The Authenticity Experiment Posts

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, I mean me.  My mom was sitting on the dove…

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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 Square, the impatient honk of cars startling your small town…

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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 rages about it.  But there’s a particular grief I’ve been…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the unexpected angels edition.  I hate the idea of angels.  Really.  Those damn cherubs painted by Raphael that hung in every 1980s house, regardless of whether the owner had been to Dresden (where the angels were relocated in 1754) to see them in person.  But the thing is, I think that angels—or, rather, guides, as I like to think of them—exist.  I’ve seen evidence time and again in my life—turn here, talk…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the ornament edition.  It’s funny what hurts you, what makes you start to cry like a little kid.  Tonight, it was that I couldn’t remember—actually never asked how—my mom made this chandelier decoration of velvet ribbon and red, green, and gold ball ornaments.  It hung every year in our dining room in the house I grew up in.  I decided it would look good in my house, over the table that belonged…

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This week you hear from Jenny Forrester. Jenny runs a reading series in Portland called Unchaste: Women Speaking Their Minds and even though this series occurs in my own town, I met her in Minneapolis at AWP, the giant writers conference where 15,000 introverts try to act like extroverts. And then I went and heard some of her readers—she carefully curates every month so that the readers and stories build even though she has no…

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This week you hear from Gradylee Shapiro.  I’ve never met Gradylee, he’s the best friend of one my best friends.  But I feel like I know Gradylee because of the stories he tells on his blog, You Said You Would Pray for Me.  They’re funny, they’re tender, they’re raw, they’re so completely authentic that you almost wince when reading them.  And I knew when I was taking a hiatus from writing, that I’d like Gradylee…

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This week you hear from Mel Wells.  I met Mel Wells through Literary Arts, the organization that administers the Oregon Book Awards.  Mel is smiley and tall and has an easy laugh. And because she comes from a Mormon background and has had to educate herself, probably knows more about gay history than me and my friends combined.  I think of Mel and her fiancée, Ashley Brittner, who you heard from earlier, as arts movers and shakers.…

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The Authenticity Experiment, the everybody’s dead edition.  It’s strange: now that the cat is dead all I want to do is call my mother and tell her when I haven’t felt the urge to call her in months. Tell her that the last two nights I’ve come home to an empty house—no tortoise shell cat sitting imperiously on the back left cushion of the couch and cussing at me for being out too long, too…

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This week you hear from Kate Gray.  I met Kate in a coffee shop on Hawthorne.  We were meeting to talk about riding bikes and writing books and she sat there in her kind, quiet, and unassuming manner.  I’d just gotten on my first AWP panel and I was stoked about it and so I went on and on about AWP, not realizing what a big wig Kate Gray really was.  Finalist for an Oregon…

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