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  • 10 May The Authenticity Experiment: the Trust Edition

    Here’s an infomercial before the post. The Authenticity Experiment: Lessons From the Best & Worst Year of My Life is available for pre-sale.  It helps me if you order early and order often.  The book launches September 12th.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. ∞ The Authenticity Experiment, the trust edition.  I am in a straw bale house on the edge of a canyon at......

  • 04 May The Authenticity Experiment: the Other edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the other edition.  You probably are too young to remember it.  Or maybe you didn’t live in Portland then.  Or maybe I am just making assumptions about who you are, how old you are, how long you’ve been in Portland (where the young go to retire).  But there was a bad time here.  I mean, afraid to walk to your black Ford......

  • 08 Apr The Authenticity Experiment: the Western Weekend edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the Western Weekend Edition.  As a kid, I went to Western Weekend in rural Marin County, in a town without a stoplight or a sit-down McDonald’s.  I didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel because the swinging cars gave me crawl up and a fear that I’d flip out—literally and figuratively—and plummet to my death. Strangely, though, I did ride the Zipper, me alone......

  • 11 Mar The Authenticity Experiment: the coal shovel edition

    The Authenticity Experiment: the coal shovel edition. A giant United Moving van took my mother’s furniture, clothes, dishes, and memorabilia to Portland.  Part of the load was destined for California for my sisters, too.  Still, we barely filled a third of the truck, but because the bid was based on estimated weight, we weren’t allowed to add anything extra to the manifest.  And by we,......

  • 23 Jan The Authenticity Experiment: the City edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the City edition.  Last week, I spent the night San Francisco—“the City,” as everyone in the Bay Area calls it.  The City—as if there is no other city in the world.  But I’ll tell you, on a morning when the tide is out and the fog is burning off, and you step onto O’Farrell Street and cut up and over to Union......

  • 06 Jan The Authenticity Experiment: the lifetime grieving process

    The Authenticity Experiment, the lifetime grieving edition.  The Alaskan Poet said to me, “I’m beginning to think that grieving is a lifetime process. AND I also think that it’s possible to be at peace with that and just realize that you can grieve and move forward.”  And, I think she’s right. It’s no surprise to find grief here—thoughts about it, stories about it, rants and......

  • 22 Jul The Authenticity Experiment: the anniversary and anxiety edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the mostly anxiety anniversary edition.  My friend Lesbiana Profundis, aka my secret weapon, laughs at my Rainman-like ability with dates.  Take  July 20th, for instance.  A year and two days ago, I began the Authenticity Experiment.  AE was a writing challenge for myself—to see if I could be authentic and tell the truth on social media.  Here’s the lead from that very......

  • 13 Jul The Authenticity Experiment: the paterfamilias edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the paterfamilias edition. I have a picture of my three sisters.  Jule, Sue, and Sue’s wife Jen, who is as much my sister as my blood relations.  We are in Minneapolis, memorialized in black and white after our mother’s own memorial earlier in the afternoon.  We’ve all been drinking, because death. I love this picture and I look at it daily because......

  • 06 Jul Authenticity Experiment, I don’t even know where to start edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the I don’t even know where to start edition. That’s the prompt that the woman who is not my girlfriend threw at me on Sunday night when I told her I was blocked. She said, Start with ‘I don’t even know where to start.’ And then give me two pages by morning. She laughed her big laugh, head thrown back and white,......

  • 31 May Authenticity Experiment: the clothes make the man edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the clothes make the man edition.  Six years ago I saw Hamlet at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland, just a month after my dad died.  I was there with the woman I thought was going to be my next wife, my final wife, actually, and with her family who had been attending plays at OSF since the 70s. This Hamlet was......

  • 25 May Authenticity Experiment: gym edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the gym edition.  In 2012, the gym quite literally saved my life.  Not for the reasons you think—the cardio, the weights, the fat loss—but because it gave me a structure, taught me about my own competitive nature, taught me about my body (and how hard I could push it and what it needed for recovery which was, surprisingly, not always a nap,......

