w h a t . i t . i s Home + locate + true blue = what it is


[ .on stolen wallets, hills and tweakers. ]

This morning I got up at 4 am and rode to the zoo. There wasn't a max to get me there early enough for an event I had to work. It was great. I think I built it up to be a trecherous climb (esp. with a pannier of heavy supplies) and since it wasn't crazy-steep it would up going much more smoothly. It was enjoyable, even, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It felt good to get a good ride in too.

Later I fell asleep on the couch with a glass of strong iced coffee in my hand. I was just relaxing, I kept telling myself, I won't fall asleep. But I kinda knew I would fall asleep and I would spill my coffee on my light-colored couch. I was having an interesting thought process that was dream-like and just as soon as it incorporated people and conversation, I was making a decision (can't remeber what) and then I felt cold on me - the coffee spilling. I jerked away in time to save most of the coffee which was pretty cool and my pillow covers are totally washable.

But then today at Fred Meyer with a cart full of stuff for my folks' visit (like pillows and wash cloths, things I needed and they'll want), I zoned out at the film counter and a fuckin tweaker pushed my cart into the lighting section and stole my wallet. I only had $2 in there. What a fuckin hassle.


[ .flotilla of friends. ]

A flotilla of friends made its way across the Mighty Columbia River, a fierce river just six and a half miles from my house.

We landed on Government Island for an evening of dancing, drinking and music. Laterns engulfed us as the waves lapped at the shore.

Yes, we could see the I-205 highway bridge with speeding, speeding cars, and Marine Drive across the way with constant four-wheel motion, but they seemed so far away. Like watching another culture in a documentary on TV from across the room, we were not in that racing world. In our world for the night, to celebrate my birthday, time stood still.


[ .the love too. ]

On 2.16.03 I talked about how we miss our tribes. It's more than that. It's that we miss the security and safety of our tribes. The love too. Acceptance and understanding.


[ .party like a college kid. ]

i don't know, words cannot describe how fucked up it all seemed. in a really great way. I went to a wild party at Reed college last night. it was a rager on the quad, with an excellent band, everyone dancing, drinking drinking drinking and the security guards just watched. i think their attitude is like, "well, as long as no one or nothing is hurt, keep partying"

There were lots of guys kissing guys and girls kissing girls and everyone kissing everyone together while dancing. There were these two guys dancing REALLY sexy together. lots of people dancing well together, kind of like maybe lots of dance majors or something, cause these people were way into it in a coherent and stylized and kind of like formal dance moves, like tango and shit.

it was this big hall with a balcony to overlook the dance floor. there was graffiti and highfalutin (afterall, it's Reed) intelligent wall writings EVERYWHERE, like the school just figures why clean it up b/c the students are going to just write it again, so this hall was like the rec room for the college kids and they could do whatever they wanted. i mean, i've had friends with houses like that and in many ways it was very much like an urbana house party, only we weren't at someone's house, we were sanctioned by the schoo. that's what gets me.

only the railing on the balcony was low, like at my thighs, and i was sure i was going to sway and fall over. i was wasted, so lots of swaying that night.

Yes, it was a homebound blackout bikeride. Just always look four times before crossing busy streets.


[ .Elinor Markgraf. ]

Someone else has to read this crazy shit.

I started getting these e-mails at work, maybe a year ago. I got two I think. It was so bizarre, this guy's stories about some woman named Elinor Markgraf, and she's local, she writes for the Oregonian.

So I wrote the guy askign why he was sending them to me. I don't remember what he said, though I do know he said he needed to get the word out there about this.

Well, today I got one at my personal e-mail account. I am just one of a buhzillion people he sends this to, he must have trolled my address off the internet?

Am I crazy or is this shit crazy?

Ayleen ----- Forwarded message from tavistock brown -----
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2005 10:53:52 -0800 (PST)
From: tavistock brown
Reply-To: tavistock brown
Subject: Part 4: In which I confess to Attempted Murder
To: ayleen@riseup.net
This concludes the events that immediately followed from my visit to Elinor Markgraf's house at 18212 NW 6th Ave, Portland OR 97231 in the summer of 1995.

After I had gone to Children's Services to report the horrifying condition of our four youngest children and of the starved cattle and they had refused even to hear me out, I returned to Eugene in turmoil. What on earth was I to do?. Her father didn't want to know, her mother was dead, and the Oregon department of social welfare designed to deal with such problems reneged on their duty.

I soon arrived at a decision, waking at 3am to the nightmare of this internal dialog:
"You have to kill her".
"But she's always with the kids, how can I do that in front of them"?
"She has to be stopped; there's no other way to do it, you have to kill her".

This internal dialog was my constant companion as the night wore away, together with the terrible memory of the four youngest sitting still and silent, staring at nothing, while minutes passed by.

I made my preparations for murder, packing a bedroll and the handle from my pickax into one of those 4ft long army kit bags, caught the bus and arrived in Portland that afternoon. The conflicted parts of my persona continued their struggle unabated. Memories of the past few days fought for mind time with projections of the near future, my beating Elinor to death with the pickax handle while the children screamed.

I rode my bicycle out of Portland, along Skyline Blvd to Cornelius Pass, then down the hill a little to where the railroad track enters the tunnel. I walked my bike down the track away from the tunnel to a small rocky area often used for target practise. It was late afternoon. I was completely exhausted from the internal conflict. I had no idea what to do. Plainly the murder faction within me was the stronger and, as things stood, would succeed in getting me to the house with my club; equally plainly, I was no longer in any condition to kill a fly, let alone marching into a house containing seven people and beating one of them to death in front of the others.

