Sunday, March 25, 2012

my notes and highlights from brian doyle's novel mink river

A town not big not small. In the hills in Oregon on the coast. Bounded by four waters: one muscular river, two shy little creeks, one ocean. End of May—the first salmonberries are just ripe.
Note: the first "complete" sentence strikes after three periods. poet or novelist?

if it fermented or a mouse died in it or what.
Note: ok so fragmenty + made-up words + negative examples that push further and further into their own imaginary hypothetical worlds + a dark humor and a flare for image.
the oldest of which finally collapses on page 141.
Note: check this later.
like to paint for inchoate inarticulate unconscious reasons they can’t explain.
Note: oh to be a geometrist of perspective or a painter in touch with his intuitive side

sheer jungle energy of trees and plants here,
Note: one of the reviewers mentioned the books love affair with adjectives and that reviewer could be right--do we really need "sheer" here?
but don’t get all fascist and linear and anal like highways do;
Note: though you did mention intersections and angles
or the black bear who wandered through the recycling shed at the Department of Public Works and tore apart a pile of newspapers and was discovered reading the New York Times travel section, turning the pages daintily with her claws as big and sharp as steak knives.
Note: awesome
look up, right over there, see the eagle flying low and fast down Curlew Street? Watch: as he sails over the grocery store he whirls and snatches a whirling piece of cardboard, and he flapflopflaps down the street triumphantly, big as a tent, you can almost hear him thinking I am one bad-ass flying machine, this weird flat brown bird didn’t get away from me, no sir, nothing can elude my lightning deftness in the air …
Note: i'm not sure about this book yet, but i do like that eagle...
that no rumpled sheets will tell tales of their vigorous unclothedness;
Note: so the lack of commas in this list is meant to give it a similar vigor? to passively apologize for your use of semicolons?
and so many more stories, all changing by the minute, all swirling and braiding and weaving and spinning and stitching themselves one to another and to the stories of creatures in that place, both the quick sharp-eyed ones and the rooted green ones and the ones underground and the ones too small to see, and to stories that used to be here, and still are here in ways that you can sense sometimes if you listen with your belly, and the first green shoots of stories that will be told in years to come—so many stories braided and woven and interstitched and leading one to another like spider strands or synapses or creeks that you could listen patiently for a hundred years and never hardly catch more than shards and shreds of the incalculable ocean of stories just in this one town, not big, not small, bounded by four waters, in the hills, by the coast, end of May, first salmonberries just ripe.
Note: there are so many stories
capacious shadow
Note: he likes to stick with the same words. repetition is his game. also. eagle!
The two men are drinking beer and eating salmonberries.
Note: of course they are
Note: nice. ok, ill shut up soon.
You were going on interminably one day about how one way to defeat Time is by recording every story possible. Not only from people but from everything living.
Note: something tells me this is the theme of the book...
holding on to his line of talk like a rope,
Note: lame
I mean, really, to preserve history, collect stories, repair marriages, prevent crime, augment economic status, promote chess, manage insect populations, run sports leagues, isn’t that a bit much? We even give haircuts.
Note: i love your department!
We have brains that still work so we have to apply them to pain.
Note: the moral imperative
To speak to her honestly about her behavior is to care about her, Billy.
Note: love = honesty?
This is me, Worried Man, making a tape for my grandson Daniel,
Note: draculalike use of multiple mediums
fat half-ton animal is no easy matter, as you can imagine.
Note: ha-some description of horse stealing
Mink River.
Note: first eponymn
defeat it for a while. Which we did for a while.
Note: on "learning" to make love
Her eyes are brown and green and when she is angry the green parts of her eyes flash like fish leaping in a river.
Note: someone who rated the book a one offered this as an example of ridiculously bad writing. i can't decide whether it's good, atrocious, or neither.
boneheadery and lazitude and punishness and detentionery.
Note: i like these words but i doubt the teacher thinks in these words
Green fish are leaping furiously in her eyes.

He makes friends easily because he likes to listen and he is almost always cheerful, even with girls. He thinks about girls all the time. He likes to ride his bike in the woods as fast as he can go.

out that her boyfriend is a liar in about three weeks.
Note: ack (and also, thats very stream of c there)
Grace notices that Red Hugh can no longer easily bend over and pick up heavy tools so she patches the tires.
Note: is this repetition really necessary? id omit this paragraph.
because she packed a suitcase two years ago and walked out the door without a word. The suitcase was enormous. It was far too big for her to carry. The sound of it being dragged down the gravel driveway will stay with Grace and her brothers for ever and ever and ever.

the sagging couch in the corner. Apples. Wet clothes. Bread. Crow.
Note: a list! i really like his lists, but i sometimes feel that his rhythm is haphazard, which i dont like.
Owen’s son Daniel recently began a list of the things in this room:
Note: i like daniel.
help, which he did, to the quiet pleasure of his father.
Note: perfect
Note: and i love cedar, though wasnt cedar short and old? and does he think this will actually work? physical power stopping physical power...
your daddy has been a capering fox every minute

It began as a talk about carving holes in wood and then spun into holes in people, things missing; or as she said the feeling that something was missing that you’d never had and hadn’t known you didn’t have until suddenly you knew it.
Note: scary holes
Does she pay that much attention to you? Sure
Note: smrt kid
and soon after that we were trading salty kisses in our own language her long hair whirling around us like the salty arms of the salty sea.

Sentence of the day.
Note: wow.
There is no real love without fascination.

[Who are you?]

Moses, who had been taught to speak by a shy nun who found him broken in the mud, is intricately courteous and circumspect; also he has a dry humor and a corvidian cast of mind, as he likes to say, that combine to make his remarks intriguing.
Note: the crow can converse? wh-wh-what?
A new crow is an awkward cake from the bakery of the Lord; all angles and bones, half naked still from the shell, hardly feathered at all.

when she is bent over her desk in the window he floats over from the top of the refrigerator to her desk and says to her pain mud mother. A sentence neither of them ever forgot.
Note: memory is a big theme here.
A man’s hipbones are handles for his woman’s hands.

