Daily prompt: banned


The day they banned the t-shirt I’d printed up for a couple dozen friends at college—an angry squirrel flipping his middle finger at the world, UofD emblazoned on his chest—I went back to the print studio straight away and whipped up a hundred more.

Plus, they were good looking, right? Angry orange squirrel against a royal blue background? It was nothing if not true to our team, our school colors, our collective disgust with the usual idiot depiction of a busy little squirrel—a squirrel! Who has a squirrel mascot? That little buddy was crying out to reinvent himself, and I was was the one to help him.

Banned? Works for me. It was the best lesson I learned in school and the case history I used for my psych paper, for which I got an A, thank you very much. There is no faster path to cult status and product desire, my friend. I doubt I would have been able to cover my tuition costs if it hadn’t been for the powers-that-be gnashing their teeth over my righteously angry squirrel.


Daily prompt: transformation

It wasn’t a big thing, just an emissions test, just another thing on my to-do list for the day. Except it had to happen today, because I waited too long and only had a few days left before my car tabs expired. On the way, crossing the bridge in my good old Jetta, I started thinking about what would happen if she failed the test? I mean, I got her almost 20 years ago! She runs fine, I take good care of her, but who knows! Maybe she’s finished and I don’t even know it. I’d have to buy a new car, I can’t afford a new car, but maybe now is when I ditch the car entirely and start riding a bike. But I could get hit, I could get killed in this traffic. The traffic in this town gets every day.

And then suddenly for some weird reason, I’m thinking about the GRE test I took a zillion years ago so I could get into grad school. The test was really important. And I was going to fail, no question about it. I studied, I practiced but I knew: it was only a matter of time before I started my new life as a loser, a nobody and a nothing, a GRE disaster. Every day the test loomed larger and larger in my mind until it absorbed every waking thought—it was my future, my life! Soon I found myself drinking wine, a lot of wine, just to make the noise in my head go away for a little while, and it worked. The night before the test I had to polish off all the wine I had until finally, gratefully, I passed out. The next morning I woke up slumped on the couch, drooling, a deadening hangover pummeling my brain. The clock showed I had 45 minutes to get to the test.

Well, I made it to the test, I suppose. I suppose you could say that. God, that was so long ago and here I was, taking the 4th ave exit to get my emissions test, fear welling up inside me, my stomach churning and my hands trembling on the steering wheel. I could feel my heart racing. What the heck was going on? I headed out to run errands and then, boom, some transformation, some weird space/time slip-up took over. I was filled with dread as I pulled into line behind a dozen other newer, better cars that probably had no emissions at all. Beautiful, magic cars with excellent, competent drivers.

I closed my eyes and breathed, feeling my butt in this familiar old leather seat, my hands easing up, resting lightly on the steering wheel. A tiny wave of relief rippled through me, and I relaxed. It was just a silly old test, everything is okay, I told myself. When I opened my eyes, the line had moved and I eased into position. I was up next.


Daily prompt: tiny


When I think back, the whole thing is a blur. Seriously: a blur. Notable because I’m pretty observant but at time like this….well Heathrow is a world unto itself, right? And there I was, waiting amidst a thousand other weary travelers just like me, anxious to get through customs, unintelligible announcements blaring overhead. My brain must have just gone offline, refusing to absorb any more of this tiresome mix of noise and tension and tedium.

So: one big bureaucratic blur except for this bizarre thing, this bright tiny detail. The woman in the next line, a few steps ahead of me—she held something in her hand and it caught my attention. Whatever it was glinted in the light, like a shiny metal edge but way more intense, unearthly and brilliant, a white light full of color like a crystal but much, much sharper.  It seemed to go directly into the center of my brain. What was it? I’ll never know, because her line moved ahead while mine stood still, and the light disappeared. I cocked my head so I might catch it again but all I saw was her charming smile as she handed the customs officer her passport, nodding, making small talk and then in an instant she was on her way, high heels clicking smartly down the corridor.

Daily prompt: Millions


I mean, just think of it: who could even count how many leaves fall all over the world in autumn. Billions of leaves, bright yellow and brassy gold, carmine red and burnt orange, each and every one brilliant against a deep blue sky. Here, in this tiny town alone, in this deep ravine with the its huge old trees, millions of leaves spinning and drifting in the gusty autumn winds. Millions!


