Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Reason Everything Happens

This goofy little blogspot blog is where I started all this eastforkspring business. I eventually registered a real domain, wrote a lot more nonsense on a prettier site, then left the East Fork. Not just the blog. The river. Gone. A few years ago, I let my blog and my real domain go and made my last post here, with a broken heart. I feel compelled to post again because I have too much to say to keep quiet. I posted in this particular place so as not to deny my personal prologue. 

I never stopped visiting the river I fell so carelessly and completely in love with. Even when it tore me up. It did every time. 

Until today.

Today I went to visit my river, my son in tow. We skipped rocks and talked and listened to the East Fork's quiet rushing. My beautiful river. My hands reached into the cold green water and I welcomed the hurt into my joints. Then we left. 

This time I brought my heart home with me. 

Instead of accepting my freedom at face value, the philosopher in me was compelled to consider it. To try and make some sense of the fundamental nature of my reality. 

Life ebbs and flows. Sometimes despite or because of our best intentions. Sometimes we are punished justly for bad behavior or wrong thinking. Sometimes we get windfalls we don't deserve.  

According to Merriam-Webster, the primary definition of windfall is something (as a tree or fruit) blown down by the wind. Think about that. An unearned advantage, something torn from something else, gained at the whim of the wind

I'd never embraced the notion that "everything happens for a reason". It seemed so dismissive. As if we're here to serve a preordained and cosmic plan and we ought not attempt to make sense of anything at all. Now that I consider the actual words, stripped of their baggage, I can't dispute the fact. Everything does happen for a reason. Always the same reason. Simple cause and effect. Action and reaction. What can make life seems out of control and unpredictable is the cumulative effects we feel from a data set too great to comprehend. Certainly too great to process.

My takeaway is that the universe is sensitive. We are sensitive. It's our greatest asset. It's what makes our lives valuable and worth living.  

Being sensitive is to be changeable. It's what enables us to grow. It's what helps us experience beauty and happiness after pain and loneliness. It's what makes it possible for one romantic gesture to alter the course of our lives.

It's also our greatest responsibility to be mindful of that sensitivity. To affect positive change. To cultivate love. To do less harm. Because what we do affects other people. In small ways, in large ways. In cumulatively inconceivable ways.

For the first time in a long while, I feel hopeful. My heart is so full my chest aches. I owe my windfall to the people close to me. These people are already mindful of sensitivity, and of their responsibilities with regard to ebb and flow in the universe. In my universe. My River didn't let me go. They did. They have surrounded me with so much goodness and kindness. They have cared for me so perfectly I could not help but respond and feel perfectly cared for. Finally.

Love given into the world is love received. I am grateful to again feel that in a real and effectual way.  Thanks to my teenaged boy. And my adult boy. Thanks to my family and my friends. And thanks to the wind. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

East Fork Spring Sunset

East Fork Spring. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. The name, that is.

I mean, my name is Spring. And being on the East Fork of the Lewis, the river I so carelessly and completely fell in love with, made me East Fork Spring.

My love for the East Fork was nothing if not true. I adored it and life on its banks consumed me. I worked nonstop to make my home with it.

I wandered next to it and through it. Got lost in its current.

My own epic love story. The girl who fell in love with a river.

Trouble is, epic love stories are only epic once tragedy joins the party.

Many moons ago, my best friend Claire and I went to see The English Patient. As we exited the theater, puffy-eyed and snotty, Claire summed it up most concisely.

"True love sucks," she cried, "everybody dies."

In both a literal sense and a figurative one, Claire nailed it.

The day I left the river, part of me died. How much of me is gone is yet to be determined.

It's been long enough since that day that the pain should have subsided. Instead it has settled heavily in my core, as if maybe it will stay. 

A week ago, I let the domain registration of lapse. As if maybe I could get myself back from the East Fork's hold. As if, indeed.

Who would I be? Who is East Fork Spring without the East Fork?

The short answer is: I'm me. Always have been. Always will be.

Truth told, I don't feel much like me. 

I'm uncomfortable. My heart hurts. I'm lost and I'm sad.

Whatever plate of shit life served up was palatable when I knew in the new day I would be drinking my morning coffee in the most beautiful place on earth. 

