Things, People and Places I Will Miss in Greater Portland, Maine

Alex Steed — rare to find an activist who is in such great humor about the world and sarcastic — rare to find someone who can still dance like the silly idiot in Junior High School (which was me) as an adult
Allie Munier — Very cool, and one of the best blogs in Maine with Broke 207.
Keith Luke — Character, planner, fan of curling
Greg Daly — One of those wonderful distinctive artists characters you keep hearing about
Rick Hersom — A fellow man of skepticism and beer
Tod Gary — Good friend, better golfer than me (which doesn’t take much).
Dottie Maheux — It was great having my mother in law crosstown in so many ways.
and so many others.

Places:
Westbrook, Maine
The Dancing Elephant — Legit Indian food around the corner
The Frog and Turtle — Awesome brunch, poutine and atmosphere. Although sometimes they have bands that are too loud.
Catbird Creamery — Andrew Bird is a genius. Some of the best ice cream you will find anywhere. If you haven’t been here yet (across from Bank of America on Main Street) go. Your taste buds will sing. It’s 100% on Urbanspoon for a reason. And five stars on Yelp, get there this week in the afternoon if you can. I think this might be dinner tonight. Just reading the reviews is giving me a craving.
Baker’s Bench — Legit baked goods. Their prairie bread with lots of seeds is awesome with peanut butter.
The Saccarappa Falls — I can see them from my window during the winter. Not so much with the thick green trees of July. Awesome to hear on the quiet morning or at night too. Unfortunately the drone of Main Street and the William Clarke Extension drowns them out.
The Presumpscot River Trail — Right by the house and a lovely walk.
Riverside Park — Enjoy seeing the ducks.
Sunset Ridge Golf Club — Underused, a lot of fun, great challenges, good prices. Cumberland Avenue near Windham border.
Digby’s Variety — I didn’t go here enough. They make a wicked good hot dog and cheeseburger sub. Drove by it way too many times before stopping. On New Gorham Road about 3 blocks or so from 25.
Walker Memorial Library — No idea how I almost didn’t think of this. Probably my favorite place in Westbrook, so many great books through the library and the Maine Minerva service that allows books from many of the best libraries in Maine. I really hope there is something similar to Minerva in Connecticut.

Gorham, ME
Gorham House of Pizza — Wicked delicous, simple Maine food. Odd that one of the biggest pizza “chains” in Maine is independently owned by Greeks all over the state. Wish they had more Greek food but a great place for Maine staples like pizza and sandwiches.
Gorham Country Club — Accessible, moderate price, good challenge, pretty open for a terrible player like me. Beautiful.
Bennett Farm — Great place to play Disc Golf. Very long and there is a lot of long grass between the holes. The best disc golf place I have found in the area (only other ones I have played here are Pleasant Hill in Scarborough and the one in Saco.) About 4 miles from USM on 114 towards Sebago Lake on the left. $5 cash with drop off box so bring exact change.
The University of Southern Maine — So many mixed feelings about USM since it is so poorly run. But great job for my wife at the School of Education and Human Development. And three of my favorite Maine sports memories. Watching Bowdoin vs. USM in a match up of two top 10 Division III Women’s Basketball teams put on a coaching clinic of great defense. Gary Fifield is a better coach (for USM) than most Division I programs have. And watching St. Joseph’s vs. USM baseball for a few innings on a beautiful day and having a hot dog, easily the best baseball experience I had in Maine.

Portland, ME: One of the best small cities in America
Port Veritas: Been with them a few years, even moved my schedule around to be out earlier on Tuesdays. Saw them a couple times at Acoustic Coffee, the last few months of the North Star Cafe (still missed), Blue, Local Sprouts and now Bull Feeney’s upstairs. Slam poetry has been probably my favorite reason to go out the last few hours. Planning to spend time at Poetry Slap in Bridgeport, CT when I move. If you are interested go to the website and sign up for the e-mails. Have seen so, so many great poets through PV. Lauren Zuniga, Theresa Davis, Billy Tuggle, Ryk McIntyre, Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie, Heidi Therrien, Ellyn Touchette, Wil Gibson, Ryan McLellan, Brendan Constantine …

Rhythmic Cypher — The second poetry slam in Portland (amazing we have two of the 72 teams that competed in Boston/Cambridge for the 2013 National Poetry slam last year) designed for the outsiders. I have seen some amazing poetry here from queer, trans, the mentally ill, and just outsiders. Also great to have poetry with music behind you.

