I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Erin Van Rheenen divides her time between California and Costa Rica. She has taught writing at City College of New York and in the San Francisco County Jail. She has a new book titled Living Abroad in Costa Rica (Avalon Travel Publishing).
At Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, they hand out maps of the store, as if it were a forest you might get lost in. My mother is looking for a novel; I want something that will help me identify the birds and trees of the Northwest. Oregon is much more lush than I remember; its green makes California look brown. My mother grew up in Portland but doesn’t recall the names of things. I lived here until the age of seven.
At the other end of the bar stood a stocky man with thinning hair and black-rimmed glasses. His skin gave off an unhealthy sheen; his eyes swam, magnified and vague, behind thick lenses. So this was the Pulitzer Prize–winning author (let’s call him Moe) who’d chosen my unpublished book as best new novel.