Now I am painfully aware each morning that I am not. 

Occasionally I will wake up hopeful, imagining I've heard it's soft rushing beyond my door. Instead of my river, the sound is nearby traffic and my hope fades to shame. I feel like a fool.

Overcome with longing, I went to see my river today. I thrust my hands and feet into the cold green water and welcomed it's hurt into my joints.  I allowed myself the familiar and falsely reassuring embrace of an old lover who, this time, will leave by design.

Leave me with the hollow noise between the thuds of my heart. The echo keeps me awake, but I at least recognize it is my own. It's all I have some days. It's what I am alone.

What's left of me is what's left for me.

After all, wherever you go, there you are. 

Love or no love. 

River or no river.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chaos Theory

Yesterday (or many yesterdays ago now), I set off to run some errands.  I only live 7 miles from civilization (if Battle Ground fits that bill), but a 14 mile trip for a gallon of milk is foolish on several levels, so I do my best to "bundle" my trips to town. This requires some degree of planning.

Historically, my plan consists of at least four lists: the list I start and then lose, the list I drop in the mud and can no longer read, last week's missing list (I swear I checked that pocket), and the list I scrawl on a napkin on the steering wheel on my way in to run my errands (aka The Final Draft).

Knowing one of my stops is bound to be the grocery store, and being a black belt cheapskate, I remember my coupons. The coupons are in three locations that I am aware of and in no particular order. I grab them from my car door, my back pocket, and my newspaper as I'm leaving.  I hastily ram them into my purse and sift through them at my destination.  At Safeway I consult my napkin, second guess myself on each item, and then discard the list altogether.  I buy eggs, but I don't need eggs.  I already have eggs at home.  What I'm out of is vanilla extract and rye flour, but I'll neglect to buy those items.  I shop, trying diligently to keep my path up and down the aisles to avoid the usual backtrack game.  That lasts two aisles.  The remainder of my shopping map looks like a Spirograph drawing.

After an eternity at the Safeway, I load my car with groceries and search for my list, my master plan, so I can figure out what else I need to do while I'm in "town".  No list to be found (oh, that's right, I ditched it in Safeway, didn't I?).  Hmmm... I know I need to fill up the gas cans, but I forgot them at home.  What else... what else?  F%$# it, I'm going home.  I have a laundry list of incomplete projects there I need to work on and even more projects than that I want to work on.  Whatever else I needed to do will have to wait. 

As soon as I turn onto our road, the other things on my list come flooding back.  As soon as I turn into our driveway, I start seeing things I need to add to one of my home to-do lists.  Looks like the neighbor's roofers wiped out half the hedge.  Maybe it's an improvement, the rest of the property looks like a jungle.  Numbers fell off the mailbox.  Moses... when's the last time I came up to get the mail?  Sheesh.  Gravel.  I should put gravel on my list.  I need to put a few buckets full in that hole.    Damn, I wish it was all just done, I wanted to hit an estate sale or make some art today. Oh, there's where I left my coffee this morning.  Shut it, Barli, it's just me, you dufus.  I have to get the damned weed eater over to that spot by the - oh, that's right... no gas for the weed eater.  Maybe next week. 

I park, overload my arms with groceries, and open the front door with my chin.  Put the bags in the kitchen.  Go back out the front door.  What am I doing out here?  Go back in.  Put away the cereal.  Remember why I was heading outside a minute ago.  Milk's in the car.  Go back out the front.  Car's locked.  Why did I do that?  I never lock my car.  Shake pockets.  No jangle.  What did I do with the stinking keys?  Back inside.  Okay here we are.  Back outside.  I grab the milk then catch my sweater in the closing car door.  Arggh.  

Every week I vow to make it different.  Every week I end up dizzy from turning circles and exasperated by my inharmonious relationship with every other molecule in my universe.  I throw up my hands.  "I quit", I say to no one in particular, "you win, I looeeeew".  That's not a typo.  I stepped in a pile of dog poo.  

Sure, the details vary a little from trip to trip, task to task, week to week, but this is a good example of my modus operandi.  This is my life.  It's exhausting.  I hose off my shoe and set forth to seek the advice of my closest and wisest friend.   

