Tag Archives: portland

forty things from my fortieth summer

1. my new car – my mom got herself a new car, and i got her hand-me-down. not bad, eh? closing the back has been reminding me of something, like something i did in another life. the other day i finally realized that it’s what i imagine spinning the wheel on the price is right is like. so far i’ve successfully resisted the impulse to stand next to it after it’s closed and jump up and down while clapping and saying, “come on, one dollar!”


2. wilburys deconstructed – my love of driving around to tom petty music and of this video inspired me to make a great mix. my favorite stuff by the wilburys in their other incarnations. it’s pretty damn good.

3. the leoncavallo family of augusta, georgia – seriously. three quality individuals.


in this photo, i’m playing the role of doug leoncavallo.

4. successful ice cream stops – in portland ME i wandered into a little ice cream shop and one of the customers said to me (in a friendly way), “have you been in here before?” i said that i hadn’t and asked her to tell me what to get. she said banana cream pie ice cream, something i would never have chosen. it was delicious. then i had it again in downtown durham. in augusta, we discovered an amazing ice cream store, bruster’s – so many flavors and the counterfolk were begging us to have samples. i don’t ever remember what kind i ended up getting – i just remember that it was crazy-good.

5. unconditional positive regard – thanks to zari and cheryl strayed, i did some thinking about who has UPR for me and vice versa. here’s one example:


6. the bachelorette – oh man it was a good season. sweet sweet des.

7. PRI – i completed my goal of driving to the pizza research institute in eugene.

8. pistachios on pizza – i was introduced to this in durham, NC, not at PRI. it’s crazy how delicious they make your pizza.

9. portland, maine – the country is bookended by cool cities named portland


this is outside a pub in portland, maine.

10. a drag queen softball game – running in stripper heels for charity (them, not me)

11. dr. pepper – having a car means that i can transport a 12-pack from the store to my apartment. a can of it is like dessert for my afternoon.

12. the china delight lounge – this whole “where dreams go to die” thing? i’m not seeing it.

photo (93)

13. cards against humanity – another thing that came my way thanks to zari. i got to hear many wildly inappropriate sentences read aloud this summer. the china delight lounge is the perfect place to play.

14. blondies – why am i just now finding out about these?

15. capers – no, not the food. the other kind. i had two going for my buddy robyn’s 40th birthday last month. here she is finding out about the first one:


16. former neighbors

back in our spot

me and olivia back in our spot. i miss having her and her family around.

17. other people’s babies


olivia, jeff, nico, and liz

18. swedish fish

19. larrupin & ramone’s coffee – i didn’t make it to humboldt county this summer, but i did get a few tastes of it thanks to susan and janet.

20. amtrak – i did a lot of amtrak traveling on the east coast this summer. and a few trips up to portland and back.

photo (92)

1) jaqui is not asleep
2) that food isn’t all emily’s

21. the city of baltimore – zari & kristin – i get it. what a cool city.


gin and tonics on zari’s roof

22. mail – i’m now penpals with a former student who is in prison in california. not exactly a dream of mine, but it’s good to hear from him – i can still see the 4th grader he was. a good opportunity to practice unconditional positive regard.

23. license plates – when i was with the carter family in boston, they started playing the license plate game. now i notice them, too. i haven’t spotted a massachusetts plate yet.

photo (89)

me with the oldest carter daughter, james. sitting on some famous writer’s grave – i don’t remember which one. james is much more interesting.

24. evening strolls – i’m bringing them back.

25. grilled pimento cheese sandwiches – so tasty. i ate this one in aiken, south carolina with kristin and henry. it’s the reason that south carolina is filled in on my tattoo.


26. my 40th birthday tattoo


my first post-40 trip was to visit robyn and her husband phil in seattle. she asked to pick washington’s color. it’s green.

27. assertive pedestrian – when i’m out walking, i’m doing my part to assert my rights as a pedestrian. if you’re stopped at a stop sign and you make eye contact with me on the curb, i’m going to cross the street in front of you. if you go anyway, even though you see me and i have the right of way, i’m going to give you a mean look. i can’t give you the bird like i’d like to, because my parents would find out. but you’d better believe that i’m giving it to you in my mind.

28. generous driving – i’ve learned a lot about driving from the time i spend walking, and i try to practice generous driving. like giving pedestrians the right of way, waving the other guy through the intersection when it’s a tie, and stopping before the crosswalk. revolutionary, i know.

29. lifesavers – i had totally forgotten about them until i started spending time in various airports this summer. so tasty, and people are delighted to be offered one. now that i’m mature i like pineapple the best.

30. shorty shopping carts

31. monroefest – i got to spend a good chunk of the bounty of benton county hanging out at hard times distillery in monroe. and what do i have to show for it? good times and a bottle of moonshine.

32. a tumor piñata – sandy helped me finish a tumor piñata for tumorfest. i hope a few more folks make one next year.

tumor pinata

33. listen – my word for year five


34. east coast small-town 4th of july parades – muskets! and creepy local traditions! can i do this every year?