Daily Prompt: Ancient


“But she’s a witch, Mom—I don’t wanna go!”

“She’s not a witch honey. And every soccer team she’s coached ends up at the championship. Google it, you’ll see.”

“She doesn’t even look like a soccer coach. Her clothes are crazy, her hair is wild. Plus, she’s ancient Mom—she’s way older than you! She’ll probably be dead before the season is over.”

“Thank you dear.”

“No, but really! She’s got whiskers, Mom! Why can’t we have our other coach?”

“Because he’s gone. He’s gone and no one can find him, and seriously sweetheart, I think we’re pretty lucky. You need to google this coach because her record is….”

“Coach Agnes? Agnes? Jules said she’s not playing for a witch and neither am I.”  Alexis threw herself down heavily on the sofa and let her backpack slide to the floor with a thud.  Her mom went about collecting her soccer gear and clothes, glancing at her watch.

“Up!” She said, grabbing her daughter’s hand, pulling the dead weight up off the couch. “Come on, I don’t want to be late.”


“No buts, in the car, missy.”

Later Alexis stood sullenly, one hip jutting out, arms crossed tightly across her chest. She still didn’t have her team shirt on. Or her shoes. In fact, she looked like she was ready for the mall. The other girls on the team were half-heartedly going through their warm ups. And now the “Coach” was heading straight for the girl, her long, skinny shadow preceding her, step by step closer, finally enveloping Alexis in darkness. She shivered and looked up at the old lady, trying to hide her fear with a dismissive sneer. It didn’t work.

“I hear you think I’m a witch. Maybe more witch than Coach, yes?”

Alexis narrowed her eyes and tightened her lips. She wasn’t going to give in.

Coach Agnes snorted. “Ha. I’ve dealt with your type a thousand time before, girlie. So let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?”  Coach looked over her shoulder and back at Alexis, leaning in closer. Alexis could smell her sulphur breath. “I win championships, okay? You girls haven’t won a championship in…oh, I don’t know,” the old lady snapped her fingers, old reptile eyes sparking. “Oh wait! Never. Not EVER! And I don’t like that, do you?”

Alexis found herself shaking her head no. And somewhere inside her she realized she really didn’t like it. She really didn’t like losing all the time.

“No, I didn’t think so. So here I am, and just in time. You girls don’t know how lucky you are.”

“But you don’t look like a coach or act like one, you’re too old and too…”

“Ancient, yes I know. Enough of that, Alexis,” she said, resting her arthritic hand on the girl’s shoulder. Alexis felt some strange surge of energy seeping into her, felt her resistance just slipping away and even more astonishing, felt a tiny spark of excitement taking its place.

“You…you really think we could win?”

“No, sweetheart,” said the witch, laying her arm across Alexis’ shoulders, urging her onto the field. “I KNOW we can win.” The old lady laughed, softly at first and then more loudly, a loud cackling laugh that echoed across the field, the parking lot with its SUVs, the nearby parks and neighborhoods, letting everyone know there was a new coach in town.


The first thing: he looks out of place. He doesn’t look like a beach person or even a morning person, for that matter. Flak jacket, dingy old green t-shirt with some sort of faded black logo, and serious jeans. Serious, like jeans you wear if you really work—dungarees, hard core. And also he didn’t even meet my eyes when he came in the donut shop, just headed straight for the bathroom. I mean, it’s a donut shop, okay? Just about anyone coming in for donuts in the morning is already in a good mood, already checking in with a conspiratorial sugar-and-fat induced grin, but not this guy.

Comes out of the bathroom, slides into a booth nearby and takes out his phone, hunches over, thumbs a text to someone, god knows who, his drug connection, his gangster friends, his underground terrorist cell. I mean, he’s got dark hair, right? Okay, that’s not right, I know. Things are so crazy, too crazy. People pushing all this paranoid bullshit about who’s a regular american and who’s not, and by their armed-to-the-teeth white male standard, would pretty much mean I’m suspect too, and, oh yeah, also means most of the world. Remember that excellent scene from Being John Malkovich where everyone in the restaurant, everyone, old ladies, kids, everyone looks exactly alike: John Malkovich. Maybe the guys stirring everyone up would actually dig the hell out of that.