  • 18 May Authenticity Experiment: NorCal edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the NorCal edition.  I think that I am in love with Anne Lamott not because she is such a good writer who captures everyday moments and neuroses (she is and she does), but because she perfectly describes the landscape in which I grew up.  Lamott, like no one else I have ever read, is able to write the sharp, pungent, turpentine-y scent......

  • 10 May Authenticity Experiment: friend edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the friend edition. I said to my friend Biz, “I don’t have any new friends.  In fact, I have hardly anybody at all that I do anything with.”  It might have been the tiniest hyperbolic, but only just barely.  And so, lately, even though she isn’t on the Facebook, she’ll remind me of things I’ve done with my friends.  “Oh, was that......

  • 05 May Authenticity Experiment: restaurant edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the restaurant edition.  This week I ate at The Observatory on Southeast Stark Street.  It was my friend Stef’s favorite restaurant even though it was loud and hard to have an intimate conversation.  She loved their burgers and I loved their BBQ shrimp appetizer.  We’d sit in this little corner of the bar, backs to the front door (first to be shot......

  • 01 May Authenticity Experiment: visitation edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the visitation edition.  I’d just finished riding a really long ride with the Opera Singer. The longest I’d ever done. I was back in the hotel room and I called my dad to tell him. He was still sane, had not gone off the rails yet, and the last cogent thing he said to me was, “Thirty-seven miles, Jesus, Kaydoos! Does your......

  • 24 Apr Authenticity Experiment: almost Mother’s Day edition!

    The Authenticity Experiment, the look it’s almost Mother’s Day edition!  I was talking individually to the Basketball Player and the Philanthropist about the recent deaths of both their mothers (who died about two months ago).  On the 29th, it will be eight months since my mother died.  Almost a full gestation period of grief—and just in time for the Mother’s Day cards to arrive in......

  • 18 Apr Authenticity Experiment: the Book Awards letter edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the letter edition.  Dear Judith, you knew all along didn’t you?  And I can hear your response so quickly in my head, “Well,” the ells drawn out all croaky and with a hint of delight at the edge of your tone.  “I didn’t know.” (Emphasizing the empirical “know,” scientist’s daughter to the end.) “But I suspected.” (Rising inflection on “…pected” ending in......

  • 08 Apr Authenticity Experiment: exposure edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the exposure edition. I woke up a mess today. The Oregon Book Awards are Monday and I read last night at Literary Arts with a bunch of finalists.  I tried to make connections with them, to chat, to work the room like my secret weapon would want me to—and I did.  It helped that I wasn’t alone.  An amazing group of queers......

  • 04 Apr Authenticity Experiment: persistence edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the persistence edition. On my desk I have a needlepoint glasses case that was my maternal grandmother’s.  I can’t remember when my mother gave it to me—sometime in the last nine years when I started wearing Costco reading glasses for looking at things like the dosing directions on pill bottles and  the backs of credit cards (don’t you think they should put......

  • 28 Mar Authenticity Experiment: scraps of joy edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the joy edition. “Kate, you don’t want to be stuck eating scraps from the table of joy.”  That’s what my damn therapist said to me after I’d been explaining how I think what I was the most attracted to in my last girlfriend, the Tines, was that her eyes radiated joy. ...

  • 24 Mar Authenticity Experiment: album edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the album edition. My friend, the sailor, and I were talking about the music we have listened to over the years that has informed us, indicated a time, marked a point in a relationship, in a life. Whole albums—CDs, if you must—that when they begin playing, throw us back in time as surely as if we have hit a quantum wormhole....

  • 19 Mar Authenticity Experiment: tuxedo edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the tuxedo edition. My father was a dandy—not gay, but a man who understood the power of custom-made suits and shirts.  One of my great memories is going with him to a hotel room at the Holiday Inn, San Francisco, right on the edge of China Town.  Twice a year, a Hong Kong tailor that my dad called the China Man came......