Is this a nutty family or what?
Note: yes (and good summary)
He loves opera and his favorite opera of all is Puccini’s Tosca, which he knows by heart and plays constantly in the car. She thinks secretly that he will leave her because she is not exciting.
Note: here i think the back and forth works better than with the father-daughter passage a few pages ago, because of the language being parallel--he said... she said...
forty years times a hundred dinners a year adds up to, let’s see, four thousand invitations. Or maybe eight thousand. And not one declined.
Note: i like friendship.
awake for hours with his eyes glinting in the murky dark.
Note: a beautiful sad list about eating.
stop and Daniel flies over the edge of the cliff with his backpack flapping and his braids going in three directions and his mouth open but no sound emerging whatsoever.
Note: ack. well i guess we were given hints that something bad was on the horizon
The darkness dread & drear. Blake.
Note: i wish i knew blake better.
young woman in throbbing pain on the deck is his daughter.
Note: yep
They are sad stories some of them but we are made of joy and woe both.

hair as black as the inside of a dog.
Note: there it is again. i prefer the black as the back of midnight line.
He has never walked on the beach because he believes the roaring ocean is a bear of incomprehensible size.
Note: i love bears.
and about the father who died and when the doctor opened him afterwards they found he’d eaten nothing but bits of skins of potatoes for months, giving all the potatoes to his wife and children.
Note: good or bad decision?
The man who lied in court is kneeling on the beach praying.
Note: i like how he shows the multitude of stories by just showng fragments of this story. i wonder whether these fragments will bloom into more.
The man who beats his son is on his knees by his bed praying.
Note: two "bad" guys praying; one "good" guy praying.
walks with it upright uphill to where the doctor is waiting.
Note: um.
meat in holes.
Note: ah
the salmonberry bushes. The word for salmonberry is eye of spring.
Note: bear language is rad
Let’s have another baby so we can name her Albina.
Note: opportunity...
If you have a true story and some good water you will be all right,

Funny the things you remember: I remember their feet had exactly the same rhythm as the sea.
Note: stories stories stories
Where and what is Neawanaka? Maple Head poses this question to her class. In one page or less explain our position, character, and/or unique properties. Extra cr for imagination. No copying. I’ll give you ten minutes. Ready? Begin. Answers:
Note: good idea
Neawanaka is the muddy fiefdom of two old men who have for many years manipulated county and state public works budget allocations to fund an endless series of foolhardy and very probably criminal enterprises, that’s what my dad says.
Note: that sounds true but theyre rad enterprises
for he is a man of great imagination, and each cigarette during the course of his day has taken on the flavor of the man for whom it is named. For example his first cigarette of the day, which is called Peter, is the foundation for all else to come, raw and headlong and rough and wonderful, and his fourth cigarette of the day is sweet John, gentle and best loved, inhaled peacefully right after lunch, and his seventh of the day is Thomas the Doubter, which he usually smokes late in the afternoon, when he is tired and riven with the pain of his patients, and fully aware, painfully aware, uncomfortably aware, that the specific assigned mission of the twelve apostles themselves, the real men who walked the earth long ago, fishermen and tax collectors and laborers and such, prickly and confused and exhilarated, was to cure and cleanse every disease and every illness, and drive out the demons in the minds of men and women and children, and accept no coin for their belts, nor sandals, nor walking sticks, but to be sheep in the midst of wolves, shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
Note: note to self or to dana:the next time youre smoking twelve cigarettes, think of the disciples
Note: whats with the geo directions all of a sudden
Judas son of Iscariot. This man purchased a field with the reward of his iniquity. How very many fields have been purchased with blood money through history, mm?
Note: good point.
We are all war stories.

and then he lies awake for hours with his eyes glinting in the murky dark.
Note: again. poor doctor (?)
Red Hugh has needed his stick to walk properly since he was twenty years old and was lost in the mountains for three days and lost both of his fecking big toes to frostbite.
Note: surprise
as he had half expected would happen when he died,
Note: nice
they sing, a kind of a cheerful prayer or chant of musselness and musselhood,

I know you, says Grace. You’re the kid whose dad beats him up.
Note: um...
They say a lot of things that make you laugh if you listen carefully.
Note: like your gfather
lions speaking in a wet brown language he has always known, its words kelp and salt in his mouth, its verbs the whispers of the sea.
Note: beautiful
Declan stares at his battered boat dead on the shore.
Note: everything is so perfectly connected. it may be gimmicky to do the switchwitheachline thing but it al fits together so well and then this. as if the boat and his father red...
and falls asleep.

supplice a tuoi piedi, on my knees I beg for mercy.
Note: wow
Note: the italics are gone
and Owen never tired of playing it.
Note: quite the song
She was as free as anyone ever could be and so she was trapped.

We’re all a step from the abyss, he thinks. One slip and it’s all over. We’re all a car wreck or a disease or a wrenched back or a black funk or a badly hurt child or a bitter divorce away from disaster.

From long bilingual habit he translates silently in his mind sentence by sentence as he goes.
Note: thanks.
Note: on rain
On Rachel taking off her shirt with both hands in the deft graceful crosshanded way that women pull their shirts over their heads
Note: i need to see me some of that deft grace
Note: list of various perceptions of time.
noon Mass.
Note: a noon mass eh
for each of us, man and woman alike, is a seething sea of desires and shadows, of illusions and dreams, of courage and cowardice, and we arrive in peaceful harbors only by sailing ourselves true, by finding and wielding our talents as tools to help others. In a real sense we arrive home only by leaving the island of I.
Note: we must serve others. nicely homilied.
not knowing quite yet whether or not to take your glasses off when you kiss intensely or where to put your hands exactly or whether to keep your eyes closed all the time or not
Note: whats the answer
eyes locked their loins locked her fingers locked in his hair.
Note: well i guess thats an answer
away that he thinks she doesn’t see him but she does.
Note: whyd he go to church?
Lock the door, she says.
Note: mass leads to sex. hmm...
She desires my joy. I desire her joy. That’s the point of being married. To want the other to be joyfully at peace.
Note: the point of marriage
Note: not just bad or not well nut evil
sees Rachel flash past as leggy and free as a young deer and Rachel sees Sara as strong and wise as the sea.
Note: ah misperception
I’m not her father or brother or lover. I am no one to her. I’m no one. I have no right. You have to love someone before you can say something searing. Isn’t that right? You have to love people to hurt them. Isn’t that right?
Note: wow. on inflicting pain.
here I am, Kristi. Here I am.
Note: so biblical
One time an old man who used to be a track coach brought a stopwatch to the beach and timed her and did some calculations and then threw his stopwatch into the sea. That really happened.

