Waking Up in Portland

Winter really kicks my ass sometimes. But it’s March 1st and I am laying in bed listening to rain on my roof and small birds chirp and shuffle in their shrubs. These birds have reliably chirped each morning for the past 3 weeks and serve as a reminder that life is out there. The ice storm covered Portland and melted. We made it. The birds still chirp. The first buds pop open.

So here is to new beginnings. I’m working at the Children’s Relief Nursery in St. John’s doing art with kids and I truly love it. I’m spending a lot of quiet time with friends, at North Portland Yoga and reading in my room. Here are some titles I’d like to share with you that helped me through this winter:

The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodron

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

All of these titles are wildly sincere and encouraging. I’ve read the Wild Iris about 5 times and will undoubtedly read it 5 more. It gives me new eyes each spring as I watch the Oregon flora unfold.

Despite my tendency toward hibernation this winter, I’ve slowly began working with a new medium for my tooth sculptures. The sculptures are more resilient and I am gladly accepting orders for jewelry. You can find a few necklaces at Bridge & Burn or directly contact me for custom orders at edhallenterprises@gmail.com. I’d love to collaborate and see one of them around your or a loved one’s neck.

For now I am looking forward to Spring and the burst of energy it delivers. I am also greatly looking forward to getting back to the trails. I hope to see you on one or two or three of them. More updates, sculptures and illustrations here soon.

Image

Disco Molar Necklaces for Bridge & Burn

Image

Custom Disco Molar Necklace & Winter Light

Image

My Witchy Casa

My Love 2 You,

E.D.

I’m Going Rip Van Winkel for the Winter.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve taken a hiatus from the blogosphere. Perhaps you haven’t. Either way, I am here to tell you: I have taken a half-assed hiatus from blogging.

I had some housing issues in Oakland that, in retrospect, were almost humorously messed up but I’m no longer in domestic peril, so that’s a win. It’s not really worth it to parcel it out here but I’m back to dreamin’, floatin’, seein’ where that leads me.

One place it has led me is to The Shining, a film I often return to in the winter. I’ve also been vibing with some Twin Peaks. A quiet trip along the Mt Hood highways, passing through motels and Timberline Lodge and the Portland trees webbed through gray sky each afternoon have me digging dark Northwest winter in a new way. I appreciate it, I want to draw and keep warm and hide out a bit.

So I’m going to do that. But here are some photos from the past week.

ImageImageImageImage

I hope to return from hibernation with many short stories, crude illustrations and more photographs. Many kisses until then.

– Elissa

I Send You My Best Vibes.

Today I tried sagging my pants. This was inspired by a 50-something, Caribbean gem that I work with who delivers slam-dunk styles each day at the makeshift trailer office we operate out of. It’s temporary. The trailer, not the sagging pants (those are here to stay).

Basically, what I am trying to express is that I love my new job. The women I work with are mind blowingly cool. They display multi-level hustle, kindness and patience and I feel that I have so much to learn from them. Also, I can take heaps of kindness and patience right now. I was thrown in as an interpreter on my 2nd day and am learning the subtleties of regional, linguistic differences and hyper-specific, non-profit vocab by actually speaking Spanish, A LOT of it.

Most of my life has been wrapped up in establishing a solid foundation at work and a place to live. Both frontiers look hopeful. I’m wishing on a haunted, victorian in Oakland but I’ve managed to slightly relax about how life falls in to place. Everything really does work out.

My in-between moments have been spent reading in the park for a newly founded book club, listening to political talk radio during my commute and spending loads of time with Stephanie in kitchen conquest.

I also had the opportunity to accompany Jocelyn in her recent foray into candle making. She sold these in a craft faire at Subrosa Coffee las Saturday and they smell SO GOOD. This is just on facet of her recent cohesive project Off the Beaten Path. Tune in for developments and an excellent selection of vintage, jewelry and artisan goods.

I’ll keep it brief and leave with a few photos of dreamy people and moments from the past week.