  • 17 Mar Authenticity Experiment: enlightenment edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the enlightenment edition. Who knows what enlightenment is?  I used to think that “enlightened” people were those who maintained equanimity in the shit-storm of life.  You know, when you’ve accidentally caught on fire the towel you’re using in lieu of a hot pad (because you left all those behind when you got divorced, not thinking about hot pads, just thinking about the......

  • 09 Mar Authenticity Experiment: all the wrong reasons edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the all the wrong reasons edition. I went on a date two weeks ago for all the wrong reasons.  Because the Ironman said I should have a couple of dates—even thought I have NO emotional bandwidth.  But the Ironman said it was important to see that women find me attractive and that there is hope for the future....

  • 06 Mar Authenticity Experiment: report edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the report edition.  My sister Sue has always called this blog the Authenticity Report.  Partly because she got the name wrong the first time she heard it and partly because she thinks of these as dispatches from the field.  Sue’s voice is in my head a lot lately.  It makes sense given the year we had and the things we accomplished—like finding......

  • 01 Mar Authenticity Experiment: reminder edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the reminder edition.  Look, you know how to do this, you really do.  Remember, you’ve done this two times before and you know the steps to this dance even though you hate every moment of being on this particular dance floor.  Wash your laundry, fold it, put it away. Balance your checkbook. Keep your kitchen clean....

  • 26 Feb Authenticity Experiment: determination edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the determination edition.  Last month I got to go to an honest-to-god Friday night cocktail party, hot hors d’oeuvres and all, for the Oregon Book Award Finalists.  Of course, getting a group of introverts in a room and trying to make them mix is like trying to teach a pig to sing (It wastes your time and, in this case, terrifies the......

  • 16 Feb Authenticity Experiment: change edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the change edition. Some of the truest words I’ve ever come across were written by Mary Oliver, “Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon?”  Everything. People, pets, plants, relationships. Everything dies.  Or changes, which is like a death....

  • 09 Feb Authenticity Experiment: Bundt cake edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the Bundt cake edition. Because I live in #Portlandia, it’s easy for me to get gluten-free everything. No, really. Pizza, bread, cupcakes, cookies, bagels, sauces, pie, dinner rolls, crackers, noodles, and Bundt cake. I love Bundt cake, its ridged shape, its dense texture and bite, its light use of glaze....

  • 25 Jan Authenticity Experiment: dead people’s stuff edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the dead people’s stuff edition. I spent the afternoon going through dead people’s boxes.  Let me be clear, these boxes did not technically belong to the dead people.  Instead they were full of items that belonged to the dead people or their children....

  • 18 Jan Authenticity Experiment: the anger edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the dark edition.   My friend who appears rough and tumble tough, but is really just the most tender and gentle soul wrapped in six feet, said to me, “Is it okay to be mad?”  She was talking about all the clowns in the world and cancer and death and the unfairness of the dark mornings in the northern latitudes particularly on days......

  • 15 Jan Authenticity Experiment: podcast edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the podcast edition. Living alone means I can listen to podcasts.  Podcasts while chopping vegetables, podcasts while showering. Podcasts while paying bills, podcasts while doing dishes. I am addicted to podcasts, to the dulcet tones of NPR voices, to the total knowledge dump of an episode of Radio Lab, to the surprising endings of Snap Judgment, to the irritating pedantic dorkiness of......

  • 12 Jan Authenticity Experiment: ecstasy edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the post ecstasy edition.  So in the morning you are a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and then at lunch time you find yourself in a super chi-chi Portland neighborhood in a black hoodie and your Heflinger slippers—or your boiled wool clogs as you might like to think of them.  And then, you realize that you have to increase the size......

  • 05 Jan Authenticity Experiment: gratitude edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the gratitude edition.  I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately.  One of the things the Opera Singer and I did most evenings before we went to sleep was “appreciations.”  It’s a technique from psychologist Harville Hendrix actually—a way, he says, that we can deepen relationship and, since that time with Opera Singer, I’ve used it with friends, clients, lovers. In stressful situations where......