So I temporized with myself, "go to sleep now and get up before dawn; do it while they're all asleep, with luck it will be over and done without even waking the kids up". Such sage advice; I laid out my bedroll and went to sleep. And awoke to daylight.

For a moment I thought it was the same day. But the air was too cool, I had slept the clock round and it was early morning. Cursing, the murder faction leapt me from my bedroll, into my clothes, snatched up the pickax handle and set off at a run towards the house about a mile away. As I ran I planned my approach strategy. Rather than take the longer route down to the road from the railroad track and then up the driveway to the house, I took the shortcut thru the woods and the undergrowth at the end of the neighbors yard, which led directly down to the house. Speed was of the essence if I was to get there before they started waking up.

I broke from cover for the last 50 yard dash to the house, crossed the electric fence that surrounded Mr, Charboneau's vegetable garden, and heard Elinor calling from the bathroom to Gus outside the house, hidden from my view behind some sheds. "Gus, there's a man in the bushes, go up to Mr Charboneau and have him call the police". Gus answered "What ... why?", and Elinor urged again "go to Mr Charboneau, have him call the police", and Gus replied "oh ... all right" and began walking down the driveway.

I stood at bat with the pickax handle a few seconds longer, then aborted the attempt and returned home. I made no further attempts to kill Elinor, plainly I really didn't want to kill her (something made me sleep 5 hours longer than I usually do, and why did I choose the only approach to the house that lay in full view of the bathroom and one of the bedrooms, which almost guaranteed I would be seen if people were just waking up?).

Perhaps you feel this is a pretty thin example of attempted murder, that I never got closer than 50 feet to the target, never entered the building she was in, and abandoned the approach as soon as I was seen. The statute concerned (Oregon Revised Statutes 161.405) reads in part: ÒAttemptÓ described. (1) A person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime when the person intentionally engages in conduct which constitutes a substantial step toward commission of the crime.

The phrase "substantial step" is obviously open to interpretation.

Premeditation is required and present; I planned the act ahead of time and carried the chosen murder weapon (pickax handle) with me all the way from Eugene. "Substantial step"; intent on murder I travelled more than 120 miles and abandoned the attempt with but 50 feet to go, only because the necessary conditions (everyone asleep) weren't met.

In these 4 emails I have reported a number of horribly disturbing incidents. All are true. You either believe me or you do not.

If you believe me then plainly I have committed a major crime, while Elinor Markgraf is insane and an ongoing danger to her children's welfare, regardless of the fact that they are now adults.

If you don't believe me then you probably think I'm viciously assassinating Elinor Markgraf's character, and should be taught a stiff lesson. The means is at hand; attempted murder is a major felony and there are people serving as much as 75 years for this crime. Elinor Markgraf and Gus Lawrence can confirm the end of the account I have made here.

Whatever you believe, bring me to justice. I should be brought to trial and serve my sentence if convicted. Don't let Elinor slide out of this by claiming I'm crazy and don't know what I'm saying.

If I'm guilty I should serve my sentence. Elinor is insane and our children should be fully apprised of the danger she is to them. The only way to realize these ends is to put me on trial. Please help me bring this about. Demand that authority bring me to justice. Thank you.

Graham Lawrence 1/31/2005

[...read more]


[ .news from champaign. ]

Why is it that so many people from the past are all of a sudden in my present life? It's really so hard to concentrate on work and daily life with these memories from the past circulating so strongly.

I am not sure how I met Scott Kelley, in fact I barely would have remembered his name, no maybe not at all. I remember a bit about him, but not his name. Was it he I met at the Earth Day benefit I organized in high school or was it just that he came? Through Scott I met Jason Greeley, met him at Scott's house. I bet Jason remembers more of the details. Jason wound up going to school in the same town as me for college, and volunteering at the radio station with me, so I re-acquainted myself with him. I don't want to reconnect with Jason, but I do want my memories refreshed and I bet he could do that for me. I almost feel like that would be using him.

I remember Scott having really innocent eyes and an uncomplicated way of speaking and being. Today I think I've met someone recently who reminded me of Scott and I thought, "Who does this person remind me of?" without realizing the person reminded me of Scott. I have a sense of that.

Today's a day that I'm feeling vividly my impact on others, the impact of relationships on one another, things are deeper, it's raining pretty hard off an on.

Then this e-mail came from Jason. It was titled "News from Champaign".

Hey, Ayleen. This is Jason greenly from Champaign. I'm sorry to write with unpleasant news, but Scott Kelley was killed two weeks ago while he was riding his bike. I believe he got hit by a car. I don't know much more than that, and won't get to see his mom until next week.

I know you probably haven't talked to him in many years (although part of his ashes will be scattered in Oregon by a friend, so I wondered if that wasn't you somehow), but I thought you'd want to know. Understandably, I've been thinking a lot about him recently, and of course, that he introduced me to you. You were also the topic of discussion recently at WEFT (we no longer have daily snacks during pledge drive; we're all thinking that was your idea initially), which made me think I should e-mail you. (Sorry for the multiple addresses I sent this to; I had to do a web search.)

Like I said, I know you probably haven't spoken or thought of him in a long time, so there's no need to write back unless you wanted to. I hope you are well. The web search seemed to indicate you're staying busy.



[ .coincidences and chances and reunions. ]

I really don't know how to tell you how amazing it is that I'm about to hang out with eric (see cyra levenson where are you). I mean, it's no secret that my zine life was so important to me and that my friends-through-the-mail were my salvation in high school. Some times I feel as if there is a separate Ayleen that lived, breathed, and existed, yet somehow that's me, intertwined with who I am, to be sure, but it feels like such a defined part of me and simultaneously separate.

