Processing SHARE 23

Updated July 22, 2015

I recently had the fun opportunity to participate in the 23rd edition of SHARE, organized by two writers, my friend Margaret Malone and Kathleen Lane. Here’s the description from their website:

SHARE is a bi-monthly event in Portland, Oregon that brings a small group of artists together to create in a shared space. Artists have two hours to create from a one-word prompt.
I was a little intimidated to go at first, but that pretty much vanished once I met some of the other folks. There were a bunch of writers, a couple of designers, visual artists, a musician, multimedia artist and me. I’ll update this post when they put up Check out their blog post of artists’ process and outcomes from SHARE 23. Below is my account of what I experienced.
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Going into SHARE, I knew I would start with creating a blackout poem aka erasure. It’s recent practice I’ve taken up inspired by lots of makers on Instagram. A blackout poem is created from an existing page of text or prose. You create the poem by selecting words from the page and blacking out the rest. (Austin Kleon wrote a bestseller, Newspaper Blackout, some credit with helping to spur a blackout poetry movement.) I’ve been doing these for a few weeks, either as stand alone pieces or as inspiration for something else, another writing or a physical improvisation.

SHARE23_ttr-processI brought with me several thrift store self-help books I’d picked up for use in my blackout poems. I brought my markers and an oil cloth to mark on. I brought several books on physical improvisation, thinking that I might be inspired to create an improv or an improv score.

With FIRE as the prompt, I started paging through the book I thought most likely would have something that inspires fire. I chose Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. If you’ve ever taken a personality test like a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Strength Deployment Inventory, this book has a similar bent. It helps one assess personality traits by profiling 34 common talents, such as Adaptability, Arranger, Futuristic and Woo. (Can’t wait to Here’s my blackout poem for one page of the “Woo” section!) I thought about which of these strengths might identify as fire. The very first one in the book is “Achiever” and I thought, that’s the one, bingo. It literally had “fire” in the text.

When I improvise from a prompt, I like to take the prompt and move a step or two away from it, so as not to hit the prompt on the nose within the improv. With that in mind, here’s how my blackout poem turned out:

help drive need
some form of burning rekindles
relentless whisper brings energy jolt
it is power
it is moving

From that, I found myself drawn to the word whisper. But I also wanted to see what would happen if I paired different words within the poem together:

help rekindle
burning whisper
some jolt
power whisper
whisper form
form it
moving form
drive power
brings drive
relentless moving
energy help
is energy
of energy

“Power whisper” jumped out at me. Everything up until then had been pretty straightforward, kinda serious, earthy. I wanted to see if I could create something more funny. From there I did a free write, which I’m not going to share in full. Here’s are two excerpts one from the very beginning and one from the very end:

I love the idea of a whisper in relation to fire. The quietness of it. It’s like the power of silence. Power whisper? Like a power ballad? I imagine a person talking in a power whisper…

… could be someone with extremely high status, who says very little, but when says something it’s a power whisper where you have to lean in dangerously close to hear. Like a Wilson Fisk. Where am I going with all this? What do I do with this?

Yes, this is where I got a little stuck. I took a break and enjoyed some almond thins and more beer. I went and bugged my pal Lena who was getting into some interesting things. After we chatted, she offered for me to draw from her Science Tarot deck for inspiration. That was just the kick I needed.

Gathering more inspiration from my tarot draw, I started improvising a two person scene on paper. I had two characters in mind, and at the time, I created the script first and then wrote brief character outlines. Below I’m sharing the characters first and then the scene, to help you picture the characters. I was imagining a “post-apocalyptic sit com” kind of genre. (Not only did I have that Daredevil character Wilson Fisk in mind, I think that the recent hubbub over the impending earthquake has been blanketing my mood this week.)

The Maven

  • speaks in slow whispers
  • likewise, moves very slowly, very little
  • seems old
  • loves to be outdoors
  • never sits down, only stands or lies
  • meticulous dress
  • fastidious
  • warm, soft

The Empress

  • voice is deep and lyrical, almost a song
  • slow moving, grand gestures
  • has a feline quality
  • almost always seated
  • never leaves her space
  • cold on the outside, warm inside
Maven: Thank you for this water.
Empress: Not many places offer it for free anymore.
Maven: You’re a good friend.
Empress: An old one.
Maven: Yes, I can hardly remember.
Empress: Because you’re wasted.
Maven: Because I’m wasting away.
Empress: What was your last meal?
Maven: Peas. Four peas from one pod.
Empress: When?
Maven: Yesterday. Lucky me, eh?
Empress: An actual pea pod? Like from a plant?
Maven: I know, seems impossible.
Empress: I had peas, too, but from a can. I’m jealous.
Maven: Here, a blueberry.
Empress: You’re a good friend.