Miyake — Seriously amazing sushi. Expensive so don’t order everything. Hamiyake is one of the many delicious things here. I also discovered monkfish liver, which is so rich and full of umami, almost tastes like pork. Here is the Yelp on it.

Death Card

A few weeks ago before Lanna got her new job on our tenth anniversary on July 3rd, I went to Pinecone + Chickadee in downtown Portland and got some random Portland Pins from the gumball like machine. One was death with a nautical image.

I asked Lanna what it meant and she said in tarot it’s a symbol of new beginnings. From this Tarot site it states:

Death is symbolic of the ending of a major phase or aspect of your life that may bring about the beginning of something far more valuable and important.

My first thought was to be frightened but I didn’t know it was the symbol of good change. It’s been a difficult few years. I lost my dad on April 1st, 2013 and had a major mental health crisis and breakdown a couple weeks later where I ended up at Spring Harbor. Manic depression is indeed a frustrating mess. Dad’s was a long departure which I talked about extensively on the blog. I am still recovering 15 months later.

Lanna’s died just a little over a year before in March, 2012. His departure was fast. From seeming pretty healthy and in good spirits to gone not long after.

I feel like I have grown as a person. Learning to mediate, accept my many weirdnesses, learning patience, writing, interacting with words. Maine has been good to me. Maine has been very good to me.

Especially with the patience and perspective of just getting by with life. And that there is nobility to just living. You have a house, you have family, you have food, you are doing alright. Ayuh.

Moving to the Shelton, CT area for Lanna’s new job, she leaves today to start her new job tomorrow, feels like coming home in a way. I grew up in Central NJ in Montgomery Township, just a town north from Princeton up 206. Shelton, CT reminds me a lot of Bridgewater, NJ. Green, bucolic, with huge office parks and lots of money. And I am guessing a lot of the same attitude of not being satisfied and always wanting to have more in life. There is something beautiful in having enough.

I also feel this desire to work in counseling, mental health, anti-drug war and anti-prison efforts. I had a conversation just last night about trying to get people with mental health away from prison. Considering going into mental health work, maybe as a counselor maybe even as an NP. Although I still don’t like blood. I feel like I need to help people directly. As someone with creativity, mania and mental health issues, my current job in a medical call center has helped me gain patience. Listening is a powerful skill. Simply letting people get out what burdens them, helping them get to a nurse or doctor for advice.

Feeling grateful that my job can go with me and I can go remote. It’s one big less stress for this long move.

Feeling happy to unburden myself, I keep way too much crap. Let it go. Let it go.

Happy to have the kitties for support.

I’m going to miss my wife this week and a half. She is going to start in CT for a fortnight on the new job, and I am going out next Tuesday. It’s going to be strange, we are such strong partners with the 11 1/2 years we have been together (met in mid-January, 2003).

I am excited, and daunted by my next step in life.

Also looking forward to a cleaner house and having a place for people to stay. Our moms, our friends, etc. Good friends in good spirits is all it really takes to be happy. I was reminded of that last night at a wonderful party.

To new beginnings. As scary and daunting as they can be.

This is 40

Terrible movie, waste of talent **.

I turned 40 on June 23rd. Already looking like a very different year. Lanna just got a new job in Shelton, Connecticut, big raise, big opportunity. She is starting there at the end of the month. And we are looking to move completely by September 1st.

Big move for me. Will be nice to have New York City an easy drive or better train ride away. Will be nice to be closer to my mom, Allentown, PA will be 2 hours away. Will be unfortunate to be farther from my mother in law, from across town to 4 hours away.

Maine has been really good for us. Met a bunch of awesome people through work, Twitter, Facebook, poetry, tweetups, church, community.

Portland is a fantastic city. Amazing food. Excellent art scenes. Even two poetry slam teams which is just astounding. Tons of theater companies, a great regional art museum, lots of galleries and artists. And it actually is a city in the peninsula. Walkable, interesting, lots of character. Resurgem.