I am a big dreamer, I mean a BIG dreamer. I meet people while traveling and fanaticize about bumping into them on the street years later while traveling again or in my home town. I revel in the though of coincidences and chances and reunions. This time it's actually happening.

In addition to that, our lives have been crossing paths under layers of muslin from about 3 years now. Glimpses through passing train car windows and behind curtains, he came to volunteer at the CCC and I saw his name. I send out the e-mails to volunteers and I know he's getting them, reading them, but we've never talked about it.

When I decided to invite Eric to the dinner party, it turned out he had been thinking about getting in touch about some thing. Actually, this is what he said, "It's kind of a coincidence that you contacted me when you did. I've been thinking about you and have been meaning to check in at some point- I started volunteering at the CCC this summer & I thought I'd run into you but I guess I've managed to miss you every time I've dropped in.

Anyway, at some point I'd be interested in talking with you to get your perspective on the world of portland bike culture/mechanics/advocacy. I"

And then some more, but I won't put it in here.

JUST IMAGINE! If all my other zine friends and I were to magically converge! To see Mike from Sleepy Foot, and I.Doug from Deleware. To finally meet Paul Weinman, I don't know if I could handle that, or maybe nowadays I could (I was always simultaneously frightened and fascinated by him, I was weird but I thought he was really out there because I couldn't understand his tiny chapbooks filled with poetry that arrived in my po box by the manila envelop full - 25-50 at a time).


[ .fanore. ]

I went back to Fanore (see fondly fanore). It wasn't the same. Glorious, to be sure, but not the same.

I thought the water was so much closer to the road. I mean, sure, later on the road is right on the cliff's edge, falling into the sea likely, but in Fanore, it's not like that. I knew it wasn't that close, but I thought standing on the beach would feel closer to the road. I didn't stand on the beach when I went back, but I observed the distance.


[ .cyra levenson where are you. ]

Hey Smurph,

Do you remembr me? I was a through-the-mail friend of yours from Illinois who put out the zine Jaundice. The world of zines was my salvation in high school and has had such an amazing impact on who I am today. I am forever indebted to folks like you who helped me maintain my sanity and creativity. No one realized what he or she was doing, and really thats the beauty of it - effortless.

Searching for some lost zine friends, I discovered one was living in Portland, Oregon where I am and that I had met him twice but not made the connection (Eric Bagdonas from Rinso Zine whose brother was Grog from Mutant Renegade Zine and the Oxymorons). This got me to thinking and I started going through my meager pack of old zine (I really threw away too many) and came across Cyra Levenson Where are You. I have a similar project. (www.yeabikes.net/locate.html). So what was the story (your website said it was too extensive to describe on the site)?

Good to search and find you're out there.


Oh also, I.Doug contacted me via e-mail recently, maybe a month ago. I wrote back and then never heard anything. He always seemed so down.

I'm fascinated by reconnections, or do I dwell in the past?


[ .i don't know, you tell me. ]

I don't know, you tell me. I've thought my thoughts, but you touched my leg. I touched your shoulder, but you touched my leg.

worst case scenario, it's really nothing, but i want to think more.

it's been four years.

i just wish we had something to talk about.

that would most definitely change the whole course of where i am now - i have no doubt about it - if only in my mind

It's kind of ridiculous - or is it fascinating - that after all these years I can't think of anything to say. I don't think you can either. I liked your compliment, the one you offered me about a year ago, thanks. I didn't have anything to say after it, I know I bumbled something, alcohol and being caught off guard. What was I to say, really? Thanks, that's my passion. I love it so much. Getting compliments like yours are what motivate and inspire me to keep creating. Puh-leeze, not my style.

I want difficulty, turmoil and feeling.

it's currently so logical

i'm logical.

i don't want logic.

I want difficulty, turmoil and feeling.


[ .those four little glasses. ]

those four little glasses i referred to on 5.08.03
have all but one broken. today as i cleaned up in the kitchen from arnold's gyoza feast of last night i saw the broken glass. the shattered pieces were neatly tucked inside the glass, as if the breaker hoped that would make things better, make the glass not broken any more, make me not sad.

one with residue of wine sits next to my bed on my window sill from the other night when i drank red wine while reading a Cometbus (zine) about back-to-the-landers.

now i don't want to move it, don't want to wash it, the only delicate precious glass left of the collection.
i picture the elderly woman who owned the glasses before me sipping lemmonade on a hot day, ice clinking against the sides, special guests in attendance.


[ .quilt. ]

i'm ready to be back in ireland
i'm ready for so much right now but i feel as if i'm just waiting and feeling really uncomfortable with where things are. at first i was very comfortabe because the rains came and the rains are my personal challenge. i enjoy bundling up and not just dealing with the rain but appreciating it and never letting it be a barrier. it helps me feel connected to the natural rhythm and scape in which i live but from which we are all so separated by concrete these days. The rain feels familiar and appropriate.
i'm ready for my housemate anne and her bad dog frieda and her fiance (i just found out today) who she has known for 1 year who is my x-boyfriend to move out
i'm ready for megan to move in
i'm ready for more and i'm not sure what it is.
i'm ready to be finished with the quilt i'm making so i can curl up under it and hide.


[ .the billowing gets me every time. ]

my curtains , sheer only enough to prevent much of a view from the outside world, are billowing in the breeze as the sun pushes through my open windows. working from home i am today and man it's hard to stay focused on work on a day like today, expecially being CM day. i gotta admit, i get really excited on the last Friday of the month, like a little kid i am.


[ .recounting the reunion to jules and erin. ]

at the wedding in VT, sitting around the campfire after the reception on a lovely hill in VT, wearing our wedding outfits, some people had guitars and played music. johnny and i sang (drunkenly) the robin's in the metaphysical section song. Most people were like "huh?!?" and johnny and i were just amazed we still remembered all the words.