I wrote another scene, which I didn’t share at SHARE, but I’ll include here:

Maven: I’m glad you came to walk with me.
Empress: I’m scared shitless.
Maven: The last time you were out?
Empress: 33 days.
Maven: I see. I’ve walked this path for the past 33 days.
Empress: Trying to make me feel better?
Maven: Just saying.
Empress: I don’t see any people.
Maven: I haven’t seen any people in 33 days.
Empress: You’re shitting me.
Maven: Ah, you’re right. I did see a car, I think, in the distance over there.
Empress: Maybe it’s been more than 33 days.
Maven: Yes, perhaps it has.
Empress: I should get out more often.
Who knows if I’ll ever do anything more with these characters, but I do quite like them. I do know that I look forward to more SHARE.

Four ways of destroying to create

I’ve recently started a creative practice called erasure or blackout poetry. (Follow me on Instagram to see more.) Basically, you take a page of text or prose and create your poem by removing words from the text. Here’s one I did recently:

it isn't brokenAs someone who loves process and improvisation, this kind of exercise has just enough structure to be challenging, and also extremely liberating. And I’m interested in how much creating is about destroying.

  1. In this case, I quite literally destroyed a book by tearing out the page, then destroyed the page by using my very permanent sharpie to cover up the original work underneath. I was surprised at how difficult I found it to actually rip this book up (a rather compelling read titled Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter: The Inspiring True Story of the Door-To-Door Salesman Who Changed Lives by Shelly Brady), a thrift store book I should have no emotional attachment to.A book, any book, seems like such a final, permanent product. And yet it’s not, nothing’s ever permanent. Whether you take the book and use it as a coaster for your coffee mug, or throw it in the dumpster to get jostled with banana peels and used tissues, the book’s finality is perhaps not what it seems. Eventually, like a creative band-aid, I just tore that page out Ten Things knowing that it’s all part of the process.
  2. The process also included that bittersweet, destructive creation tool called editing. Editors are notorious destroyers! In this case my process went something like: What word grabs me? What word goes with that word? Shall I go with a verb pattern? How about that phrase? O now that word doesn’t work anymore. What themes are emerging? How does choosing a different word, change the work? But, I like that word! What if I switch the order? Where does it start, and where does it end? Is that the right ending, or is this the right ending? Oh, it’s what time? I’ll just find one more phrase. End process. Begin sharpie.
  3. Once I chose the page for erasure, I had to embrace the limitations of the text, sacrificing a whole universe of choices for the few in front of me. In the worlds of improvisational arts, these limitations or structures are gold. One of my teachers, the great Ruth Zaporah, wrote in the introduction to her book Action Theater: The Improvisation of Presence, “These rules open pathways that lead into unexplored territories.”
  4. After I completed my blackout poem, I just couldn’t leave well-enough alone. I actually started playing around with using it as a jumping off point for a physical improvisation, extending the creation process into another discipline. Or, more precisely, an erasure of the erasure, destroying the poem in order to create a new piece.

The destroying and creating cycle has endless possibilities.

Want to check out any of my favorite books on the creative process and support this blog? As a Powell’s Books Partner, we’ll will receive a small portion of any sales that come directly from links on this page. Thanks!

A look at “Last Stop on Market Street”

I am so grateful for our awesome Multnomah County Library. I love to pick up  “Lucky Day!” books – the most current, hot titles without waiting on hold forever. This week, my eyes were drawn to Last Stop on Market Street a picture book written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson.

I’m always on the lookout for good books for my preschooler, with sophisticated storytelling and beautiful art. And most especially, ones that feature people of color. Last Stop has it all!

