Friday, January 11, 2008


Coming home from Soapstone was not easy. It had snowed again all night, and I woke up to my dream combo of wooden walls + woodstove + snowy trees outside the window. Erin and I returned to the poaching scene to see if the calf was still there, our footprints the only thing stamped onto the snowy logging road. The furred remains we found last time were gone, swept up by the authorities. But we went a few yards further and lo, there was the rest of the beast, spine and ribs, newly dragged across the snow, surrounded by new pawprints, and freshly gnawed.

Nothing wasted. I respect that.

The best: hours alone, deep writing trance, river sound, coffee all day, stoking the wood stove, sinking every night into the deep outdoor tub with novel + wine, cold air smell, no text messages, uninterrupted sleep, total darkness, hysterical giggle fits with Erin in the evenings, a single purpose, all mine.

If you are a writer of the female persuasion, I highly recommend this place. (But probably only with a friend. Sharing the fortress of solitude with an unknown would feel weird.)

On my way back through the coastal range, the snow was thorough. Up at the top, total winter wonderland, b/w style--white everything, veined with black branches and a stripe of black road, and that amazing snow-light that casts pale blue shadows. Then coming down, it was abruptly back to deep soggy green and brown rock and bruised sky, then, woe, Beaverton. And the mopey Willamette Valley clime of wet and mild. Winter here is pure Eeyore.

But! The start of a new term always feels bright and sharp, new energy in the room, all that potential, I can still dream that all of them will surprise and delight me and never disappoint. One class alone has reps from Romania, Somalia, Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, El Salvador, Jordan, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Today we read a selection from the amazing Material World project and compared our own country stats for a sense of perspective. For example:

US: circa 96 of men, 95% of women. (Weirdly, some sources say even less; the CIA Factbook says 99% age 15 and up; who knows.)
Romania: 98.5 of men, 95% of women.
Jordan: 95% of men, 85% of women
Somalia: 49% of men, 25% of women.

That literacy gender gap is revealing.

US: 1 for every 365 people
Taiwan: 1 for every 714-900 people
El Salvador: 1 for every 2800
Laos: 1 per 3555
("Even that seems like a lot," says the Laotian girl. "The hospitals there...")

US: Women 81, men 75
Somalia: Women 51, men 47

It was fascinating and intense. I could spend all day on the CIA World Factbook looking up this stuff. (That and fantasy travel on Lonely Planet: great worktime surfing that doesn't make your brain feel numb, as I discovered back in my hours-of-downtime copyeditor days at ElleGirl.)

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