So. Here I am, having a donut with my friend, keeping an eye on Flak Jacket because, well, Flak. Jacket. ok? I watch him check his phone again and again, and then go to the bathroom AGAIN. What is up with him? No donut. No coffee. It’s like he’s just waiting for something. What is he waiting for? Suddenly I can’t even hear my friend talking because all I can think about is Flak Jacket! In and out of the bathroom, texting, no donut, no coffee and come on, this is Seattle! No one in Seattle doesn’t drink coffee, which is a double negative, which means Something is Definitely Wrong.

He comes back from the bathroom, sits down at the table and checks his phone. Almost imperceptible nod and a little twitch of a smile. He puts his phone in his pocket, gets up and leaves–whoosh, right out the door! Not a word, not a glance, nada, just leaves and heads west down the street. I’m blown away by this, my head is buzzing with anxiety, when I hear a tiny voice from far away–my friend! Talking about the lecture she went to last night at the university and I realize I haven’t heard more than a word or two. I nod and try to catch up while another part of me expects to hear an explosion down the street, or see cop cars speeding by, or something! Something that might explain what Flak Jacket was doing. I’m sure it was something bad!

Later, as I drive west towards my home, I happen to glance at the big construction site near the beach—one of those monster houses, four or five thousand square feet of glass and steel and who do I see feeding a long bundle of cables into an underground channel that runs under the monster house? Yeah, you guessed it: Flak Jacket. He’s laughing, and flipping shit to whoever’s on the other end of the cable, they’re working, just working a regular old job. And that’s when I think: seriously, maybe it’s time to turn the internet off and come up for air.

When Life Experience = Feminism

I found this article by Jill Filipovic in the New York Times to be worthy of consideration, well worthy of it in fact. Feminism has taken a new approach, much more engaged. And that’s good. But…

That experience starts to change a few more years into the work force. By 35, those same college-educated women are making 15 percent less than their male peers. Women’s earnings peak between ages 35 and 44 and then plateau, while men’s continue to rise.

What starts out as a near 50-50 professional split among new lawyers, for example, becomes a big gap: Women are just 17 percent of equity partners at law firms generally, according to the National Association of Women Lawyers.

Filipovic notices the inequality in her law firm and in the demographics of management generally. She notices it in how a mediocre male is hired and promoted instead of a well-qualified female and how that hasn’t changed at all. Read the essay, it’s worth it.

In jobs that followed, managers would remark that they wanted “more women” and proceed to reject qualified candidates. (Similar dynamics took place with minority candidates.) There were always reasons — not the right cultural fit, not the right experience, a phenomenon of unintentional sexism now well documented in controlled studies. I watched as men with little or irrelevant experience were hired and promoted, because they had such great ideas, or they fit in better. “We want a woman,” the conclusion seemed to be, ‘just not this woman.’

The Male Gaze

Of course the Male Gaze (please give a few bucks to wikipedia–you know you use it) has been written about so very much. Google it, you’ll see.

the male gaze

Alas, the Male Gaze is as ubiquitous as rain in the northwest. So common that it’s easy to be desensitized to it. Is the male gaze getting some badly needed editing? Hope so.

The Male Gaze is about ownership, ownership expressed in objectification. I never really understood it quite so clearly as I understand it now.

The other night I was out with a friend, a guy I admire and like a lot and with whom I spar easily. He says to me, “You know I work out with a young woman, I like her a lot, but she wears a hoodie sort of like the one you’re wearing the whole time she’s working out.”

He pauses and takes a bite of pizza. Chewing he says, “I mean, it always seems like she’s hiding something. She’s got this bulky hoodie on and what is she hiding? She’s got a pretty nice body, after all.”

I was speechless. Not shocked or insulted or any of that, just…well, where to begin?

His whole perspective was about how her body was something for him to enjoy. That her workout wasn’t her workout, it was his in a way. That her body, her body! wasn’t even hers, it was somehow there to please him, to bring him pleasure.

Bless his heart, I love Larry. I do. We had a session, of course, but he checked his texts a couple of times while I suggested that possibly she felt better in a hoodie because of guys like him, and I could practically see the whole thing whizzing past him. Next time he went to the gym, I’m certain he would be less than pleased if she wore what she wanted, what she felt comfortable in.

After all, she’s got a pretty nice body.

PS: Keating’s mother in How to Get Away with Murder, brilliantly show-stoppingly good acting by Cicely Tyson, sums it up nicely,  “Men were put on this planet to take things. They take your money, they take your land, they take a woman, and any other thing they can put their grabby hands on.” Or their gaze.