The story follows CJ and his grandma as they ride the bus from church through their bustling city to regular post-church destination, revealed in the final pages. For me, three things make this book a cut above the average picture book:

  • The storytelling is rich and layered. It’s neither too simplistic or over-explanatory as some children’s books tend to be. It feels colorful, whimsical, playful. In one scene, as a man starts playing his guitar on the bus, a blind man who has befriended Nana and CJ teases, “To feel the magic of music, I like to close my eyes.” Nana, CJ and a friendly dog also close their eyes, too.
  • The “cast” of the book is extremely diverse, with the protagonists a black child with his black grandma. Throughout the pages are a wonderful palette of colors, ability, age, dress. But the story doesn’t have to talk about diversity or hit you over the head with it. It simply tells the story of a city, and shows all kinds of different people that you would actually see in a city. Hooray!
  • Spoiler alert. CJ and his grandma arrive at their destination at that last stop on Market Street: a soup kitchen. The story ends showing the two serving folks at the center. I love how this book gives you just enough story to be a conversation starter. There’s no judgement or lesson here. Just a sweet day-in-the-life depiction of an intergenerational relationship, a city, a community.

More about the book in this NPR interview with de la Peña and Robinson. De la Peña also wrote a sweet post on Brightly about the significance of diversity of characters for young children.

Want to buy Last Stop on Market Street and support this blog? As a Powell’s Books Partner, we’ll will receive a small portion of any sales that come directly from links on this page. Thanks!

Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt De La Pena
Powells.com

Cover: Waterfalls by TLC feat. Tamlyn Tomita, Lynn Chen, & Phil Yu!

Fun DIY cover of the (now) classic TLC tune.

Conceived by musician Jane Liu, It features a bunch of her friends, rad indie Asian American creative types including Angry Asian Man Phil Yu (an old pal of mine), actors Lynn Chen and Tamlyn Tomita, musician Goh Nakamura and others.

Lui raised money for the video through a mini Kickstarter campaign (I didn’t know you could do mini Kickstarter campaigns!) basically made the thing in a day. It’s been getting some nice play from places like Huffington Post and Jezebel.

A big yeehah for delightful creative projects featuring talented people of color.

Reprise: A year of living adoptively

Last year around this time, I wrote this piece for NW Kids Magazine. for their November National Adoption Month issue. They just republished it on their website, so I thought I’d share it here as well.

________

Written November 2012

Each November, not only does my family get to celebrate National Adoption Month, we get to celebrate the adoption of our precious girl. On November 15, 2011 we brought Lilli home to Portland from Eugene, just five days after we learned we were chosen by Lilli’s birth parents to adopt her. She was five weeks old then. Now she’s a walking, babbling, curious, strong-willed one-year old.

In this first year, we’ve learned so much about adoption.

Adopting a Child

IMG_7359First and most obvious, we have adopted a child. By we, I mean my husband Matt and me. We also includes my parents and Matt’s parents. And our siblings and their kids. And so on. We have all adopted this wonderful little human into our lives, practically in the blink of an eye.

I sometimes marvel at how easy and quickly she was enveloped into our world. How immediate and unconditional my love was and is for her. Our community of family and friends has embraced her so fully. Lilli, at age one, is an intensely well-loved girl. (67 “Likes” on Facebook for her birthday announcement!) She’s our girl. Our daughter. Not, “adopted” daughter. Just, our daughter.

And while that’s absolutely how I feel, it is also true that she is adopted. That is a part of her story and we have pledged to be transparent with her about it. We adopted Lilli in an open adoption, and I’d say we’re on the very open end of the spectrum.

Adopting a Family

Lilli surrounded by Roberts and Tabora Families

Simply put, in an open adoption, the birth mother (and birth father, if he’s in the picture) choose adoptive parents for their birth child. On one end of the open adoption spectrum (sometimes called “semi-open” adoption), birth parent(s) and adoptive parents do not meet. They communicate through some sort of middle entity, an agency or a lawyer, through which information is exchanged. Birth parents may provide basic medical history. Adoptive parents may agree to send photos and a letter once a year. When the child is old enough to choose, they may seek out the birth parent.

Our story is at the other end of the spectrum of open adoption. About six months after we entered the adoption pool (not a very long wait), we got the call from our agency. Heylene, the mother of a one-month old, and the birth father (he’s asked me not to use his name, so I’ll call him “Nick”) chose us to adopt her baby girl. After learning about Heylene and Lilli’s story from the counselor, we made the decision to move forward. The next day we drove to Eugene to meet Heylene and Nick. The following day, we met Lilli for the first time. We hung out with Lilli and Heylene for a few hours, a crash “get-to-know-you” session to see if we were a good match for being in a relationship for the rest of our lives. Imagine going on a blind date with someone where you have three days to decide whether or not to marry each other. That’s pretty much what we did. After three days, Heylene and Nick decided yes, Matt and I were the right people to parent Lilli. And yes, after three days, we were head over heels in love with our Lilli.

