Thursday, September 1, 2011

We've moved!

Hi friends.

As of today, the blog can be found at my personal website:

Heather Minton

Come say hello, and tell your friends.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When someone's in trouble.

So, I've debated this post for a little while now, but I think it's important. I'm going to keep the details of the post very vague, so I can respect the privacy of everyone involved. If you find this post helpful, please feel free to link to it and share it with your friends.

A few nights ago, I began to receive texts from a friend that concerned me. The messages were increasingly despondent in a brief period of time, and my friend made it clear they were planning on taking some drastic action. I had just arrived at another friend's house, and was not sure how best to respond.

I texted with this friend for a short time, asking repeatedly if they were alright, if they were alone, if they had done anything to harm themselves. My friend refused to answer any of my questions. I know this person to be a devoted parent, and they would not respond to questions about their children or other family members.

I was growing more and more concerned, and called my friend.  I was concerned by what I heard on the phone, and my questions were evaded. My friend said goodbye and hung up.

Not knowing what else to do, I called the local Suicide Prevention Hotline. Based on what I told her (in about ten seconds), the woman on the phone advised me to call 911 immediately.

I did so, and heard from someone a short time later. I don't know the details of my friends' situation (then or now), but I know that help arrived.

If you find yourself in a similar situation:

1. Call someone. 

Regardless of where you are, or if you are calling for a friend or yourself, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-784-2433 (Portlanders, the local number is 503-988-4888). 


No matter what. In this situation, being wrong is the best possible situation. Don't let the fact that you might be wrong stop you. 

2. Don't try to fix it yourself.

Especially in cases when you believe someone has harmed themselves or is about to, I don't believe you should intervene. Sometimes talking helps, and sometimes it doesn't. In the case of my friend, there was nothing more I could do on my own. Call someone who can get them help, and let them do so.

3. Release.

This seems simple, and maybe even lazy. But it is vital to your health, and to the health of those you care about. Understand that "release" does not mean "ignore". It means doing what you are able to do, and then opening your hands. I think, in some cases, releasing also means "not demanding to be more involved". Obviously, the situation is different if the person in trouble is a child or a significant other. In my case, this was my friend. If my friend wants to find me and talk. they can do so. I'm going to give them space to breathe and heal. I may never know all the details of what happened and why, but that's ok. I did everything I could. My friend may be angry with me, even. That's ok, too.

I hate to think that anyone would despair so deeply they would feel the need to give up, but we know that people do. I hope that someone reads this and remembers that, whether it's their own sadness and pain or a friend's, that there are always options, and there is always help.

Be well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Before and after.

The last couple of weeks have been odd. That's all. 
First there was Tuesday: 

And then there was Wednesday morning, early.
And then I said, Stop being self-absorbed, taking pictures of yourself. If you haven't guessed, I have very little photo-editing experience, and a phone with a less-than-impressive camera. So I took one final one, and went to bed. 

Let's check in next week. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The same boat.

So, I've been hanging out at Karma Cafe this week (as evidenced here) working on job-hunting, resume-updating and the like.

I also bought a domain name for my own website, which has no content yet. If you want to see the digital nakedness, it's here. Want to help me with the website? Get in touch with me. I'll welcome the input.

In my attempts to finish the resume today, I hit a formatting hiccup that had me frustrated. I emailed several friends, and one of them was able to help, thank goodness.

Another of my friends wasn't able to solve the issue, but she provided me with the following email exchange, which I found encouraging and enjoyable. Names and some details have been changed or omitted--sometimes anonymity helps.

I feel like I am in the same spot with what you said about goals and passions for my life. So you are truly not alone if that helps at all. 

Someone told me the other day they thought that my life went off course when I went to Seminary.

Now I answer phones.

So trust me, you are not alone and this may be terrible of me but it makes me feel a bit better that although most people cannot really empathize with what I'm feeling; you can.

I think that you need to either write humorist essays (which I have recently decided is my dream career) or host your own radio show. Perhaps both.  I would be a sponsor.

I replied: 

Write me a check, sister. I'll go on the air tomorrow. 

This will be my opening song (on the radio at this very moment, and I feel like the very sound of it--not even the words--is my life right now. A little hopeful, a little urgent, a little desperate, a little driven, a little aimless. 

I included a link to my favorite song of the moment--it's Young the Giant's "Cough Syrup". Pretty much encapsulates things. Enjoy:


 In the meantime, I'm accepting donations for my new radio show/first essay collection.

Just because.

Friday, July 22, 2011

To everything there is a season...

I remarked to a friend several months back that I felt like big changes were on the way in my life, but I didn't know what they would look like. And now I have a slightly better idea.

It's time for me to look for some new opportunities to serve. and for chances to bring my skills into a new position. I'm officially placing myself back on the market, so to speak.

