Thursday, March 18, 2021

(Rough Edit )First Southern Thunderstorm in a Long Time (Rough Words)

For over a year I think, in a variety of subconscious and conscious, ways I’ve been waiting for some fucking epiphany to appear (dictation said “help heal” proposed for epiphany) .Tonight, I finally think that happened. After leaving a toxic job, marital and familial devastation, plus a cross-country move I felt what seems so normal to me my whole life. A thunderstorm and a threat of a tornado that never comes... frogs and hopes of lightning bugs and everything North Carolina. Rooted in place. Everything in its right place.  

We sat on the porch as a family and I’m not sure my wife or my son was content or less anxious or happy… I’m pretty sure they were not. But in my bones something finally reconnected. They both went back to their computers or games and I realized that that’s my  strong connection between place and felt experience was what was happening. I have not had that in so long.  I remember a Hal Crowther essay decades ago in The Independent ....I don’t remember the title and I’m sure I misinterpreted it but he was right about hurricanes. Crowther was writing about hurricanes before moblie devices and ubiquitous Internet.  In sum, his premise was that when the power goes out, that techno reality is not there. 

Tonight  I felt that again.  I remember growing up with hurricanes and I look forward to them every year wherever I am on the planet. 

Coming out of the pandemic is likely to be synonymous with coming out of a hurricane. I wonder if some people will be still there. I wonder if some people made it through and/or if they are changed...  if waves will ever break the same if places will reopen if people will ever be the same. That’s this pandemic. The hurricane… A cosmic moral compass of complete insignificance. But beyond significance for those of us who live through it.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Leaving the Northwest, Never Easy, I Saw the Light Fading Out



I write this post in-flight back home to Portland, Oregon where forest fires have decimated nearly one million acres of Oregon forest in the past week.  The air quality in Portland is beyond hazardous to breath and the city is under a declared state of emergency.  On my flight, I am also wearing an N95 mask to help protect myself and others from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.  The United States continues to reel from its reckoning with racial injustices and societal division.  Not being able to breath is both literal and metonym in these surreal times.


I am not really sure what I am flying back to.  My wife and son have evacuated the city due to the toxic air quality and Portland has been shut down for months on end due to COVID-19 and nightly protests.  It’s been hard to sort through the delirium of my existence in a place that was once a welcome refuge and beacon.  I feel trapped by nostalgia and memory of this place as it once was, yet crestfallen by what realities it holds for me and my family.  My sentimentality, emotional and energetic sensorium, has pushed me to the revelation that this is not a stage in my relationship to Portland but rather a transition away from it as it is now and move to a new space for myself and family.  This transition is a return to something historical, familiar, and nourishing; we are moving to a known place, but with intentions of reconsecration and re-engagement with activities and practices that we once eagerly left behind when we moved to Portland. 


It’s hard.  It’s hard to sort out what is, and what role is played by, memory, reflection, nostalgia, and aspiration.  All of these meanings are essential to the project of Derrida’s Archive Fever inquiry (hence my blog’s moniker).  These meanings are also real in an embodied sense that I have not conscientiously grappled with in a long time, if ever; these meanings are all sticky, and they mute, distort, amplify one’s desire and (in)action.  Everything in its right place, I suppose.  Finding a balance in my transition seems to be the project at hand.  I have no doubt it is time to leave, but do so holding gratitude and grief skyward as sails toward the horizon.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Magic of Refraction

One of the aspects of living on the West Coast that I still can't get enough of is the sun setting over the Pacific.  I grew up in southeastern North Carolina, seeing sunrises over the Atlantic...possibly taking them for granted.  The sun's daily greeting and parting salutation are different, but equally magical, experiences.  Both can be preceded by (sunrise) or followed by (sunset) a green flash.  I've never seen one at sunset, and long for that...enough to make me chase sunsets ad infinitum.  Here's a photo from last week in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  It intimates so many points of happiness and connection.  We did not see a green flash, but it does feel like we go right in matters of the heart which is a supposed blessing of the green flash.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Draft: A Christmas Story of a Boy's First Wetsuit

FIRST DRAFT (30 minutes) My mom took this photo Winter 1984.  This was the first winter that I surfed and I'm holding my first surfboard, a Dick Brewer (shaped by Gary Linden).  The year before, had started surfing and was hooked.  I surfed every day, whether there were waves or not...I was in the ocean thanks to my mom, grandmother, and the parents of my surfing mates.  I had sat the previous winter out, due to not having a full suit.  As the fall turned into early winter, the water got colder and my Piping Hot 2 mm vest no longer kept me warm; I wanted/needed a full suit.  I couldn't sit another winter out.  

During the summer and fall of 1983 my parents were fighting, probably due to my dad's gambling and unwillingness to get a job, as that would interfere with his bar and poker time.  My dad hated that I was a surfer for a variety reasons, mostly due to his ego wobbling under the weight of his son not being devoted to a "real sport", though I did play football, baseball, and basketball.  My dad was an asshole.  My mom, brother, and myself went to live with my grandmother and ended up staying with Granny into the winter.  I remember my dad arguing with my mom about me surfing during the winter, even though she wasn't living with him.  He insisted, as he always did that I should not surf and would grow out of it.  He would even tell me that after high school I would have to give it up. 