"Google," I ask, "what is wrong with me?  I want to be organized.  The simplest things end up being such a chore because I'm not.  Why is it so hard for me to do what I know 
I need to do? "

Of course, Google has the answer (or rather 1,410,000 of them in .70 seconds).  There's nothing wrong with me, Google consoles, I'm just a creative personality type with ADD tendencies.  It turns out that creatives often suffer from a little thing called chronic disorganization disorder.  According to the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (not kidding, this group exists), the affliction has three distinct symptoms.
  • the persistence of severe disorganization over a long period of time;
  • a daily undermining of one's quality of life by disorganization; and
  • a history of failed self-help efforts.
I write all of this off as a bunch of BS at first, but the more sites I visit and articles I read, the more I start to identify with the diagnosis. I learn about ways people deal with it.  I also find myself comforted in the fact that somebody else knows what's going down (or not going down) in my bean.  Who knew that mattered so much?  Thanks again for your help, Googs.  You're the best.  

Of course, just knowing what ails me doesn't help any more than wishing I was organized does.  I'm still interested in everything, want to do everything, learn everything.  I'm still  disorganized.  I still feel irresponsible and careless.  The hardest part is knowing I could help myself and I don't.  I might not ever.   

Even as I type, I have a zillion other things I could be doing to alleviate the stresses of being a hot scattered mess.  Obvious ways to simplify and organize that would make me better able to do the things I love like painting and drawing and building and writing.  Creating.  That's the stuff creatives do.  I know I should get a grip and a speck of order in my world.  But as is my wont, I'm instead writing about not doing it.  So it goes.  Here's to another day in chaos.  Cheers.   


Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I Did on Summer Vacation

I hope this post finds you well.  It's been awhile since I checked in on you.  Almost three months since my last post.  Where have I been?  I'd like to report that I got a job.  A wonderful job doing what I love to do, working with people who are happy and smart and nice to each other.  Comfortable atmosphere, giant paychecks, fantastic benefits.  I'd like to report that, but I figure if you wanted to hear lies you'd go ask your kids if their rooms were clean.  Instead, you're reading a blog.  So truth is I have no job.  This Sunday, I again will be telling the Oregon Unemployment Insurance folks "No-no-no-no-yes-yes-yes-no".  For those of you who have never filed a claim, that's the secret password that unlocks the magic vault.  My check will remain there, lifeless, for three days.  But on the third day it will be resurrected and ascend to my bank.  Every Wednesday, Easter Wednesday.  I never actually get to see the money, but my bank says that's what happens.  The lights are on here so the PUD must be getting paid and Safeway gives me groceries when I tell the magic grocery money machine another secret password.  That's enough evidence for me.  I have faith.

Where I've been isn't at my new job.  Where I've been is outside, making hay.  And by hay I mean other stuff that isn't hay at all.  I've been painting, sewing, designing, building, creating.  Outside.  While the sun shines.  Furniture is my latest creation kick.  The photos are a sampling of my wares.   All of the materials I use are salvaged, second hand, or otherwise rescued.   Old fence boards headed to the dump, garage sale lawnchair webbing, granny's old fabric stash, builder leftovers from ReStore, etc.  I loved building these things, but if you'd love having any of them, let me know. I'd love to make you a deal.  If they all sit here, I won't have a reason to make more.

Besides nurturing my creative itch here at the river (and here I thought it was fleas), I've been hanging out a bit up in my hometown Kelso.  Stompin' around on my old stompin' grounds Beacon Hill.  Two lovely old friends I haven't seen near enough of in the last 16 years, Dick and Sandy Sundquist, were just crazy enough to let me come up with my collection of hammers and start pounding on their house.  "Do whatever you want" they say.  Love those guys.  I'll have to give you a tour of the results in a post or two.  

I'd love to stay and chat, but the sun is out and I have some hay to tend to.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Work Hard, Play Hard, Listen to Your Coach

 In case you got all the ads for bbq grills and neckties in your morning papers last week but couldn't put two and two together, last Sunday was Father's Day.  I built my dad a birdhouse, made him a cheesecake, and brought him Starbucks.   Nothing says "thanks for devoting most of your adult life to making sure I thrive" quite like some nailed-together sticks and a 12000 calorie afternoon snack.  What else do you get the man who gave you everything?  My dad taught me just about every important thing I know.  How could I say a proper thank you for that?

