The Authenticity Experiment Posts

The Authenticity Experiment, the what is wrong with the world edition.  I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to hit the first bespoke-suited 50-something white man I see.  And I’ve been crying and ranting consistently, ever since I read that the Trump administration wants to cut funding to Meals on Wheels.  The paltry $3 million that the organization receives each year to feed 2.4 million senior citizens. I know that $3 million sounds like a lot of money relative to our salaries and mortgages.  But do you know how little money that is in the grand scheme of…

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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 grey leather couch in her family room alternating between catatonic and Napoleonic, sleeping in a delirium of denial that this day had finally come or…

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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 self (and don’t kid yourself, Portland is a small town compared to any other city on the West Coast), the smell of Chinese restaurant grease…

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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 thinking about.  Last week, two of my oldest, dearest friends—sisters—lost their child and nephew. Yeah, a 25 year-old kid. The Opera Singer used to say,…

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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 to this person, hand this woman your book, call this person now, tell that girl you love her.  So, well.  Judge me.  It’s new age-y…

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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 to my parents. I’m decorating this year—for solstice—getting out all the boxes.  The lights, the yule log, the decorative hand towels.  You know, because what’s…

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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 idea what a particular reader is going to do—and I was hooked.  These writers tackled everything from queer rhetoric and breakups to mass shootings to…

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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 to do a piece for the blog, so that you all could hear his voice, too. Gradylee is a storyteller in the Southern tradition.  You…

Read More The cold dark night edition

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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.  Mel at Literary Arts and with her graphic memoir in progress, My Underwear Will Save Me, and Ashley with her own writing and her reading…

Read More The cocoon edition

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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 late, for choosing busyness over sitting in the low light and holding her.  There is no tiny baby kitty curled into her brown and beige…

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