All posts by kristin

Dodging Ducks and Summer Zen

sailboat at Duck Dodge on Lake Union in Seattle

Everyone jokes that summer in Seattle officially starts July 5th. This year that’s definitely the case. Fourth of July was 50 degrees and rain. Yesterday was 80 degrees and those deep, clear blue skies with daylight still streaming through the windows at ten o’clock pm. It’s feast or famine in the Pacific Northwest.

Last night was my first Duck Dodge of the season, enjoyed from a picnic blanket on the top of Kite Hill at Gasworks Park. This sailboat race with the silly name takes place weekly on Lake Union from June to October.

It’s pretty amazing to see that many boats on such a tiny lake with that much beer. A tiger-striped boat whipped past a large boat with sharkskin sails and the deckhands yelled out, “We’re faster!” The losing boat replied, “Yeah, but we’re drunker!”

When I lived on the houseboat, one of the boats in the marina participated in the Duck Dodge regularly. You could tell which boats along the waterfront have done well by the number of ducks on their bow. Despite the captain’s affinity for local microbrews, the sailboat boasted a long row of ducks. I’d watch them head out on Tuesday nights amid quite a commotion. Sometimes they’d swing by the dock to pick up stragglers and it was always an entertaining event. I mean they’d literally swing by, without stopping. The fully inebriated folks would lean over the rail and pull the semi-inebriated folks onboard. Sometimes successfully.

Continue reading Dodging Ducks and Summer Zen

The Universe Laughs

When do we learn to stop trusting ourselves? Is it one moment, one conversation, one day? Or does the doubt build slowly, stone by stone, over time?

I’ve been struggling with trying to just do what I’m told. I’ve never been good at that. Some built-in rebellion against authority? Maybe you can blame it on my Yankee Self-sufficiency Syndrome.

I’m trying to follow blueprints and formulas to build a creative project. Irony, anyone?

The more formulas I apply, the more steam this creative project loses. Until it’s become a revolting boil on my day. I wrote about this frustration a bit yesterday.

I’m getting advice on this project – advice I paid handsomely for. I’m getting ruberics, graphs, stats and charts. I’m getting a pre-ordained to do list that makes my stomach turn. And the whole time I’m shaking my head, thinking, “No! No. That’s just not right. That just doesn’t work for me.” Except these people know better than me, which is why I’m paying them for guidance.

I thought maybe it was a good time to learn how to just do what I’m told. Until I couldn’t write anymore, until the project that was born out of love and passion turned into a blister in my sandy shoe.

My sister called me yesterday, sensing a disturbance in the Force. I told her my dilemma. That experts are telling me the road to success is this way, but my internal compass begs to differ. She’s sitting in a parking lot in her car, listening. I told her I could use a reading at some point; she’s an amazing Tarot card reader. She puts me on speakerphone and I hear the crack of shuffling cards as they land on her passenger seat. I shake my head in disbelief. She keeps a deck in her car.

“I need direction,” I told her, at the end of my rope. “I need to know whether to shut up and just follow the formula I’ve been given, or if I should trust my own intuition and judgment on this.”

I hear the tossing of cards over the line as I anxiously await. I hear her giggle. She reads the cards to me. The Universe laughs with her.

I don’t know if you’d even believe me if I told you the cards that were chosen. I’ve been reading Tarot for a long time, too. The cards that fell were not just making a point, they were totally over the top. The Universe has a sense of humor.

I said I felt like I needed to retreat and just do my thing in total solitude. The card representing me was The Hermit. I wrote about how the magic had fled my project and I wanted it back. Above me, The Magician. The Page of Swords telling me that work should be play. The 9 of Cups telling me my wish will come true. Cards of overwhelm, mental conflict, a lack of trust in self. And a definite directive to stop trying to make square pegs fit in round holes.

Guess it’s time to break some rules. I am both Hermit and Magician.

Please Pause for Station Identification

Spring is crazy. There’s an electricity in the air. I can feel it humming in my bones. The trees are singing. Storms sneak up on the horizon and explode the sky with unexpected rainbows.

I’ve been walking, taking it all in. Spongy moss bed beneath my feet on Summit. Heavy sweet smell of Lilacs on Roy – coupled with the unmistakable scent of dark roast coffee grounds and soil. Fresh tilled earth, acidified by Starbucks.

I spent most of Saturday at my (still unnamed) workspace in Frellard. Had a few minor epiphanies. I’ve been getting bogged down in the business part of “doing business,” paralyzed with little energy for doing. Continue reading Please Pause for Station Identification

On Having Arrived

I had an appointment downtown the other day. It’s on the very top floor of one of the skyscrapers towering above the city, one of the sleek and mirrored ones that reflect blue sky and white puffy clouds on clear days. The top floor has its own elevator; you have to take the regular elevator up to the 33rd floor and then get on a separate elevator which whisks you upwards 12 feet to the penthouse above.

As I exited the elevator at the top, I passed an office with enormous glass doors. I could see right through the office and out the floor-to-ceiling windows cradling this executive’s suite. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and did a physical double-take when I realized the shaft of white I saw was the Space Needle. I backed up three steps and stood there, mouth agape.

The enormous windows framed the Space Needle perfectly and the office was the same height, so level with the observation deck. It was unreal. It seriously looked like a fake picture.

