The Storm

Well, it has been a very interesting last few weeks! Mom and dad arrived a bit earlier than expected and spent two weeks with me in Seattle and subsequent travels. First, of course, I showed them around town a bit. They had already been to Seattle before, so we skipped the Pike Place Market and the Space-needle and went straight to Alki Beach – like a little bit of California transplanted to the PNW, it was a sunny late-summer day and we took their dog, Spanky, for a walk along the beach before going to eat dinner at an outdoor Mexican restaurant where Spanky could sit near us and we could enjoy the lovely weather.

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Mom, dad, and the majestic spotted hound at Alki the day they arrived

In the morning I took them to Seward Park where Spanky dipped into Lake Washington and mom and dad foraged for blackberries, gleeful about such a late berry season. Foraging was a major theme of the trip!

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I wanted to take them to the International District for lunch, but couldn’t think of anywhere to go, so instead I took them to Ethiopian food, which they enjoyed immensely (also the cheapness was right up their alley).

The next morning I took them to Kubota Gardens, a beautiful and old Japanese garden not far from my house in Seattle.We all enjoyed the gardens (and more blackberries were found and consumed). Spanky liked the water features especially.

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That afternoon we went to Ivar’s Fishbar and Restaurant so they could sample some of Seattle’s famous seafood. It was another toasty day and we enjoyed being on the water. We visited the Fremont Troll and then I dropped them off in Downtown Columbia City before heading to work at the Triple Door.

The next day was the anniversary of Erika’s death, so we got some supplies to celebrate her: a tin pan to be our firepit, some sparkling rosé (of course), yummy bread to make her favorite radish crostinis and I had bought radishes and green tomatoes at the farmers market, so I fried up the tomatoes, just as we had done with the ones from Erika’s garden six year ago, after she died. Our feast was spectacular and then we set fire to this year’s Burning Woman effigy – a hot air balloon with a wine glass instead of a basket, which my mom cut out and painted on cardboard. We played music from her memorial and drank our pink bubbles and cried and remembered her. I still had some candles from her memorial service and we lit one, tucked into a bottle of wine from her extensive collection, now finally nearly exhausted after 6 years.

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Mom building this yea’r fire

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Our lovely dinner spread in Erika’s honor

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Getting ready for the Burn!

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Erika was present in the form of this drawing I made of her and we burned one of the candles I saved from her memorial

It felt really good to be with my parents for this ritual. I played some songs on my guitar and “The Rainbow Connection” on my banjo uke – a song mom has come to associate with Erika.

In the morning, we packed up to head out to the Olympic Peninsula for several days of camping and exploring. Our first stop was Port Townsend, where we got pizza for lunch and browsed around a bookstore Sarah and I discovered on our trip out there in July. Then we drove through Port Angeles and by Lake Crescent to Sol-duc hot springs, where we had a site reserved. I forgot to mention that mom and dad drove up in a truck with a camper on the back, so we just had to pull in and pop it up! Then mom and I went for a soak in the hot springs before foraging some firewood and eating a light dinner before heading to bed. It was a chilly night in the mountains after the heat of Seattle summer.

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Mom and dad in front of Lake Crescent

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Me n mama at Sol duc Hot Springs

We hit the road to drive toward La Push, but we saw signs for the Makah Reservation and decided to take a detour to visit the museum there. It was a lovely drive up to Neah Bay and as we drove, the phone rang. It was my aunt and uncle, concerned about my grandmother and sister, who were in the path of hurricane Irma in Florida.

It all felt very scary and especially so for my grandmother, who is 95 and very attached to her home. But here we were on the opposite side of the country, unable to do much but advise and commiserate and worry.

We made it to the museum and again mom and dad found some berries to forage before we went in. It was a really interesting museum, focused on the Makah people and the artifacts found when one of their ancestral villages was uncovered by erosion. It was one of the places I had hoped to take dad, and I’m so glad we made the detour.

Then we headed south toward our RV park up the road from La Push. Once we had our site, we hopped in the truck and headed to the beach, which was misty and windy, but very majestic with large driftwood pieces and stately rock islands, big enough to grow their own little forests. We collected pebbles for mom’s Party Patio mosaic and Spanky frolicked with joy along the beach, sniffing everything in sight. On the way back to camp, we stopped to get some smoked salmon from a local Native – it was over-priced, but certainly the local economy is pretty tiny, so any bit we could contribute seemed worth it.

Back at the campsite, I made dinner of morel mushrooms and green beans with pasta and a butter/wine/cream sauce. It came out really deliciously (if I do say so myself) and we had just enough time to enjoy it before the weather changed and it began to rain.

In the morning, we decided to go to the beach once more and then checked out a second  access, which (we didn’t realize) was about 7/10s of a mile hike in, but was well worth it, as mom spotted a hen of the woods mushroom (which we took home with us). There the beach was different, a fresh spring running across it and some cool anemones and mussels growing on a big rock on the beach. The tide was out, so there were tide pools and I spotted a dentalia shell in one of them – something my mother had been looking for since we saw them used as jewelry at the Makah museum. Yoink!