Two weeks later, it was Thanksgiving. We invited our new family members, Heylene and Nick to come and spend it with us. Now, a year later, we’ve seen Heylene nearly every other month and Nick about once a quarter. We have no qualms about texting each other notes and photos. Our relationship to Lilli’s birth parents has evolved sweetly and organically.

Don’t get me wrong, it is complicated. Heylene and Nick’s families have varying levels of knowledge of and support for the adoption. Lilli has a half brother we’ve just met for the first time, along with Lilli’s birth grandma and birth great-grandma. (Very intense introduction, but hopefully the beginning of a long and healthy relationship.) Both Heylene and Nick have moved farther away from us. Even with that, the good news is, it’s only just begun. Lilli’s birth family is a part of our family circle, now and forever. and advocate around racial diversity and other issues, this is a community I’m eager to connect with. Much more to learn on that front as Lilli grows older.

Adopting a Community

As soon as we decided to adopt a child, we entered into a dynamic adoption community. We adopted through Open Adoption and Family Services, an agency specializing in and exclusively facilitating and advocating openness in adoption. Through them, we are now a part of a diverse and active community of families waiting to adopt and those who have adopted. We’ve also become a part of the larger “open adoption” community.

In addition, we are now part of the transracial adoption community. As a mixed- race couple (I’m Filipino-American, my husband is Welsh-American, aka “white”), it was inevitable we’d be in a transracial adoption. Lilli is 1⁄4 Panamanian and, at age one, looks very Latina. As a one-time activist and advocate around racial diversity and other issues, this is a community I’m eager to connect with. Much more to learn on that front as Lilli grows older.

What’s more we’ve now joined that larger adoption community, which is extremely diverse and much larger than I knew before we adopted. Adam Pertman wrote in Adoption Nation, “Extrapolating from U.S. Census data, we can guesstimate that there are at least 7 million adopted children and adults in the United States today; add in birth parents adoptive parents, grandparents, siblings… and the number of people directly connected to adoption soars into the tens of millions.”

Pertman also noted, “The Adoption Institute survey showed that nearly six of every ten Americans have had a ‘personal experience’ with adoption… And a stunning one-third of those polled said they had ‘at least somewhat seriously’ considered adopting a child themselves.”

From adults who were adopted in the 1970s internationally from Korea or Vietnam, to those families that have come together through the foster care system, to others who adopted within their own family—there are so many experiences of adoption. At the center of these adoptions are children with concentric circles of loved ones radiating outward.

As my daughter enters her second year, I’ve started thinking about how to talk with Lilli about her story. Tonight, as I snuggled with her in my arms, I quietly relayed to her the whole story of her adoption for the first time. The story still needs some editing, but it felt good to say. Like parenting, adoption will always be a work-in-progress.

An apparel company does (mostly) non-racist for a change

After countless racist incidents from clothing companies raising hackles (see: Abercrombie & Fitch racist t-shirt fiasco or Urban Outfitters’ Navajo fashion debacle), it looks like one big retailer has finally done some bit of good. The Gap stepped up.

This Huffington Post piece breaks down what happened.

The quick and dirty:

  1. Gap puts up billboard of this ad featuring Waris Ahluwalia, a Sikh man, who also happens to be a man about town in NYC. Pretty cool. (Here’s more of Gap’s series of #makelove ads, which actually features a healthy diversity of faces.)
  2. Muslim journalist Arsalan Iftikhar tweets photo showing one of said billboards defaced with all kinds of racist nonsense. (Here’s his account of the incident on The Daily Beast.)
  3. Gap replies to Iftikhar’s tweet to find out where the defaced ad is, and to stay tuned.
  4. Gap then makes the billboard art their Twitter background.
  5. Lots of people are psyched to learn how Gap responds.

Gap FTW? Not quite. While many laud Gap for the ad and for their response to the vandalized billboard,  some Sikh’s find the ad offensive for the way the woman is lustfully touching Ahluwalia’s turban and chest.

Case of the stolen car, part 2: identities lost and found

Part 2 of the story I started here. I have to give credit to my husband Matt and his memory for lots of this story.

On our way moving to Portland in 2006 during a stopover in San Francisco our car was stolen.

First thing we did was call the cops. They told us that stolen cars always turn up. Usually within three days.