I wish only to see her again. Her face is now my food.
Note: love
the sound of lost, the sound of empty, the sound of alone.

Part of Sara wants to bolt back up the path
Note: indeed. i would bolt.
of the burly broken mewling world.

These things matter to me,
Note: perhaps i should make this list...
The way that frozen dew outlines every blade of grass. Salmonberries thimbleberries cloudberries snowberries elderberries salalberries gooseberries. My children learning to read.

Book marginalia written with the lightest possible pencil as if the reader is whispering to the writer.
Note: my marginalia is more like screaming
That young guy on the island, Nora, he told me he ran out of bullets and hope on that island. He wanted to die. But he got himself back, Nora. He started again clean. He was born a second time. He used to say that his old self died on one island and his new self was born one island over. I disremember the name of the second island but he used to call it Resurrection Island. He used to wonder if there were lots of resurrection islands. I think maybe there are. I think maybe they are all over the place. I think maybe we don’t even see the half of them.
Note: Cedar on resurrection islands.
end over end a tiny silver bird flying toward the sea.
Note: i did not expect that.
and enters the ancient endless patient ocean, where all stories end, where all stories are born.

and wondered at the wander of her life.

Note: blakes back!
There’s a story in everything and the more stories I hear the less sad I am.

Tu tu tu, says Nora, and they howl with laughter, howl so loud that the loon at sea turns to look at what it takes to be two new loons on land.
Note: nice
Cows smell the smoke and do nothing.
Note: ha
Two yellowjacket wasps linger by the grill where shreds of meat adhere until Cedar says something quietly to them in their language and they rise quietly into the air and go home.
Note: he speaks wasp
Note: not sure why teres so much yellow recently
One thing he has learned in his practice is to hear what his patients don’t say; which is, he has often thought, more telling than their tales. He cuts another pear.
Note: this is interesting in light of the fact that we read a lot of stories or tales inthis book, so its almost as if in this one sentence the doctor offers cause to reread and reconsider all that has preceded this...
They smelled like grandfathers, she said once to her husband, who never forgot anything she said to him, and often turned her remarks this way and that in his mind long afterward, looking at them from different angles, wondering.
Note: rad
Most definitely he is getting into the next county and then he will figure it out from there.
Note: why didnt he already do that then?
Sometimes something changes you forever and often it’s the smallest thing, a thing you wouldn’t think would be able to carry such momentous weight, but it’s like playground teeter-totters, those exquisitely balanced splintery pine planks with a laughing or screaming child at each end, where the slightest change in weight to one end tips everything all the way; and what tipped the doctor into a new life just happened a minute ago.
Note: life can be teetertottery
now; but the doctor stood at the sink like a stone.
Note: not a scene one would necessarily teetertotter one
The guy feels everything on his face, the wild holy world, the salt and the wet wind and the wheel of the birds, the hot sweet fingers of the sun, and then he stops thinking, he loses thought, he sifts down below where thoughts are, the last images in his mind as his lights go dim are his children when they were very small, the squirm and wrestle and tumult of them, the very last picture in his mind is them tumbling on a brilliant wooden floor, and then he’s gone, and Declan is holding what used to be a man.
Note: a death scene
wrestle with each other and then alder totally wins the day.
Note: :)
like a baby asleep under the maternal jaw;
Note: int image tom because jaw somehow sounds ver masculine to me.
Time in its motley colors. It has color as well as speed and pace. Of course there are blue times and gray times, black times and golden times, times of red rage, time with russet edges, etc. Time held me green and dying though I sang in my chains like the sea. Dylan Thomas. Should write this down. Be a great project. Measure color spectra over time duration in coordination with perception of same. Owen can make a machine. Also examine perceived color of time in concert with reported emotional state: nostalgia, sentimentality, melancholy, romance, frustration, etc. Public Work. Imagine the report! Colored filters, film spools. Spoor of time.
Note: Pete and Bendan, look time and color!
what to make of this new liquid noise in the world.
Note: nice
Note: i think he likes this word.
Sometimes we were ill and hungry and the rain was relentless and I couldn’t see any way we would ever get out. Love doesn’t save anybody.

The Boys, we hated that, the three of us labeled genderically,

Final project, says Maple Head to her class. In the last fifteen minutes of class today, write down some things you believe in that don’t make sense.
Note: Interesting thing to consider?
There are some things about even the people you love the best and deepest that you will never know. That’s just how it

My friend Kristi thinks that our town will become famous for storytelling. She says maybe we will build a storytelling factory and people will come to hear and buy and trade stories and there will be story festivals and contests and etc.
Note: k is wise
Human people, says Moses, think that stories have beginnings and middles and ends, but we crow people know that stories just wander on and on and change form and are reborn again and again.
Note: crows are wise
Because stories keep going and going. They are a sort of food, I think. But what do I know, Owen? I am only an old crow person who used to have wings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Andrew's Housewarming Open House, Party, & Coffeehouse

What/When/Where: Drop in between 2ish and midnight for some fun at Andrew, Jon, and Pete's new house (see schedule below)

Who: You, your friends, and people you like

Why: To celebrate new abodes, hang out with friends, eat good food, crown a foosball champion, and have our minds blown by art and laughter.

Schedule: Scroll down!

Frequently Asked Questions: here!

2:00 p.m. on, Part I, the Open House:
Drop by to hang out, tour the house, play foosball, help design the future rec-room, watch some football on the fifty-five-inch telly, and if the weather cooperates, stand around a fire pit.