Westbrook I think is still finding itself. A mill town, where the mill doesn’t run the town anymore. It has the advantage of being next to Portland so it has become more a commuter city, but still with a lot of people in section 8 who never recovered from the mill being gone. Happy James Tramontagne is in the city with the Frog and Turtle, I love the Dancing Elephant and I love my local library. I also liked being able to walk in town, but I do wish it had better links to Portland Trails and the wonderful city of Portland. To me it’s still Westbrook it’s there. I expressed my love for the town with my poem “The Smells of Westbrook.”

The Shelton, Connecticut area will be a new adventure for me. Driving around during Lanna’s interview on Tuesday it reminded me a lot of the area I grew up in Somerset County, NJ. Reminded me a lot of Bridgewater. Lots of businesses in huge parks in an area with a lot of trees. A lot of affluence, just very similar.

I look forward to the new adventure and discovering new places. Right now it all feels overwhelming.

40 has come. I think I will really like my fifth decade. I do want to get in touch with as many people as possible in the next few weeks and get a beer, coffee or lunch.

The move feels so fast but it’s a great opportunity and I look forward to it.

Blessed be.

edmund

Bad Houses **

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan (story) and Carla Speed McNeil (illustration).

Story just didn’t grab me.

I think there definitely could have been more there.

I think graphic novels are most interesting when they either embrace the spare in a beautiful work like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County. Or if they provide a snapshot of an unknown world in Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang or Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”.J

There is also the power of work like Palestine by Joe Sacco. But for relatively standard storytelling the effect can actually be pretty thin.

I feel like this could have been more interesting in more traditional narrative, like the characters live richer lives that what is shown in the book. The central couple’s story is just beginning in the book, and I think can get richer.

Ok at best. Definitely disappointing.

Sketch poem

This came from writing on a sketchbook at Dobra Tea.
Small cap lines should be indented.
————-

Read
    anything
Create
    with abandon
Draw
     outside the lines.
Love
    with all your heart
Listen
intensely
without judgement
without interjection
Learn
everything
then learn more.
Write
poorly
Write
anything
Write
Create
Believe in yourself.

Fail
keep going
Draft
edit
keep going
Sketch
draw
watercolor
Keep playing.
Buy local art.
Be a patron.
Be a fan.

Create,
Listen,
Write,
Laugh,
Love
yourself
your journey
listening
creating.

You are an artist.
Believe in yourself.
Create.
Listen.
Love.
Create more.
Share your work.
It’s beautiful.

Numbing Agents

We are often uncomfortably numb.
Not engaging.

Using crutches
pain pills
alcohol
Facebook
cigarettes
pot
TV
Radio
Internet.

Keeping feeling internal
hard to shar

Afraid to say what we feel
Worried about offending others.

Wanting to be the good guy.

Not connecting to people in person,
social media isn’t that social.
It’s a lot of words,
a lot of noise
not much connection.

Texts
for hours
for hundreds of messages
while driving
while with an actual person
in front of you.

There are a lot of things out there
retail therapy
commercialism
you need more crap, more stuff,
more shit.

We live in bizarre times.
Don’t know out neighbors,
have hundreds or thousands of “friends” we hardly know.
That are at most acquaintances.

I like social media,
I can like TV,
like beer.
But there is just too much noise right now,
too much static.

We need to connect,
need to talk,
need to interact,
with people in-person,
not just online.

Need to connect with people,
of different classes,
races,
ages,
genders,
backgrounds.

Realize we have more in common,
than different.
That those with a difficult life,
little money,
families in jail,
addiction,
illness,
madness,
need love.

What a better life we would live if
we could just be
“Excellent to each other.”

Don’t be a dick,
listen,
too many people are bogus.

Love people for who they are,
“party on dudes,”
listen,
cry,
laugh,
love.

The world needs you.
Needs you to love.
To listen, to write, to create,
to be only the person you can be.

I am trying,
it’s not easy,
there is so much shiny, so much debt, so much hardship.

We are all in this together, kid.
Cliches and all.

Love. Love. Hug. Cry. Listen. Or just be there.
There is someone who needs you,
and someone you need,
blessings to you all.

Peace.

edmund

My Dear Aunt Sallie

(This is a work in progress — expecting to edit but really like the idea.)

My Dear Aunt Sally
learn it in school

Multiplication
Division
Adding
Subtracting

So 8*5/4-3 = 40/4-3 = 10-3 = 7

My Dear Aunt Sallie

Multiplying
student loans
Multiplying
interests.

dividing
families
dividing
relationships.

adds
debt
adds
fees

Subtracting
opportunity
spending money
the economy

Adds
new dorms
for-profit schools
tuition.

