Hybrid essays; column on The Rumpus. Public Interest Attorney. Podcaster. Available for freelance assignments.
No Resolutions: Talking with Lidia Yuknavitch
On a blustery, wet December night, Lidia Yuknavitch snuggles next to me on a loveseat. We’re in a low-lit Portland wine bar, tucked under the stairs. We order wine, and agree that when there’s burrata, you order burrata. (There is; we do; it’s delicious.) She’s only been home for two days from a semester-long residency in upstate New York, and graciously agreed to chat with me about her new collection of short stories, Verge.
The Thread: Lacuna
Lacuna (n.): a blank or missing portion of a manuscript, from Latin lacuna “hole, pit,” figuratively “a gap, void, want,” diminutive of lacus “pond, lake; hollow, opening.
I was in love with the Khalili sisters. There were three of them: Rebecca, the oldest; Noa, the middle child; and Laleh, the baby. Rebecca was probably eight or nine years older than me, and Laleh was maybe three years older than me. Noa somewhere in the middle.
Carmen Maria Machado: “I speak into the Silence”
When I heard Carmen Maria Machado had a forthcoming memoir, In the Dream House, I wondered if she would relate a supernatural experience, something strange and surreal, like in her acclaimed short-story collection Her Body and Other Parties. The book cover of her memoir suggested as much: a woman peers out of the attic of a creepy-looking house. Had Machado been raised by spirits? Hidden in the attic for misbehaving as a child? Was she a former ghost hunter or medium? But I also gathered from...
The Thread: Hairy Mary Full of Grace
Her feet and hands and face are bare, but the rest of her is covered in waves of light brown hair. It’s not matted, not animal, not thick like a pelt, although it covers her like fur. Soft wiggles, almost like it’s been combed. For a moment, I wonder how that would feel: being combed, groomed like a dog. I wonder if she sheds or if it’s permanent. Then I’m back, lost in the light brown waves. What a strange depiction. Mary, mother of Jesus, covered in hair.
Hearing a Novella/Reading an Album: Talking with Katharine Coldiron
Katharine Coldiron is my brilliant friend. She’s a phenomenal book critic, an insightful essayist, and, with the publication of her novella, Ceremonials, forthcoming from KERNPUNKT Press in early 2020, a lyric novelist.
I read Ceremonials for the first time in early 2016 when Katharine asked for my feedback. I remember we talked about it for the first time at a table in the book fair at AWP Los Angeles. I was enchanted by the book, even in draft form. Now with beautiful illustrations by Maria...
The Thread: Ghosts at the Door
I remember watching the white Bronco driving down an empty freeway, followed by a police escort. My grandparents’ den. Sitting on the soft beige carpet. We had just arrived for a visit and found my grandma glued to the television, watching a white van.
I didn’t know who OJ Simpson was; I was thirteen years old and a theater kid. What I gathered was the he played football and grew up in San Francisco. My grandparents thought he was fantastic. They had no idea—nobody did—what this car chase wou...
Why We Cry When We’re Angry
There is a tremor in my upper lip. It quivers, small shifting, plates adjusting. The top lip shimmering, moving my face in uncontrolled waves, unless I clamp my mouth shut, or press my lips together, smiling. An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor, or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the lithosphere that creates seismic waves.
I remember the burn of pure fury. I can hold moments of it in the tightening of my ribcage, the...
Celebrating Queer Portland: A Conversation with Claire Rudy Foster
When I was asked to interview Foster about their forthcoming short story collection, Shine of the Ever, I clapped my hands together and wiggled in my chair. We had not yet met, which is surprising because we both live and write in Portland, Oregon, and have lots of friends in common. I was excited to finally get the chance to meet them, and hear about their work.
Shine of the Ever is Foster’s second short story collection. Their first, I’ve Never Done This Before, addressed addiction with a s...
On Monsters: In Darkness and in Light
I grew up in a small, rural town where riding bikes until sunset was no big deal. We took ourselves trick-or-treating once we were old enough to tell time, running from house to house in a pack, sugar-high and free. I started babysitting other neighborhood kids at eleven. I was responsible, careful, and always gave a full report to the parents when they got back. I also charged three dollars an hour, and so I was pretty popular, often walking myself the few blocks home in the dark, alone and ...
The Thread: Art Monsters
I wake up every day at 5 a.m. to write. I greet the lingering darkness, and sit in my office as it gradually fills with the peachy light of sunrise. It’s a habit I started years ago when I was trying to finish revising my first manuscript. It was the only time when both my then-two-year old and my husband were blissfully asleep. I could make my coffee and sit in a quiet pool of light in an otherwise dark world. It was time that belonged to me and no one else. I wouldn’t be asked anything; the...
The Thread: On Justice
I can’t speak, but I can scream. On May 21, 2019, I went with five thousand other Portlanders to a downtown park, and I yelled and wept and raged against the abortion bans. I listened to speakers from NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU talking about the fight for reproductive rights. It was my first pro-choice protest, largely because I have taken these rights for granted.
Before I went to law school, I never considered the Supreme Court as an institution. I knew who Sandra Day O’Connor ...
Unclenching the Body: A Conversation with Jennifer Pastiloff
Jennifer Pastiloff is asleep in my bed. She couldn’t get into her Airbnb until after 4 p.m., but she’d traveled to Portland with her mom and toddler. I left her a key to my house so she could have a place to crash before our interview. I arrived home to Jen’s mom and son playing in my living room, and Jen in my room getting some rest. Once she woke up, I offered her a wearable sleeping bag, donned one of my own, and we settled into my chilly basement to talk about her first book, On Being Hum...
The Thread: The Stories We’ve Been Told
Maybe it was her blonde hair. Maybe it was the headline: “Kirsten Gillibrand Speaks Mandarin. But Everyone Is Talking About Pete Buttigieg’s Norweigan Instead.” Maybe it was just that it’s election time again. Something summoned the ghost of Tracy Flick, ferocious protagonist of Tom Perrotta’s novel, Election, and the movie of the same name.
Tracy Flick, I thought, boarding the train to work. Every female politician no matter who she is or how she runs, gets framed as a Tracy Flick.
In the 19...
“Someday I’ll Be Dead, and Then How Will You Feel About It?”: A Mother/Daughter Custom-Engraved Bracelet
Art by Liz Meyer
This Mother’s Day give and get Luna Grove’s limited-edition “MOTHER/DAUGHTER BRACELET” to celebrate you and your mother’s unbreakable bond! Just one glance at your wrist will bring back memories, like the time she laughed at your makeup, or the first time you called her a “bitch.” Stay connected with Mom no matter where you go with these shiny, gold-plated umbilical cords engraved with the truth!
Gold-plated 6.5” circle bangle
Engraved with any of the foll...
The Thread: The Unthought Known
At the beginning of March, I was asked to watch Holly Austin Smith’s survivor story. My team at work was planning to discuss including it in a curriculum. From the setup, I expected to hear about trafficking, a sometimes emotionally upsetting topic, but not a personal experience of mine. I didn’t expect to hear about the trafficking survivor’s childhood sexual abuse by a cousin. It caught me off guard . . .