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December 31, 2004

A Taste of Portland Today

This morning, we woke up to a bit of an ice storm. Actually, it wasn't as bad as anticipated, and in fact, Chris bravely forged out in the storm to take Jurgen to little kid school (daycare) on his way to work. I slept in, but when I got up and took the dogs out, I noticed the telltale shine of a layer of ice on the concrete. THAT isn't Portland weather.

But this evening, I went out to do a little grocery shopping, and I didn't wear a coat. Okay, I often don't wear a coat, even when my mother wishes I would. But, it was almost balmy to MN standards, and moist from the day's rain. If I closed my eyes, I could have been standing in the parking lot of Safeway in Vancouver, WA, not the parking lot of Lund's in Highland Park. I could be thinking about how in two weeks I might be planting primroses in a little pot outside my door, and watching slugs slowly make their way across my sidewalk. I could be drying off wet paws that sunk down in muddy grass instead of sliding on patches of snow and ice.

So, I miss Portland a little, I'll admit. It's hard to leave a place you like, not really knowing if you'll ever get to be named one of its citizens again. It's a little painful talking to your friends on the phone, knowing that as time goes by, the distance gets a little wider, and that while we all promised frequent visits, practicality dictates otherwise. It doesn't help that Minnesota hasn't been easy on us, either. Not that every place should have to be easy, or that life lessons haven't been learned thanks to the challenge. But has it really had to be this hard all the time?

We crossed the Rocky Mountains once on our way out west. It was winter time, and we were a little nuts driving through the snowy passes with a U-Haul and a car in tow. As we headed over those mountains, I sort of thought I wasn't looking back. Then, not so very long ago I found myself coming back over those mountains in a U-haul, with a different car in tow. I guess we don't always know what turns life takes us on.

For the first time in my life, I'm feeling a little impatient to be done with school, and yet, there's so many forms left to file, exams to take, and dissertation pages to write. There's no U-haul in the foreseeable future, and I'm not sure what direction it'll be headed when (and if) it leaves the Minneapolis skyline behind. In the meantime, I'll breathe in the damp smell of rain on the pavement in December and be thankful it reminds me of Portland.

Posted by chri1010 at 1:19 AM | Comments (33)

December 28, 2004

Loneliness, A World Away

I feel really lonely right now in Minnesota. I am so struck by the picture on the cover of the New York Times today of a woman crouching next to the dead bodies of several children, most of whom were her own. They had been washed away in the tsunami. That image, along with the news reporter's comment on tv today that when the ocean reeled back before the wave, many children ran out onto the exposed sand, looking for seashells. These things are so haunting to me now.

It seems in some ways like it's only fate that this tragedy occurred in what seems like a world away from Minnesota. It's not that I had a trip planned to Thailand and did not go; simply, I think life is precious and fragile, and sometimes I forget that. I don't want to be a face on the cover of a newspaper looking at the body of my dead child--I can only imagine how devastating that could be. I can imagine it--because I am a mother, and I feel lucky every day to see the beautiful face of my child, alive, happy, and carefree.

There's nothing that can replace so deep a loss. I know this blog has only a small readership, but I want to put in this information from Robert Textor, who lives in Portland, and previously lived and worked in Thailand. Our contributions cannot undo the damage caused by nature, but they can provide some support in a time of need.


Robert Textor writes:

One very quick, efficient, effective way to help the tens of thousands of helpless victims of the Southeast Asia Tsunami is to give money to Mercy Corps, based in Portland, Oregon. Mercy Corps has an outstanding record of supplying both relief and rehabilitation. More than 91 cents of every dollar you give will go directly to victims. Less than 9 cents goes to administration. This is an excellent record.

It is easy to contribute. Just go to Mercy Corps

Posted by chri1010 at 4:06 PM | Comments (34)

December 21, 2004

Missing Summer in Portland

Today, I took the light rail in to campus. I was meeting a colleague on the East Bank--we're planning a symposium on Innovation in Developing Nations (stay tuned for more on that!), and we met for lunch to discuss plans for the symposium. I got off at Cedar-Riverside and walked the four blocks to the restaurant. On the way there, I swear, I almost fell at least twice! I hate the ice more than anything, I think. I can't help wondering during times like that whatever possessed me to move to this cold climate? It's probably 45 and raining in Portland right now.

On the other hand, I have some fantastic projects in the works. I just finished an ethnography project on former students in the Commanding English program and that turned out well. I'll be submitting some form of it for publication in an upcoming monograph by the Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy. And, we got the feedback on our book chapter back from the external reviewer--she really liked our chapter! So, I have a lot of good things going. I probably shouldn't even complain about the weather.

Posted by chri1010 at 4:53 PM | Comments (82)

December 20, 2004

Winter Comes One Day Early

We woke up this morning to cold and ice. It seems that in the night we had freezing rain. The fact that there's no snow on the ground made it harder to believe that it was icy this morning, but 15 minutes of chipping ice off the car windows convinced me otherwise. So far this fall, I have been reminded that it's not the cold that's so hard to endure, it's the ice and snow.

Posted by chri1010 at 9:17 PM | Comments (37)

December 3, 2004

Nothing new here

I wish I had something amazingly profound to say at the end of another semester, but it seems like this is the point when my head feels more like it's about to explode! Okay, maybe that's partly because I have a sinus cold, but nonetheless, I'm definitely just riding the learning curve and not ready to put words together to make an intelligent paper on anything.

Why can't the break be two months long?

Posted by chri1010 at 10:57 AM | Comments (34)