Wednesday, July 31, 2013


My day started by having a laser iridotomy to treat narrow angles, which can be a precursor to glaucoma.  I had the right eye done exactly a year ago, and then I put off doing the left eye first because I was taking care of Josh while he had his heart surgery, and second because the first one sucked so much that I didn't want to go through it again. But I had the time, and I have the insurance, and I've met my deductible, and really there was no excuse left. So in I went. Was it pleasant? Nope. But it was a lot better than the other eye, and I made it through OK.

It was about 2 PM by the time I got home, and it was beautiful out, but my eyes wanted darkened rest. I fell asleep on the couch for a good bit, and then I grabbed my chance. I found a website that allowed me to watch Admission for free, and I settled in. As soon as a Tina Fey/ Paul Rudd comedy hit the theaters last Spring, I wanted to see it. But I didn't. I got too busy, or it wasn't playing at a good time, or there was a different movie to see. It stayed on my list though. And when I was lying around recovering from my little eye thing, it seemed like the perfect time.

So it's not very good. The writing, the acting, the directing—not very good. So it was not a very joyful experience for me, to lie around mildly uncomfortable watching something I'd wanted to see forever that turned out to be not very good. But at least I went for it, and I tried, and now I know that I'm glad I didn't see it in the theaters.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Weiner Names New Campaign Manager

A movie I wrote with Steve screened for the first time on Monday, and it was great, and when it goes up online I will post it, but it was not so much a selfish joy thing. I loved that my friend Cyndi did a bunch of gorgeous animation and photo work on it, and I loved that my family came out to see it, and I loved the way the whole thing came together as completely volunteer and collaborative, but it was not so much a selfish joy thing. I'm proud of the film, and it was fun to see it on a big screen, and I met people I will want to work with again, but it was not so much a selfish joy thing. But you know what was? This. Andy Borowitz on Anthony Weiner, again. Is Carolos Danger an easy target? You bet he is. Did Andy hit the the inner circle with his arrow? Uh huh. And I hope he keeps taking those easy shots, because it just plain makes me laugh.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How the Salad Bar was Won

Technically this would be a much better post if I had actually made one of these, but I did get a great deal of joy out of looking at the photos and reading the story. And the next time I'm at a salad bar, I will definitely try this—and post again!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pin curls and puzzles

OK, so maybe what I'm writing about isn't officially a selfish joy. And by that I mean that maybe when you have a really really fun time at someone else's bachelorette party, it's isn't all about you. But damn, it was fun. Phoebe and her friends do a lot of intricate experiential period games. OK, I don't know what these games are really called, but Phoebe and her friends choose a time period, dress in the period costumes, make up intricate scavenger hunts with puzzles that take them throughout a city, sometimes for the purpose of discovering the city, and sometimes for the purpose of, say, getting engaged or having a bachelorette party. Which was a 1940's kidnapping mystery, in which the fiancé disappeared and she had to figure out, first that he was gone, and second, what happened to him. And along the way, she met a cast of characters to give her clues, confuse her, and play along. I was an astrologer. I met her at the bar in the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central, where we solved a couple challenging puzzles that led us to the Flatiron Building, and then to Bar 6, for some dinner, at which point I had to bail on the game, having just flown in from Chicago, and having an early morning the next day.

But it was super fun, and I think maybe the moment of purest and most selfish joy was the moment that Phoebe walked in and discovered that I was part of the party. But the whole thing was a blast, and made me want to do something like this with my friends. Or spend more time with Phoebe and hers.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I've gone to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me in Chicago. I've been to my friend Andy's office in Chicago, when he threw a fundraising party for the film Josh and I have been making for a very long time. Once a long time ago I drove through one tiny part of Chicago on my way to the National Folk Festival in Dayton (and mainly I think we were really in Evanston) but I have never actually walked around Chicago, and I have never seen any Chicago neighborhood other than a couple of downtown blocks. Until now.

I had a whopping 38 hours in Chicago. And most of that was actually in the burbs. But Friday morning Karen and I drove into the city, and she went to work, and I took my first trip on the L, went to visit Brett, checked out the Onion offices, and laughed like I only laugh with him, interspersed with the serious and the quirky.

Then Karen and I walked and walked and walked and walked. We did stuff that people do when they go to Chicago, like walk through Millenium Park and along the waterfront of Lake Michigan and past the peanut, and past some very cool public art, and also I got to see Tracey's name on the Goodman Theater marquee, and we drove out through Lincoln Park and through other neighborhoods and over to Lincoln Square, which is different from Lincoln Park, and I got to see Karen's house they are going to move into, and then we drove over to the lake so I could go swimming, but we never did go swimming—we just walked and walked and walked, mostly barefoot, through an Important Bird Area (and Karen decided that it was actually a Self-Important Bird Area, and around the lake to a marina where their friends have a boat, and we fantasized that they would be on their boat, and we would walk up and surprise them, but they weren't there, and we had left our phones way way way back in the car, so we didn't photodocument any of this, but we felt like kids on a barefoot adventure, and when was the last time you walked barefoot through a part of the city?