My mom loved the ocean as much as I do and she fought him on this.  All I wanted for Christmas was this wetsuit.  That year the move "A Christmas Story" was released.  Somehow I parlayed Ralphie Parker's desire for a BB gun into my own soul journey for year long surfing.  The wetsuit, a 3/2 Rip Curl Insulator, was under the tree Christmas morning at Granny's.  This was my first session.  It was knee high.  But, I remember my mom sitting on the beach watching me with her camera to take photos and, I guess, make sure I didn't drown.  As I write this I remember her, and all the ways she and granny encouraged me to pursue my passion and fought to make it so I could, from trips to the beach during the winter to showing me courage to live my dreams.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Green Paths and Golden Rules

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."  -H. D. Thoreau

I spend a lot of my day on a school campus of some sort, be it grade school or university.  I've been doing so for my whole life basically, either as a student, teacher, or administrator.  For the past five years I have been spending time on school campuses as a parent, which is pretty cool when juxtaposed with my role as university professor/administrator.  Increasingly, one of the characteristics that I thrive on when I'm on any campus is its relationship to nature.  Here are just a few pics I snapped today. What I like about all of them is that they are the path I take to either teach or drop off a young scholar.  The peace, tranquility, and inspiration I derive from moving through these spaces, along these paths, is sheer sublimity.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bull's Blood, Suleiman the Magnificent, and NoPo Libations

 So, I'll tell you this: there is arguably no better city in North America to sample world-class coffee, beer, and wine than Portland, Oregon.  I have spared hyperbole, here.  Theses are true words.  As the good ol boy says, "I kid you not".

Last night I had a hot date...sizzlin' if you will.  I took a risk and visited unfamiliar ground for the start to our evening.  The venue: a highly rated wine bar, TeSoAria, in North Portland (aka NoPo).  Beyond simply dropping the four letter up down up down capitalization schema for gentrifying neighborhoods, I flag you (the imagined reader) to this for future reference.  Largely, you should go there or imagine going there.  They have great wine and fine curation.  The envrions are cool, hence you'd be in situ cool to boot.  But, I digress.

In the course of the evening, we ran across the winery's, relatively famed, Bull's Blood.  Admit it, this is linguistically enticing.  But, I'll cut to the chase, this was not the best wine...the Pinot Verdot was. 

That said, the Bull's Blood held better story.  In fact, I have been consumed by the narrative for the last 24 hours.  I thought the wine steward was "bullsh*tt*ing" me if you will with the story.  But, alas, he was not.  To turn you on to the power of history and tannins I offer up this excerpt:

Bulls Blood is a Hungarian tradition dating back hundreds of years. Legend has it that when the Ottoman Empire attempted to invade Hungary, they chose to invade the isolated region of Eger, where they outnumbered the Hungarian military ten-to-one. The Hungarians of Eger locked themselves in the castle and tried to develop of strategy to defeat the Ottoman Empire, but they couldn’t think of anything!  Defeated, they decided to break into the wine cellar and drink as much wine as they possibly could. For days they drank, becoming more and more delirious and soaking themselves and each other in wine. They became so incoherent that instead of fighting the Ottomans, they started fighting each other.  However, what the Ottomans saw was an army apparently covered in blood, fighting each other—they had sacrificed their bulls, drunk the blood, and now they Hungarians were demigods! The Ottomans were so frightened by the prospect, after a few skirmishes, they just left. Eger avoided conquest! Hungary celebrates their victory every year with a Bulls Blood Festival.

I have corroborated this narrative with reliable sources, namely Wikipedia and Savoj Zizek (who might be one in the same).  I'm spellbound, stupified by such a narrative.  Are there others?  It's curious.  What wine bars do I visit to unearth such narratives?

If you've read this far, I will gladly drink a flight of vino with you at TeSoAria.   Eat, drink, and be merry. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ecotopia's Emperor has No Clothes OR It's Not a Lie if You Believe It

It is hot and dry in the Pacific Northwest.  There is a record drought and acres of forest are burning.  More than a quarter of a million sockeye salmon are dying because the rivers are so hot.  There is toxic algae in the Willamette River.  And,  the city that, just this past weekend, held a big float celebration to show it has cleaned up its river has issued a health advisory.  Things don't seem to be going so great for the environment in the magic kingdom of Ecotopia.

The term motivated inference refers to contexts where people's beliefs are biased by their goals  (great academic piece here).  In such situations, like climate change, it is difficult for individuals to consider problems that contradict their individual or collective sense of identity.    Climate change poses such an instance;  Portland sets forth a particularly frustrating conundrum.  In what many have heralded as America's greenest city, environmental problems have been met with boosterism versus real solutions.  If solutions are put forth, they are first and foremost  ones that satisfy the goal of making capitalism, if you will, is one example of misplaced perception of action. 

At some point, new behaviors and paradigms will be needed.  I think we are upon that precipice now. Given current conditions of environmental engagement, our goals must shift from boosterism and wealth to connectedness and conservation.  I think of Derek Jensen's adage: "you can't have sex without your land base".  That's an attention grabber and might get folks thinking.  But, I'm sure there's a savvy marketing notion that could somehow distract us.  Oh least the water is warm and colorful.