6:00 p.m. on, Part II, the Party:
And now the official festivities begin--continue the merriment of the two o’clock hour (e.g., house tour, foosball, fire), but with food and drinks and awkward standing around talking to people! Andrew will make a TBD meal, and everyone can bring food and drinks to share. Sometime between six o’clock and coffeehouse, there will be at least one round of Andrew’s favorite game: Eat Poop You Cat!

(6:45 foosball tourney begins!)

~8:00 p.m. on, Part III, the Coffeehouse:
Coffeehouse! If you’ve never been to coffeehouse, imagine yourself drinking a hot beverage (like coffee) in a house—would you come to a party where the main event was drinking coffee in a house? If not, imagine that house filled with people you like, and then imagine those people doing funny, cool, profound things. Coffeehouse is like an informal, relaxed open mic: bring something strange, awkward, amazing, philosophical, horrible, profound, or hilarious to share. It can be something you’ve written or read—a passage from a novel, a poem, a scrap of foreign garbage. It can be a piece of music (we have a piano!). It could be a painting, a joke, a magic trick, a memory, or a monologue from Freaks and Geeks. Anything!

After the party:
If you're coming from out of town or need a place to crash after such intense partying, we'll divvy up the spare beds and couches so you can spend the night.

Frequently Asked Questions (about Andrew's Housewarming Open House, Party, & Coffeehouse)

Because every party needs a FAQ.

What kind of crazy person plans a three-stage party that starts at two o’clock in the afternoon and doesn’t end until the next day? When do you really want me to show up? When is fashionably late for a party like this?

The schedule was Andrew’s idea. He’s the crazy one.

The original thought for the three-stage party was that some people might want to help christen the house but wouldn’t be free during the evening, that some people might want to bring their kids, who must hibernate in the evening, and that some people might despise the idea of sharing good literature, clever music, and funny antics and would prefer an event that combined food and conversation but avoided the oddities of open mike.

As for when to show up, the first-stage (Part I, the Open House) is intended to be a casual-drop-in-whenever-you-feel-like-it-and-then-hang-out-until-you-feel-like-leaving-or-just-stay-until-the-party-gets-going period. For everything else, check out the tentative schedule and arrive when you feel like arriving. But don’t blame us if that means you miss foosball or Eat Poop You Cat or coffeehouse.

All I want to do is play foosball. When should I show up?

We’re hoping to make an official bracket of everyone participating in the tourney at 6:45, but if people show up at other times in the day for foosball madness, we can have auxiliary tournaments, or you can just kick the ball around at your leisure. Make sure to stretch good, though, whatever you do…

You mentioned food and/or drink, what should I bring?

Something you like. Something that’s tasty.

Um, does coffeehouse take place at your house or at an actual coffeehouse?

Our house. Coffeehouse is just the name of Part III of the event. And we stole the event (and name) from Greta, who has hosted coffeehouse for several years now.

Will there be coffee at coffeehouse?

None of the residents at 5802 4th Ave NW are particularly good at making specialty coffee creations, so this would be up to you...

Am I required to bring something to share at coffeehouse? I’m feeling a little nervous about this…

Nope. But it’ll be informal and relaxed, so we’re hoping you’ll bring something. And we’re hoping you won’t feel nervous. After all, if everyone is freaked out about participating, there will be no coffeehouse!

I’m still confused about what I should share at coffeehouse. Help!

I think the original description pretty much covers it—you can bring anything that is in someway illuminating or entertaining or strange. Here’s what Andrew has shared at past coffeehouse (or Thomas Parker Society) gatherings:

• An odd paragraph from the novel Tinkers about how our lives our futile, painful things, but that at least we have them, and for that we should praise God.
• A piano cover of “Army” by Ben Folds Five in which Andrew was so nervous it took him a full minute to start the song.
• A scene from a play Andrew wrote about people on Facebook who don’t like Cormac McCarthy, the author of Blood Meridian, The Road, The Border Trilogy, and other amazing works of fiction.
• A short story from Justin Taylor’s collection Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever about relationships, God, and playing Tetris during the apocalypse.

I can’t wait for coffeehouse! I’m so excited! I have like a dozen things to share, including a thirty-minute reading from Leviticus. Is that OK?

Probably not. If twenty people bring twenty things to share, everyone will be spending the night. And if five people bring thirty-minute readings from ancient genealogies, we’ll all fall asleep right where we sit. Thus, try to keep your contributions to a minimum, though we might be able to accommodate multiple contributions in different genres (e.g., an interpretive dance and an oboe solo).

What if it snows?

We can build snowfolk and sing Christmas carols around the fire pit! Although, if it’s really cold we may want to ditch the fire pit idea and just stay in the house. In any case, if it snows, you’re welcome to stay the night at my house. Or there’s plenty of flat street parking, so you don’t need to be concerned with getting caught on some horrible, icy hill.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

looking for a housemate; $650 Phinney/Ballard


I'm looking for another male housemate in a 4-BR house in Phinfreard--just east of Ballard, northwest of Fremont, at the foot of Phinney Ridge. I'm biased but I think it's a cool house and a fun place to live (note that the images in this post are of the staging furniture from before the house was sold; my furniture is uglier). The room is available as of today!

I like lists and am mildly obsessed with making exhaustive ones whenever I'm up against any kind of a tough decision, so here's a list of traits about the housing sitch, not that the decision to live here should be tough:

GEOGRAPHY (58th and 4th Ave NW)
-There is plenty of street parking.
-It's on a quiet street (4th Ave NW) but a block from a speedy, not-so-trafficky, minor north-south arterial (3rd Ave NW) with easy access to hwy 99, Fremont, Ballard, or Phinney Ridge.
-There are nearby bus connections to downtown (on 8th) or UW (on Market).
-And it's a leisurely walk to pizza/bar/coffee on Market and 6th, pizza/pubs/crepes/coffee on 65th and 5th, and basketball courts on 56th and 4th.