We hiked back up to the truck (it was harder going up!) and headed off to the Hoh Rainforest. There we picnicked and dad joined us for one small hike and then retired for a nap in the truck (Spanky was already doing likewise). Then mom and I checked out the Hall of Mosses (“Holy Moses” as dad insisted on calling it) before we continued on to our campground for the night in Kalaloch, another beach.

When we arrived and got settled, we walked down to the beach, again covered with driftwood and interesting rocks.

Then we returned to camp to make dinner of jambalaya with veggie sausage  and some of our hen of the woods mushroom, plus some black beans and a heavy dose of creole seasoning. It was very hearty and rather spicy and even my staunchly meat-eating dad approved.

After they went to bed, I stayed up a while longer to sip some wine and write in my journal. It was beautiful to be among the trees, under the dark sky and the bright stars.

The next morning we headed out of Kalaloch and made a brief stop at Lake Quinault to visit their historic lodge.

Ocean Beach to explore and have lunch. Mom spotted a place that had all manner of (fried) seafood and also happened to have a veggie burger for me, so everyone was happy (especially Spanky, who enjoys fried food).

Then it was back to Seattle to change clothes and get ready for an evening of Patsy Cline music at the Triple Door. We got a nice table at the back of the theater and enjoyed drinks and some light apps during the show. It was fun to see my dad singing along and enjoying himself – not a lot of live music opportunities in Green Forest, AR!

We headed home and spent the next day packing up the camper with the remnants of my life in Seattle – all that I wouldn’t be taking with me to London or shipping home in boxes. I also managed to sell Erika’s broken car for $300, which was a nice and unexpected turn of events!

We finished early enough to head downtown to take the Underground Tour of Pioneer Square and then strolled along the waterfront to meet up with my cousins for dinner. It had been years since they saw my parents and the only bummer was that no one thought to take a picture!

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Me n daddio in Pioneer Square

In the morning we made tracks for Portland to visit my friend Jenna before continuing south to Crater Lake. We had a lovely brunch with her and stopped by a European meat store for dad (he needed some real sausage).

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Then it was off to Crater Lake.

The drive was lovely, if a bit long, and we made it to the south entrance to Crater Lake that afternoon. As we got closer and closer to the campground, we saw smoke from nearby wildfires and my parents voiced concern, but we had checked out the visibility with their webcam, so I knew the smoke wasn’t bad at the lake itself.

We finally pulled into the campground around 7pm and set up camp and poured ourselves some sundowners (aka wine with some other stuff mixed in to make a sort of sangria) before foraging for firewood and making up some dinner. We decided on grilled sandwiches and pea soup, but unfortunately it took longer to cook than anticipated and we ended up with slight crunchy pea soup. Ah well – not every camping meal can be gourmet!

The next morning we got an early start and drove up to Crater Lake – further from the campsite than I had thought and also much bigger than I had thought! It was like seeing the Grand Canyon, filled with the clearest and purest water! It was honestly breathtaking and we didn’t even get to go down to the lake, but just seeing it and the crater left by the volcanic eruption was very impressive, and knowing that only a week before it was impossible to view because of the smoke made the sight even more amazing.

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Glorious Crater Lake

Then it was time to go. We drove out of the park and continued south and east through Nevada. It our longest day of driving, nearly 6 hours. We stopped for the night in Elko at a cushy RV park with showers and a hot tub and coffee in the mornings. There we whipped up our last big camp meal of the trip – morels with more of my veggie sausage and tomato sauce served over pasta.

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Mom made sure to awaken early with one thing on her mind: baking cookies!

The final day of our roadtrip, we headed to Salt Lake City (where I was set to fly out the next morning). We got there relatively early and claimed a campsite at Great Salt Lake State Park before venturing into the city for a late lunch/dinner at an Indian restaurant.

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Yummy Thali in SLC – farewell dinner with my parents

I introduced my parents to the thali (and they made sure to order something they could share with Spanky after) and once we were all properly stuffed with curries we went to the Museum of Natural History to check out an exhibition on Vikings and their collection of Native American artifacts, plus some minerals and dinosaurs, of course.

After the museum we went to the center of town to check out the Mormon bit (though we didn’t feel like getting out of the truck and subjecting ourselves to potential conversion attempts (lol). Instead we went to the Gilgal Sculpture Park, which reminded me of the Coral Castle outside of Miami, which mom and I went to visit a few years ago.

It is another example of an eccentric loner making an odd sort of fervor into a stone monument to his eccentricity. It was bizarre, but more appealing than the creepily majestic Temple Square.

We bought some essentials at Trader Joe’s and made our way back to the campsite in time for one more round of sundowners while we watched the sunset.

A friendly Native man who worked at the site offered us some free firewood and I stayed up again, enjoying a bit of solitude with the lake and the stars till it was time to climb in for one more night in the camper with mom and dad.