35. oblation – jaqui took me to this awesome shop in portland. i managed to keep my spending from hitting triple-digits. but it wasn’t easy.

36. second street – my street is so damn great. i’m glad to go out on adventures, and glad when i’m back on my street.

37. balsamic blueberry crisp – possibly the tastiest thing i baked all summer.

38. butterscotch – it tastes good! i had no idea.

39. fry-day – last month macey and i made our fry-day dream a reality, and we spent a day deep-frying candy bars. in round one we fried half of our assortment (frozen – there’s a tip for you) with one batter recipe. some were amazing and some were disgusting (circus peanuts? whose idea was that?). round two we fried the other half in funnel cake batter. for round three we did an all-star round of our favorites in our favorite batter (funnel cake of course). i thought that the best were toblerone, reese’s peanut butter cups, and rolos. macey liked all of those, but hershey’s cookies and cream bars were her number one. you should probably invite us to your halloween party – we’ll bring good treats and we spent time planning our costumes for this year.


macey’s costume has to do with her current celebrity obsession,
robert downey jr.

40. tumorfest – such a good way to end to year 4 and start year 5. i can’t describe how much tumorfest means to me.



giving thanks

in 2010 i started a new tradition. during the year i keep a list of all of the folks who have helped me somehow, then in november i send thanksgiving cards to the people on my list. i made a digital story about it.

this year there were 217 people and organizations on my list. it wasn’t financially possible to send a card to every one of them, so i had to whittle the list down to 150 (149 – i kept one card for myself). the act of revising the list was itself an exercise in gratitude, and fortunately i feel pretty confident that i’ve thanked the people who were on the original list but won’t be getting a card from me. i found a card i liked at tiny prints. i looked through my pictures from the last year and came up with 4 that were pretty representative of the year i had. i’ve been able to put more of my energy into living my life instead of into recovery, regaining things i’d lost. so the pictures are from some experiences with friends and family. well, i’ll show you.

what do we have here?

top left – with molly and zari at zari’s graduation from willamette university. zari has been my friend since she was in preschool, which means that i’ve known molly since they buddied-up around middle school. two very awesome ladies.

top right – kristin and i eating lunch in montrose, a haunt from our elementary school days. the picture was taken by my friend sandy from high school. it was the first time those streams had crossed (there is nothing dirty about that sentence, so knock it off). before that week, kristin and i hadn’t seen each other in about 25 years.

bottom left – me with emily. we’d just ridden the ohsu tram in portland – my first time. it was a lovely day with amazing views of mount hood and mount st. helens. the picture was taken by my cousin mark. he was visiting from arizona. also off-camera is mark’s friend k.c. – they had a thanks-to-facebook reunion that day.

bottom right – me with my grandma betty. my friend lisa took this picture at tumorfest. that’s the lovely brick wall that i see when i look out my kitchen window.

i’ve been having a flare-up of my neurological symptoms, which has significantly shortened my self-propelled travel radius. so much of the last few weeks have been spent at home in my apartment. not being easily able to go out turned out to be a silver lining. i’ve spent an hour or so each morning writing notes on the back of each of the 149 cards.

one day i was feeling well enough to walk down the block for a pumpkin spice latte and pecan pie while i wrote some notes.

my spirits were lifted each day when i thought about all of the wonderful things, big and small, that these folks bring to my life. it also gave me time to do some math. look – i even made a chart!

here’s some geography for you. there were 6 international cards (2 to greece, 1 each to morocco, india, australia and good ol’ canada) and 4 hand-delivered. i could have hand-delivered more of them, but i think that getting mail is fun. plus i’m trying to single-handedly (bob dole refuses to help) save the united states post office.

here are some more numbers from operation giving thanks 2011:

# of times i cursed in a note – 2, i think. both were pretty mild.

# of envelopes short – 1

# of stamps licked – 0. i don’t miss the taste of stamps one bit.

# of duplicates – 1 that i noticed. and the winner is ms. juliet carter.

juliet, me, kermit. in northern greece on AFS in 1990.

 in honor of juliet, # of cards to people i know from my summer in greece – 5

# of cards to people who are or were once my neighbors – 8

# of cards to people who are relatives of mine – 9

# of times i wrote the word “kriste” – 298

# of cards to people who have their writing tattooed on me – 3

# of cards to people who have tattooed me – 1

# of cards returned to sender – 2

# of cards to friends from when i was in elementary school – 5

# of cards to people/organizations i met directly because of tumorfest – 16

when i look at the list i’m reminded of the promise i made to myself when my medical drama happened. 10 years later i wanted to look back and be thankful that i had the brain tumor. i’m coming up on 2.5 years. a quarter of the way there – wow. and so many of the folks i wrote notes to are in my life because of that brain tumor – directly and indirectly (facebook. i’m looking at you.).

i highly recommend writing thanksgiving cards. the holiday season has never been a favorite of mine, but taking this gratitude inventory this time of year just might change that.

time to start my list for 2012.