Am I excited? Extremely.
 I don't know what's next, but I believe it will be good.

Am I scared? Absolutely.
Change is scary, period. But I've been reminded lately of something I wrote when I was at the coast--it was in the previous post:

Why settle for a river when the ocean is right next door? 

So this is me, stretching for the ocean. I am ready and open to accept any tips, help, suggestions. I'm happy to share my resume, glad to sit and chat over coffee about what motivates me, or what motivates you.

Expect more updates from this space, but please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or updates. I'll be here, and I'll be ready.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beach, Day Two (part two) AND...

So, a big change came down for me yesterday. There will be another blog coming soon, but I wanted to go ahead and finish up my time at the beach. It might be time for another vacation, though I doubt it. :P So...

Day two, part two:

I am sitting at Kyllo's and the older woman at the table nearest me just said, "You don't think they'd send grungy girls, with a story like that."
  There's a younger man with her, and her husband. "Girls with sturdy ankles and bad teeth," the younger man said.
Probably because I looked at them, the woman looked at me.
My ankles are weak, madam, I rhought, The weakest. 

The ocean spills into a little inlet right here, a shallow river. The ocean--the full, magestic, huge ocean is 20 feet away. People are still playing in the river, lying by it. Why settle for a river when the ocean is right next door?

...I'm back at the hotel now, and thinking that I am jealous of people whose attentions, whose affections seem wonderfully undivided. I don't know how they do it. Maybe, in all actuality they do nothing of the sort, but they can certainly put a good face on things. Me, I sing a hymn with one breath and have decidedly unholy thoughts in the next. Is this normal? I don't know. Let's say yes, I'll feel better. Thank God for His grace.

My pastor told me the night before I came out here, "You're not going to look at the ocean and suddenly understand God more." It's a paraphrase, so don't hold him to it, but it's a good thought and an important one. I said I was putting no expectations on this little jaunt to the sea, but part of me deeply, deeply wants an epiphany; to come back a changed woman who is more: more grounded, more passionate, more awake.

Be ye warned: My head is foggy with wine. And yes, I already hate that I wrote that sentence. From up here, the beach looks like pockmarked skin. Rivets and pockets are set.
  I finally got the crashing waves I wanted. Not huge and stormy, but enough to truly slam the shore and send up white bursts of Ocean, capital O.
  I know the ocean, as a whole, is constant, rhythmic and continuous. The half-mile I can see (or quarter-mile, who knows, really) is wildly unpredictable. The tide comes in, recedes, and comes back again, pummeling the sand sometimes and kissing it others.
There is someone running toward the waves, now running away. He is braver than I would be, especially in the dark. He has left his friend on a piece of driftwood and is now running away, it seems very fast. Hard to tell from this many stories up. Fast enough that if it were me on the piece of driftwood, I would say, "You are so far away. Where are you going?"
But I am on the balcony.

I am coming back here in storm season. How wonderful it would be to sit on this balcony or behind the glass and watch mayhem that is not mayhem at all. Men make mayhem. Nature exerts power. We call it mayhem when it doesn't do what we want.

I am both sad and relieved I only brought one bottle of wine.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beach, Day Two (part one)

More than a month after my trip to the coast, here is day two's thoughts and scribblings:

There are a lot of people on this stretch of beach, all hotel guests, I'm assuming. But it's nice, since nobody else is out on the balcony, that there are some people out.

I ordered room service this morning. Room service always sounds so luxurious, and it ended up feeling kind of lonely. I flipped through the tv--left it on some tv judge where two ex-meth addicts were suing each other. Everyone kept clapping because they were clean. I turned it off.

The tide has gone out and there are little waves, slips of water, coming up sideways. It's like they're saying, "We're building a new ocean... shhh. Don't tell anyone."

I think about voices a lot.I hear different voices for things all the time. This book I'm reading, about a bunch of international dignitaries taken hostage in a South American vice-president's home, is like that. Tons of characters, all from different countries, and I can hear all their voices as I read. Testament to the author, I guess.

The little sideways waves have children's voices. The larger, further-out mother waves sound like Kathleen Turner when she's relaxed. A little worn out, all the time.

I started reading "Even In Quiet Places" for maybe the fourth time, and I marked it like a Bible. But I don't read the Bible this way.

The people next door must be staying here a while. They have pulled plants out to the balcony, hung a dreamcatcher on the rail. Dreamcatchers are such bullshit, really.
Wait. Maybe it's not a dreamcatcher. It has a bunch of dangling strings with shells and stuff. Still. Ew.

