Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Five days in Iceland, a whirlwind trip with a group of friends- not my usual travel mode, for good reason. I often travel to feel an area, to connect with foreigners, to wander without agenda. A harried group trip makes this type of travel near impossible. But it was an interesting experience and I got a glimpse of Iceland. 

Stark white buildings, muted colors, straight lines, and grey skies. This is how we were welcomed into Reykjavik. Day one thoughts: Communist! They must have rampant depression! 

At 8AM on day two, Walte arrived at our door in a Super Jeep to take us through some of the interior roads and on a glacier walk. Despite trepidation, I agreed to go. Fearing my clumsiness would cause an incident and I'd likely kill myself on the glacier, I'd thought about bowing out. I never wanted to walk on a glacier, but it came with our package. Maybe I should skip and save my life, I thought. 

Walte led us around fording streams at full speed and driving across lava like a 60 year old Nordic race car driver, all the while dispensing useful tidbits about the country and the glaciers. At the end of our tour was the glacier walk, presumably so we could enjoy ourselves before (in case) we slid to our deaths. 

At the glacier, dressed up like marshmallow men in our multiple layers (Carrie and I have the "very cold all the time" gene), we donned our cramp-ons and walked up the ice. It was scary but not. We were told to not walk lightly but to stomp along so our ice picks would go into the ice and keep us from falling. It worked and there were no accidents. 

So we lived through ice walking. I even saw future uses for cramp-ons. 

The following day we set off at 7:30 for a peninsula just NW of Reykjavik. It was foggy most of the day, yet we saw lots of interesting terrain and beaches. As well as a town of only 9. 

Today, the other three took off on another car trip. But I couldn't stomach the idea of another day in the car, so I stayed in town wandering through art museums and talking to Icelanders along the way. Sometimes what we need is not to see the sights but to "see" things.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Enjoying life- bicycling about Portland

"For aren't you and I gods? Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Release life's rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming. Laughter. Running."    - Vladimir Nabokov

From Rob Breszny:
The bumper sticker I saw said, "Having abandoned my search for the truth, I'm now looking for a good fantasy." Though it's meant to be sarcastic, it's a useful piece of advice.

Consider this hypothesis: The truth is so complicated and ever-shifting that it's impossible to pin down. Why try to understand the nature of reality when it's more productive and interesting to aggressively create the nature of reality?

Why be preoccupied with conjuring up concepts to approximate the structure of the universe when the point is that we change everything we observe merely by looking at it?

As another bumper sticker says, "Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself."
I came across these two pieces of thought tonight while reading.

Today was the Worst Day of the Year ride. It was not the worst day. In fact, it was partly sunny and dry and about fifty degrees. It was fun and interesting and nice, and really a good time. As in, a good experience. With two old friends. 

 [Hrag, me, Nate]

It's hard to know sometimes what life is about. Is it about learning? Loving? Doing everything? I've questioned this enough. Maybe it's about enjoying ourselves. Not over thinking. Not anxiety. Not trying to find the answers. Just living.

I've been having fun. Filled up with friends and enjoying life. I've been more alive than I've been in a long time since arriving back in Portland. I don't know what that means, but it feels good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The worth of a woman

This morning Oatie woke me up at 6AM, shaking and scratching and doing that dog thing that dogs do when they get wet. Only he was dry under my covers. Carrie and I split the dog up depending on who is working so he'll sleep longer.

Unfortunately, my brain usually doesn't go back to sleep once awake. So I started to peruse Facebook news stream. Lately, I've felt Facebook could be called Wastebook- there is so little information on there. I used to really enjoy reading the news from the news stream. But today from "Esc the City" was a grand post on women shortchanging themselves professionally with an excellent Ted Talk called "Why we have too few women leaders" by Sheryl Sandberg of Google.

I couldn't help but relate to the things I read, though none of them were new. Glass ceilings. Roles assigned to women. Women attributing their success to luck and help from others and personal hard work rather than due to our own innate abilities. Falling off the career ladder. Placing our value in looks not brains. Sheryl said women start leaning back and not taking higher positions way before they have a children or a husband, with the idea that they will one day. She said also, you better take a job that's challenging and interesting if you want to go back after you have a kid, because it's hard to leave that kid at home.

I thought back to the ceilings and the sexism and the different walls that I've hit over the years. I thought about my career, and the repetitiveness of every day. I'm free but without challenges. My challenges lie in other things, not at work.

I don't know what it means, but I hope if you have the time, you'll watch this talk and think about the kids in your life and what you can do to encourage them to have equal opportunities as adults and to make good decisions.

Women are more than just a pretty face. The princess and Barbie culture is helping no one.

A short film from Sundance called Miss Representation, along the same lines.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

PDX Therapy

It's an old friend, this town. I meander the streets, mostly backroads, to places new and old, feeling my way and searching at the same time.

I came here to unwind. To quiet. To think. To plan. To dream. To let myself be. To see where I might go. To see where I have been.

It's been exciting and tumultuous to re-enter this town.

Old friends abound. I'm filled up with love and energy and strength and intellect and activities.

I feel full and alive and real.

I wonder which way I should go.

I try to calm down. And sit back and think logically.

I am logical. But emotions can take over. Swinging like a pendulum. Which way is up? Which way is forward?

In a frenzy, I quiet myself. Locking myself to a table. Writing in my journal. Forcing myself to stop. To slow. To write. To process.

I must not jump from lily pad to lily pad in this pond of life.

I must slow down and make conscious decisions.

Which way to go?

[Link to Portland photos here.]