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Last campfire of the trip

I awoke around 6 am and slid out to take photos of the sunrise around the lake. It was a glorious morning and the rain that had come in the night cleared up just in time to let the sun peep through.

I had one last morning with my parents, sipping coffee and strolling on the beach one last time before it was time to head ’em up and move ’em out, as the cowpokes say.

My flight left around 11 that morning to take me back to Seattle for a few more days of work and packing up and goodbyes.

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Antelope Island and the the Great Salt Lake from above

I had my last few shifts at the Triple Door and went out for some final hurrahs with friends and the fella I’ve been seeing for the last six months or so, on and off. He was kind enough to give me a ride to the airport (and help me load up all my heavy things like a champ). Nice to have a friendly send-off instead of a stressed cab ride, though Seattle gave me the final flip-off of making sure we hit nearly every red light on the way. File under things I will not miss!

I made it just two minutes before they closed check-in and some sympathetic airline employees really helped me out. Then it was just dealing with curious baggage scanners (apparently largish crystals in one’s carry-on need to be scoped out, even though they’re basically just rocks?) and walking for an eternity with heavy (crystal-laden) bags in a rush, just to find that the plane hadn’t begun boarding yet. Whew!

I earned my in-flight drinks!

I’ve met so many lovely people and had such a great time in Seattle over the past year, but I can’t say that it ever felt like home, exactly. However, I will miss many of the people – the friends and coworkers – and I even managed to date two different people for more than a couple of months each, not long distance! So hey, there was some progress from New York.

But I didn’t fall in love – not in the way I want to be – with the city or with any thing or anyone I encountered there. It was a very beautiful and inspiring way-station, however, and I am glad I called it home for the year.

And now I am in London, mostly recovered from jet-lag, registered for classes, and ready to start my year at UCL! Tomorrow, if all goes well, I will get the keys to my new flat in Camden Town – three years after I last spent some weeks there, so it still feels somewhat familiar, as does the whole city, in fact. I wonder if I would feel as comfortable here if I hadn’t lived in cloudy, rainy Seattle for a year, softening my memory of the other big city I used to call home, New York.

London’s not bad – and already I feel that I know more people here than I did starting out in Seattle. Plus it makes me think of Erika, who studied here for a semester in college, and who, I think, was always a bit more partial to the city than I.

More to come – time to wrap this one up!

Love and miss,

Kira

 

 

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Summer At Last!

Lately the days have been stacking up onto each other in layers of sunshine and blue skies at last, after a long and rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest – my first outside of the East Coast in nearly a decade. The flowers are still making their extended spring displays, popping up in turns like fireworks in a well choreographed display of purple, yellow, magenta, white, lavender, and pink. The gardens around my cottage are in bloom and I harvest flowers to decorate the house.

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I still sometimes get snatches of the city in my mind’s eye. Familiar corners pop up as if I might see them again soon. I miss the subway and the Beauty Bar and pizza by the slice. But I also think fondly of things and times and people from years past in the city – not so much great loves, but incidental friends – my time working in the design department at my catering company, my old roommate and apartment in Williamsburg. But both have moved on. My old room is gone and Josh moved to Paris. The gas station right outside my window will persist no doubt, its owner tromping about with badly dyed hair and matching red tank top and shorts, gold crucifix glowing from the forest of his chest hair. That corner bodega I used to visit, owned by Yemeni men – I wonder about them and how they are doing. I miss all of it in a way. That French cafe down the street with the open mic where I met my North Carolinian friends.

The years pass swiftly – it all seems so recent.

But here I sit on my little porch in Seattle, the sound of planes resonating above me – accelerating engines echo from elsewhere, but it is otherwise quiet except the sound of Teri Gross’ voice on the radio.

I cut my hair recently – in part to fix the layers which got screwed up by someone else. But I was also ready for something new. So I gave myself long bangs – or fringe, as the English have it.

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Things are really shaping up in my tiny house, which is such an absolute pleasure to live in, especially now that the rains have stopped and the sugar ants which invaded me over the winter have left me alone (encouraged by poison and some intense caulking sessions around the cottage). I just bought a little device called a HooToo NanoRouter which is tiny indeed and has solved my one persistent issue: weak wifi. Now I have a solution which allows me to use my little laptop on the porch or wherever without constantly refreshing the connection. It is also highly transportable and the sort of thing I might have dreamed of while traveling in years past.

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It is hard to believe, however, that nearly a year has passed since I got to Seattle. I guess the fact that I didn’t settle down in one spot till January made it seem like I had recently arrived. But from three months here to 10 months here has gone by in a blur!

I have been playing music – my piano and of course the guitars in my life. Trying to get back to writing songs, which seem to have been hard for me after working on my memoir for so long. It’s been nice to start writing in my journal again and learning songs on the piano after not having one for years is such a pleasure! I am so glad I bought the darn thing, or rather, paid to have it brought to me! I learned Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe When I Fall In Love” and Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” – therapy songs of power and joy.