[ .greenlake, wi. ]

i grew up on a bitty lake, across the street from it, and i actually spent little time on it though i frequently went down to the water to stare. problem for me was all those houses that backed up to the lake and could see everything i did.

in the summers my family would go up to wisconsin to spend time at my hometown neighbor's place up there and we'd go out for a lazy float at night on the water. those nights, everyone full from dinner, were always great. slightly cool, bring a jacket. sometimes my neighbor would make us all pull hats out of the closet and we each had to wear a funny hat. art's not really a funny guy but on these trips he sometimes presented a different side of himself. maybe he always wanted to be at greenlake and he didn't want to live in our town at all.

but he worked in stock market stuff which i never really understood because i always saw him in jeans working in his garage. he and my dad kept our yellow and white 76 suburban running forever. i hated that car at the time but i still got teary when i watched a tow truck finally pull it out of the driveway. art was grubby and amazingly handy. i never knew how he could stand being in the stock market world. at one point art went to jail, just for a short time, because, as i was told, his accountant made some honest mistakes.

when traveling i always enjoy looking at boats.


[ .fondly fanore. ]

Here's what i once wrote about kinsale, ireland:
* Jamaican Blue Bagel Shop! (after a year without bagels)
along pier by boats

* cute town - biggish.
boating town
hilly town

And about Cork City
* wholefoods store (an irish rarity)
harlequin cafe
waterstones bookseller
on paul street near bank of I & church
also in cork are:
* L of quinsqorth:
- connolly's books
- internet cafe (french church st.)
*cornmarket st. market
(but i don't know what days)
smells and sounds fill the steets of cork

That was seven years ago. so intereting to see what i recorded. i think i was less interested in the beauty of the places and looking more for resources in stores and food and such because i had lived in ireland for 9 months at that point. the beauty was a given.

fanore was to the west/south of where i lived, along the water. i really like thinking about fanore. the coast road went right through it and there was one tiny road off of the coast road that went to just a few houses, but other than that there were no other roads. the down was divided by the coast road with the majority of the buildings on the mountian side, kind of blackhead mountain though i don't know if in fanore the mountain was still considered blackhead.

so really, the whole town faced the water, a whole strip of buildings that faced the atlatic. can you imagine? how that must affect the tempo of a town to feel and see and hear the waves every day and have that be the people's focus.


[ . ]

I'm fascinated by making things as clear as possible while interesting at the same time. simultaneously, i'm want to write phrases that only make sense in touch and smell.


[ .the first of the rain. ]

My weekend was good and sad . I was lamenting the fact that I was enjoying the last few moments of my incredible vacation. The Zine Symposium happend but I was so overwhelmed by it all that I didn't really attend anything or see much. Unfortunately I missed out on a talk by Calvin Johnson, who I really admire as a singer. I'm kicking myself. I sat in a chair and watched the bustling activity of people, really unable to do much of anything.

Today it rained, amazingly, and the whole town smelled fresh and familiar, comfortable and homey.
Tonight, for dinner, we had salmon that my temporary housemate caught just yesterday when fishing with her bro. We ended the meal with still-warm homemade blackberry crumble. It was such a fresh, Portland dinner.


[ .little flittering somethings. ]

well it really is a lovely day (though technically night - i can't believe it) as i sip sangria and contemplate the heat i feel on my back.

today i drifted through the water in my boat.

i fell asleep tethered to a tree.
i wore as little as would appear respectable by those enjoying nature via the surrounding trails.
i splashed cool, rich green water on my skin.

i watched turtles on logs!

a heron let me drift close, then squawked and flew off.

little bitty flittering somethings skitted across the surface of the water.

and of course, i saw the obligitory dragonflies mating, for it's not a boat ride in the summertime without them.


[ .four little glasses. ]

I'm drinking beer from a little glass... ahh. I got a large bottle of tecate, opened it, poured a little in my glass with the intention of pouring a little in the glasses of my housemates too when they're ready.

It is just such a sensation. I am immediately brought back to traveling. Seems I always drink beer in glasses when traveling to other countries. I feel like I should be hot, and sitting outside. I've had beer out of a 2-liter plastic bottle. Kazbegi. It's a lot like tecate, I suppose.

I don't mind drinking from cans and bottles, but there's a nice feeling about drinking from a glass too.

The glass I'm using is particularly precious. I love estate sales, but until last week I had never been to one in my neighborhood. The house around the corner is up for sale and on my way home for lunch one day, I happened upon the doors of the house wide open and an ESTATE SALE TODAY sign. The weather was hot. One guy inside didn't have his shirt on, and there was a tattoo placed in a delightful low spot on his back. We all moved within the house, close to each other, squeezing into the quarters to hunt for treasures. In the kitchen cabinet I found four small clear glasses with irridescent colored bands along the lower portion of the glass and a gold rim around the lip.


[ .Uncle Dermot. ]

My uncle Dermot is the black sheep in the family . That's how he has always been described by my family. I've only met him a few times in my life. He is the youngest of 5 kids on my pop's side. Dermot dropped out of Yale to join a cult, so the family story goes. my grandma sent him through some get-the-cult-out-and-let-god-back-in treatment. I don't know what they call that training. Reprogramming. Dermot never went back to Yale: he went to California. All I knew of him growing up was that he played guitar, lived in California, called my grandma collect for money and married some woman without inviting any family members to the wedding. Dermot came to my cousin's wedding when I was around 12. I'm now really amazed by that. In high school I grew to have quite a fondness for this absentee uncle, the black sheep as I felt I was. I began to wonder about Dermot, and what his life was like. I was convinced the Yale Tale was blown out of proportion, convinced it was probably just that Dermot was into acid. I think the timing was about right: 60's. I had a really romanticized view of Dermot's life.