Next call went to our insurance company, Unitrin Direct. That first call was wonderful. ‘Wow, they’re really worried about us. They’re really helping us out,’ we thought. That wonderful feeling didn’t last very long. As each day passed, they got more and more frustrating. They questioned whether or not we’d left the keys in the car. They implied it was an ‘inside job,’ that we had stolen our own car. (Later we got notice in the mail that we eligible to participate as part of a class action lawsuit against Unitrin for their shady practices. Tsk, tsk.)

While we waited for new of our car, we were holed up at our friends’ place cataloging as much as we could remember about what was in our trunk. It was shockingly much more than we realized, about $8,000 worth of stuff including a laptop, new camping gear and luggage (which we had gotten as wedding presents).

Plus, because at that moment we were without a permanent home,  all our most important paperwork was with us in our car instead of in the POD storage unit we had packed with the bulk of our belongings. The irony. Passports, birth certificates, social security cards, financial info. So, yes, those waiting days in the beautiful, fun city of San Francisco were also filled with many traumatic phone calls canceling credit cards, stopping checks, etc. We were losing our identities.

Oh, one bizarre episode in the ordeal was a phone call from someone who found a pile of some of our paperwork on their street. Literally, on their street. Matt went to find our stuff on the street in a nearby neighborhood. He recalls that it looked like they had picked through our files and then hucked them out of the car. But when we looked through the paperwork, there wasn’t really any of our important stuff in there. Just a sad, creepy pile of stuff that had been rifled through.

Two days passed. Three days passed. Four, five … finally after seven days with no car we got fed up. We were in limbo and just wanted desperately to start planting some roots in Portland. Before our car was nabbed, we had been on the road and couch surfing for about two months. The charm of nomadic living had worn off. We wanted to find ourselves a new home.

In reading the not-so-fine print of our car insurance we realized we were eligible for a rental car. Unitrin begrudgingly approved it.

Willamette Highway

We took what belongings we had and packed them up into that rental. We headed straight for Portland, bypassing our originally planned stops at Blue Lake (where Matt’s old hippie theater school Dell’arte is) and Crater Lake (we no longer had any gear to camp with).

We landed in Portland and our kind, wonderful friends took us in. We immediately set to looking for a place to live. Like I wrote, we were so done with living in other people’s spaces. We wanted a place of our own. (It wasn’t so easy and ended up taking a few more weeks to find an apartment.)

After another day of no word about our car, our friends whisked us away in their cherry red VW bus (welcome to Portlandia, before there was Portlandia) and off to the awesomely hippy Bagby Hot Springs.  Some welcome relaxation.

As we drove back to Portland and got back into cell phone range, there was a message on my phone. Finally, after 10 days, our car was found.

Matt hopped on a plane, flew to San Francisco to retrieve it. At the impound lot, he found the car. It was beat up pretty bad. They’d jacked ignition, ripped out dash. But it was driveable. And the thieves missed one valuable thing in the car: the stereo speakers. Ha! Matt immediately turned around and headed towards Portland with no stereo and no stopping.

Ah, if only it was that simple! On the way out of San Francisco, during morning rush hour, Matt got rear-ended by a giant truck. The truck driver was apologetic, terrified about potentially losing his job over the accident. Weary from the entire ordeal – especially dealing with the a–hole insurance company, who at this point in the mess was not returning any calls – Matt just told the guy to forget about it. To his glazed over eyes, the damage seemed minimal, if any. The panicked truck driver hugged him and went on his merry way. Only later did Matt realize, not only that he had whip lash and an achy hip, there was more damage on the car than he first thought. Oy.

With all this trauma and loss, though, came some really formative moments in our relationship. On that 10 hour drive in the rental car from San Francisco to Portland, Matt and I made some big decisions.

We were in the middle of an identity crisis. We’d lost nearly all our identifying documents, were recently married and undecided on what to call ourselves. Ten hours in a car together gives you a lot of time to talk some shit out. And talk some shit out we did. We talked about starting new, starting fresh. We talked about the type of family we wanted to be. We talked about what we would do if they never found our car, or if they found our car on fire.

On that trip we decided what our family name was going to be. Matt had wanted me to keep my name. Matt was even okay with our future kid having my name, too. That seemed weird and not right. I wanted to keep my name, yet I wanted to have a family name. We toyed with the idea of blending our names Tabora and Roberts. (‘Robora’ was the front-runner, ‘Taboberts’ was considered, for the comedy.) But after a lot of chatter with family and between us, we decided that just wouldn’t work.