  • 12 Dec Authenticity Experiment: music edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the music edition.  Most of you reading this don’t know that I played and wrote music as a kid. I traveled all over the United States, Canada and Europe playing a handmade, pre-1978, steel stringed, Alvarez Yari (all of which means something to musicians). I understand about the circle of fifths, relative minors, and the particular to delight of a well-placed B-7th......

  • 08 Dec The Authenticity Experiment: Possibility Edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the possibility edition.  For the last two weekends I’ve ridden ferries across Puget Sound.  The day after Thanksgiving, I drove my alien green Kia Soul onto the MV Chetzemoka and crossed from Point Defiance, Tacoma to the Tahlequah ferry dock on Vashon Island. The ferry sailed toward the far shore, and the clear, cold air bit my cheeks as I stood on the......

  • 03 Dec The Authenticity Experiment: dating edition

    The Authenticity Experiment, the dating edition. I’m currently single.  I’m good with this most days.  When I begin to freak out about it, I remember my friend Peggy who spent ten years alone, focusing on her writing to such a degree that twenty years later she became the Alaska State Writer Laureate.  Peggy also reminds me that if she had not waited that long, Joe,......

  • 25 Nov The Authenticity Experiment: Letter Edition

    Dear Mom, for the first time in 15 years I’m not cooking a Thanksgiving feast for you and Dad.  No organic, heritage breed million dollar bird brining in the fridge. No gluten free stuffing soaking up butter and broth in the big stock pot, the one usually reserved for cooking Chinese herbs. There are no bags on the counter of chanterelle mushrooms stuck with Doug......

  • 18 Nov The Authenticity Experiment: Handi Wipes

    The Authenticity Experiment, survivor edition. For the first six months after my father died, I’d say to the Opera Singer, “My dad is dead.” She would pat me on the leg and say, “Yes. It’s so sad.” I’d lean my head against her, breathe into the loss, then, just as quickly, continue on with whatever it was I had been doing.  The patting, the leaning,......

  • 16 Nov The Authenticity Experiment: the Gender Chronicles

    The Authenticity Experiment: the gender issue.  Thanks to Facebook (which has been good these past few months for stumbling across videos and pieces that really make you think), I watched an amazing video.  The video I linked to was about racial identity, but I viewed it through my own authentic lens of gender identity. One quote from the video says, “Who would you be if the world......

  • 11 Nov The Authenticity Experiment: Forget Your Troubles

    I read a quote from Danielle LaPorte today that really resonated with me.  She said, “If you want to consciously relate, then forgiveness isn’t the necessity, consciousness is… this consciousness isn’t about who’s right or wrong and who needs to be forgiven. It’s about designing a healthy way of relating — all things considered.”...

  • 09 Nov The Authenticity Experiment, Redux

    The Authenticity Experiment resumes.  I’m going to try and make it regular, like I promised in August, but I’m still wrecked with the grief of so much death and change in so little time.  Two dear friends, a parent and a partner in less than a year.  I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like writing or crafting anything, but I’ve made a promise to my......

  • 18 Sep Day 31, the Authenticity Experiment

    Day 31, the Authenticity Experiment. Life doesn’t stop for death, right?  In the middle of my mother dying, I was asked to pitch for a storytelling show called Risk.  I made the first cut and then, in the week after my mother’s death, they asked me send a recording of me telling said story. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I can dash of......

  • 26 Aug Day 30: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 30, the Authenticity Experiment.  Today, I spent the morning in a hotel room in San Jose, listening in on two different conference calls and talking to my friend, the Tines.  When I talked to the Tines, I could not stop crying. I wept about my mean client and his psychological abuse of our whole team—my exhaustion over the constant threats the client lobs at us......

