Sunday, August 30, 2009

summer's repose

Oh, the long and lovely days of the fair season. With one more day of August left on the calendar, my melancholy is already ramping up. The light, which just gets more beautiful in fall, still heralds the cold dark days to come.

I feel, often, greedy and selfish this time of year. I don't want it to end. I want a rewind button. So, in service to closure (with grace, if that's possible), I am going to list my blessings right here, right now.

I have a wonderful family, and it's growing. My husband and his kids, sibs and mother have added to my joy more than I can say. My own children have all grown enormously this summer. The sum total of their adventures: exploratory veganism, travels to Europe, getting and keeping "real" jobs, adding variety and balance to their lives, working hard at and succeeding at various athletic pursuits, not to mention the many, many small ways in which this family loves and tries and works together has given me, for the first time in my life, a feeling of permanence.

The trips, oh the trips! Across the country and up the coast, riding the tide with Orcas and waking up in a tent to the sound of rain softly falling in the forest.

And our garden, and our new windows, and our terrific neighbors with whom we shared gin and tonics last night, and the wonderful team I work with at BridgePoint, and... beginning next week, a brand new web site for BridgePoint Creative (that will, of course, deserve its very own blog post).

Yes, it's all very good. Summer will come again.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Valetudinarian and POV

Check out this Joshua Ferris piece a few New Yorkers ago (a damp evening last week had me in the bathtub with a stack of back issues. Bliss!).

I loved this story, but if Joshua was sitting at the table with us on Thursday nights, we'd rake him over the coals for breaking a whole bunch of rules. For instance, at one point in the story Ferris inexplicably shifts to the POV of a character on the other end of the phone in a speculative scene hours later, then there's a space break and then we're back to the main character. Some would call this a leap. Some would call this presumptuous. Me, I just had to reread a couple of time to get it, and after I did I enjoyed the irony and appreciated the reasons why Ferris slipped that in.

The ending, however, left me mid-stream in a way I'm not fond of. The story opens with a head on collision involving a character we never meet, and extenuating circumstances that never bear out in the rest of the story. The ending is similar. There are three characters in the scene, and the motivations and passions of each of them are knotted in a convoluted mess. What will happen next is horribly unclear in a way that makes me mad. Broken contract with the reader mad.

But the story as a whole explored the underbelly of reality so well, I couldn't, at the end, hate Ferris. I started this story in the tub, but had to leap out of the tub and rush to the bedroom in order to read the story aloud to my husband, and he loved it, in a way he rarely does a New Yorker tale. We also did quite a lot of smooching afterwards--and I know that tmi, but there was something startling, sexy and profoundly sad about this obsessive character. The title, which means "someone obsessed with his own health" is much meatier and odder than "hypochondriac" which would have been a lesser-writer's choice for this story.

All in all, the story has been living in me for several days, and I'm a little obsessed with it myself. Is there a word for someone who obsesses over a story? Bibliodinarian, or something?

And here it is

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This was my friendly little wake up call this morning. Nothing pisses me off more than willful destruction of property. Really. It brings out the redneck in me. I think pistol. I think waterboarding. I mire in fantasies of choke chains and 47 years of community service and repeated kicks in the behind.

Human nature is a vast and surprising swamp, is it not?

Okay, that's out of my system.... thanks for indulging me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

fragmentation and throughline

In less than 12 days, I hope to broadcast the launch of my company's new website. My partner Laura and I began this company in April of 2006, after several years working as independent contractors in the broadly enigmatic vertical known as communications.

What's gratifying to us about our delinquency is building out our own web presence (a shoemaker's children example bar none) is that in the last six months emerging communications technologies have largely changed the businesses-to-customer landscape. Micro-blogging and transmitting information in real-time has become the new "over the back fence" way of creating an intimacy with a person or a group of people.

Case in point: I'm writing an article about defender Scot Thompson and the vociferous fanbase of the Portland Timbers soccer team. I attended a match on Saturday, and in my recon, hooked myself into the Timbers Army twitter-loop. Via ongoing tweets, I got more material, insider language, and post-game analysis than I could have had I shoved my DVR into the faces of several screaming fans.