I guess I have realized – or perhaps admitted – that I have been depressed. I haven’t put that word on it till recently, perhaps because I am finally starting to come out the other side of it. I hope. I don’t think I’ve been truly, deeply depressed since I was a teenager, though I did experience a time in college when I was very anxious. And my anxiety does always seem to be centered on the topic of love. I get squirmy and rather nervous around relationship. Very fight or flighty. I seem to search out psychologically troubled people, or they respond to me – probably both. I have to at least ask how that is reflected in me.

One aspect of my low spirits has been increased anxiety around my creativity – song-writing specifically. It’s funny how something can flow so effortlessly at times and suddenly be stanched. But I think I know what happened: I put my heart in a song – all of my love and talent and spontaneity. But it did not win me what I wanted. I’ve written songs since, of course. But the problem with writing from your heart is that it sometimes feels like wallowing. So when things didn’t work out with someone I’d thought longingly of for years, I didn’t feel like writing about it. I couldn’t. I was exhausted by grief. For my sister, my lovers, myself. I couldn’t face writing my sadness into songs and then having them in my brain as evidence of how wretched I felt.

Anyway, the point is not to go on about depression, but to say that I think perhaps I am starting to feel better. Though I loved New York and miss it in some ways, I am happy to be out of there and living a different life. Happy to be considering my next steps. I’m applying to a program in London and perhaps I’ll also go to Mexico at some point – especially if I don’t get into my London thing. I hate to think of leaving my little casita so soon – and I also enjoy the Triple Door and the friends I have been making there. But I am not sure I have found anything – or anyone – to stay here for. Once my dear Sarah has vamoosed, will I feel at sea in Seattle? Who’s to say, but I recall how strange New York seemed without my dear Nora. I do so appreciate having close friends nearby. In the absence of a reliable male partner, my girlfriends have been my closest friends and partners. Companions of heart and intellect. My sisters.

For now, we are still together and Seattle is at its most beautiful and verdant, the gardens all over the city are full of flowers and plants strange to me, mixed in, of course, with recognizable things. Strawberries are ripening in the patch of earth I weeded out and I planted two types of basil last week and today, a third, plus two kinds of tomatoes, some pickling cucumbers, Thai chilies, and lettuce. Hooray for growing things!

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Last week I went for a hike up to Rattlesnake Mountain in one of the first truly glorious days of the year. We puffed and sweated all the way to the top for the big payoff: views of the valley below, Rattlesnake Lake and tree-covered foothills stretching out for miles in the distance.

On the weekend, I had a rare Saturday off and went to the Folklife Festival in Seattle’s City Center.  We had a fun evening, drinking beer and listening to music before the festival ended and we went to a park for more beer and then walked up to Kerry Park for a view from the hillside of Queen Anne, giving a gorgeous tableau of skyline and Space Needle and the Sound.

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The cherry blossoms are done blooming, but other flowers and plants still take their turn to blossom in yards and at roadside parks. I do like all the green things growing in this Emerald City.

I’ve put this blog off for so long, I think I’ll wrap it up!

Love and miss,

K

Sisters in Seattle

I was sad upon leaving Sarasota in January: sad to say goodbye to my family and sad because I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Skye over my two weeks there. With a continent between us and only a once-a-year reunion, it was enough to make me tear up when it was time to fly out.

So Skye booked a trip to come out to Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately, Florida in March is much nicer weatherwise than Seattle, but at least it didn’t snow!

I picked her up on Friday night and we had plans to go out to a fancy club (her former favorite past time) but she was tired and after we came home and drank some pink bubbles, we instead went to Pioneer Square and met up with the fella I’ve been seeing at the bar where Nirvana apparently played their first show: the Central Saloon. It’s got a kind of seedy old school feel and I introduced my sister to my favorite cheap local beer in a can (the equivalent of PBR or Gansett on the East Coast), Rainier, usually served in tallboys. We had a couple and headed home at a decent hour, her day having been very long.

Saturday was spent exploring Pike Place Market and the shops on Post Alley, shopping for souvenirs and checking out the funky stalls and shops. Then we moved on to Pioneer Square, where we found some South Indian food (miracle of miracles!) for lunch and then did an underground tour.

In the olden days of Seattle, the downtown sloped off toward the Sound in a way that meant the streets were often inundated by the tide shifts and roads had massive potholes, large enough to lose a horse in! Logs cut from the steep hills above were skidded down to the water on what was colloquially called Skid Road. After a fire destroyed the city, they decided to build up the low lying areas and diminish the slope of the hill, but in the meantime, they built new buildings with two first floors: one for the interim before the ground was raised, and the second floor also equipped with a front door and storefront windows in preparation for the day when the new streets would be constructed.

We had hoped to dine at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, but it was all booked up, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the gift shop and then went to the bar at the Edgewater Hotel, which I didn’t realize was made famous by The Beatles and Zappa.

We met up with Sarah and went out dancing at Havana till we were done, then we followed Sarah to her salsa dancing club and watched her cut a rug in her element there.