My uncle Brendan (a Colorado Crotty) called my parents a half year back to tell us that Dermot was in contact with him. That was pretty amazing. He said that Dermot called him because he was going through serious rehab but didn't have any money for food. The families who cared (I don't know which ones, definitely the Chicago Crottys and the Colorado Crottys, I don't know about the Cincinnati folks) got him credit for some home food delivery service. Since Grandma* passed away, Dermot doesn't have anyone to send him money. Uncle Brendan called Dermot's doctor to verify he was really in a program, Dermot suggested Brendan do it. My sisters and their husbands helped feed Dermot. No one has really heard from Dermot since.

Living here on the west coast, I think about Dermot more. He seems close by. When I moved to Portland, I traveled across country visiting friends in Arizona and California. I thought about visiting Dermot, but I didn't have the nerve.

After learning about Dermot in rehab, and thinking about how awful it must be to call a relative out of the blue and explain you have no money for food, I feel shallow about my high school admiration for him. I thought Dermot being a family rebel was so cool. I didn't think about the fact that he didn't have a family. I wonder if he cares. Maybe he is surrounded by a loving group of friends - his chosen family. I wonder if he got through rehab okay.

* Grandma lived a rich rich life but died penniless. Uncle Art stole all her money and the whole family knows it.


[ .reacquaintance. ]

The thing about Bret Nicely is that I don't even know how I know him. The paper on which the poem is written is paper I made for some books a long time ago. I don't know why I would have had that paper with me for someone to write a poem on it. Tonight it hit me. I made that paper when I lived in Ireland 8 years ago. Before I left Ireland, a group of students from Wisconsin (Milwaukee?) came for a 2-week summer stay. I think that is when I met Bret Nicely, some 7 years ago.

see also:
Bret's Poem | People I'm trying to locate


[ .Burden of Heat. ]

During Chicago summers there is a neighborhood festival every weekend. Most neighborhoods have a strong cultural background - Polish, Ukranian... Consequently, the neighborhood festivals are often a celebration of the culture and they attract all sorts of people. It never ends, the lively music and scent of food as one wanders from vendor to vendor in the burden of heat and packs of people. Next weekend, another festival, equally as important to the neighborhood, equally as strong a tradition in the community, and equally as lively.

I miss the rich sharing of cultures through celebrations. I miss the food. I miss Chicago.


[ .Herding + Swooning. ]

The police who accompany Critical Mass have this new tactic of herding the ride out of the city. In response, this month there will be a scavenger hunt CM ride. That's just one example of so many of the excellent bike things happening in town right now. Folks are on it, seizing their free moments to create. Emily put together a pedal-powered smoothie booth for Shift at Earth Day. There was a constant line of at least 4 people waiting for the entire 7 hours the booth was in operation. It was so animated. Midnight Mystery Rides have been well attended - I am so excited. Our ideas for bike fun are flowing; the potential is unlimited. I read this about someone yesterday: "i make neat toys that are really love stories..." and I'm ever so intrigued.


[ .Communication. ]

Where have I gone? I got so focused for a while I strayed from some core elements of myself. In the process of soaring on my grooves with confidence, I lost sight of kindness. Or maybe I was just confused. I am constantly learning to communicate better. I can't believe how much time humans spend arguing because of miscomunciation. I am fascinated by "How can I phrase this so there is no possible misinterpretation and so I say exactly what I mean?".


[ .Midnight Tribe. ]

We miss our tribes. So we join fraternaties, sororities, and on the less extreme end we go to bars and hang with people who can relate to our desires to drive S.U.V.s or not drive S.U.V.s. We lack a social structure that gives us a sense of community, so we create it. Maybe it's 2:00 am and we're drunk on a beach along the Wilamette, but we arrived together. See more: Midnight Mystery Ride.


[ .Melting Pot. ]

My friend Michael is in college. I just think of it as studying, books, and people walking from class to class. Recently, he sent me an e-mail that reminded me of the complexities of the enclosed world of college campus. He said this:
"I'm surrounded by groups of people speaking so many different languages that the english in the room is nearly drowned out. ”The Japanese kids at the table to my right are discussing a Steinbeck novella, The Pearl. ”A few tables past them is a table of slavic kids (I always think Russian, but who knows), having a very animated conversation. ”Every time I look over to see what they're doing now, I make eye contact with one of them, the same one. ”I think she knows I'm writing about them. To my left is a well manicured lithuanian couple, the boy studying Anatomy/Physiology, and the girl studying some kind of math. ”The best looking buy in the room is here, as usual, sitting with his usual posse of supermodels. ”They're good entertainment. ”Directly in front of me is a table with an asian, a southeast asian, and a european. ”The asian boy has a broken right forearm, and is wearing a red cast, a red shirt, braces, glasses, and bluejeans. ”He's looking at a school yearbook. ”I'm guessing its an old one or from some rural area, because I can see a lot of feathered and built-up hair, from where I'm sitting. ”This is a great room. ”Some day I'll take a picture while I'm in here."


[ .Self Improvement Summer. ]

In May of my junior year in high school, I declared the coming summer Self Improvement Summer. I had been hanging out with the activists in Students for the Environment and Animal Life (SEAL). One girl showed us a video of cattle being slaughtered. I was convinced: no more meat for me, and Self improvement Summer would see to that. I can't really remember what else I wanted to improve that summer of 1993. I am left with a feeling of accomplishment. Perhaps it was because I did, indeed, become a vegetarian. Maybe there were other achievements, but if there were they paled in comparison to leaving meat behind. I really want to know more of that summer. I know I had great strength at that time. I was ready for adventure. I wanted to try anything. A lot of my willingness was stifled by shyness. Maybe it was the shyness I also sought to improve. I frequently call up the memory of the strength I had that summer.