I was just  getting up to leave the balcony when the old man next door stepped out.
"How do you like the view?" he said.
"Oh, it's beautiful," I said, "Really nice."
And he asked if I had ever been before, asked if I liked it.
"You know, we almost bought this one--thought about connecting it to our own--we were friendly with the neighbor and I told him we'd be interested if he ever sold. So he called, said he had to move to Texas where his company's headquarters was, and his wife needed a drier climate, and we thought about it. They had the place handicapped accessible--"

(NOTE: This is why my room was upgraded. Normally things like that--Oh, let's give her a shower with a bunch of contraptions--makes my blood boil, but this room is way nicer so I'm good with it)

"--but we already had that in our place for my sister-in-law, see. She was handicapped too, and then she died about six years ago--" (People do this all the time in conversations with me--they say 'handicapped' when they mean 'ill', and the story always end in death. As if I know anything about what it's like to have cancer.)

The man had settled in, draping his arms over the wall between our balconies. "She had a bunch of wishes, my wife's sister, and one of them was  to live on the coast for a while. So I lent her the $100,000 for this place--she paid me back when I sold her house--and when she passed away, all her family was here on this balcony, holding her hands and singing songs."

"It's a lovely spot," I said. What do you say?

We talked some more about family--they live full time in Oregon City and will often come here Thursday through Sunday. I mentioned Linfield and Ireland when he said his wife had traveled the world--I had just been thinking of the Irish coast when I stood to leave. So many rocks. One of my favorite memories of Ireland was sitting on a bench staring at the ocean again. I sat there for an hour after a seaweed bath, and didn't feel lonely or confused (I don't think, but memory does weird things to truth.)

The man and his wife both had family who gone to Linfield, and they encouraged me to come back before the summer was over. They're nice people. They came here with a cat in a pet carrier.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beach, Day One

It's been two weeks since I went to the coast to disconnect. That's been enough time to recognize what a beautiful and necessary time it was, and just enough time to plug back in and get stressed again. I have missed the ocean since my second day back.

I did some writing while I was there, which felt really, really good. It's not brilliant, and it's not deep, but I can't sleep, and so here you go:

Day One...

I want more drama from the ocean. How presumptuous is that?

I wanted crashing waves, and I got them, I guess--when I closed the door to take a shower, I thought, It sounds like a washing machine.

I wanted the waves to be CRASHING: big, white puffs like angry clouds. But these waves just kind of sidle up, move along, and lick the shore.

This is what people love about the ocean, isn't it--it's so endless and so constant. I like watching these little waves curl; I love the curvature, the green. I love it so much I'm a little sad every time one crests, because it's over.

I sat in the bar and had an old-fashioned and a pound of clams. When I ordered, the waiter said, "One pound of the steamed clams, or two?"
"One will be fine," I said. "Thanks."
I ate them slowly; I was there a long time. I had a book.

There was a woman sitting at the table nearest me, probably in her 50s, and I thought, She's not beautiful. I wonder if she was when she was younger. I wonder if her husband still thinks of her as beautiful. 

And then I hated myself a little, and my brain said, "How selfish can you be?", and I thought, Well, at least that much. But I'm loved anyway.

There was a woman standing on the beach, and I liked seeing her, there by herself, staring at the sea. The sea sounds so much more poetic than the ocean. But the ocean sounds bigger. When she turned and started walking, I felt like all the poetry of the moment left.

Three women came and sat near me in the bar. "Ooh," one of them said. "What you have looks good."
"It is good," I said, and I popped a clam in my mouth to show how much I was enjoying them. A little bit of sand crunched between my teeth.

They decided on the clams, the beef tips, and the artichoke dip. And rustic bread. I know this because the one woman kept repeating the list in different order:

"Look at this view, ladies. And we're going to have artichoke dip, and rustic bread, and beef tips... and clams!"

And later:

"I can't wait for our clams, and beef tips, and artichoke dip, and rustic bread. And look at this amazing view!"

It's almost dark. My words are sliding off the page....

Ta da! Day two coming soon....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I am disconnecting to reconnect.

Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4
by Richard Brautigan 
Get enough food to eat,
    and eat it.
    Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
    and sleep there.
    Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
    until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
    and listen to it.

Pretty soon, I am leaving. Not for long. Just a few days.

The plan is to stare at the ocean for long stretches of time. I will have books--they may be opened, or not. I will have a notebook and a pen. The notebook may stay blank.

The phone, while with me, will ideally be off. This stresses me out a little.

I don't disconnect well--I'm constantly plugged in somewhere, constantly engaged in something, so that my alone time either feels not alone at all or totally, utterly, lost-in-space-and-time alone.

So I am going away, and I'm not bringing anyone with me, and I'm going to stare at the ocean and be quiet. I won't say silent--I might sing.

I need to disconnect to move past the disconnected feeling I have been living in. Doing more hasn't helped me feel better or stronger.

I am not putting expectations on this trip, other than the sound of the waves, crashing in rhythm. I may learn nothing. But a part of me hopes I can learn to recognize again that giving yourself grace is not lazy.
Maybe I'll be reminded that I am safe and secure in an insecure world.
Hopefully I'll see again that the people who love me love me intensely, and that those who don't, don't need to.