  • 23 Aug Day 29: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 29, the Authenticity Experiment. I love the video embedded below.  Because it’s honest and, well, authentic (you knew I’d say that, right?). And because it points out that none of us really know what we’re doing most of the time (I’d say any time except that sometimes the divine speaks so clearly that we move forward without a moment of doubt. But mostly, we......

  • 21 Aug Day 28: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 28, the Authenticity Experiment. I’m wrecked. There’s no way around it. Sue left this morning and I felt all panicky like I needed an Ativan or a breakfast martini. Or both. Instead, I went and soaked and sat in the sauna for an hour, then got a massage. I told the woman to please just let me cry on the table and it was......

  • 20 Aug Day 27: The Authenticity Experiment

    I’m not sure which is harder: moving my mom to an adult foster home on the down-low so she wouldn’t continually be re-traumatized when we had to keep telling her about it or leaving her there....

  • 15 Aug Day 26: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 26, the Authenticity Experiment. I am not exactly in my body right now.  Well, I mean, I am here, sitting in my blue Herman Miller Aeron chair (a leftover from the furious dot.com days when we all *had* to have ergonomically correct chairs in order to work the punishing hours). My arms are resting on the trestle table desk that my friend Amy Witkop......

  • 14 Aug Day 25: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 25, the Authenticity Experiment. The thing about death is that it’s incredibly paradoxical. Because someone is dying, your energy is focused solely on the present moment. Everything falls away and you are unaware of time passing or hunger. You only know the rising and falling of your own breath and the breath of the dying person....

  • 13 Aug Day 24: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 24, the Authenticity Experiment. My sisters and I laugh. And in these situations, it’s all you can do, really.  We laugh at the droll and we laugh at the inane. We laugh at some of my mother’s crazy caregivers and we laugh at the dark.  Because if we don’t laugh at­—and in—the dark, we’ll go mad....

  • 11 Aug Day 23: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 23, the Authenticity Experiment. The same wise therapist who offered me stories in lieu of advice also routinely told me, “The only life you can save is your own.” This was a tough lesson for me, is a tough sentiment that I have to revisit again and again....

  • 08 Aug Day 20: The Authenticity Experiment

    Day 20, the Authenticity Experiment. My baristas are all lovely. There’s Kelly, the artist and neighborhood activist who gave me a great tip about traveling to Venice during the biennale. Amy, who is tall and quiet and, I just learned, a mom. There is Katy, another mom who has worked for Starbucks for 17 years because the benefits are so good. And there is Rachael,......

  • 06 Aug Day 18: The Authenticity Experiment

    Today would have been my editor, mentor, and friend’s 74th birthday. She died last year on November 6th after living years with cancer. I say living years rather than “battling cancer” or “courageously fighting cancer” because Judith Kitchen would not cotton to those ideas. Nor would she like the soft language of “passed away” or “crossed over.” Judith Kitchen, daughter of a scientist, very much......

  • 05 Aug Day 17: The Authenticity Experiment

    I have nicknames for many of my beloveds.  Not all of them, for sure.  The name has to arise organically and in its own time.  My ex-wife did not get her nickname until we had been together six years.  Then a piece of mail arrived—remember real, honest-to-goodness mail?—that was addressed to Judy Simonsap.  This slayed me so I can still remember the way I laughed.  ...

  • 05 Aug Day 16: The Authenticity Experiment

    Tonight I had dinner with old friends, Lisa Hunefeld and Ann Schatz.  They drove up to St. Johns (sic) to eat on the main square and we spent 2.5 hours talking and laughing, covering everything from the transcendent (shamans and somatic experience) to the mundane (how do you get away from someone in a tiny house?)....

  • 03 Aug Day 15: The Authenticity Experiment

    I have a lot of very good friends.  I’m lucky that way.  So many people struggle with deep loneliness and a feeling of not mattering to anyone.  And it’s not that I don’t ever feel this way, but on more days than not, there is someone I can call or email, but usually call, to talk through the hard stuff: my mom, my job, my......

  • 01 Aug Day 13: The Authenticity Experiment

    Anne Lamott says, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth......