Image

Stephanie, horse whisperer

Image

This horse is not entertained

Image

Steph’s persimmon, lavender cookies WUT?!

Image

Does a name tage make it official?

Image

Candle babies.

Image

Book Club park times

Image

The endlessly beautiful Bay Bridge commute

Image

Pool, beers and a heart attack over how much I love these women

I Get Wild: Books, Country, Hobos & City Lights

If you know me, or even just read this blog, you’ve probably caught on to the fact that I really like to read. Novels, newspapers, traffic signs, cereal boxes…I just dig the act of using my eyeballs to soak in words. However, I occasionally experience a moment of magic when I pick up a book and realize, damn, this speaks to me. And then I can’t put the book down.

This literary possession occurred yesterday when a friend loaned me Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I’m usually pretty skeptical of any contemporary novel associated with the Oprah conglomerate (James Frey disaster, anyone?), but I fell in love with Strayed’s writing/fighting style within the prologue’s first paragraph.

Much of this is due to Strayed’s reminder of how it feels to be Wild. I’ve recently transitioned to an urban setting and while immersed in the squeaking rail systems, traffic lights, fried food, and clogged city sidewalks the sensations I experienced 2 months ago on my solo, West Coast journey become slightly diluted.

But I spent a good amount of time alone in wide open spaces. While my endeavors were nowhere near Strayed’s 4 year trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, I’ve grown sentimental today for the strange moments I encountered as a young, female wandering alone through unfamiliar territory.

For example, on my way back to Portland from San Francisco, I pulled off in Redding for lunch. One of my beloved pastimes during this journey was eating lunch on my tailgate in the sun. So I was sitting in the grocery parking lot on my tailgate, eating some cheese and a clan of hobos descended on me. They sauntered over and one sat down next to me. He looked at my sleeping bag rolled out in the back and bags of various living necessities. “Man, you have a nice setup here!”

“Yeah,” I said. “It works for me”.

Then he asked if I had a smoke, which I didn’t. “Does your boyfriend?”

“Nah.” I said. “He doesn’t smoke. He’s grabbing some groceries and then we’re heading out.” I lied. On my trip, I sometimes found that being brave meant lying about being alone. These guys were harmless though. They drank from their jug for a minute. Then my tailgate companion got up, said goodbye and he and his friends walked toward the freeway.

At this moment, I realized that these guys didn’t wander over because I was female and alone but because they recognized me as one of their own. A wayfarer with a makeshift bed, sunburn, and infrequent access to showers.

I had a lot on my mind during that journey back to Portland and despite the big life shifts I faced, I felt pretty grounded. I got back and 2 days later decided that I was moving to the Bay. Now I am here. I’ve found a very promising job. I’m making it work. I’m back to showering and sleeping under a roof.

But I read this statement early on in my Wild addiction and think it’s equi-relevant to both my rural & urban explorations.

“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story that we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave.”

I plan to head to Big Sur soon with friends to find some open space. For me, it’s important to strike a balance between natural and city landscapes and recognize how both offer a particular wildness that feeds me.

Here are some photos from my recent city ventures.

Image

Portland buds Jason & Tom take in views at the SF Art Institute. Current “Energy That is All Around” exhibit most definitely worth a visit.

Image

A tiny vial of Palo Santo essential oil, concocted in a science-project style, home distillery with Andrew and Jocelyn. Tip: Palo Santo oil smells great, marigold oil? Not so much.

Image

A collarbone ellipsis, very accurate for this chapter of my life, very painful placement.

Image

It’s very creepy that I took a photo of Stephanie sleeping and ALSO very creepy that she sleeps with pillows and blankets over her face. But I had to capture this tender moment to demonstrate how Lumps has become part of a trifecta. We love her.

Image

Blue sky view from the Deyoung Museum Tower

More job news coming up. If you’re in the Bay Area and want to join forces for a Big Sur trip or our new Book Club, holla.