THE INTERIOR: THE ROOM FOR RENT (see the floor plan here)
-It's located on the main floor.
-There are two windows (one to the backyard, the other looking over 58th Ave).
-Its coolest trait is probably the built-in bookcases.
-The room includes access to its own bathroom (full), though because the bathroom is on the main floor, house guests may use it as well

-The kitchen includes a dishwasher, gas stove/oven, microwave, and refrigerator.
-There's a little dining room that's currently inhabited by a table and four chairs.
-The living room has windows with partial views of the Olympics, and, once I find a good deal on Craig's List, a gas fireplace.
-There's also a piano in the living room, so if you play the piano or like to jam on some other instrument, this could be an awesome place for you, but if the thought of someone playing the same Flaming Lips, Ben Folds Five, The National, Rise Up Singing, or Michael W. Smith songs over and over again makes you queasy, strike this house from your list.

THE INTERIOR: THE BASEMENT FLOOR (see floor plan here)
-There is another bedroom in the basement. This room is scheduled to be rented to a thirty-something high school teacher who attends Bethany.
-Laundry room! Hooray for doing laundry!
-There's also an unfinished basement that I'm hoping to finish this winter, converting it from a cold, concrete storage area to a cozy hang-out space with a nice TV, comfy couch, foosball table, and exciting ping pong action.

-There are two bedrooms upstairs, one that I live in and another that doubles as an office and a guest room. The guest room would occasionally be available for your out-of-town visitors.

-That's me! I just purchased the house this summer.
-I'm an easygoing fellow who likes to discuss books, watch movies, take hikes, play soccer (I started a co-ed team a few years ago with some other Bethany members) and basketball, eat panang curry and sugar cereal, and hang out with friends. I also like to provide way too many details on mundane things like posts about housing openings.
-I envision this house as a place where our friends feel welcome to swing by and hang out, but where we also can find the quiet we may need to think/study/work/sleep. To that end, I like to have friends over but I don't particularly like to throw huge, raging parties. I'm hoping for a housemate with a similarish perspective.
-I'm an editor for the UW Department of Psychiatry and for a journal of theology and culture called The Other Journal ( I also do some freelance editing projects here and there.

-I'd like to find a housemate who is laid-back, reliable, and fun to live with, as well as:
--similarish in age (twenty-or-thirty-something)
--nonsmoker (though the occasional front porch pipe is certainly OK)
--not a heavy drinker (but a lover of good beer/wine is totally cool)
--no drugs
--a Christian
-I recently participated in a community meal setup where each participant cooked a meal one day a week and then received a meal three other days that week. I don't expect my housemates to share in such a crazy food pursuit, but I would like to have house meals at least once every few weeks

-First and last month's rent and a $500 damage deposit; if necessary, last month's rent and the damage deposit can be made in payments over the first few months
-Utilities are split between the residents (including me)
-No pets

Sunday, June 05, 2011

drawings and questions concerning my house

last week i negotiated my way into owning half a house. it was my dad's idea, and so he will own the other half, perhaps the unfinished-basement half.

this probably means i am an adult or that i am insane or at least that i will soon be broke. i don't get the keys, though, until late june. in the meantime, i'm pondering my impending house ownership by recreating from memory and pictures the layout of the house. i suppose i hope that by getting it down on paper, i might better envision how the new digs will fit together with my life.

feel free to take a gander and let me know if you have thoughts about the questions posed below. these questions may also feature prominently in my upcoming though not necessarily for real Come Visit My Empty House and Vote on Where to Put Stuff, What to Charge for Rent, and the Hows and Whys of Other Important Adult Decisions party.

here are some drawings:

notes: the vertical rectangle in the living room is a fireplace. all squiggly lines are windows. also, i will be living in one room of this house (presumably the master bedroom on the second floor) and renting out two rooms. bedroom a will be one of the rooms that i hope to rent out.

1. where should the piano go? i imagine it would go flush against the stairs wall in the first-floor living room.

2. how should i arrange the living room? i currently own between 1 to 3 couches (1 brown not-so-comfortable couch; 1 ugly, green, comfortable love seat; and 1 ugly, green, huge, comfortable couch that probably won't fit in this room) and 2 fabric rocking chairs that i bought for $5 each at a garage sale.

3. where should the TV go? in the living room or in some other room? (see the other floors before answering.)

4. what should i charge the tenant staying in bedroom a? they will have their own bathroom (the only "full" bathroom in the house), but visitors to the house will most likely use this bathroom.

notes: the master bedroom (bedroom c) probably isn't really that big, but whatever it's size, it might be big enough to throw a bed in one corner and a couch in the other, and i very well might do that.

5. bedroom b is one of the bedrooms that i may rent. i will either rent this room or use it as (1) a common area, perhaps for a TV and couch and desk, or something like that; or (2) another room for only me, with, perhaps, a TV and couch and desk, or something like that. if i rent it, i will have to share a bathroom (which i've done my entire rent-paying life) and figure out a system of dealing with the two doors. if i don't rent it i will rent bedroom d in the basement floor. what should i do (see 7 below)?

6. if i rent bedroom b, how much should i charge the tenant?

note: i feel like i should say something here. um, this floor is one-third unfinished and two-thirds mostly finished.

7. if i do not rent out bedroom b (on the second floor), i will rent out bedroom d and the sitting room. some people have pointed out that although it's on the basement level (undesirable) it has it's own entrance and it's own bathroom (desirable). if i do not rent this room, i will use it for the same purpose described in question 5. what should i do?

8. if i rent bedroom d, what should i charge that tentant?

9. should i rent bedroom a (main floor) and then let the next tenant decide whether he prefers bedroom b or bedroom d, or should i decide ahead of time which room i want to rent?

10. in addition to whatever junk people store in basements, i would like to set up my ping pong table in the area labeled "slightly finished basement"; this ping pong table has, sadly, been unused for several years, sitting in shrinkwrap in oregon city, hoping silently that i will one day rescue it from its disuse. and in the area labeled "very unfinished and dark basement," i would like to add my foosball table. also, earlier i mentioned a long, ugly couch--perhaps i might put that couch here too. would the fulfillment of these desires will make bedroom d less ideal for a renter? 