And then we went back to her house, and Andy had cooked an outrageously gorgeous shabes dinner, and I had my last meal in the house they've been in since 1995, and then we snuggled on the couch watching Colbert, and Katie put my hair in pin curls, and this reads a little bit like a teenage girl's journal of the Best Day Ever, and that's because Karen and I are teenage friends, and it always sort of feels like the Best Day Ever when I am with her.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Handmade journals from vintage books

This terribly Portland place is around the corner from where I stayed in Portland. On my last morning walk, I went in for 10 minutes, and thought about how there are really all kinds of ways to spend this lifetime.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I swam at the crux of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Perfect swimming. No, really. Perfect swimming. Clear, cool, calm but not stagnant, powerful but not overpowering, massive but not overwhelming, beautiful yet industrial, populated but not crowded. And the ship passing by had the name of my old cross street on it. SHAVER. I was planning to swim every day I was in Oregon. I guess one out of six is better than zero for six. And so worth it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Three people told me the same thing

It's the process, not the goal. The process is the goal. It doesn't matter if you reach the goal; what matters is the process.

Three people told me the same thing on one day.

I noticed the first time. I mentioned that it was the second time. I laughed the third time.

It's not like it's the first time I've heard it in my life, but to hear it three times in one day is pretty great, and the third time I was sitting in Marcy's back yard, with Marcy, which is a joy all unto itself.

So do you think maybe it's the process, and not the goal?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A moment in the river

While it is true that I am in one of my favorite places on Earth, spending time with some of my favorite people on Earth (I know, Earth is big, and there are many places and people I have never met, but still—that doesn't mean that this isn't legitimately one of my favorite places, and these aren't legitimately some of my favorite people, even if the sample pool is relatively small) it is also true that I am getting very little selfish joy time.  On this trip, I tried valiantly to take deep breaths and plan longer visits with fewer friends, which meant that I had to choose not to see some of my other favorite people on the planet. I won't lie. This has been hard. I miss them! They are right here! But I am getting tapped out, physically and emotionally, and that's not what any of us want! It's vacation! We all want me to vacate my stressful life and rejuvenate! And so I have had to say "I love you, but I can't see you" and that has hung over me and made it so that I don't feel all the joy I would hope to feel. Add on top of that a couple totally understandable mishaps, and my Monday was pretty far over before I found my little moment.

I really wanted to swim in rivers every day that I was in Oregon. I didn't swim in any rivers on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, so I was pretty committed to swim in a river on Monday. Barbara and I both got up before 4 AM to bring our people to the airport, then went back to sleep for a little bit, then got some stuff done, and then got together. By the time we got together we were both pretty wiped out. In fact, I even took an hour nap in the middle of my precious little date with her. But then we went to find a river to swim in. I remembered I used to swim in the Clackamas River on the way out to her house. We tried to find the spot, but never did. When we found a spot we might be able to swim, it was too steep to get down, and when we found another spot we could swim in, it was a crowded park with an entrance fee. I tried to lead us to a different spot on the river, but I totally failed. After all that looking, Barbara went home, and I tried one more time. I found a spot where I could climb down, but when I got down there, mostly the river was moving too rapidly to get in, and the place I could get in was colonized by a bunch of guys drinking beer.

I felt a little defeated, but I figured that was the exhaustion talking, so I slowed down, noticed how the river bank felt, noticed how it smelled, and walked in up to my calves. I let the cold water rush past my legs, and imagined what it would feel like to float in the chilly water, and soaked in the reality and the fantasy all at once, and let it be OK that it was lasting just a few minutes. It was the joy of good enough instead of the fixation on not enough.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I really really really really wanted to take James to the coast. How can you fly across the country for the first and then not go all the way to the ocean? I also really really really wanted him to meet Barbara and Peter. How can you fly across the country and not meet Barbara and Peter? So in a crazy whirlwind (for all of us—Barbara had just come home from a 3-day retreat, and Peter actually delayed a flight to Mexico on our behalf) we all went to Manzanita for a few hours of negative ions, blue skies, rainbow kites, beached jellyfish, sandcastles, sand dunes, and friendly Oregonian ladies.  I love these people, and I love this ocean.

You kind of can go home again

How could I sleep?  I was waking up in Portland. The whole rest of the household was sleeping though, so I decided to get up and walk over to my old house. I've probably taken the walk between mine and Rupert and Scott's houses hundreds of times, and this time I was seeking both the familiar and the changes. It was completely familiar, of course. The houses are the same. Some of them are painted the same. Their trees and plants are mostly the same. And also they are different. Their trees and plants have grown up. Some of their colors have faded, some have been repainted. The cute little poetry and bird habitat and library way stations are all new in the past 10 years. And the last house? The beige one with the flourishing garden? That's my old house. When I had it, it was painted a spectacular deep red with gold (not yellow, but actually a deep metallic gold) trim. Those gardens and trees? I planted those, and they have become what I always hoped they would.