Introduction: Moving, Being Moved.

From my desk, I watch rain dump sideways, then clouds splitting to make way for a sunny blue, back and forth, filling up gray, emptying, a strip of red clouds reflecting the sunset over Forest Park, the sky eventually fading in that slide toward dusk. I like how the sky moves here, where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers come together, where I’ve lived for the last decade.

For three decades I lived on the eastern edge of the Great Basin, next to the remains of ancient Lake Bonneville, and the inversion in the bottom of that lakebed meant the air rarely moved.

I love to be moved, like the sky moves here. I seek to be moved, generally. I’m currently reading a book of short stories that is moving me with every turned page. (Tenth of December, by George Saunders. And before that, Roxane Gay’s latest, Difficult Women).

Lately, over the last several months, I’ve been visiting the cinema more regularly, choosing films that move me to public tears, though I am somewhat embarrassed by my blotchy red face afterward. (Moonlight and Loving and Lion and I Am Not Your Negro and Fences)

I’m editing a few pieces right now; some are unremarkable, some are challenging my sensibilities, moving me out of my comfort. The magic happens outside one’s comfort zone, from what I understand.

Moving my body, my current body, has an unexpected flavor. My flesh-vessel and the internal I/eye are in a lifelong partnership. How we treat one another waxes and wanes in functionality. But we are in it for the long haul. We dance. We breathe. We rest. We move.


To introduce myself, I offer two paragraphs and a short list:

My name is Marisa. It rhymes with Lisa. I love being an engaged and involved aunt (or titi, as my kindergartener-aged niece calls me). My maternal family migrated to Oregon in the 1850s and became loggers. My paternal family were/are Mormons, settling in the redrock country of southern Utah in the late 1840s, later becoming uranium miners. In researching the story of my family, and the story of the western US in general, I’m encountering painful and deeply uncomfortable myths and facts and assumptions. In telling the story, I hope to find reconciliation.

The life I’ve lived for these first four-plus decades is a bountiful gift. I know myself lucky due to my ethnicity, facility with words, opportunities in education, circumstanceā€”these things have contributed to my ability to make seemingly non-traditional choices and land on my feet.


Here’s what I know right now:

  • Looking myself in the eye in the mirror is a high priority.
  • One of the biggest votes I get in this world (or at least in this culture) is directly linked to how I use my energy, and how I make and how I spend money.
  • Gratitude greases the wheels on otherwise challenging scenarios.


The sky outside is now fully dark. The rain has started again.

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