[ .The Giggle Girls. ]

I don't know my relatives well. Maybe that's why I love to tell the story of when my Grandma and my great aunt (her sister) came to visit my family in Illinois See, I never knew my grandma to travel so her visit was, to me, a really big deal. One evening, our family sat around the round family dinner table after dinner. We were playing the game Skategories. There is a section of the game where everyone is really quiet for 5 minutes while they write down their answers. My Grandma and her sister were a team. I guess it was because they were old and we thought it might take them a while to catch on to the game, we figured two brains were better than one. So the two of them, during the quiet times, had to whisper to each other ideas for answers. Only, sometimes their ideas were funny, and they would laugh. There's something about laughing when all is quiet that makes the words seem funnier, and they laughed more. They were really terrible at Skategories, too caught up in laughter. We called them the Giggle Girls, and I felt honored to have a small glimpse of what their relationship as young girls may have been like.

My Grandma was a big game player, she came from a real game era. She and I always played cars and cards. Cars was a clever game she invented to occupy us for an hour while she relaxed on her front porch in the maddening Cincinnati humid summers. The way the game worked was that each participant chose a color, then counted the cars that went by with that color. The person with the most cars won. My Grandma lived on a very busy street, so this game was thrilling. The odds changed a little over the years too as car buying fads changed. White, red, black and blue were all very good choices, but I think at one point we prohibited choosing black because it was a sure win. I often hopefully chose white and was disappointed. Blue had a slight advantage because of the different shades that passed by. One never could tell with red, sometimes it was a real surprise: a handful of race cars would zoom by and cause a win.


[ .Windy. ]

It was a recycling bin across the street kind of a day. It just got cold - like really cold because of harsh wind. I was excited to spend most of my day riding around town on errands for work. The wind (and the fact that I don't ride far these days) made the riding hard but rewarding. I was running behind schedule and had to interview someone, which encouraged me to push forward. Goddamn I love bikes swirled through me with the wind.

Bike activities continue despite the cold. Breakfasts on the bridges bright and early, even. There is also a pub crawl this month, the first since BikeSummer.

I missed CM in December because I was in Chicago. I actually could have ridden but Dave had planned a party at his house. In retrospect, I really wish I had ridden and gone to the party later. Even though it was an excellent party, a joining of forces and faces not connected for years, Chicago was experiencing a mild break in winter, free of snow and ice and face-cracking wind. It was an ideal December to ride CM. Damn.


[ .girls n bikes n shit. ]

A response to Amy S.

I can tell you exactly why more girls aren't on bikes.

actually, a lot of girls are on bikes. however, society dictates that the female gender should look GOOD, at all times. Whether or not this is true does not matter (it's obviously not true) because media and advertising pound it in to us. What is looking good? One could argue that the most au naturale body looks damn fine, but my use of the word GOOD relates to societies definition: tucked, trimmed, and slim.

Okay, so it's not easy to look clean when one is out in the elements, to be sure. If a woman has that "it took me 1 hour to git my hair to look like this" type of hairstyle then riding a bike, helmet or no helmet, ain't going to permit that do to stay.

So, that and more, girls ain't riding as much as men, so it may seem. It's hard to say in Portland, such a different place than many others. There are definitely fewer woman who ride hard or know the maintenance of their steeds. I know very little about my bike, and I was raised to tinker.

Most women were not raised to tinker. I was lucky to be the last of three girls in the family, at which time my dad figured he may as well do the things with us he thought he would so with sons, because it was fairly obvious sons weren't going to be in the picture. My sisters played sports. Being super uncoordinated - something I like to attribute to my feet being smaller than those of most people my size when in reality it was probably nervousness - my dad and I palled around in the basement, not on the field. It was a lot of "hold this while I drill into it" kind of work, but Dad liked having me down there with him, and I liked absorbing it all. When he wasn't around, I felt confident enough to use the radial arm saw to build a tree fort one spring break.

Okay, so yeah, not enough girls get access to the same set of skills as men. In Champaign, Illinois, I was involved with Girlzone, an excellent non-profit. Girlzone had a steering committee of girls ages 7-14 ho met periodically to decide what skills they wanted to learn. The 2 or 3 adult women in charge then went out into the community to find women who could teach those workshops free of charge. Every Sunday, Girlzone had a different workshop. From building CD racks (my friend Amy and I hosted it) to skateboarding, DJing, baking and more, Girlzone is an excellent model for how we should be teaching the next generation of women.

I admit it, I fall prey to the "I can't do it" mentality when it comes to hands-on things like mechanics. It sucks. I look at how women used to have to behave, and think I am lucky to be able to wear pants. I hope my children will say "I can't believe women were naive about mechanics".


[ .Lazy Coffee. ]

Riding around town all day with other people is one of my favorite things to do. Yesterday we served coffee, cider and pumpkin pie to strangers from our bike trailers. We stayed mostly by the waterfront. It was a lovely day and we met some great people. The guy who rides wheelies for miles was there. He rode down the stairs to the Steel Esplanade River Crossing. I don't know if that's what that ped/bike bridge is called, but I surely like to call it that. I don't know his name, but he wears a full face helmet. I guess if you're riding down 40 stairs at a steep incline you ought to have a full face helmet. When Timo told him about the Santa Lucia breakfast on the bridge, the wheelie dude looked at Timo straight on and let out a shrilling, freakish, long laugh - while staring at Timo. Then he rode on.