Of course, there's a bit of a downside to all of this. I was so busy tweeting and tweet-hunting during the game that I missed a few key plays on the field. In other words, there is a learning curve with micro-blogging as well as a note-to-self about cutting up a good through-line by obsessive fragmentation and multi-tasking.

Somewhere in all of this we must strike a balance. As business owners or managers, we mustn't ignore social media platforms and shrug them off, but neither should we embrace them to the detriment of deep concentration and resounding insight.

Since our niche, at BridgePoint, is the "mature" client--we are mindful of striking that balance between hip, slick and new and sensible, human and timeless. It's an interesting juxtaposition. Stay tuned for further reportage--which may come to you via twitter, facebook, newsletter, this blog or good old-fashioned face-to-face.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat

Okay, I admit it. I'm a soccer mom. A 15+-year veteran soccer mom. I can't help it--nothing makes me more vicariously thrilled than watching my kids on a field with a bunch of other kids and a soccer ball.

Carson's team, Barca, participated in a tournament this weekend. For the most part, they played well, and there were some stunning moments--saves, goals, all price-of-admission highlights. But, alas, they did not do too well in the standings. They won a match and lost two. My son--running his heart out as sweeper, saved the day several times, but mis-kicked at the end resulting in a cross and a goal by the other team. So hard to watch your child weep. There's a part of you that wants them to just hang up their cleats and quit when you witness that brutalizing failure of spirit.

But the good news is--the young are resilient about these things. Carson got home, took a nap and woke up with the request to go to a local park and whap some in. Indomitable, I'd say!

Not only do I watch soccer, this week I'm going to be writing about it. Stay tuned for the highlights of my night with the Portland Timbers!

Friday, August 14, 2009

a tail is a tale

Up there in the remotest of the remote--no phone /computer or obligations -- time grows big. Things fall away and some things don't. The stuff that sticks is the stuff deepest in.

I thought a lot about my book. One particularly rainy afternoon I holed up in the tent with a mechanical pencil and a scrap of paper and amid the moist, pungent salt air, to the sound of dripping raindrops and slapping tide, I outlined the ending for my book. I came up with, at long last, the central problem for Frances: the thing that propels her to constantly move in the wrong direction. So that left me with the question of redemption.

I stumbled out of my tent and went off in search of Kirk. I found him on the Orca rock: see photo. We brainstormed the finale. It's so wonderful to have an invested party in whom you can entrust all your stoopid ideas, yeah? Amid the whales and the weather and the fabulous food that was prepared for us by our guides, I indulged in the luxury of talking through the final chapter of my book with my husband and trusted adviser.

Blasting back to Portland yesterday I had these lovely scenes blossoming in my brain. I had workshop to look forward to. My house. My wonderful business partner, Laura--who's been tirelessly rain-making exciting opportunities for us. My kids. Kirk's kids. The man who sits beside me, guiding the helm: my life-mate, lover and best friend. There are many stories. I choose the ones that stick. Life is abundant, is it not?

Friday, August 07, 2009

on the way north

Here we are, sleepy and "before-like." Awaiting transformation in the rough and cold waters of the Johnstone Strait.

So we're off to the races!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

has it really been a whole month?

...since I last posted a blog entry? I'm embarrassed and ashamed.

Where do I start? Odd, I feel compelled to catch my very few readers up on all the goings on of the past month, but will resist that urge in favor of the proverbial blank slate.

Without further ado...

I have printed out my novel, read it, made notes and outlined the ending. The final push begins, with a few huge changes.

1. LOCATION: Instead of setting Part III in Paris as originally planned, I'm going back to the setting of Part I. Watch Hill. In service to tightening, compressing and distilling the myriad storylines, there is no better choice than returning the reader to the place where "it all happened."

2. TITLE: Working title is now "The Stairway to Love" instead of "The Secret to Love"

3. ARCS: Instead of huge shifts and leaps, I'm squeezing the redemptive moments down to small, palatable shifts. I'm attempting to reduce the absurdities which abound in the book in order to finesse the tone somewhat.

Hope to post more tomorrow before heading into the wilds of BC!