I am a writer and bankruptcy attorney living in Portland, Oregon. If you are interested in contacting me, please feel free to send me an email at Lara_Gardner on me.
I was born in California into a year of significant unrest. Compared to the political landscape, my birth was but a blip, although I believe all that energy was funneled through the children born into it. I was transported to Eugene, Oregon, at the ripe age of six months. From there, we moved to Salem, I think around age one and a half. From Salem we moved to “the country” when I was ten. The choice to move to “the country” was based in large part on my desire since age four to have my own horse. The place we lived in “the country” was this wretched hell-hole called Marion, Oregon. I was tortured mercilessly by the bumpkins from Marion. I’ve been told since running into one of the bumpkins in adulthood that the primary reason behind this torture was the fact I “read too much.” Apparently in a place like Marion, reading is a crime.
Anyway, we left Marion and moved five miles away to a larger parcel of “country” land nearby a town called Jefferson, Oregon. Jefferson has the distinction of being the “mint capital of the world” and the “frog-jumping capital of Oregon,” both crowns it wears with pride and celebrates at its yearly Mint Festival. I admit to having been a Mint Festival princess the summer after my junior year in high school. I believe I still hold the record for the least amount of Mint Festival raffle tickets ever sold, raffle tickets being the method one employed to become QUEEN of the mint festival. Needless to say, I was not queen. However I did get a pretty dress and a nice tiara, welcome additions to any girl’s wardrobe. The nice thing about Jefferson was that I was not tortured mercilessly, but my previous experiences had left me a rather humble and frightened sort. Overall though, my life there was a vast improvement over my time in Marion.
Within six months of graduating high school I decided to move to Stamford, Connecticut to be a nanny. The family I worked for seemed genuinely surprised by the fact that I actually wore shoes, could read, and knew how to flush toilets. I did my best to convince them we had adopted indoor plumbing in the mid-eighties. I think they were dubious, but still allowed me to babysit their offspring. While living in Connecticut, I met a boy from Larchmont, New York, who showed me east coast teenage ways. When he moved to college in Boston, I went with him. I took a job as a hostess in a restaurant and moved into a brownstone with four trust-fund roommates who did a LOT of drugs. While there, a person approached me and suggested I work as a fashion model. I laughed in his face. At some point, I arrived home late to find one of my roommates had decided in his LSD-addled state to cook up one of my guinea pigs. I rescued the pig and booked a bus to Portland within a week.
Riding across country on a bus for four days is not a lot of fun. I decided I would give modeling a try once I arrived in Oregon. I did so and was able to procure an agent and started working. I made very little money and the ads I did were hideous. However, modeling allowed me to travel to Hamburg, Germany where I made even less money, but I was living in Germany and that was fun. I moved back to Oregon, then to Hawaii, then to Japan, then back to Hawaii. This lasted a few years. I never made much money and was never much of a model. I worked steadily, but I wasn’t going to be rich or even middle class on the money I made doing it. Mostly it was a way to pass the time without ever making much of an effort towards anything. Plus I lived with a gay man and two strippers in Hawaii, so I learned a bit about different cultures. After a time though, the memories of junior high and high school had faded enough I really wanted to go back to school.
I started out at community college in Oregon then transferred to a school in Virginia that supposedly had a fantastic creative writing program, as well as an equine program. It turned out the creative writing program was crap, but there was an incredible political science professor who had studied at the University of Rome. He had created an honors program for students to study political science at the University of Munich for a term. I applied, was accepted, and got to go back to Germany, this time to Munich. Living in Munich was a blast. My roommate was a Finnish girl and the two of us were trouble, especially to the other program attendees. All of them were hardcore Baptists who came as another part of the program for teachers. They thought the two of us were going straight to the devil and we made sure to keep up that impression. It was fun.