11. what else should i ask you?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

in defense of stowing a kindle in one's pocket during an excursion in the jungle, or andrew reveals his insatiable need to respond seriously to facebook comments made in jest

i broke another kindle. my third. this time i was hanging from a jungle vine, and the kindle, which was in the pocket of my brown cargo shorts, must have been crunched between my thigh and the wooden railing beside me.

i posted something to this effect on facebook, lamenting my sudden lack of books for the remainder of my trip--one week in new zealand and more than a day's worth of airline time and sitting in airports, ack! what am i to do? my friends were, understandably, incredulous--how did i manage to so easily destroy yet another kindle? why was I bringing my kindle into the rainforest in the first place? why use a kindle at all? 

and as usual, i couldn’t help but overreact:

before arriving in the rain forest, that lively universe that was the site of my latest kindle’s demise, i first had to take several other types of transportation. i knew from other similar excursions around cairns, that these legs of the journey could involve a lot of staring into space, which i'd rather fill with something more entertaining and constructive, like reading.

as it turned out, i spent much of the travel time playing "i spy with my little eye" with some aussies from melbourne and a man from jamaica. but upon arrival in kurunda, i did relax for awhile in a shady park, reading on my kindle and--pay attention here, you e-reader cynics, this is one place where the kindle, if it didn't have a pansy screen, beats out a pocket-size paperback--finding illusory literary community with friends back home: that is, using the kindle's wireless function, i was able to share some passages from a short story collection I'd been reading with my bazillion closest friends on facebook.

now, no one commented on those quotes or my reflections on those quotes (just as I don't tend to comment on other people's quotes), so perhaps whatever community i felt by posting them was false, and perhaps whatever community is achieved through an online social networking site like facebook, even if it is with real people who you know and love, is already false, but this felt like some step toward not being stranded in my own head, a thousand-plus miles from friends and people who like to talk about books.

i should end there. that sounds about as close to profound as i can get when unnecessarily blathering on about a stupid broken device. that's the true ending. but i also want to mention these two logistical points: (1) the sharing of those quotes on facebook was free, whereas to share them with my iphone, which wasn't on me at the time, would have entailed an international phone service charge; and (2) i'm pretty certain that any other electronic device that i own--my iphone, my (work's) macbook air, my nikon camera--would have survived the bump just fine; these kindles have excellent customer service but their screens are less durable than the spindly stick of a candy cane after it’s been sucked down to a needle-sharp tip, which is to say that, apparently, you can’t take them anywhere.

and i have no idea what candy canes have to do with kindles or rainforests.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

meditations on a sleepless morn, part V

continued from part I, wherein andrew compares not sleeping to digestion, part II, wherein andrew recites shampoo instructions and says strange things about death scenes, part III, wherein andrew reviews the film phoebe's wonderland, and part IV, wherein andrew confesses to nudity and happiness

if at this moment you burst through my bedroom door, took four steps, and sat yourself down on the foot of my bed--sorry, there's no chair in my room--and attempted to have a normal conversation with me, things would start off a little strange. i'd be shocked at your incorrigibility, barging in unannounced like that, and curious about how you managed to break through our locked front door so quietly. i might jump up in protest or surprise, which would be awkward for both of us and disastrous for my laptop. after settling back down under my covers, i might be happy for the company on this godforsaken, sleepless morning but nervous about the odd relational dynamic, given the presumable difference in our state of dress. 

however, if we somehow managed to bypass these rational responses of incredulity, if, perhaps, i were accustomed to you crashing through my bedroom door on random mornings at six o'clock, i think you would come away from our normal conversation with a sense that i revealed a normal amount of information about myself. even if our conversation meandered into more personal matters, it's unlikely you would later think, "wow, i can't believe he told me that." 

in fact, given my proclivity for question asking or my general sense that other people prefer talking about themselves to hearing me talk about myself (and the fact that i'm often perfectly happy with this arrangement), you might later think, "gee, i told andrew all about my personal life, and he hardly said a thing about himself--what a private fellow."

then you might absentmindedly pull out your iphone and open the facebook app to my online profile--you know you're always doing that. you'd scroll down through some literary links and funny youtube clips, past some obscure status updates that you couldn't decipher, and then arrive at a note from this blog series or a status update that seemed particularly revelatory.  

and then what? would you think the material andrew was too closed off? would you think the virtual andrew was too open? would you think these two shades of my self were inconsistent? 

i think i'm going to leave it there, in this hypothetical, questiony space. i'm not going to attempt an amazing last-minute web of connections between the various posts in this series. i had trouble sleeping and thought some thoughts--that's the plot.

and the conclusion? there isn't much of one. i know there's a lot i don't know--how to sleep, what it's like to have tourette's, or how to balance intimacy, art, and revelation. and more particularly to the theme of this post, should i value and enact openness or privacy? or should i see the two characteristics riding a seesaw of context that sometimes tips one way and then the other?

i do not know.


PS incidentally, i'm only speaking of openness or revelation in the context of my life and my issues. i feel very strongly that the lives and issues of my friends and family are their business, and i actually think i'm pretty adept at not sharing about their lives or issues. just ask my roommate.

Friday, February 18, 2011

meditations on a sleepless morn, part IV

continued from part I, wherein andrew compares not sleeping to digestion, part II, wherein andrew recites shampoo instructions and says strange things about death scenes, and part III, wherein andrew reviews the film phoebe's wonderland

i fish for my alarm clock. it's wedged between the bed and the wall, and i have to be careful not to pull too hard or the finicky plug will fall from the socket and i will lose the time. 

the red digits read five fifty-seven. 

if i fall asleep now, i'll have nearly three hours before i have to wake up for church, three hours before brendan arrives, knocking mercilessly at my door. i set the clock on my bed and listen to the wind on my windows. i try to tease out the sounds, to match them with their visual counterparts. 

the sounds get the best of me and i abandon the pursuit of sleep and all its nonsensical histrionics. i roll my naked body out of the warm bed and scamper quietly to the living room where i fetch my laptop. i start composing this post in my brain even as i pad back to my room. i wonder whether i'll mention queequeg's teeth or the ridiculous image of me creeping past my roommate's door, a covert mission made absurd by my lack of appropriate creeping attire. 

