Eric and I have been in Oregon a year now. We arrived in our driveway in Albany on August 31st, 2018.
I feel a sense of accomplishment, like we made it through a tough time, and I also feel like I have my feet on the ground professionally in this new role. I’ve got “enough” paying projects going, and the staff of the Oregon State University Center for Health Innovation (OCHI or “Oh-Chee”) has grown (from two people) to seven people — three staff and four graduate students (two part-time masters level, two very-part-time doctoral). We’re working on all kinds of cool stuff, from training Community Health Workers, to promoting mental health in rural coastal and eastern Oregon, and working with convenience store owners to reduce food insecurity among Medicaid members. My job is equal parts community and academics, and I love it. It’s a huge honor and huge responsibility.
Most days I’m not sure how I managed to luck out like this, and I think about all of the remarkable humans who have helped me grow along the way, when they could have chosen to ignore me.
Our dear old man golden retriever Davinci is now 15 and was doing rather poorly for a few months, but has discovered a new enthusiasm for Purina Beneful wet food. Beneful is expensive (to us) and delicious (to him) — to the extent that you can hear him snort while he eats. He gobbles his food and pain medicines (lots of opiates!) at meals, and we are happy about that. He’s hanging in there and enjoying going “on patrol” to walk the perimeter of the back yard each morning. He’s SO old for a golden retriever. We give him whatever he wants.
Tessa continues to eat poop but has very soft fur, maybe, as a result (DON’T let her kiss you!). Teddy is nearly 11 — an older man, himself — but took me on a 4-mile walk on the Takena Landing Trail the other day amidst the blackberry vines along the Willamette River (and just two folks who appeared to have behavioral health concerns and a lack of adequate housing, but I’m not judging), so I guess he’s fine.
We’re eating a lot of cucumbers and squash and peppers and corn and beans and carrots and beets. I had my first real garden this year since the time I had a plot at the community spaces in State College, PA during college. It’s been wonderful to be outside in the yard puttering in the evenings, and it’s a healthy substitute to drinking wine. (It’s funny because it’s true?) The pacific northwest rain will come soon, though, and then what, well, I have no idea. My Dad is my garden guru, and his coaching will help us overwinter the beets, or whatever we’re supposed to do.
All this to say, I continue to be amazed at how nutso it is to be a grown human trying to make your way in the world. Life is so ridiculous and so beautiful. It’s such a feat to get out of bed in the morning. One of my favorite Buddhist teachers (Sylvia Boornstein) talks about “managing gracefully” through all of the things, and I think Eric and I are there about 90% of the time, so I’m calling that a win.
Love to each of you. Keep going. You matter. Don’t give up.