[ .Adventures with Brandon. ]

Actually, most of my friends don't ride bikes. They ride here and there, but a lot of it is riding because of economic constraints, not for pleasure or by choice. There's the bike crowd I hang with here and there, but my close friends who know me well (most of whom are ex-Champaign-Urbana folks who I met here in Portland) just aren't excited to tool around on bikes. Brandon is a great exception. He comes and goes, off working on trail maintenance in some seasons, moving around. He's in town now and he's up for adventures. Today we rode part of the Springwater trail. It's good shit to have someone to ride with. This living 5 blocks from work shit has gotten old really fast. I'm into bikes, yet I never get a good ride in.

All of this and more (BikeSummer) has gotten me back to taking pictures, something I've been stalling on way too much in the last 2 years, ever since I stopped working at a film lab really. Well, I'm back on it and I look forward to the outcome.


[ .CM. ]

Last night was November critical mass. There are people who weren't there who I wish were there. Where were they? They're normally there. A.H. says it's the attitude of the rides that makes them not want to participate these days. A.H. says they/ (and one person in particular)he just want/s to have fun on bikes. Something like that. A.S. said she thinks he and I are so perfect for each other. I think we'd be great together but that we're in different worlds... worlds that only meet once a month.

So this girl comes up to me... Okay let me back-track... This dude named Jim got a permit for CM... long story short (a struggle for me) many people were pissed that there was going to be a permitted ride. So this girl who is into anarchy came up to me and some other CM activists at a post-CM party to vent.
Girl at party (who came up to me and Ben): Hey! Do you know that fucker who got a permit for Critical Mass?!?"
Me: No, I don't really know him but get this, I DO know a little about why he got the permit and it's totally great you got to hear it get this...
Girl: I'm pissed at him. He had no right.
Me:So he rode CM once and loved it and heard that CM was this thing with no leaders where people can do whatever they want, right? So he did what he wanted and he got a permit because he thought that would make things better.
Girl: He shouldn't have done that. Critical Mass shouldn't have a permit.
Me: I don't think Critical Mass should have a permit either, but you got to admit he followed the structure that is set up for Critical Mass. He did what he wanted. That's what Critical Mass is all about.
Girl: He had no right. I want to find him and I'm going to...

Okay, so at this point in my memory, she said she was going to beat him up, but I am not sure now if that's what she said. She made some threatening comment. I cracked up when she walked away. She had approached me all fired up and looking for an alcohol-fueled fight. She couldn't hear what I was saying, and the irony of what she says she believes in (from statements she wears on her clothes) and what she was saying was entertaining.

see also:
Jim is an irate motorist? | Jim's plan | Ride Summary | Riot Gear and a Nice Ride | Surreal Ride | Wanna Fight?! | More


[ .Joe Squier. ]

I worked among a group of web artist pioneers in 1997. We were creating new viewing spaces, total environments on the internet. We weren't just scanning paintings and photos to display in virtual galleries, we were developing installations for the internet. Web pages were our blank walls, and the viewer intimately at a screen while surfing the net was our audience. Of course the internet went in a million directions after that, as most knew it would, but I've rarely seen artists take advantage of the options for movement and sound and viewer interaction the way we did. Joe Squier was really the pioneer. We were his fearless followers. He told us it was all new, and that he could only show us so much, and that we had to surf and copy code and figure the rest out on our own. Oh how we did. The main server that housed our old work crashed a few years back. We lost the passwords to modify our pages. Eventually our back door projects for which Joe had snuck space were found out and deemed disposable, since we had all graduated by then. It's a great loss. I'm on the hunt for some of those people to see if they kept copies and to see where they are now, what they're working on. I can't remember the names.... Michael McKoveck, Ben R...Rasman?, who else?

see also:
Joe talks about creating artworks for the internet | The Place | Silence | (more to come)


[ .Nostalgia. ]

I'm extremely stuck in the past some times. It's utterly ridiculous. Or is it? Oh the good ole days. I can sit around and reminisce with folks for hours about Champaign-Urbana and our adventures there. My first radio show was in a 2-6 am slot and it was billed as a ska show. Ska songs are short, really short. I learned to be quick on the board, but my co-host Johnny and I couldn't fill more than an hour and a half before we were exhausted and running out of material. I was exhausted. Johnny was usually too stoned to run the board. That didn't matter, he was a world of knowledge to have on the mic. The rest of the show was filled with mixed music. There's a bar here that hosts a ska DJ on Friday nights. Something about it I can't stand. It's the reminiscent thing. I can't help but think of the late nights where I learned the history of ska, dancehall and how they lead to reggae. The songs that got me moving and that were endlessly up up. The ska bands that came to town nearly twice a month for excellent energy-filled shows. The memories are too much, I can't sit through that DJ and what he plays to a crowd of people I don't know.


[ .Growing Up. ]

When your ex-boyfriend is having a baby, it's somewhat of a shock. Maybe it would have been a shock even if Ken wasn't an ex. Finding out my housemate Stef was pregnant was a shock, and I didn't know her all that well. My prevailing thought is that I am so glad I'm not in that situation. I am happy exactly, or more or less exactly, where I am in life. I fear for anything like that to rock the boat. There are things that aren't going on that I would not mind having in place, but a little bambino ain't one of those things, that's for damn sure.


