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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reading at Portland State University, Portland, OR

First and foremost, I must rave about Mary Rechner's new and amazing book, Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women. Mark my words, you will be hearing more from this amazing writer; her new book is the funniest, smartest, most accurate portrait of motherhood in the 21st C. I've come across. I can't put this book down! Also, I find myself re-reading just about every line, going wow, wow, wow.

For example:

Like a flood or a tornado, it was easier to conceptualize early childhood as it wound down. In the midst of it there had been too many diapers, tantrums, breast infections, jars of baby food, rashes, bloody lips, chest colds, financial crises, bumped heads, swollen gums, months without sex, nights without sleep, and days off from preschool to reflect with any depth.


All she needed was a trio of happy seamstresses: one to cut the fabric, one to stitch it, one to press the seams. But she wasn't Cinderella. It amazed her, how the triplets loved those grisly fairy tales. She tried in vain to get them to understand the sexist subtexts. "Keep reading," the girls insisted. "Just read." I'm only on the first story, but I am completely and thoroughly hooked, set to buy this as a gift for every mother I've ever cried with, drank with, shared my darkest bad-mommy secrets with. I strongly advise you to purchase a copy right now. You will not be sorry!

Okay, and now for the rest, the part about being in Portland, about seeing old friends, about reading at PSU.

If you read my blog, you know how much I love Portland, Powell's Books, and the zen of driving I-5 back into my past.

This trip did not disappoint. I arrived a few hours before the reading and was deeply ensconced in the Rose Room within minutes of my arrival. From there it was onto Blue, my fav, fav, because that's the poetry room, where I found a first edition of Maxine Kumin's The Nightmare Factory, along with an absolutely splendid Kenneth Koch collection, lovingly introduced and selected by Ron Padgett. Oh, and an obligatory trip to the kids section for much-requested Charlie and Lola.

I wrestled up some grub at the food stall lot on 9th and Alder, where I chose E-San Thai because, well, all entrees are $5, and I was in the mood for Phad Thai. I thought for $5 I'd get a tasting size, but this was a full dinner-size entree, so this meant I also got the next day's lunch.

And then I was off to the student union to read at my ol' stomping grounds, where I took my first poetry writing classes with Primus St. John and Henry Carlile in 1987/1988. What a trip to be back there! It was so wonderful to be introduced by Michele Glazer, a poet whom I've stayed friends and continued to admire and be inspired by since 1988 when we met in Henry's formal poetry class. Such a treat to have a chance to catch up.

(In case you don't know of her, Michele Glazer is a daring and visionary poet with a new book out from U of Iowa Press, On Tact and the Made Up World.)

And then it was a night of luxury: crisp white sheets, a bed all to myself, and a room with dark shades, so I actually slept in till 7:30 am! And then the best thing of all: a jog along the waterfront, saying hello to my favorite bridges, and getting back to the hotel just before the sky opened up in a startling downpour.

I breakfasted on hard boiled eggs, toast, OJ, and coffee in the little atrium while the rain beat down on the glass roof. It was divine.

Two more hours in my cozy room, and then a relaxing drive back to Seattle.

O such sweetness. One could do worse.

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