i wonder, now typing, whether that's too much, whether i should say that. i wonder who will read it and what they will think. i wonder where one draws the line between propriety and personal revelation, between art and confession. i think of anne sexton and robert lowell and the confessional poets, even john donne, the pastor-poet, all saying things straight, not shying from talk of the body or the everyday.

i think of my friend who, as an adult, pooped her pants and then, with a smile and an uncontrollable laugh, proceeded to tell all the world. i think of my ex-girlfriend who penned a brilliant, socially conscious personal essay on race that she never published because it was tangentially about her cousin.

i stop writing, my finger poised over the delete key. will it somehow hurt my reputation or disgust my friends to say that i am naked now, to construct no barrier between the truth and the page? will it reveal too much to nakedly confess that in september of 2010 my every thought spiraled back in a cloud of longing and sadness to my ex-girlfriend but that now, more than a year after we began a slow descent into separation, i am finally happy and content in my single skin?

to be continued one last time . . .

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

if i were to review this film: phoebe's wonderland; or meditations on a sleepless morn, part III

continued from part I, wherein andrew compares not sleeping to digestion, and part II, wherein andrew recites shampoo instructions and says strange things about death scenes

for most of us, sleeping is a daily ritual that we don't bother thinking much about. we only give it attention when we're having difficulty doing what should come naturally, and then we go to absurd lengths to hasten its onset. for example, i sometimes lie in bed obsessing over the repetition of bizarre behaviors or imposing strange rules upon myself, all in a self-consciously irrational attempt to jump-start the REM sleep cycle.

but what about those people for whom such absurdities are an everyday reality? what about people for whom my dreaded hours on the border of that illusive sleep continent are a never-ending part of life, even in the daylight? 

i've had friends with mildish cases of obsessive compulsive disorder, and though i've tried to be sympathetic, it's hard to understand their inability to distance themselves from certain repetitive behaviors, and harder still to imagine how troubling those inabilities might feel to the people with the disorder. it's much easier to laugh. and so in a twisted way, i'm thankful for not sleeping, for getting a glimpse at how it might feel to contend with the arbitrary force of repetition. 

and i'm thankful for the film phoebe's wonderland, which takes a young girl with tourette's syndrome (a condition that's related to OCD but seems rather more serious) as its protagonist. the film has its issues--some of the non-tourette's characters seem over the top and the film gets off to a slowish start--but the actress's portrayal of a girl with tourette's and the family's complicated response to her condition are affecting and real.

to be continued . . .


rating: 11/17

Monday, February 14, 2011

meditations on a sleepless morn, part II

continued from part I, wherein andrew compares not sleeping to digestion 

rinse lather repeat.

this is the magic formula i find myself chanting at daybreak. i'm saying the words earnestly, as if they mean something, as if there is a power to their rhythm. i speak them into my pillow, mouthing the words with silent urgency, believing hopelessly that when said in succession, they possess certain hitherto unknown sleep-inducing properties.

rinse lather repeat, i say, rinse lather repeat.

these words are my deathbed confession. no, they are my whispered communique in that first scene where friends and family cup their hands to my mouth and lean in to drink the honeycomb words of a dying old man, but from our sticky seats in the cineplex, we can see that there is more to those empty puffs than epilogue and benediction. we can see the beads of sweat on the old man's brow, the sudden dilation of the eye. and we know that a clue has been lost, that the dying man intends to convey some truth to break the spell of a tragedy that is now sure to continue. we know that people may die and that the protagonist will require at least an hour to sort things out and save the world. 

don't you think one of us should have pity and tell the protagonist? we could slip into that secret room with the film canisters and projectors and spare him the agony of lost love ones, lost time, and lost sleep. the old man says, rinse lather repeat, we'd tell him, rinse lather repeat.

but god is in the theater. perhaps he wrote the script. and so i'm praying that he knows the words, that he can take my cosmetic cosmology, my nonsense phraseology, and spin the story just right. he can transform my desperate compunction to say these words into a sort of worship. and then, in his great mercy, he can bring down the curtain and i can get some sleep.

rinse lather repeat, and make it soon, lord jesus.

to be continued . . .

Saturday, February 12, 2011

meditations on a sleepless morn, part I

it's four fifty in the morning and i'm thinking about what television show episodes might work well to read through in a group of friends and amateur thespians--deadwood, full house, the a-team, seinfeld, the care bears, south park? i'm thinking about life's riddle of boy-meeting-girl and the whirligig revolving doors of relationships that i see around me. i'm thinking about queequeg and the curious act of filing one's teeth to sharp, needle-like points.*

it's five o'clock and i'm wishing i were asleep, trying to sleep, desperately attempting to convince my brain to turn off the lights and shut-in for the night. it's five past five, and my mind seizes on some strange dream-logic for finding sleep: if i breathe slower, sleep will come. if i breathe slower but move this hand from my thigh to beneath my head, where it's not so hot, not so buried in covers, sleep will come. but only if i roll over first. if i imagine myself gently patting the head of a duck seven times, sighing peaceably, and then repeat the scene in my head ad infinitum, sleep will come.

i think then about the word repeat, an inelegant slamming of syllables that seems to carry the weight of its meaning in the prefix. there's no poetry to the word, no reason to fashion an ode after the movement from re to peat. my attention to this word is as meaningless and arbitrary and useless as the ritual of the duck. 

but the word gets caught in my craw, which i imagine as my mouth, as a great gaping space of teeth and tongue and red tissue where ideas bang about, where the trick is to bite down hard at just the right moment and to stop the idea, to sever its head from its body and to snap its larynx so that it can't persist in its cruel quacking hum. the trick is to kill it dead. but the word is caught in my craw, not my mouth, and i remember that one's craw is one's stomach and that the stomach is a squirrelly nest of intestines, which, if you unravel and lay out upon the carpet and linoleum of your home, may stretch from your bed to the refrigerator and back again, just enough distance to snag a late-night snack, a pre-dawn beer, but in the body that distance is all snug up on itself, all bunched together so that what takes a moment to walk can take a lifetime to digest--a lifetime of strange body chemicals and duodenal juice, a lifetime of night.

the word, the idea behind the word, is caught there, and i can't get it out. i need an antacid or a surgeon. i need an exorcist. 

i try to think of a bible verse with the word repeat, a holy phrase that i could say as a sort of bedtime mass, a way to force god's merciful hand through the steady repetition of repetition itself. if i say the right words at the right time, i think, i will receive grace. i cannot believe otherwise. sleep has become for me a works-based faith.

to be continued...