Subtracting
meritocracy
affordability

Multiplying
Government profit
Debt Collectors.

Dividing
young from old
rich from poor

It’s a mortgage.

If you can’t afford it
here is some “student aid.”

More semesters
more student loans
more debt
even in public colleges
even when working in school.

The tuition will be fine
the loans will be fine
college will pay off.

Will give
chances
opportunity
growth,

Make you a better person.

Successful, rich.

If you are so smart, why ain’t you rich.

Poets, artists and philosophers have never had money
unless they had a benefactor.

Give money
give money
give money
give money
10, 20, 30 years.

Disabled
pay me
mental illness
pay me
bad job market
pay me

Pay me
calls
pay me
default
plus give me 18.5%

We want your money
you signed a contract
sorry, no bankruptcy.

Sorry we can’t help you
go back to school,
take a forbearance,
take more debt.

Sorry we can’t help you
pay it in full of 18.5%

Pay me. Pay me.
Pay me.

My Dear Aunt Sallie Mae
forgive us.

We know not what
we signed

We just wanted to
go to school.

Send it was aid

Just want to go to
school
FAFSA said
I needed loans.

just wanted
to learn
to learn

opportunity
to learn
to learn.

Forgive us.
Forgive our debt
forgive the debts.
forgive. forgive.
forgive.

Improve the economy
end sleepless nights
allow creativity
allow entrepeunship
allow people to use their degrees
for good.

Giving our smartest people
who had parents without money
or enough money
a mortgage to start life is insane.

Just end Sallie Mae.
End it.
Forgive it.

Maybe less people would go to school.
That’s okay.

Student aid should be grants not loans.
Should allow people to follow their passion,
not take jobs that pay enough money.

We need to do better as a society
to the strivers
from poor, working class, middle class
families.

To improve themselves,
bring creativity,
bring a better world.

And not have the shackles
of thousands,
tens of thousands,
even hundreds of thousands in debt.

It would make the world
a better place.

edmund

The Goose Swacks

Some short poems I wrote yesterday.

The first was from a goddess moon postcard I got from Ryk McIntyre for a poems from a postcard chapbook project. Did so many versions. After talking to someone yesterday I just wrote the third stanza for the poem.

————-

The goose
swacks its love
loud moon song
falls
across still waters.

————-

Original(s) were many but yesterday I had some including:

Moon hides
behind earth
hiding in the middle of the night

Brings wonder
sleepness nights
darkness
umbra.

——————-

The flying fish
flies to moonlight
shimmering over water
helping geese fly.

————–

(new one)

The fish
flies through
the moon’s light
eclipsed
by darkness.

_________

The flyish fish
jumps to moonlight
shimmering

The stones
worn by tides
pushed by goddess moon

The goose
it swacks its love
moon’s song
falls
across still waters.

————–

Circular calls are circular
calls are circular circular
are are calls calls
circle calls are calls circle.

———–
(Started yesterday (1st stanza), added 2nd today)

Phone useless
Galaxy’s power destroyed
Paper has power.

Pen or pencil.
The page beckons.

————-

From 4/15 (3 haikus)

Mahna Mahna
Haiku haiku haiku
mahna mahna.

————–

Get here early
poetry limited seating
wonderful words.

—————-

Winter branches
blowing in the wind
not yet green.

———–

More from yesterday:

Song of eons

tides
fall, flood

rocks
erode
uplift.

———-

Lava flows
new islands

water erodes
lost islands.

———–

Mountains hiding
under the tides
life hides from the land.

———–

The lava
explodes
from the earth

flows
down
worn peaks
over
and under
crusts of rocks

sizzling shore
new land.

———

Poetry mind
and fully
conscious mind
very different places.

————

Wordplay is fun
fun words play
play is word.

—————

(today)
Poetry is fun
Poets read poems
Write poems
Hear poems
recite poems
wonderful circle of words.

—-

Thank you for hearing and reading my words.

I love good feedback,
writing is a journey.

edmund

Time of Renewal, Time of Peace

Easter.
Time of Renewal.
Time of Peace.

Mid-April.
Green slowly returning in Maine,
an explosion of color in most of the world.

April in Paris.
Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and Japan.
Magnolias in the American South.