Love,

E.D.

Let’s Be Honest…

…the only reason I’ve been able to make this transition to the Bay Area is due to the magnanimous generosity of my friend family here. I’ve recently been thinking about friendship a lot and how important it is to our human experience. Collin and I sat in Precita Park today and as I mumbled about income worries and which career path I want to pursue he turned to me and simply stated, ” well you have a place to stay and time to find a job you want and, you know, if you run out of savings we can buy your food.” MIND BLOWN by this kindness. So thanks for that Collin. And to Meg, Josh and Merwin as well for not merely being generous hosts but also for being beautiful humans in general. Please note, I don’t plan on having friends buy my groceries any time soon but the simple statement of their kindness moves me in funky awesome ways.

One of my best homegirls Stephanie arrived on Wednesday and we’ve mutually embarked on some deep, domestic pursuits. This includes a daunting search for Oakland property bearing yard space and the frequent preparation of elaborate meals for our current household. Both endeavors have been fueled by heavy consumption of red wine. Cork a bottle, drink, throw some in with onions sparkling on the stove, repeat. I want to keep doing this every night forever and once we secure the right digs Stephanie and I will be fulfilling our grandest, wine-onion dreams.

Everything is quietly falling in to place. Perhaps it isn’t on my exact timeline but as friends here keep reminding me, now is a good time to relax, practice gratitude and remain optimistic. It’s a simple formula and with the amount of sun and good times I’m having? It’s not a hard one to follow.

So this post is to primarily express my immense gratitude for friendship and to share a few pictures from hikes around Precita. More job news next week.

ImageImage

Image

Until then <3,

E.D.

I have some poems I’d like to share with you.

I wrote the latter two nights ago when I couldn’t sleep after strolling the city at dusk. The title is taken from an epic phrase coined by Jocelyn Zorn. I’ve been working with the former for a few months. Both are night poems and engage this simple Mary Oliver quote that I ritually return to.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
– Mary Oliver

His Name is Disaster

He drives a road curved along the hinterlands.
The night is dry. The doe’s white tail
flicks through the headlights and her body
uncurls beneath the wheels. The thump is solid. His knuckles
blanch across the steering wheel. The pine air
freshener waves and waves even after the car
stops and when he finds the doe’s body
heaped on the pavement, steam
puffs from her wound.

He feels comforted. He drapes the doe’s sloped
neck in his lap, rests a hand in the warm
gash at her stomach and weeps. You can feel his hand,
inside of you, slowly bring you back. When you wake,
the knotted fear in your throat unfurls like the white
ropes of fat loosened across the road. The man beside you
traces the pale slopes of your ribs, the doe’s
blood still wet in his eyes.

His Body Does Not Call to Me

There are many pink nights in the Bay, blue nights, nights
illuminated by headlight constellations along Folsom and rows of street lamps
quietly pittering to life down sidewalks.

I take the evening 12 where a passenger has discarded a chicken bone.
If I could take the fat from that bone and feed it to the pigeons
I wouldn’t because there are fewer pigeons here.

Perhaps the white pigeons still coo on the olive branches
in Spain, coupled at dawn in the Plaza of a mountain pueblo.
I will never know.

I am here instead, remembering bodies I’ve never known, constellations
my mouth will never trace along milky forearms and how,
years later, I still wake groping a phantom space in my bed.

Across the Atlantic ocean his body does not call to me.
All that I recognize is pink smog, how night hides a world
and admit that it is beautiful.

– E.D. 