I had taken my boyfriend with me to Virginia. After a year in the place, minus my term in Germany, we were tired of the culture shock and moved back to Oregon where I married the boyfriend and attended the University of Oregon. I got my degree there in English, then began working at Oregon State University. The work bored me to death. I decided to attend graduate school and finally settled on law school. I thought it would be a nice way to write and earn a living. During this time the husband and I divorced and I met someone else. The year before I was planning to attend law school, I got pregnant with my first daughter. This delayed my law school attendance at Lewis and Clark Law School by a year. I hated the first year in law school. Even having modeled, a career that is known for all sorts of pitiful human behavior, I had never met more ego-driven, competitive jerks in one place. It was also a shock to discover just how much of our legal system, in fact the entire basis of it, was formed with the purpose of expanding capitalism and imperialism. This was quite a depressing realization for me. Thankfully, second year was a marked improvement over first. I met people who have since become some of my best friends. I began to enjoy law school and published three papers as a student. I was getting to write, which I loved, and I had finally met some really cool people. I sought out others who wanted to try and use the law for improvement, rather than for the lining of a few wealthy pockets.
Then law school ended and reality sunk in. Practicing law was nothing like law school. Nothing. I hated it. Actually, I didn’t hate the practice of law so much as the people at the place I worked. It was a miserable, toxic snake pit of hell. I decided to start my own practice. This was great until the laws changed in my area of practice and obliterated my business. I struggled to find a job for over a year. I worked at an internet marketing company and taught riding lessons. Personally, I went through a really rough patch with my daughter’s father and his sociopathic girlfriend. I got breast cancer and went through radiation. I ended up back working at the toxic snake pit, but it was worse than it had ever been when I worked there before and I left at the end of 2007. I moved to NYC for a year. I had another beautiful baby. I have struggled to keep writing, mainly because work and single-parenting keep me busy. I work to relearn French and Spanish and learn them completely. I am trying to learn how to play the cello, but I don’t practice enough, and I’m not deluded enough to believe I’ll ever be more than a passable player.
I have known and am expanding my knowledge of the imperialism of the United States, and indeed much of the western world. Our country was founded on blood and theft; it is no surprise that it has continued its reign of world terror, destroying, rampaging, pillaging, all while waving its flag in the air, proclaiming itself the greatest nation on earth. It is the greatest: the greatest abuser of all. I can no longer remain silent about the war and profiteering of this country I was born into by chance. If I have learned anything in my life, it is that I cannot and will not be silent in the face of that which is wholly and completely wrong. I would rather die trying to change this system than sit idly by and watching our planet’s destruction by a greedy few. On a personal level, I have struggled to remove the noose from neck that would silence me, all in preparation for speaking out against the ills of our civilization. For my children, for our planet, for all of humanity, I must do what little I can to help bring about the paradigm shift that must happen if our species is to survive. Above all, this is my purpose.
I resisted writing a bio because I do not believe these experiences are who I am, although they contribute. And so much is left out. In writing this, I had to choose what to include, and settled mostly on locational chronology. Many more pages could have been devoted to the relationships of my life, or my struggles with self-confidence, or my family. People develop preconceived notions of who a person is based on their experiences and I have found that generally any preconceived ideas about me based on my experiences are not accurate. I usually do not tell people I was a model because then that is all they want to know about in our media driven, fame-seeking culture and I can’t give them the stories they want to hear. Modeling for me was not about the work but about getting off the farm in Oregon and seeing other parts of the world. Other than that, it was a blip on my personal radar. I now also avoid telling people I am a lawyer because there are preconceived ideas about that as well, and they definitely don’t fit who I am. Who I am, what I have right now is right here. There is no future and there is no past. All of that is in my head, in my imperfect memories, a series of neurotransmitters bathing neurons, sending energy messages all around my brain.
About me? I am energy walking around in an organic body. My brain may or may not have been abducted by aliens. In either case, this energy is still here and it must type out the words that pound the inside of my skull. That is the outlet for this energy. This is who I am right now. Later when this is being read, I may be someone else. I cannot say for sure. All the details of my persona (mom, college grad, recovering lawyer, young urban creative type), these details are not me. They are the trappings of this life, things about which readers can form judgments.
I have a facebook profile, and one on lastfm. It’s kind of silly. We have these various personas we create online, just like we have in actual life, just like I had when I had an online personals ad profile for a while years ago. It’s all marketing, selling who we are to the viewers of that space. I think perhaps this blog is one of my most truthful online portraits, if only because I refuse to be anything less than honest in what I write. I say a piece because it isn’t complete, obviously. There are parts of me I leave out because I recognize that my words can be taken and manipulated, regurgitated out of context when I least expect it. Not that I have anything necessarily to hide, but there are parts of myself that aren’t for public consumption.
In any case, if the tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, it may not make a sound, but it emits energy. And yes, I can clap with one hand.