Easter.
Time of Egg hunts
and chocolate.

Of the scary bunny,
with hollow dead eyes.

Of eating off the top of
chocolate bunnies
head first.

Jelly Beans.
Easter Grass,
odd plastic stuff.
What weird times we live in.

Of thankfulness,
family,
forgiveness.

Of praying for your sins,
to improve.
To flower along with the trees
and grasses, annuals and perennials.

Jesus.
The Prince of Peace.
May you help heal a broken world.
Help the meek,
help the poor,
help those suffering.

People need help
in these greedy times.
Capital is merely a tool,
Capitols aren’t supposed to
controlled by capital.

Enjoy the green,
enjoy seeing winter trees slowly bud,
the birds slowly return.

The sun is almost set,
Easter in the morning.
Blessings to all
in this holy time
of Easter, Ä’ostre and Passover.

May it bring renewal to your life.
May it bring peace.
After a difficult 2 years I could use peace in my heart.

Blessed be.

A Day Without a Smartphone

Smartphones are amazing things. What would be considered a super computer not that long ago in the palm of your hand.

The ablility to send a Tweet around the world. The ability to send a Facebook message to all your friends and followers. Amazing apps, games, messaging ….

You know you can turn them off. No, seriously you can.

My phone died on Tuesday afternoon. Put it in my coat pocket, went to fix my car and then weird squares on the bottom left.

I went to the Great Lost Bear for mac and cheese and beer and it wouldn’t work. I tried removing the Otterbox (which has a horrible design on the Galaxy S4 that already broke from Thanksgiving with loose rubber and breaking plastic that doesn’t seal), and changing the battery but the problem continued.

I want to tweet and message about the the first date going on next to me. It did seem to be going relatively well and I think they will have a second date, not sure if it will be a long-term relationship, but they will likely be friends.

I also tried the crazy mix at Great Lost Bear that is mac and cheese, topped with baked beans, topped with cole slaw and then three fried pickles in a mason jar. It was good but I think wicked farty.

Yesterday, I didn’t really miss my phone that much. I was mainly zoning out and watching stuff like “Orange is the New Black” (which is awesome.)

Usually at work I use my phone more. I check in with my wife, I use it to listen to music since I lost my iPod a few weeks ago, and I play smartphone games (been addicted to FIFA 14).

But the Galaxy is down for the count and the SD card is missing from my old Evo so most of the apps don’t work.

So on my downtime I read more. Read a bunch of the April “The Bollard” (easily my favorite free paper in town and favorite newspaper considering the Portland Press Herald kind of sucks these days.) And I read quite a bit of the 2013 Entertainment Weekly with the 100 best of all time. Really “My Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West is the 8th best album of all time, really? Between Aretha Franklin and “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, really?

And as much as I love Woody Allen and adore Annie Hall, I just don’t like Manhattan **, I have tried multiple times but it’s just ridiculous. Why would he really fall for Muriel Hemingway’s HS character, does he have some weird thing for young girls?

But, when I left work I felt like my mind was working on writing ideas. That I wasn’t as distracted all day. That I had a very good day.

So, I am getting my phone back on Monday, ok a replacement phone, but I think I will just turn it off more. I really don’t need to keep checking Facebook or Twitter or FIFA 14. It’s a weapon of mass distraction.

I am ADDish enough without it.

So, I hope to read more and smartphone less.

One of the things I love about my retreat every Memorial Day weekend in the Berkshires is that phones and the internet don’t work. I engage with people more. I don’t hear the traffic. I hear the running water, hear the birds tweeting their songs, not the clatter of millions in under 140 characters. I experience the green and beauty of a sacred place. It’s magic.

I have been feeling the need for a smartphone vacation. I miss my old Evo dying of battery faster. The Galaxy is too good at being a mini-computer. The Google Chrome works too well. Sometimes it runs better than my laptop at home.

So, I don’t think I will disconnect, but I will connect less. People are much more important than devices, if you find you can’t ignore your phone at a poetry reading, turn it off. If you can’t ignore your phone while having lunch or dinner with someone, turn it off. Seriously. If you want to connect it will still be there. If you really want to connect with actual people you should turn if off.

Seriously. Try it!

C’mon. Try it!

I know you don’t believe you can, but your public can wait. Especially if you have to pay attention to the road.

Be safe. Be mindful,

edmund