On that long drive from the place we’d met to the place that was to be our home, we decided to both change our names to our new, hyphenated last name: Tabora-Roberts. That’s the name we used on our replacement social security cards, passports, credit cards. When we got to Portland that’s who we became, the Tabora-Roberts family. And thus began the Tabora-Roberts adventure.

The cutest kid in the room

My toddler and I regularly go out to various family-oriented activities such as story time at the the library or any one of the various local musicians who do regular shows aimed at kid audiences. I’ve started to notice a phenomena, that I myself am party to.

It’s the ‘how cute is my kid?’ phenomena. Here’s how it goes down for me:

  • Aw, Lilli, you are so cute/funny/amazing.
  • OMG, you did not just do that cute/funny/amazing thing. You are too, cute/funny/amazing!
  • I am so lucky. Lilli is so damn cute/funny/amazing.
  • Oh, that kid dancing/singing/smiling is pretty cute, too. But, my Lilli – she is soooo cute/funny/amazing.
  • Did you see that? Did you see that cute/funny/amazing thing Lilli just did? I know you saw that. I know you’re thinking, what a cute/funny/amazing kid, right?
  • Awwww. Lilli is definitely the cutest kid in this room. Damn is she cute!

Yes, this is my self/Lilli-centered p.o.v. I know it’s the truth.

And when I look into the eyes of other parents in these situations, I can  see that they are going through the same thing. That parent thinking their kid is cute – this is their truth. That’s a lovely thing. It’s wonderful to see unapologetically happy parents and families.

But come on, my Lilli – she is THE cutest, isn’t she?

Lilli with leaf

P.S. I can’t believe it. I’ve only got 6 days to go for NaBloPoMo. I can see the finish line!!!

5 most intriguing headlines in my RSS feed today

See if these entice you to click through, too.

Are the Earth’s poles about to flip? – PBS News Hour

Let pigs eat swill and stop wasting precious resources – The Guardian

Comic sans, British officialspeak, and the separation of church and state – Boing Boing

Antarctic volcano – Living on Earth

Monumental Attire wraps downtown Portland in whimsy – The Oregonian

The case of the move, a stolen car and a lake

Crater Lake

Panoramic winter view of Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, from Rim Village. Credit: WolfmanSF via Wikimedia Commons.

When I saw Wikimedia Commons’ ‘Picture of the day’ earlier this week of Crater Lake, it reminded me of our journey to the town we now call home, Portland.

It was 2006. Matt and I were living in Davis where Matt was finishing up grad school. We had recently married in August 2005. After considering some other West Coast cities — including Seattle, Ashland and San Fran (we can call it that, because – though we once were – we’re no longer locals)  — we’d settled on Portland as the right place for us to try and make some roots.

School ended in June. Our rental lease ended in July. But we managed to fill a couple of months with gigs and travel so we didn’t plan to land in Portland until October. Instead of trying to move anywhere temporarily, we would live rent free and make do with gig housing, house sitting, couch surfing and camping. It would save us precious post-grad dollars and be a fun escapade.

So, we packed 90 percent of our belongings into a ‘POD’ and the remaining, carefully selected items would be part of our mobile living space. Items like clothing, a cooler, camp gear, books, laptops, important paperwork to help us with necessary paperwork when we arrived in our new city.

Originating point: Davis. Destination: Portland. In between, we intended to hit Berkeley, San Francisco, Blue Lake, Crater Lake, Ashland.

The adventure was a lot of fun. We stayed with a whole bunch of different friends and at different places. By the time we got to San Francisco we were starting to tire from living out of our car. But we were having a wonderful time staying with our good friends in the Glen Park neighborhood. They have a lovely house that happens to be on a busy thoroughfare, but we were able to park right in front (where they park their cars every single day). We did unload the main part of the car, but left a bunch of stuff — including all our camping gear and our most important paperwork like social security cards, passports, etc. — in the trunk. (You can probably see where this is headed.)

We met a bunch of friends at the bar for one last farewell, and the next morning, up at a reasonable hour, we showered and got ready to tackle the next leg. ‘Hmm. Our car was parked right out front, wasn’t it?’ A few moments of denial were quickly followed by a feeling of dread and slight sense of panic. I stared blankly at the space formerly known as our car’s parking spot. Matt walked up and down the street looking for our car, knowing full-well that he was not going to find our car. Yep. Stolen. Our tried and true Corolla was no longer in our possession.

To be continued …