I am bringing some poems with me on the trip. The one up at the top speaks to the inspiration of the whole trip. Hopefully, I'll have a copy of William Stafford's book Even in Quiet Places--possibly the only book of poetry to actually make me feel like I was discovering something.

And this one:

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda 
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.

(ps. Thanks to Eric G. for reminding me what poetry can do.) 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heather is a bum.

I didn't go back to the gym Friday.

In fact, I haven't been back in ages.

I did buy an iPod, a swimsuit (for the HydroPower aqua aerobics class I have yet to take) and a yoga mat.

The mat is shrink-wrapped, and I can't get the iPod to sync to my iTunes library (yes, I downloaded the latest version). The swimsuit still has the tags on it.

It's like things are on pause, across the board. Not stopped, not stalled... just paused.

Any ideas on how best to push play?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This blog is not just about the gym...

I promise. But for now, it kind of is.

So, I went back to the gym today. And when I say that I'm slow, I'm really slow. 

Monday, I walked a half a mile on the treadmill, at a pace of 1.5 mi, with a 2.0 incline. Not a lot, but it was enough. 

So today, I walked a half a mile, with the same 2.0 incline, but at a pace of 1.6. 
So you know what that means, a quarter mile took me nine minutes. 
Nine sweaty, painful minutes. 

But I did the half mile. 

I also tried the fly machine, which seemed really easy and simple, until I hit my tenth rep, at which point my arms started saying OMG WHY WHAT IS HAPPENING OMG IT BURNS OMG. 

I did three sets of ten. Better than zero....

And I very seriously need to make the small investment in an iPod Shuffle, or maybe a Nano. Today's Bally's playlist included the following: Van Halen's "Panama", painful enough alone. That was followed by Phil Collins. WHAT is Phil Collins doing in a GYM? And that, friends, was followed by Vertical Horizon. 


I hope you understand how painful that was to my ears. 


I'm going back Friday. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Version Me

I have not written a blog post in a really long time.

In fact, I haven't done a lot of things in a really long time.

Since I last posted, it's a new year. Worldwide, some beautiful and some horrible things have happened, and my prayer is that the horrible will come back around and birth some beauty soon.

In my own little speck of the world, I turned 30. In fact, I turned 30 while I was sick in bed, not yet realizing that I had pneumonia.

The pneumonia is gone now, but it certainly took its time.

One of the other things that I haven't done in a really long time is go to the gym. Day after day, I left work, looked at the big neon Bally's sign literally directly across the street (it could only be closer if it were in my building), sighed a little bit, and drove home.

Being sick makes you depressed, and getting sick when you're already. let's be honest, pretty depressed, makes you REALLY depressed, and when you're depressed you don't want to work out--maybe you want to go home and watch mindless TV. Like "Wipeout." Not that I ever did that. But, you know.


Without making this post too full of self-pity or just plain boring, I decided to go back to the gym today. No more maybe. Today.

Nevermind that it's Monday.
Nevermind it's a night I'm working late.
Nevermind I don't feel like going to the gym.

So, I went to the gym. Having cerebral palsy at the gym tends to make everything a little more intense, a little more daunting. The machines are scary, and could potentially throw you to the ground. Everyone around you is very fast, and very thin.

I got on the treadmill and got a look from the guy next to me, who was casually strolling. Not a mean or hurtful look, but that look that everyone gives me initially--the  flash of sizing up and 'what's-going-on-here'-ness.

God, I thought, He's gonna be watching me.
And then I realized: I didn't care.

I listened to our side-by-side footfalls on the treadmill belts. There were two of his for every one of mine.

God, I thought, I'm so slow.
And then I realized: I didn't care.

I started sweating (like, really sweating) at about five minutes in.
God, I thought, I look a mess. And I'm going so slow. And this guy's watching me (he wasn't, for the record).
And I realized I didn't care.

I walked a half a mile on the treadmill. That might not seem like much, but I don't walk a half a mile anywhere, ever. Every goal I set for myself, I reset a little further out. When I return to the gym, half a mile will be the expectation, not the stretch goal.

I was thinking on the way home about going back to the gym, and about how likely my body was to hurt in the morning (I also did some tricep and chest presses, some tiny free-weight things, and some odd things with an eight pound medicine ball, AND I stayed on that Precor swoopy machine (swoopy) for three entire minutes.

And at first I thought, Heather, you're new! And then I thought, no... this isn't Heather 2.0, or Heather 30.0 or anything else. This is Heather as she is right now. And that's pretty awesome. Not looking in the rearview mirror brightens the horizon exponentially.

Also, the musical selection in Bally's is terrible, and someone needs to give me an iPod, stat.