  • 31 Jul Day 12: The Authenticity Experiment

    This morning, my friend Erin Coughlin Hollowell arrived from Alaska. Although she’d flown all night and slept very little, we sat at the quarter-sawn oak kitchen table and drank coffee and talked. This table has sat in my dining room for the past 15 months–ever since we moved my mother to assisted living. Before that, it was in my parents’ kitchen in Sequim, and before......

  • 30 Jul Day 11: The Authenticity Experiment

    Roxane Gay said, “I’m personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so that if I get shot, people will care.” And, gawd, that comment was like a kick in the gut this morning. I read it on my $300 smart phone while I sat outside at a lovely café table sipping a $2.75 Americano at 9:33 in the morning......

  • 30 Jul Day 10: The Authenticity Experiment

    I went to bed last night thinking about what I was going to write today. But when I woke at 5:30am to the sounds of multiple helicopters, I knew the plan had changed. In the night, 13 Greenpeace activists rappelled off the St. Johns (sic) bridge onto portaledges that hung halfway between the bridge deck and the Willamette river below, effectively making it impossible for ocean-going......

  • 29 Jul Day 9: The Authenticity Experiment

    Pema Chodron says, “We get misled by the ads in magazines where people are looking blissful in their matching outfits, which also match their meditation cushions. We can get to thinking that meditation and the spiritual path is about transcending the difficulties of your life and finding this just-swell place. But that doesn’t help you very much because that sets you up for being constantly......

  • 27 Jul Day 8: The Authenticity Experiment

    Of late, one of the first questions people ask me is, “Does it feel great having a book out?” The short answer is, sort of. Like all things, it’s both/and. My book is done and I’m pleased with it and I think it’s pretty good. And, I’m also aware that I’m standing completely naked—as it were—in public and that people are reading the work and......

  • 26 Jul Day 7: The Authenticity Experiment

    A day that started early in Bend and ended riding bikes with one of my ex-beloveds in Portland. Do we ever really become ex, though? In most cases, I think we only change the nature of the relationship — no one is ever *not* beloved.  At least this is true in most of my cases. My ex-wife and I used to have a golden retriever......

  • 25 Jul Day 6: The Authenticity Experiment

    I won’t lie to you, today has been fantastic. I actually got four hours of uninterrupted sleep, I rode bikes with my pal Julie Harrelson, I got to sit in the hot tub for an hour and read a compelling memoir. Now I’m at Pink Martini outside in Bend, the light sinking behind the mountains, the rhythm washing over me (it’s intermission. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t......

  • 24 Jul Day 5: The Authenticity Experiment

    Today is a day filled with my old and new and somewhat in between lives. I had lunch at Spork with my friend, LeeAnn Kriegh. We know each other from an Intel job more than 12 years ago. Back when I was married and I was the age she is now. LeeAnn moved to Bend from Portland about two years ago and I admired her chutzpah.......

  • 23 Jul Day 4: The Authenticity Experiment

    Yesterday, I drove to Bend, OR for a book reading in the town I rarely visit anymore. While I love it here, it feels painful partly because of the life I lost here and partly because…well, I don’t know exactly. I think that I always wanted to live some place like Bend or Jackson or Sun Valley. Where nature is right outside your door and able......

  • 23 Jul Day 3: The Authenticity Experiment

    Jack Kornfield said, “If you can sit quietly after difficult news,...

  • 21 Jul Day 2: The Authenticity Experiment

    I used to routinely jump on my bike for a little post-work 35 mile ride. I love love LOVE riding. But when one of my knees blew up on the Cycle Oregon weekend ride two years ago, my training was never the same. Still, my bike....

  • 20 Jul Day 1: The Authenticity Experiment

    These posts are living both here on my blog and on my Facebook page.  I started them because I was thinking a lot about how we use the FB to post our good news (“I have a new book!”), our fun times (“I’m riding in Cycle Oregon!”), our amusing insights (“Look at this picture I snapped of a sign at the DMV riddled with grammatical......