Bit by Burning Bit

What’s on your list, at the moment? I don’t mean your work list — we’re forgetting about work until tomorrow — but your life list. What’s on that one?


What’s up at the tippy top, and what’s just been booted back down to the very bottom?

Would it be okay if I said mine wasn’t in shape for showing? Or not just yet, anyway. It would have been great if my notebook had fallen open to a different page, to any page other than that one, really, and you’d happened to be there to stoop down, pick it up, and hand it back to me. Smile smile smile. (Don’t turn ten kinds of pink.)


I’m in my little corner now, clearing space for a new story, and instead of feeling lucky to have an entire afternoon to type and delete and delete some more, I feel restless. Vaguely unhappy. Annoyed with myself.

I know what the problem is, and it’s not Portland.


Most of the things I like to do are solitary. Reading, writing, taking pictures, walking in the woods — these are not exactly activities conducive to meeting other people. Well walking in the woods could be, except I like to go so early the mist still hangs heavy in the trees.


I exercise alone. I grocery shop alone. I cook alone. I eat alone. I sleep alone. It is too much alone.


I’d banked on making a few friends at work, but my 9 to 5 (really 7:30 to 4) is quiet and concentrated. This is good — this is actually what I prefer — but I guess not when my personal life is proportionately noiseless.

I know I can’t just sit here and hope the next weekend will be different. It’s not going to be [radically] different unless I do something differently. It isn’t enough, to say hello to the older couple so nice to me at the gym. It isn’t enough, to thank the man who made my coffee. It isn’t enough, to give a small smile to the girl selling squash at the market.


How many more afternoons am I going to call my mom and whisper-cry I’m so lonely. My voice breaks on the last word.


How many more times am I going to text my friend Sarah and ask if the rest of her day is sort of looming too. (For lack of a better word.)


I can’t be the only one. The only person far from home, doing the best they can to make a new one.


The whiny voice I’m not proud of says: but I don’t know how to MEET any of them. But the voice I’m beginning to like says: yes, yes you do. I do know how to meet them — I have to go to things.

Sometimes the trick is to ask myself what I would do if my brother or my mom or my best friend were here. I’d buy a bike (and then sign up for some kind of City Biking 101 so I didn’t become a total menace). I’d make this chicken (and wish I sounded more like Joy). I’d go see The Intern. I’d go to Barre in the Park. I’d go to one of these events. I’d find a free home barista class. I’d volunteer at Feast. I’d find a league and join a soccer team. I’d sit at the bar at Oba and order the arctic char at Renata.

I’d go to Powell’s and buy this book, even though I keep coming home with titles I’m too self-conscious to bring onto the bus instead. I’d get over my aversion to the streetcar (why? I don’t know why) and go see what’s on top of Mount Tabor. I’d plan a trip to Bend and Smith Rock State Park. I’d go back to Crater Lake. I’d look at where I could live and work in the Northeast, where it just feels good and right and more like what I’d been looking for all along.


Do you know what I wouldn’t do? I wouldn’t let this fall slip by feeling like there’s nothing new to report; it’s just been more of the same.



“Have fun, even if it’s not the same kind of fun everyone else is having.” -C.S. Lewis

“You can lie on a bridge and watch the water flowing past. Or run, or wade through a swamp in your red boots. Or roll yourself up and listen to the rain falling on the roof. It’s very easy to enjoy yourself.” -Tove Jansson

“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.” -Thomas Wolfe

“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone that you were not in the beginning.” -Michel Foucault

“This is how we loved: bit by burning bit.” -Tiara Sutton

“Trust your happiness and the richness of your life at this moment. It is just as true and as much yours as anything else that ever happened to you.” -Katherine Anne Porter

“On some nights it’s best to stop thinking about the past, and all that’s been won and lost. On nights like this, just getting into bed, crawling between the clean white sheets, is a great relief.” -Alice Hoffman

“Take it from me: if you hear the past speaking to you, if you feel it tugging at your back and running its fingers up your spine, the best thing to do – the only thing to do – is run.” -Lauren Oliver

“What seems like a reasonable distance to one person may feel too far to somebody else.” -Haruki Murakami

“I have always been delighted by the prospect of a new day, a fresh start, one more try, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” -J.B. Priestley

“I believe good things happen every day. I believe good things happen even when bad things happen. And I believe on a happy day like today, we can still feel a little sad. And that’s life, isn’t it?” -Gabrielle Zevin

{Mt. Hood via @justin.watts and Lower Lewis Falls via @snickersv on Instagram.}


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