My mom taught me plenty, for sure.  She taught me about forgiveness and softness and love that couldn't be disappointed.  The stuff you wouldn't find in a users manual.  Intuition.  Faith.  Touchy-feely choose your own adventure stuff.  Wonderful stuff.

But Dad had a program for life.  Bullet points for living.  He was a teaching machine.  He taught me that my opinion matters and I ought to voice it.  Stick to it.  Fight for it if it's right and needs fighting for.  He taught me to always be proud, but never boastful.  He taught me that it's okay to cry when you lose, but winning must always be done gracefully.  Humbly.  And winning itself was the reward, the award.  No need for trophies.  He taught me that if you're holding someone's ladder, you can't ever let it fall.  Ever.  He taught me that some things can be cured with a back rub or some sunshine on your face.  He taught me respect without ever uttering the word.  He taught me that there are people in this world who aren't smart.  Who aren't fortunate.  These are the people who need to be helped.  He taught me that to think otherwise is narrow-minded and selfish.  Not everyone has boots, much less bootstraps.  He taught me to wonder.  He taught me to read.  He taught me to learn.  He taught me to breathe.  And he taught me to work hard, play hard, and listen to my coach.*

Dad, if the birdhouse were a thousand times bigger, I may have written upon it all the words to say how much I love you and appreciate the fact that the good in me came from the good in you.  Until I can build that one, I just want you to know that I listened.  And I remembered.

*(Work hard.  Play hard.  Listen to your coach.  It was the theme song.   The mantra.  It was what we were told over and over and sternly reminded of when we had forgotten.  It was the headliner.  All other lessons were simply subsets of this holy trilogy.  It was our pep talk.  It was our remedy.  It was our mission.  Never mind what Jesus would do, what would you do?  Work hard.  Play hard.  Listen to your coach.)



Friday, June 17, 2011

The Letter My Neighbors Won't Get

Dear Neighbors,

What is the matter with you people?  You live in the most beautiful place on earth and instead of letting it affect you in a positive manner, you scowl.  I smile at you.  You scowl at me.  I get that you have life-things to worry about.  I get that your job sucks and your bank account is skinny.  I get that your life isn't perfect.  I get that your house needs to be painted, your lawn needs to be mowed.  I get that you're worn out, beat up, sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I get that.  I can't get how that affects our neighbor relationship.  All I wish is you'd mix in a smile for once.  Even a fake one would be okay.  You might decide you like it and muster up a real one.

When we moved in you didn't come say hello.  You came to complain about our dog.  You all came.  He was barking/whining/pooping on your porch.  I guess you couldn't tell I was making a heck of an effort to move and control my wild dog.  I guess me chasing him up and down the river gave you the impression I condoned his behavior.  I guess my yelling at and pleading with the dog showed my indifference.  I guess when I sat sobbing in the street, defeated, soaking wet with leash in hand, that could have been mistaken for intent to let my dog bother you.

One of the first nights we were here, Dee was working and I ran into Vancouver to get another load of our things.  When I came back, the dog was gone.  The next morning, you knocked on my door to tell me you came to get my dog because he was carrying on barking and whining after I left.  You said you lived across the river.  I recognized you immediately as someone I worked with up until just a few months prior.  But that day you were wearing makeup and a pink jogging suit and earrings.  You had boobs.  When I worked with you at YRC you were, um, er... a man.  Yeah, fairly certain about this one.  You had an adam's apple (you still do, btw) and a man's name and a man's voice.  I could tell you didn't recognize me, so I said "Jim, right?  I'm Spring, we used to work together?"  "Oh, oh, yes.  I'm sorry," you said, "you look so different with your glasses on."  You looked a little different, too, Jim.  Like a lady that used to be a gentleman.  If that's what you are, then I'm glad you made a move on it.  Good for you.  Barli was pleased to make your acquaintance and sends his love.     