Great vid from Huff post

I’m in a cafe downtown, a guy passes by and I think: Why don’t you smile more often, you’re so pretty when you smile.

You might also like: 80 Years of Subtle Sexism. Things guys never hear… so good.

I feel pretty
Oh so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and gay
And I pity
Any girl who isn’t me today
I feel charming
Oh so charming
It’s alarming how charming I feel






Long time no see. It’s not as if there’s nothing to write about. The completely not surprising news about the environment is that climate change is happening faster than most predicted, while evolution among republicans in our country is slower, much slower than anyone could have imagined. In fact, they seem to be going backwards. Still, I ride my bike whenever and wherever possible, still avoid my car if possible (still have the same car.), still garden and raise bees without pasticides, still like rock n’ roll turned up loud and danceable.

Anyway, I’m mulling a new year-long series. It’s called “Now that I’m invisible,” and would maybe chronicle the many, many benefits of being an older woman in our culture. And there are. Benefits, I mean.

Boomers aren’t exactly invisible. They never haven been and aren’t starting now, so I’m not suggesting that as a Boomer, I’m invisible, alas. I will likely draw my last breath being excrutiatingly aware that I’m part of a demographic without which there would have been no summer of love or Beatles or even Sally, the most excellent daughter of Don Draper. But mine is also a demographic that is loud, demanding, usually pissed off, self-absorbed and huge.


Sally Draper, just getting started.

What most  people are unconscious about is that there are a billion ways in which women in the world across all generations are never invisible. They are instead objects to be controlled or even owned. Walking down the street, eating a meal, just minding their own business? Not invisible. Not possible. But for a while now, I’ve been feeling a certain Je ne sais pas…lightness? Freedom?  Something along those lines. I can pass…I’m an older woman, inconsequential and therefore…invisible. And dude?  I like it.

This is weird, right?

So, I may do this. It would be a way to chronicle this issue, from way back and everything engrained in me to this new freedom and how it manifests. It’s a curious subject. Curiouser and curiouser.



Embodied perception: sounds complex but…

I’m reading The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr and really: if you deal with technology (and by deal with it, I mean use it, and so I’m talking about all of us) you need to read this book.


For some time I’ve been weaning myself from a wee case of internet addiction. What can I say, I earned my livelihood being online since 1997, so it’s not too surprising it had an effect on me. From where I stand now, the effect of that near 20 year interaction is startling. My real creativity waned (I was an artist and writer at one time), my interactions with the world became goal-oriented, and my happiness took at hit. I was vaguely aware this was happening, but mostly I was charmed and amazed by each new clever shiny thing being offered up by technology, even as I was daily driven more by what a given program or device could do than I was by experiencing the process.

And here’s a true story from way back at the dawn of time when I worked at a now ubiquitous internet company. In those days, we slaved. Day and night, the company, the idea, the technology consumed us, captivated us. After a few dog years, some of us started to leave, as I did later. What I noticed was this: almost all the people were drawn to new professions, interests, occupations that involved the body. It was uncanny. Yoga, massage, environmental work, cycling, carpentry, art, you name it–they wanted somehow to use their bodies, their senses. Striking.

Fast forward to The Glass Cage and I finally understand what was happening thanks to one of the many ideas Carr is working with: embodied perception. We perceive the world around us with so many of our senses, sense we often don’t know are happily toiling away doing what they are meant to do. Many of these senses involve the physical experience and cognition of our environment. And automation has a tendency–by making things simple, easy and quick–to impede that vast cognition.

E. J. Meade, the Colorado architect, said something revealing when I talked to him about his firm’s adoption of computer-aided design systems. The hard part wasn’t learning how to use the software. That was pretty easy. What was tough was learning how not to use it. The speed, ease, and sheer novelty of CAD made it enticing. The first instinct of the firm’s designers was to plop themselves down at their computers at the start of a project. But when they took a good hard look at their work, they realized that the software was a hindrance to creativity. It was closing off aesthetic and functional possibilities  even as it was quickening the pace of production. As Meade and his colleagues thought more critically about the effects of automation, they began to resist the technology’s temptations. They found themselves “bringing the computer in later and later in the course of  a project….For the unwary and the uncritical, it can overwhelm other, more important considerations.