We didn’t have much left on our list by Sunday, but we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory and met up with Sarah for dinner and drinks. Somehow, I neglected to take Skye to the place where I work, The Triple Door, and instead we went to a place called Vito’s with live music and a swanky vibe.

Skye left the next afternoon and we made a few last stops before I took her to the airport to return to Florida and her family there.

I went back to work and back to trying to earn some moolah to make up for all we spent on our adventures.

I’m finally starting to feel ready to play music out again, after a few years of being rather retreated from the limelight. And I am trying to put my heart out on the market again, though it is hard to trust total strangers! Spring has started to unfurl her tentative shoots and sprouts and I again celebrated the Persian New Year, Nowruz. I had the day off, so I went shopping for the essentials: hyacinths, apples, dried fruit, an orange to float in a bowl of water. I found some fake pastel eggs at Target (perfect because I’m not that into real eggs lately) and Sarah and I each painted one for the hast seen table, which we set on my piano.

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The Nowruz spread on my piano!

Skye’s ex-husband brought back this amazing collapsing basket from Afghanistan and we used that to display several of the traditional items on the table: walnuts, garlic and figs. Sarah found us some sumac and I had some sprouting lentils ready.

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Sarah found a perfect recipe for a soup of lentils with pasta and spinach, combined with a yogurt and mint sauce – a traditional dish for the New Year in Iran. It came out really yummy, if I do say so myself!

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It was nice to have someone to celebrate the festival with instead of doing it alone. Funny to think what I was doing last year at this time: in Brooklyn, in the snow on the first day of Spring. And now here I await the awakening in the Pacific Northwest.

I love my tiny house, though it has recently been inundated with sugar ants from all sides. They seem to have decided to nest in the walls and crawl in to bug the shit out of me. Literally. God, they’re on me now. Die ants. Die. Sigh. What have they driven me to?

The sun shines weakly through the crack in my door, but it’s welcome – the end of winter at long last. Hopefully with the end of the rains my ant problem will also dissipate like the grey skies and the shadows of the past. I don’t want to let bitterness creep into my heart. I have always been something of a nostalgic, but I don’t want to be so backward looking that I neglect the present or the future. I sometimes feel that danger. So I must keep creating and moving and loving. Lately I keep thinking of the Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” This spring, I am garlanding my heart with green. I want to release the old flames that’ve burnt up and burned out. Those people I loved, those shining lights were sparks, not the sun itself.

I realized recently that my trip to the netherworld of myself and my psyche has scraped away so many layers of my external being that I must rebuild. It is a marvelous chance and a massive undertaking to recreate oneself. I have done it before, but it’s been a while. I recall how it feels. The pain and tenderness of new eyes, new skin. We Scorpions shed our shells to stay alive – to grow. Perhaps that’s partly why I’ve stayed single so long. It has been a decade of transformation for me. And it is hard to keep anyone close at such times.

But of course I don’t really ever plan to stop transforming. So here’s hoping I learn how to be with someone while I change!

All for now –

Love and miss,

Kira

Snow Days

I need a Carrie Fisher in my life. Specifically, Carrie Fisher as she appeared in “When Harry Met Sally” – the one who tries to set you up and keeps a rolodex of men-folk to send you on dates with.

I fell in love with “When Harry Met Sally” as a teenager and watched it again and again. It was a sort of security blanket: an affirmation that love, indeed, exists. Teenagerdom was hard on me, romantically and otherwise, but somehow I was comforted to watch these youngsters transform into adults, friends, and lovers. That love would eventually find me in New York City, on New Year’s Eve – or at some other place and time – I was certain.

It was a thing I never doubted – my favorite mystery to puzzle over. Whom would I find –  who was meant to find me??? Right at the culmination of my Saturn return, I thought I found out the answer. I practically buzzed when I was around him. I glowed, I smiled, I was happy. He saw me, in some ways I think more clearly than I saw myself. Observed things I took for granted in my persona. I wonder what he saw but didn’t say.

But even while I dreamed that this was “the one,” unseen wheels turned, lies and unspoken things spun out and around us, filled my head with visions of what we could be as I spun like a top, off to Europe with my living sister and then to Burning Man to memorialize my departed sister, thinking that surely I’d be returning from the trip to claim my love prize at long last.

Of course it wasn’t to be. Hard to believe that was four years ago already. Time passes swiftly and maybe I stood still in New York a bit when I came back around. I immersed myself in a new life and it was bearable, though I feel I got it flipped backward. I wish I’d lived that free life in my twenties instead of working in offices all that time. I just thought too conventionally, I suppose. It’s taken me time to break free. C’est la vie!

Anyway.

This year I missed Christmas with my family for only the second time in my life. The first was 2006, when I was in India. Then I spent Christmas on a beach in Kerala. This year I was working a Nutcracker-themed burlesque show on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. For the holiday, Sarah and I had planned to go to a local hotel in a converted school. Our friend Marie joined us and we had a yummy dinner in the hotel restaurant and then proceeded to drink various drinks at the various bars on the premises.