*queequeg is the harpooner who ishmael sleeps with in the opening chapters of herman melville's moby-dick

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

on getting naked and turning thirty-one

excerpted in full from the invite to my thirty-first birthday party:

Hey, friends!

So as you may know, last year I turned thirty. I wasn't very excited about the event because, well, I'm generally not someone who likes to make a big deal about myself, even for the big birthday milestones that commemorate the passing of decades. And this propensity to avoid the limelight was compounded by an unsettled sense of worry, frustration, and sadness over the state of my relationship with my then-girlfriend. Also, my knees were randomly starting to act up. In short, I wasn't looking forward to the way my thirtieth year seemed to be shaping up, and so I skimped wherever I could on the birthday celebrations.

Perhaps I was prescient, because I'm still not a fan of my thirtieth year--things got worse with the now-ex-girlfriend, my teeth started falling apart (coincidentally, perhaps, on a trip to see her), and I spent my spring existence as an editing robot, not a human being. 

But that year is nearly over, and I'm excited now to put it all behind me. I've started 2011 trying to make something of a fresh start by trying all kinds of new things--contra dancing, running regularly with friends, participating in community meals four times a week, reading via audio book during my commute (first up, moby dick!), returning to the blogosphere, folk jamming, pondering big thoughts in a philosophy colloquium, just to name a few. 

And I'd  like my birthday to be a continuation of that process. And so, for my thirty-first birthday, I'm planning something that's sure to be new, fun, and exciting: a naked party! I'm not sure where yet--my roommate won't let me hold the party at our house--but save the date for the evening of Saturday, February 5, and get ready to have the second-most fun you've ever had with no clothes on!


PS Let me know if you have any ideas for naked games...

ok, so i'm not really having a naked party, and if someone were having a naked party, i'd probably stay far, far away. the naked-party motif is something of an inside joke crossed with an andrewesque sociological thought experiment--you know important hypothetical questions like which of my friends would and would not come to a naked party and under what scenarios would they come or not come? how would their behavior change compared to at a non-naked party? how would their behavior change over the course of the party? would a naked party have lasting effects on people's relationships? would it challenge people's views concerning their bodies and sexualities and the shape of the world? 

but i really am glad to be turning thirty-one, to be exploring all kinds fun, new things, and to have you, my clothed friends and family, around me in this new year of new things. and so, for this year at least, i'm happy for arbitrary days on the calendar when we can note the passage of time, heed the weather forecasts of groundhogs, and celebrate the blessings God has granted us, both for our pasts and our futures. 

happy birthday me!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

on running, boredom, and survival

jamie, mari, andrew, and nora at the 2011 resolution run 5k & polar bear dive
i recently told my friend nora that running was boring. when i said this, i was surrounded by runners. in fact, i myself was running. there was some serious irony dashing about.*

we were threading our way through a pack of new year's day marathoners, racing toward a chilly finish--a plunge in lake washington. the sun was shining bright, but the temp never broached the freezing mark, and so runners would periodically wave their arms in the air and cry, "ice! ice! ice!" as a warning to the surging crowd behind. there were even doughnuts. 

but i didn't mean that i was bored at that moment or even in that race. the brilliant sunshine, the excited banter of our running cadre, and the anticipation of our impending polar bearization all added up to a fine level of happy engagement. i simply meant that the motion of foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, look left, breath, foot, look right, foot, breath, look left, foot, breath, look forward, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, lift shirt to brow, foot, wipe brow, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, spit, foot, big breath, foot, foot is dull.**

yet it turned out that the 5k was fun, but not because the running was fun; not because i found a head-foot groove where the world slipped away and there was just me and the motion, just me and some kind of meditative trance; not because i rejoiced in the burning of calories or the achievement of a new personal best. the running that day (and in the days since) was not boring in the same way that this blog entry may not be boring. because if you got this far, you probably know me; when you read this, you can probably hear my voice or imagine me making the wacky facial expressions i inherited from my dad--the arching eye brow, the wrinkled forehead--and so it's not that you're reading a well-crafted thought piece or an explosive, jaw-dropping page-turner (this is, after all, about running), it's that we are connected.

and if i am to run, i need connection. i need something outside the self and the path and my feet. i need ice patches and obstacles. i need the promise of a mind-bending dip in the lake. if i am to run, if i am to press on, if i am to run this race where it takes me, then i need my friends and i need my family. i need you running beside me.***


here's a youtube clip of me playing alexi murdoch's "orange sky," which expresses a similar sentiment to the one i concluded with in this post--i even adjust the final lyric to make it more personal--though murdoch sings of brothers and sisters "standing by," not running beside:


* i went to a philosophy colloquium today and perhaps i should have asked our prof about irony. it's a word that, despite my english major roots, i hesitate to use. in fact, when i come upon questionable uses of the word irony in my editing career, i tend to avoid correcting writers, instead opting for something more wishy-washy like, "please confirm that this usage of irony matches your personal understanding of the word. for more reference, see the oatmeal." yet in this blog entry i use it with abandon, even combining it with a bad pun.

** the dull sentence of a thousand nouns is inspired by an essay from lorrie moore's collection birds of america, in which moore has two consecutive pages of the word "ha." i read somewhere that moore used well over one thousand has.

*** this wasn't just an excuse to write a lame, heartwarming metaphor about life being like running or to highlight my stellar ability to adapt two-chord pop songs to the piano. i've actually been running several times a week since that new year's eve marathon, and as the post suggests, i'm running with friends. surprisingly, running and chatting with friends who run at a similar pace is quite the opposite of boring.