Barli, damned dog.  You all came about the dog.  It was January and freezing-ass cold and raining sideways.  I was unloading a U-Haul by myself in twilight.  I was dirty, wet, and bleeding from my forehead.  You came to complain about Barli, but didn't greet me warmly or make even a token offer to help me with the desk I was trying to wrestle out of the truck.  I do apologize for suggesting you take matters into your own hands and "shoot the bastard.  I hate him, too.  No, really, he's out of control.  I'd do it, but I don't own a gun.  Don't look at me like that, I'm serious.  I promise I won't tell.  He causes problems for you again, you shoot him full of holes, you hear.  Worthless, good-for-nothin' mutt had it coming."  I told you it was a pleasure meeting you and smiled to myself when you left.  I replayed the look on your face (after I told you to off my dog) over in my head til I had the giggles.  I'm truly sorry.  In retrospect, that probably wasn't my best effort at neighborliness either.

Some of you came to complain on behalf of someone else.  "You know, I personally don't have a problem with your dog, but so-and-so down the street..."  Some of you left notes in the mailbox. "Please keep your dog in your yard!"  Some of you even stopped my dad when he came to visit.  Why would you bother him?  In one way or another, you all voiced your opinion of the dog without a "pleased to meet you".  No small talk.  Only dog talk.  Bad dog talk.   

When summer came, you decided you liked the dog after all.  You walked right through our yard and onto our stairs to the river.  You brought your friends and your kids and their friends.  You made me put up No Trespassing signs.  I can't stand No Trespassing signs.  Several of you told me you had deeded access and it was your right to go traipsing through my yard.  A few of you were borderline belligerent about it.  Sorry, neighbors, but the person who submitted your easement wasn't any smarter than you are nice.  The easement on file with the county grants seven people, five of whom are now deceased, access to the easterly five feet of our property.  That gets you 100 feet from our yard and 20 feet from our driveway.  That gets you 15 feet away from our steps to the river.  Please keep your family in your yard.  If you would have just asked nicely, I would have said yes.

And while I've got you, why do you keep calling the authorities on us?  Yeah, across the river, I'm talking to you.  Just because you can't see the doghouse from your vantage point does not mean we don't have one.  Just because the dog looks skinny doesn't mean we don't feed him.  Quit calling the Humane Society.  They have better things to do.  Just because I cut a few dead branches off a tree on our hillside does not mean I am out to destroy nature.  Just because I moved a rock that was damming up slow water on our property into a mosquito breeding pond does not mean I hate steelhead and wish to decimate their breeding ground (c'mon Jill, steelhead don't spawn there... and how would they even get there from the river?  There is dry land separating them.  Steelhead stay in the water.  They're fish.  That's what fish do.)  So quit calling the department of fish and game.  And seriously, just because I'm a night owl does not mean I'm operating a clandestine lab over here, so please quit calling the DEA.

After you had the narcotics unit stake us out, I didn't confront you, but I did take a picture of you and photo-shopped your head on the body of an insanely fat woman.  I then opened a Facebook page in your name and used the fat lady photo as your profile picture.  I periodically confirm friend requests from people you went to school with.  I'm sure they get a chuckle "Oh my, did you see how big Jill got?  How funny is that!? I wouldn't have a profile pic if I were her!"  Sorry.  I'm kind of passive aggressive that way.  Also, I should mention you act like an idiot when you are drunk at your parties, which is often. (oh, and why are there no women besides Jim at your river bashes?  That's kind of weird, don't you think?  Just wondering.)  You called once to say you were sorry for shouting insults at us the night before.  You said you couldn't remember doing that.  You said sometimes when you drink you can't remember anything.  I'm not a doctor, but that's a blackout, my dear, and a good indication you may have a problem.  Good luck with that.  If you go to rehab, try and make it in the summer time.  I long for a sunny day here when I don't have to see your white butt in a bikini, whaled up on your side of the river.  Oh, and you're welcome for the cupcakes I waded across the river to you.

And speaking of drinking problems, you two to the east need to quit trying to call the dog over past his invisible fence for a game of chase the ball or a Beggin' Strip.  You are foiling my efforts at containing him in his yard.  He's easily confused.  You were one of the first ones to complain about him.  You changed your mind and like the dog now?  Too bad.  We're training over here.  Why don't you have a few more and start throwing things at each other.  As if you needed encouragement.