Unfortunately, the saltwater swimming pool was closed, due to a fog which formed in the enclosure.

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Sarah, Marie, et moi.

We had fun, regardless.

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At McMenamins – priestess style

I spent New Year’s Eve packing my things to move, at last, to my permanent residence in a small converted garage – a cottage or tiny home – with a lofted bed and my own four walls. I was excited about the change, but hadn’t intended to have so little time to move my things between houses. Though I travel light, I bought some furniture that made this move a bit more intensive than the last. I finished moving what I could, met a friend out for a glass of bubbles at midnight, an drove home in rain that was turning to snow for an hour of sleep.

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Spangled for New Year

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With Marie on NYE

Early on New Year’s Day, I awoke and got a cab through two inches of freshly fallen snow to the airport. Despite the early hour, there was mucho traffico on the route, so the driver dropped me off near the train to the terminals rather than waiting in the backed-up lanes.

It took our plane three hours to take off, due to the unexpectedly inclement weather. Fortunately, I don’t have claustrophobia and none of the 6 babies onboard freaked out. By the time I got to DFW, my connections had been missed, so I had the pleasure of hanging out in the airport for several hours. At least there was booze!

When I finally arrived at Tampa it was after 10 pm, but still mom and dad and my sister Skye all came to pick me up at the airport, though it was past their bedtimes. The weather was especially warm this year, ominous, but not something I minded terribly after the sunless winter of Seattle (I say, a bit unfairly, as the sun shines here even as I type).

I had nearly two weeks in Florida to spend time with family and friends. Skye’s kids were with their dad for the weekend when I arrived, but we went to pick them up and I got to spend a few hours with them before heading down to see my grandmother in Sarasota.

Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s

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Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s

I was pleased to see that Cam was enjoying the keyboard I gave to him and his sister just over four years ago. Cate’s bedroom had blossomed into unicorns and rainbows. She looks remarkably like my sister Erika, though my mother and I both noted that Cate is solid muscle where Erika was bird-like and featherlight.

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Catelin and her Aunt Kira

Mom and dad and I (accompanied by Spanky the spotted hound) headed down to Sarasota to spend the week with my grandmother, Mutti, now in her 94th year. We got in time at the beach interspersed with dog walks and and hanging around the house with Mutti.

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Daddio

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The back yard looked verdant and well-tended, as usual. A new tenant took over my former stomping grounds in the studio above the carport, so I no longer had my separate space to occupy. My happy place. But one benefit of arriving after the holidays was that an actual bed was available for me to sleep in – not one of the ancient twin beds my mother and her siblings slept in in the 50’s.

I got in some good time with Lara and her entourage of dogs – and John, my oldest friend in Sarasota aside from Lara. I love being with those beloved friends from my past. It makes me feel grounded. Unfortunately, the passage of time seems to remove once-close friends, one by one. So many of those who affected me the most are no longer in my life at all. Just last year I reconnected with an old friend and was heartened to think that sometimes the shedding works the other way around and friends come back. But then it all went sideways or backwards. Anyway, I realized I’d been wrong to think that this was a renewal. It was a farewell.

I feel I’ve really said all of the farewells that need saying at this stage. I’m exhausted by it, and frankly, a bit scared to go out into the world of people again. Funny, there is this trend in the last ten years or so toward “positive thinking” among the American zeitgeist. Suddenly everyone advises us to just be positive and ask the universe for what we want and it will “manifest.” As someone who has tried to increasingly put this notion into practice, I can tell you that life does not work quite so simply. Perhaps for some, it does. They manifest the future as they want it to be.

Somehow, for me, envisioning happiness does not make it so. People change unexpectedly. I am not so inclined to change, emotionally anyway. But then, our patterns in relation to love and emotions are formed very early. In the last several years, I have explored my own inner psyche and early emotional formation. Indeed, I’ve found that the roots of my own attachment tendencies are deeply mangled.

Looking into the abyss of one’s own dark places is heavy work. And, as I have learned, it is a journey one must take alone.

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With mom and Spanky at the St. Pete beach before my flight back to Seattle

I sleep well in the lofted bed and I finally have a piano – since I don’t have any stairs to cramp my style! I found one for free on Craigslist and just paid a couple of guys to deliver it. My landlord has lived in this little cottage for years, so it is full of his things, but I packed away what didn’t please me to make room for the piano and my other rearrangements.

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I can’t wait till summer comes, but meanwhile, the cottage is cozy and it was kind of enchanting when it snowed yesterday and doused the garden and my bamboo with white.

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Snowy yard

I stayed home and painted, avoiding the Superbowl hullaballoo on Sunday, though I was grateful I went to Trader Joe’s before the snow so I could nestle in and paint yesterday.

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Part of my cute little house

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Sunflower watercolor

Yesterday evening, I met up with my dear friend Sarah at Capitol Cider, where I sang with the improv jazz jam that happens every Monday night.