There was the guy with his desk abutting the window, talking on the phone. On a crystal clear day, sun streaming in onto the floor of his office, the Space Needle sparkling like some real estate ad in Architectural Digest.

And I wondered – when this guy walked into that office on the day he was hired, did he say, “Okay. NOW I’ve arrived”? Was that a watermark morning for him? Such a lush and tangible proof of accomplishment?

I keep wondering what my moment will be. If I’ll have one of those moments. If it will come slowly, if it will sneak up on me while I’m busy doing dishes or writing another rough draft.

Or if I, too, will be handed the keys to something so undeniably full and bright. Unlocking the door to some proverbial room to discover the Space Needle wrapped up just for me.

Labradoodles for Obama

While clearing off the hard drive of a laptop I’m lending to a friend, I came across some great files this morning. The laptop is the one I began using for National Novel Writing Month in 2008. I didn’t really want to participate at the time but went along with it due to peer pressure.

I had this idea for a long time that I wanted to turn into a novel. It came from watching my cat Nevadelia, who has some very strange, though typically feline, habits. Occasionally she sits in the corner of the room, facing the wall, ears flat against her head, motionless for ten minutes or more. One day, when asked what she was doing, I said, “Oh, she’s just downloading from the Mothership.”

And I started building this funny sci-fi story in my head – what if cats were really sent here to spy on us or control us? Like cats were the ones really running the show, and the humans were allowed to have the illusion of control, just to keep us occupied? The animal shelter would be their headquarters, their version of the CIA. I thought it would be a blast to write a story like that.

So when day 1 of NaNoWriMo came along, I ran with that idea.

I discovered the first chapter this morning while clearing off the laptop. I’d never re-read it after writing it over a year ago, and it’s totally unedited, but it cracked me up so I thought I’d share it. It was highly entertaining to write. I may have to continue it.

It’s clearly evidence I was watching too much X-Files at the time.

And it doesn’t have a title yet, but I might have to call it “Labradoodles for Obama.”

Continue reading Labradoodles for Obama

Maslow, in Reverse

The world is exploding, a million brilliant colors above me. I discovered that the tiny cardboard tube I cherished for so long is just the beginning. That if you strike a match and hold it to the wick on that tube, it rockets into the air and fills the sky with a thousand shattered diamonds, lime and magenta, a whistle and a snap, followed by the trickling sound of ash in the trees. Cinders the only remnant of the gift I held so closely, in its bland paper package, not realizing all this time it was meant to be set on fire.

The Universe has learned that kindness and support is not always the best way to guide me in the right direction. Strong willed and self-sufficient, I’m not one to take advice or read the map. I’m inherently bad at following directions.

This is why it’s important to relish the upheaval life throws me. A painful encounter changes my course much more efficiently than softly spoken counsel. I call it my “golden brick to the forehead.”

Twice you burned your life’s work
Once to start a new life
Once just to start a fire

So the New Year begins and I crawl out from beneath the table where I sought refuge, wide-eyed, staring at the multicolored fireworks in the sky. It takes me a minute to realize the fireworks are the result of lighting my works on fire.

My little world right now appears in list form. My thick artist journal, which I carry with me, littered with snippets of dialog, ephiphanies, impulses and desires:
I saw Avatar in Imax 3D for the third time on Saturday. Kerry and I compared notes – we cried at different parts this time. I have always felt that connection to the animals. Even without an awesome braid-portal.

I spent MLK day in Joni’s living room, talking about journaling, art, and connection. Eating clementines, grilled cheese and tomato soup. Link sleeping belly-up in front of the fire. I dyed my hair a version of strawberry blonde, “red penny,” and afterward, Joni helped me highlight it because I couldn’t see the back. I laughed outloud that night when I saw Ruby Fuss documenting her newly-acquired hair color. 3,000 miles away we still end up with the same ‘do, endlessly.

We’ve been watching Fringe on DVD and it makes me miss Boston. All the shots of Cambridge, the Pru, and snow. My old job is open at Harvard. I loved it there. It would be easy to go back.

But I’ve finally got a room with a view. I can see the Space Needle from my couch, through a frame of leafless trees. How could I possibly give that up? Even for all the Dunkin Donuts salt bagels and iced hazelnut coffee in Somerville?

The sun is out in Seattle today. In January, that’s front page news. I’ll likely slip out of work early and roll around in it. I have to turn my plants weekly or they grow lopsided, like me – stretching toward the silver sky, a failing attempt at synthesizing growth in the absence of light.

Frantic Pink Moment

I don’t remember fall in Seattle being so… New Englandy. It’s been frigid (mid twenties) and sunny and it feels like home. I don’t mind cold. Cold I can do – cold I’m good at. Especially when coupled with a bright firey ball in the sky.

The best part about all this unseasonable weather is the sunrises and sunsets have been absolutely mind boggling, on a daily basis.


Sunset from the Nordstrom Tower in First Hill. I was waiting for the elevator and looked out to see the Space Needle poking out between these old brick buildings, the sky all pink. Pretty amazing view for the hallway of a doctor’s office.

P.S. “Frantic Pink Moment” is a phrase that has stuck with me since New Year’s, 1998, when Viva spelled it out in refrigerator poetry. It has remained one of my favorite magnetic poem lines ever, second only to “Pies del mar.”