Hartmut to the south, thanks for at least asking if you could destroy the top of our driveway with your tow truck.  I do appreciate the warning.  But it's been a year and a half now and I still haven't seen that gravel you promised.  That's okay, Hartmut.  God love you.  Your accent coupled with your wont to bounce topics mid-thought and refusal to stop for a breath make it almost impossible to understand you, but you seem like a good guy.

Couple to the west, I thought my dog was bad.  Your dogs see me every day and still bark at me every minute I'm outside.  Horrible whooping bark.  They have to realize soon that my being in my yard is no cause for alarm, don't they?  Even though you live right next to me, I've only laid eyes on you once.  I would come over to say hello to you and meet your dogs but your gate is locked.  

And Fishers, down the street.  Your grandfather might have built this place but you guys sold it.  That means it isn't yours to stake claim on when you feel like it.  If you can't return a smile and friendly wave from me, your bratty kids can't scream outside my bedroom window on their way to the river access you can't let them continue to use. 

Mrs. five doors down, when you yelled at me to slow the f@#$ down the other day, I was going 10 mph.  Even at 15 mph I'm pretty sure I still have the reflexes to avoid creaming one of your little yippy dogs as they dart into the street.

Dog-walker lady, when I see you on the road (which is every single time I am on the road, since you are always out walking a dog), it's okay to make eye contact with me, maybe even smile.  I haven't turned anyone to stone yet (though I've tried real hard with the one across the river).   

You won't get to read this, neighbors.  You won't get to listen to me air my grievances.  I'm a big sissy, really, and you'd know that if you cared to make small talk or be friendly in any way whatsoever.  Next time I see you, I'll wave and pretend we're friendly neighbors.  You'll probably scowl or call the sheriff.  But maybe, just maybe, you'll smile and mark the beginning of what could be a lovely and long-lasting neighborship.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

34 Years and One Day

"Yesterday it was my birthday, I hung one more year on the line.  I should be depressed, my life's a mess, but I'm havin' a good time." -Paul Simon

34.  Not just my high school basketball number anymore.  It's my vintage.  34.  Not a huge fan of 34 so far.  My body hurts more than it did when I was 14 and my mind isn't as sharp as when I was 24.  My hope that I'll be able to use my life toward some greater good diminishes with each passing year.  When I was a kid, my birthdays were always great.  I was royalty for a day.  Now birthdays just make me want to be a kid again. 

My dad came to see me.  He always does on my birthday.  Yesterday morning I was anxiety-ridden because I thought maybe he wouldn't come.  He had been out to say hello and gave me my birthday present  late last week.  It hadn't occurred to me until yesterday that maybe he wouldn't show.  But he showed, and I felt silly for thinking maybe he wouldn't.  I'm glad he did.  I need to see him on my birthday.  He  always tells me the day I was born was his best day.  That's huge.  I made someone's day their best day.  Not everyone can say that. 

My mom came to see me.  She brought fried chicken and cherry pie.  When she comes over I never want her to leave.  With every passing year, I find it harder to communicate with people.  I'm often misunderstood.  My mother either listens to and understands every word I say or she fakes it very well.  Whatever the case, she's the only one I feel completely comfortable talking with.  I like being comfortable, and she never stays long enough.

34 wasn't as traumatic as 30.  30 was hard.  30 was the year I was supposed to have my ducks in a row by.  My ducks weren't lined up.  My ducks are unruly.  Four years later I can't get a single one to cooperate.  By now I've gotten pretty used to the wild ducks, but I am reminded every sixth of June.  I am reminded of my birth and my life and my mortality.  I am reminded of my sense of responsibility to my loved ones and to the world in general.  I am reminded of every mistake and missed opportunity.  I am reminded of how selfish I am to want to be royalty for even one day a year, and how undeserving I am to get all the love I do on all the days of the year.

I am glad it's the seventh of June.  Exhausted by the sixth, I slept half the day.  The eighth will be easier.  By solstice I should be feeling myself again.  That's the good thing about getting older.  I know a few more things.  I know myself well enough to know the melancholy will give way to the sunshine of late June.  I know that it may rain on the fourth of July but the fifth will be beautiful.  I know my ducks are happier running wild than all lined up.  I know next June sixth I'll be a mess again, but I'll foolishly look forward to it anyway.  Just in case I can be royalty for a day.