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At Cap Cider with my Saddah Diva

Sarah and I have been doing a good job, if I do say so myself, of getting out into the world. We have been to live music, storytelling and theatre since I’ve been back, in addition to some yoga and dancing.

And I feel like maybe – just maybe – I’ve been able to make it through the darkness and I’m emerging out the other side, despite my lack of a Carrie Fisher to drag me back out there. It can’t rain all the time, or so said my favorite 90’s goth movie, The Crow (to mix my movie metaphors).

Working as a waiter in a fast-paced theatre environment is stimulating and living in my tiny house for cheap rent is a dream.

So far 2017 is a good year, despite our disgusting political situation, which is barely worth writing about.

Love and miss,

Kira

Burning, Turning

As Fall approaches and Summer prepares to fold up her many-colored tents, Burning Man is mostly emptied by now. Five years ago I flew to Reno to say goodbye to my sister Erika. She was in the hospital after a catastrophic cerebral edema. She looked just as she had in life, but now her life was perpetuated by machines.

Just a couple of days before, she was doing yoga on the Playa with her boyfriend. She was cooking a curry, drinking a Corona, riding her baby blue beach cruiser through the swirling columns of alkaline dust – to the ethereal architecture of the Temple of Transcendence.

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Erika in 2010 at Burning Man

Erika’s edema coincided with the burning of the Man, occurring on the Friday night of the festival. As she was inundated with water, the man was consumed by flames. Now, every year as Labor Day weekend nears, we think of that desert and the flames and the celebration, which coincides with our memory of the day we got the news.

I’m living in Seattle now. Four years ago, I came West for Burning Man and stayed here for a time in the aftermath. Being here again, on the anniversary of Erika’s death, can’t help but remind me of all I was dealing with then. The specter of an old amour even reared his head not so long ago, but otherwise the past seems to be quiet. It is only in memory that I am haunted.

Friday night I was training for a new job as a server in a music venue/dinner theater. Saturday I took the day off, feeling tired and overwhelmed by all the movement of late. I had the feeling as the end of the month approached that I needed to find shelter and prepare for the coming storm of grief. Like a cloud of dust that swirls around one, causing time travel – whisking one away from the present and into the past.

Saturday night, I bought sparkling rose and cheeses. I bought dolmas, which I remembered my love for at Burning Man in 2012. Sarah came over and we feasted and toasted to Erika with the lovely peach-colored bubbles, of which I’m sure she would have approved.

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Erika the Red

In Arkansas, my mother made an effigy of a cat with arched back for her annual Burning Woman ceremony – she said the theme this year was “the year of the cat.” In Florida, Skye and Erika’s friend Lara burned a paper mache lucky cat in their ceremony. I was unable to have a proper burn, as a friend of a friend was using the outdoor firepit to burn a large pile of paperwork and prevented our making use of it. Ah well, at least some sort of purge took place!

The weather has already pivoted toward Fall here in Seattle and I’m staying in a cute little home south of the city. There are all manner of trees in the back yard: figs, walnuts, even a fruitful grapevine. The squirrels are quite numerous, as are the crows.

But this is just my home for September, as I continue to look for my forever home (or at least my “for 6 months” home!). I don’t like living out of suitcases. Sigh.

I’ve been getting the hang of Seattle, taking the lightrail downtown for work.

Plus I’m living in the same city as one of my best friends, Sarah. It’s been fun to spend time with her and see Seattle through her eyes.

Summer is gone so soon and time flies fast since July when I left New York. I drove through Cleveland and stopped to stay with the lovely Ziegenhagens before heading south to spend some time with my daddio. Mom was in Florida at the time, I’ve been so constantly consumed with “devoirs” – duties. But I had a few days off this weekend to wander some local parks with Sarah and we even went to a movie!

It might be a pattern I’ve set up for myself over the last five years: become exhausted in early September either from travels or fashion week or both. It is a sort of ritual, echoing the time after Erika died when I spent many nights wakeful in her little back yard.

Now it feels like things are clearing up a bit. The storm has passed. I heard the song “The Eye” by Brandi Carlile this year as I was driving back to New York from Florida, post X-mas, having hatched the plan to move to Seattle six months on.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl_eNu4NUVI

I’m glad folk music is making a comeback. I’m hoping it makes a comeback in my own life.

