out here. That is a trip to me.

As far as the flora and fauna… It’s nature preserves and greenspaces and rec centers that are clean and up-to-date because people pay their taxes to keep ‘em that way. And signs that say NO DOGS and when I see those signs I say, Ah, good.

So to people from that part of town who ask (snotty, always snotty), “Don’t you miss the diversity?” i say, It’s more diverse out here than in my old neighborhood.

“Oh, the ‘burbs, your nice little bubble…” (that’s another comment I hear, from time to time.) It’s not a bubble. You take your demons and your dreams wherever you go, don’t you? My writing, my kids, my lover, my gardening, my nightmares, my fears, my tears and sweat — those are with me for the rest of my life. (“You can run/but you can’t hide.” — anon.)

Radiated Japan, the wars in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq… the embarrassment and shame I feel as an American, knowing that we’re spending billions on bombs and rockets, and cutting billions on education spending and healthcare, food stamps, pre-natal care, Planned Parenthood and… everything. Our priorities are all fucked up in this country.

That goes with me wherever I go, it haunts me. Yeah, maybe Canada, next, if they’ll have us.

My daughter left a school, started a new school, graduated from that school and started middle school. My son left one school and started at a new one. I left the school I was working at, started at a new school, started grad school, quit both. That has been a lot of upheaval and again, harder for me than for the kids.

“Flexibility is a lifeskill!” — anon.

I need to focus on the writing, the kids, Steve. We are liking it. I have my own library now; he and Wacky Girl share a music studio.

The kids both love their new schools (Steve and I do, too), they’re happy. They have music, band, art, friends whose houses they can walk to, bowling, pizza, sushi and the mall, movies and starry, starry nights, choruses of frogs… all kinds of stuff. Lego Robotics and swimming lessons and hikes where we look for mink and beavers and deer — and see them. We’ve seen deer on our street, how crazy is that? (We’re not far from the woods, any direction we go.) My daughter has started skiing and my husband has taken it up again. They love it.

Everyone out here is really, really, really into sports. Maybe it’s cuz Nike has such a big presence, who knows. We’re into hockey, swimming and nature walks, that’s about it. Ducks or Beavers, Ducks or Beavers? We’ve been asked that, I dunno, twenty times a week since we got here.

OK, Beavers it is. My son’s teacher is over the moon about it, YES!!

“It’s a different world/from where you come from…” is the song most likely to be running through my head, on any given day. I miss my friends, I miss my family, but I don’t miss all the bullshit. I don’t miss so-called friends stabbing us in the back and leaving snotty messages on the blogs, on other websites, on e-mail and voicemail. Someone actually left us a message once (the person wanted a favor, was the funny?? part), saying, You seem like the kind of Republicans who would…

Whatever. I mean, WTF? I’m Socialist, do you not get that? Marxist Feminist, thanks. But… whatever.

So. How is it out here?

Walking home from school with my son about a half hour ago, we saw a hawk, swooping and gliding and putting on a show, just for us.

It’s good.

How’s it with you?

dear former students:

March 21st, 2011

Hey, you kids, yeah, you over in the corner there.

I’m still having nightmares about pulling cafeteria duty. Thanks a lot for the damage, just fyi. Be good! Don’t just try, do it! happy spring. please don’t drive your cars too fast, these kind of things can go bad really quickly. I know.

love,

me

ps last night I hit 70,000 words in my novel. You know what that means? I have a book, my friends. Here are 21 Tips for Writers in 21 Days from the Attic Institute and Biff Zine (thanks, Anne T.!) and… Open Library! (thank you, Terri!) OK, back to writing.

Go, Maggie Mashia!

March 14th, 2011

Maggie Mashia for School Board, yes. If you are a Portland, Ore. resident, please give her your vote at election time.

online auction for Village Home

March 12th, 2011

one of my girlfriends sent this along and asked me to share. — wm

PRESS RELEASE
3/1/11

For Immediate Release
Contact:

Lori Walker
Village Home Education Resource Center
Executive Director
503-484-5191

Email: lori.walker@villagehome.org

On line auction raises friends and funds for non-profit

Village Home Education Resource Center reaches supporters across the country

BEAVERTON, OREGON – March 1, 2011 – On March 5, 2011, Village Home Education Resource Center kicked off its annual auction with a party at the Multnomah Arts Center in southwest Portland. At the event, party goers socialized, ate an array of hors d’oeuvres, and watched a student talent show. Unlike most non-profit auctions, all the bidding will be done on-line for ten days, March 4-13. (Additional auction items can be found here, here and here.)

Village Home, a non-profit resource center that primarily serves homeschooling families in Beaverton, Portland and surrounding communities, decided to switch to the on-line auction in 2010. Director Lori Walker enthusiastically embraced the change and is looking forward to this year’s event.

“In previous years, we had great donations, but buyers were limited to those who attended the auction party,” says Walker. “By going on-line we now have bidders and vendors from all over the country. Last year, fifty per cent of our winning bidders were from outside our community.” Bidders include out of town relatives of Village Home families and a surprising number of on line shoppers who peruse sites like “Bidding for Good” for bargains on everything from gift cards to spa packages. Despite the overhead costs of using the on-line service, gross profits went up 50 percent in the 2010 Village Home auction.

Walker recommends on-line auctions for other non-profits, both for the monetary gain and for the increased attention for the organization. “The on-line auction is raising money and raising friends for Village Home at the same time,” says Walker.

Village Home Auction on Bidding for Good

Village Home is a dynamic, choice-based learning community creatively integrating family, education and real life to empower learners of all ages. Located in the Portland, Oregon metro area, we offer community, classes, and more for learners of all ages, by providing academic and social enrichment in a family-friendly environment.

grad school…

November 22nd, 2010

…drop-out. George Fox University is a no-go.

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