[ .Community. ]

I was into God when I was in high school. I was raised Catholic in a devout family that is involved in the church. In high school, I was having trouble finding friends I found interesting. Our church youth group was lead by a long-haired hippy-type named Marcus. Marcus was young and easy going and he made God seem cool. The youth group participants were mostly older than me and they were a wild bunch. To this day I will never know if they were really into God or just going through the motions, but I am pretty sure they were into God. One of them played guitar and was a writer. I thought he was great. Most of them were trying to stay or appear sober. Yeah, sober. High school fuck-ups who made their parents happy by going to youth group, got their parents off their backs and appeared sober. The thing was, they really enjoyed youth group. We sang, "Our God is an Awesome God" and they sang along. We all sang. Marcus belted it out and so did we. It was a killer God song, you know? Together we went to see Petra, my first rock concert, a christian rock band. I helped lead Confirmation retreats. We were into it, the connection to others and building of community.

Somewhere in there I started cutting and pasting together a xerox environmental hand-out. UOES~L : Underground Operation Earth Save ~ Love. Hippy shit was my thing, an extension of caring about the environment, and I just had to get the word love into the title somehow. The second UOES~L was folded into a book. A friend told me it looked like a zine her cousin Grog in Ohio did called Oxymoron. Or was Oxymoron only the name of the band he was in? In any case, this idea of a zine was intriguing and I set about corresponding with Grog and many, many others. I quickly dropped my co-editor who was unmotivated and also dropped UOES~L to start a zine called Jaundice. Before I knew it, I had a connections around the world, mostly US-Based. Mike from Sleepy Foot Zine, also out of Ohio, was older than me. He always assured me he understood, and that it would be alright. He was a really positive force in my high school years. The zine folks all were. I learned a lot from zines, they opened my little eager suburban eyes to new worlds. Though my high school friends and I had some boring nights of something like sporadic moments of fun interlaced (sitting in cheap restaurants drinking swilly coffee and smoking cigarets playing with individual creamer containers), it was in the zine world that I felt things truly come alive. Somewhere in there I stopped believing in God.

I discovered new loves. Mudflap by Greta Shred was incredible. She hand wrote shit and had impeccable penmanship. She was also into bikes. I didn't quite get it, her love of bikes, but it would only be a few years (after a move out of the suburbs of Chicago) until I would realize how utterly right-on she was. Greta wrote about train hopping. She wrote about a friend who train hopped with his bike. He rode up along side of the train car really fast and hurled himself into the car, with his toes in toe clips to pull the bike up behind him. No one believes me when I tell them this story. Greta obviously believed it when the fella told it to her, so I want to believe it too.

Zines lead me to a world of civil disobedience and anarchy. The do it yourself mentality prevails (after all, a zine is done by one's self) and I couldn't imagine living any other way. Coming from a DIY family (lock on the wallet) I was used to making something out of nothing and making something out of found materials. It was a game, it was fun, a challenge and a way of life. I learned of people making something happen for themselves all around the country. I learned about Critical Mass just a year after I discovered how incredible bikes are, which came just 1 month after I truly learned to ride a bike.

I had training wheels until I told my pop to remove them at age 6. Things didn't work out so well, but the deal with dad was that once the wheels were off, they were off for good. No pussy-footing around. I was working at it. After all, Jenny Meeks could ride like the devil and she was only 5. Jenny Meeks had older brothers. I had older sisters. I was convinced it made a difference. I was just starting to be more stable on my bike, riding up and down the three intersecting dead-end streets in our awesome neighborhood, when we moved to Illinois. My new house had a gravel driveway that came out in between two sharp turns on a 40 mph road. The road wasn't too busy, but when cars were there is was deadly to be out in the middle putzing around on a bike. Oh well, the bike went back in the garage and I found many other adventures to fill my time. I rode a few times in high school, and even twice commuted to my summer job as a day camp counselor's assistant. One of those times landed me in the hospital for getting my fast-moving wheel caught in the front of a parked truck. A few stitches sealed my knee up, but an indent remains.

When I moved out of the suburbs of Chicago, I moved to central Illinois, to the joined cities of Champaign and Urbana. I saw bikes everywhere. The bus was always full, or late, and walking was painfully slow. I was a woman on a mission, with so much to see and do and observe. I loved going to downtown Champaign to do my radio show at WEFT, the community radio station. I loved being places that most of my fellow college students never experienced. A bike was key and at some point I fled home to my parents' house to fetch my mom's white three-speed. The brakes were basically shot, and it never occurred to me to take it to a bike shop, but I rode like mad all over the area.

As soon as I read about Critical Mass in a zine in 1994 (and maybe it was in Mudflap), I sent away for a "Start your own CM" info packet. It all made so much sense and sounded like a party on wheels. Patrick was into the idea too, but he didn't want to do any of the organizing. For Patrick, anything that took work was out of the question, but he had a lot of great ideas. Together, somehow, an Earth Day CM ride was planned and 50 people showed up. We had a great leisurely ride filled with interesting conversations. Ken Gadbow, my first bike mechanic acquaintance, rode along and told me about Portland, OR, a town with streets paved of bicyclists' gold. That moment, my mind was made up. I loved Urbana but knew that one day I would leave and when I did, I would be going to Portland.

Monthly CM rides ensued. Number dwindled but we kept riding. One guy loved to ride White Street, a wide one-way next to our meeting spot. He always cried out for us to take all the lanes. We usually laughed but didn't. Though when I left town for a year the rides ended, they're now back in force thanks to some crazy bike enthusiasts who revived C-U CM in 2000.

see also:
Critical Mass Hub | Interview with Greta Shred


[ .Offensive Comments. ]

Ryan Parker speaks his mind, and sometimes it's harsh, but he's not mean. I always imagine (though I've never asked him) that he is really happy with how he approaches situations. I mean, he doesn't have to feel as if he is un-genuine to his true self. I think that to speak one's mind so freely would be liberating. I guess I feel the weight of niceties on my shoulders. Fuck niceties.

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