All for now,

Love and miss –

Kira

 

 

the great north west

i’d been to portland once before, back in 2009, when i was dating an ex (not usually a good idea) who lived there (long distance – see previous parenthesis). this time i stayed with jenna for a few days and took care of some chores. a couple of days later, we were joined by my new friend julian, whom we met at the hot springs in south oregon after burning man (summer lake hot springs).

jenna and i at summer lake hot springs

we decided to go camping out of town at battle ground lake in washington, but didn’t reserve and those outdoorsy oregonians had filled up the joint, so we ended up doing the twilight desperation drive to another far less inviting spot. the next day the sunny weather let up and it was a bit chilly. we went to a house where several of julian’s friends lived – the mansion: an historic home with a great view of. . . industrial portland in all its glory (the john mock house).

there was a park party happening that night under the st. john’s bridge and several of the housemates were planning to go. it is a beautiful bridge and a great park in general. people were dancing to trancy music and sitting on blankets, practicing spinning or hulahooping. a friend of julian’s had a blanket and poured tea into quaint cups for us and let us taste her honey collection. when night came the fire spinners lit their implements and began to show their stuff. afterward we went to a house party and ended up back at the mansion to eat and sleep. the next day i went back to jenna’s to take care of some business and julian returned home to seattle.

one day we had acupuncture from jenna’s boyfriend, chris, and then were joined by his young son to see the swifts that live in a certain chimney in a portland school in the fall. a crowd gathers each night to picnic there and kids slide down a hill on cardboard boxes before the birds arrive. when they do, they are joined by hawks which chase them and nearly caught a few birds, but ultimately just added excitement that night to the already fascinating spiral of birds flying into the narrow opening. my cousin ian and his wife beth met us there and took me to a mcmenimins bar – one of man owned by two enterprising brothers who renovate spaces into cool bars and restaurants. i last saw ian when we were kids, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

we went to another bar when a fire alarm went off at the first and met jenna there. when everyone needed to leave, my friend lenore came and her friend offered me a ride home, so i stayed with her and danced to the band.

next morning i had to pack pack for a camping trip with abby from burning man. i was going with her and some of her friends to the san juan islands off the coast of washington north of seattle.

i met up with abby and we ran a few errands – including visiting one of portland’s famous food trucks and enjoying some aardvark hot sauce on my egg sandwich.

we headed north and made it to the costco to do some shopping before going to the marina and taking everything we needed on the boat to go to blakely island, where abby’s uncle has two cabins and she was encouraged to visit and bring friends. the ride was heavenly – green islands reflected in mercurial and very pure looking water that changes with the color of the sky while remaining clear. we saw sea lions basking on rocks and headed west to the island. a car awaited us there, unlocked, with the keys in it, since where are you going to hide a stolen car on a tiny island? we transferred our goods and drove to the cabins. they were large and comfy and boasted a rustic woodburning hot tub outside beneath tall cedars.

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abby took us on a tour of the island, including its airstrip, which was most surreal. many of the people who live there commute by prop plane and their houses ring the runway, their little colorful planes parked in front of their houses, which frequently resembled boats, themselves. apple trees full of fruit in many yards and deer in abundance as well.

the hot tub was a nightly ritual, 5 out of the 6 of us climbing in to enjoy its delicious warmth and the peaceful night outside.

blakely island

we hiked up a lovely winding trail to a vista point overlooking the san juans and it seemed like paradise for eternity spread out before us.

that night i needed to head to seattle to be ready to meet a friend the next morning for an outing. abby and a couple of the others came with me to the marina and we said our goodbyes before i got on the road and they headed back to the heavenly island for a couple more days.

i had never been to seattle before. julian was running a show and i drove to the area and got food and drink before searching him out. though i had been planning to check out the party, i ultimately crashed and needed to emergency nap in my car. i awoke just before dawn, to my surprise. julian and i made it back to his house early that morning and caught another few winks before i needed to get down to milton oregon, where my friend teri card lives with her husband jesse, both of whom i know from arkansas in the old days.

i found their place and they made breakfast before we headed out to mt. ranier. it was a gorgeous day, warm but breezy and we climbed and chatted.

  

we stopped for lunch on the way back and had a quiet evening with their two large and affectionate dogs, a german shepherd named lyra and malamute called kai. the next day teri and i explored the city a bit, getting lunch in capitol hill and walking around the market and waterfront.

  

julian met us up and we went out to dinner at an indian place called ana purna. when we made it back to our car, the garage it was in was prematurely locked and we all had to stay at julian’s for the night. teri and i headed back to her place the next morning and she had lessons later that day so after lunch with jesse, i headed back to julian’s.

the weather was perfect and we spent lazy days in his yard relaxing and listening to records, enjoying the sunshine and the shade of a cherry tree. we made time for multiple sunsets and went on a long walk through his neighborhood to the beach by the sound, down some steep and endless seeming stairs in the darkness, to wind up on the beach with the moon shining over the water, sunset still pinking the sky ever so slightly. we also went to discovery park, where we ate blackberries and tasted tiny, hard apples.

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discovery park sunset 

my cousin alec lives north of seattle for grad school and i went up to have lunch with him and then returned to seattle to meet up with my ex, kevin bogle. we had dinner and tea and caught up for a while before i headed to julian’s for one last night in seattle.

i headed south the next day and stayed with my cousin ian and his wife and kids in vancouver washington for the night. the next day ian and i went downtown to run errands and get lunch. i went back to jenna’s to make preparations to leave the next day, but was thwarted by back pain that demanded more acupuncture and a day’s rest. i left the next day for california – my destination: alexi and alex’s wedding in santa barbara.

but that’s another post. all for now – promise to be quicker!

love and miss,

kira