Remembering the Night

Image

 

Heaven was originally precisely that: the starry sky, dating back to the earliest Egyptian texts, which include magic spells that enable the soul to be sewn in the body of the great mother, Nut, literally “night,” like the seed of a plant, which is also a jewel and a star. The Greek Elysian fields derive from the same celestial topography: the Egyptian “Field of Rushes,” the eastern stars at dawn where the soul goes to be purified. That there is another, mirror world, a world of light, and that this world is simply the sky—and a step further, the breath of the sky, the weather, the very air—is a formative belief of great antiquity that has continued to the present day with the godhead becoming brightness itself
—Susan Brind Morrow, Wolves and Honey

 

So this is embarrassing…

I’ve procrastinated this post because basically, I feel like a jerk. I’ve made QUITE a show of my travel plans to the point of creating a blog to document them and now I have to own up: I’m not going to Spain.

Let me tell you a story. 3 months ago I walked in to a anarcho-hippie coffee shop in SE Portland to meet my psychic. I don’t usually frequent crusty coffee shops nor Southeast PDX nor psychics but I was in desperate need of some guidance. I call Raven my psychic because, amidst her piles of cotton candy hair, blue eyeliner, rainbow crystals and runes; I recognize a nurturing and staggeringly thorough empath and at that moment in my life, I frantically sought insight.

2 weeks earlier my existing concepts about life and how it works had crumbled. Stephen A. Person, a close friend, was killed in a drunk driving collision. Life felt surreal. Slumped in a vinyl hospital chair under fluorescent lights all I could do was blink and wait and as I floated through the next week of memorial service, preschool shifts, and teary gatherings with friends I felt an underlying urgency in my gut that screamed RUN. I felt the immediacy of my youth and as I looked around at my friends’ ghosted faces I was scared. I stopped drinking, committed to yoga and accepted a position to teach in Spain as soon as it was offered.

Spain acted as a mechanism to transition out of a life that had stagnated.  I was also aching to get out of my business but it was so difficult to walk away from all of the painstaking time and passion I had invested in to Backtalk. I felt like I was abandoning a child but I had to accept that the business had developed in to something  that I ethically no longer wanted to be a part of. One day last Spring I walked in to the store and the playlist was exactly adapted from Urban Outfitters playlist. This seems trite but it was an a-ha moment for me. I realized Backtalk had largely deviated from the original business plan I had written and what it was becoming was in opposition to what I wanted it to be. I never wanted to be the next Urban Outfitters, I sincerely wanted to do something altogether different and innovative that contributed positive vibes to the Portland design scene, not mass-produced trends.

Stephen’s death put all of this all in to a tail spin. I freaked out.

And I went to see my psychic. She told me, as every intuitive has told me before, that I would travel wide and far. She told me that I felt voiceless and trapped. She told me that the village in Spain could use my help and that a return to education was the best possible decision for me and that I should leave my business for the sake of my head and heart. I drank my iced chai, blinked and made my decision. I was going to Spain as quickly as possible.

Raven’s statements were all accurate but I took them perhaps too literally. Spain seemed like the most accessible mechanism for transitioning out of Backtalk and away from the palpable grief surrounding Stephen’s death. I greedily took the opportunity to escape.

Costa Rica was out of my control but I have chosen to not go to Spain. The acquisition of a job there allowed me to find freedom here: I purged belongings, sold Backtalk, travelled the West Coast and felt a powerful surge of happiness in San Francisco.

But I realized in my travels that now is not the moment to move to a tiny village, isolated from my family, friends and identity. However, the process of preparing for this life change was fruitful. I will always be infinitely grateful for the kindness and guidance of Maury, my former Ubriqueno yoga teacher, whose friendship and wisdom over the past few months has been monumentally important to me. This would not have blossomed without my tentative Spain plans.

There are, of course, a multitude of other factors in my decision that are too personal to share on the world wide web. Maybe I can tell you over a tall glass of whiskey.

Ultimately, Spain did not serve the purpose I had intended but in retrospect, it served a purpose in the evolution of my next steps. A week from today I fly to San Francisco for interviews and hope to transition to the Bay over the next month. I guess I’m still running, just not as far from home and in to the warm arms of dear friends.

I feel somewhat very foolish about my boasting over grand international travels but I have been meditating on this phrase all week: Shit happens. The best that I can do is handle that shit as honestly and graciously as possible.