The book is full of studies and stories that clarify the instinct of my co-workers when they left the machine we were building, and no doubt most if not all of them use technology in their lives in a big way, just as I do. Carr’s questions, however, are valid. Are technology and automation tools that encourage us to go deeper, live more fully, or have we imbued them with more than they deserve, a creative, intelligent function they do not have…and have we outsourced those functions because we tilt towards fast and easy, even as we sense an urge towards an embodied experience of the world?

I’m happy to say that as devices and their functions have been somewhat demoted in my daily life, the process, rhythm, taste and feel of life itself have taken precedence. I still struggle with time-and-attention devouring devices, but since they have their place, let the struggle continue. Keeps me on my toes.

52 WoLP: #49-52, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everbody

Early this pre-sunrise Christmas morning, we headed out into the park for a super quiet, super peaceful walk. We’d planned on parking ourselves at the top of the rise overlooking the Salish, watching the slow holiday ferries glide across the water, listening for the first birds, waiting for the chill winter sun to make a showing.

Instead, I got a hankering for a particular grove of sequoias that reach up so high they look endless. Lean yourself right up against one sometime and look up–squirrel’s eye view, you might say–and you’ll see what I mean. The trunk goes straight up into the sky, branches like a thousand spokes radiating out. It’s breathtaking, awe inspiring.

The sun came up slowly, fog hanging low, apricot puffs of clouds overhead and the whole hood just as quiet as could be. We’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. May we treasure it, care for it, and protect it for all who seek its tranquility and beauty. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!


52 WoLP has been a year long meditation and love letter to Lincoln Park here in wonderful West Seattle. Xoxo

52 WoLP #48: thoughts on nature in our parks by Denise Dahn

Denise Dahn artist, writer, and voice for urban nature has written an excellent and well-trafficked opinion piece in the Seattle TimesThe urban wild needs protection in Seattle parks. In it, she wisely suggests it’s time for the city to step and take a stand:

Seattle City Council should create an urban wild ordinance to permanently fund and protect natural areas in Seattle parks. The areas should be managed specifically for ecological processes — wildlife habitat, soils, water — but also to preserve an essential experience for people: the magic of the urban wild.

Anyone who has taken a walk through our forested parks knows why Dahn would suggest this: encroaching noise, off leash dogs, mountain bikes tearing up the trails. But what you may not know is this:

…most of us know that meaningful contact with nature tends to be slow, quiet and reflective. It’s easier on the nature, too. A Parks Legacy Plan survey found most people, 78 percent, use parks for simple walking….

Those of is who love our parks as a refuge know this is true, and that a simple 15 minute walk in nature can restore and revive a soul like nothing else. The vast majority of park lovers out there who do not know what they have, and will not know until they lose it, also need to step up and become aware of what’s at risk. Losing urban nature such as we have in Lincoln, Schmitz and many other seattle parks, would be a major impact on the character and legacy of Seattle itself.

One of the most significant and costly threats to park nature is recreational development. Dahn sites an interesting comparison:

We also pay heavily for recreational interests. Developed parkland is much more expensive to maintain than natural areas. Unlike Portland, where 70 percent of total parkland is left natural, Seattle is just the opposite: Eighty-six percent of our parkland is developed or landscaped. Only 14 percent is natural.

It’s a great essay, do check it out here

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year-long homage to my lovely neighbor and friend LP. Xoxo

52 WoLP #46-47: things happen in nature

An amazing poem about another Park or maybe all parks everywhere, and all of us who visit them.

In the Park
By Maxime Kumin

You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you’re a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
–you won’t know till you get there which to do.

He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything. I could feel his heart
beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.

I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels. Certain
animals converse with humans.
It’s a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven’s an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there is a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,

and no choosing what to come back as.
When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.


52 WoLP is a year long witness of the lovely Lincoln Park in West Seattle. enjoy!

52 WoLP #44-45: early morning quiet

Recently I’ve had a few chances to head out for the park with in the early early morning with a thermos of sweet tea, bundled in a coat to watch and listen as the new day begins. I wait for the first birds, the soft light of sunrise spreading across the water, the sound of the tide coming in..it’s a gorgeous way to start the day.

A quote for your enjoyment:

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
― Terry Tempest Williams

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park (52 WoLP) is a year long visit with a beautiful place. Enjoy!