I’ll end with this, a picture of Stephen from a photo shoot Megan facilitated at our house this past winter. Wherever I go, whether Spain or San Francisco, I will carry his adventuring spirit with me.

Image

By Matthew Houlemard

I will also try to base life decisions on tarot less and deal with reality a little more effectively.

So here goes, next step, a day at a time.

All My Love Everywhere and Infinitely,

xo, E.D.

Back to Portland

I journeyed the entire 12-hour stretch home yesterday and carried so much in my mind and in my heart along the way. I have a lot to say but prefer to remain silent in Portland for a bit longer. So here are a few photos from the past week accompanied by a word or phrase. 

Image

Sunset at Sibley

Image

Drake Bay Oysters at Point Reyes

Image

Backyard Palm Tree

Image

Beautiful Grace Kim

Image

One of the many free box gems from Liz’s estate

Image

Meg among posters

Image

Me and my sweet, sweet lady. Thanks for the good times.

xo, E

Bay Dreams

I thought I’d only stay in California for a handful of days. Well I’ve been here a week and I’m still groovin’ heavy on some Bay Area vibes. This has been primarily due to the serendipitous  convergence of many dear friends in one glorious place. Two nights ago I sat around a table at 25th and Folsom St. with 7 of my closest buddies from university . We’ve all journeyed along our separate paths since college but from the depths of Chicago, Eugene, Portland and San Francisco we found ourselves in the same city at the same time with a fresh rack of antelope and a feast of veggies. I 100% did not partake in any antelope consumption but I was filled with ecstatic joy when I looked around at all of their faces over a bowl of curried lentils. After a sleepover and giant croissant from Tartine in the morning with the crew, I felt invigorated.

Image

Dinner with best buds

You see, the night prior I had consumed 3 whiskeys after 4 months without any alcohol and was plagued with a hangover from the flames of hell. I somehow managed to drag myself to a tattoo appointment where I received a very large Sri Yantra along my arm. It was an interesting experience. The tattoo is beautiful. And I got it for free. There were some issues  with the line work and the artist didn’t charge me which was very kind. But I will have to do some touch up work back in Portland after it heals. Overall, I am stoked.

Image

Making of the Sri Yantra

Anyways, making dinner with old friends is most beautiful hangover cure I can think of.  I will be off the sauce again for some time.

My joy has just continued to increase exponentially. Yesterday I took an epic hike in Marin’s Deer Park with a former philosophy comrade and was completely amazed by the biodiversity along the trail. White birches and twisting oaks sprinkled the blonde, grassy plains one moment and the next we’d enter a mossy emerald patch of oldgrowth redwoods.

Image

The rolling, Marin hills

My home base has been at Jocelyn’s and she’s been a very gracious hostess to the point of humoring my trail obsession. The other night we took a sunset hike to Grizzly Peak and it was perhaps THE MOST MAGICAL HIKE OF MY LIFE. The bay fog settled below the peak and as the sun slid down the entire sky transformed to pink mist. We found a makeshift teeter totter overlooking the hills, hung out on it for sunset and when we headed back to the Datsun, waves of cold, white fog and eucalyptus washed over the hill.

Image

Sunset at Grizzly Peak

The whole bay area smells sweet like the fecund, summer ocean and rosemary and bay leaves and cedar. I’m mesmerized.

Full disclosure, Oakland has a pretty distinct, unpleasant smell but Oakland’s cool, whatever.

My level of enjoyment is so heavy and so right. Tomorrow I head to the sea for the afternoon. Monday I’ve picked up an odd job in the city and will meet Grace, a soul mate since high school, for dinner.

Thus, I’m not really sure when I will leave the Bay. For now I’m just going to keep vibing. More updates soon-ish.

Mil Besos,

Elissa

P.S. I got a new tarot deck. Herbal remedies divined through tarot coming soon.

Image

The Herbal Tarot