not until now

projects and writings of T.A. Burkholder

week 39: parade

I was in elementary school the last time I went to a parade, the tiniest July 4th event in Boulder City, Nevada where my grandmother lived. I think there were clowns and Shriners. I think it was July 4th. I think it was a parade.

June 19, 2017 · 1 Comment

week 38: comfort binge

Many years ago, Sean and I binge-watched Jeeves and Wooster, the British tv-show based on P.G. Wodehouse’s stories about an aristocrat and his butler. It’s charming. No more, no less. Ever since, we have referred to this kind of show as “extremely mild entertainment.”

June 11, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 37: weight

This particular story is the one about the girl who hates sports and hates to sweat, the one where gyms smell like humiliation and playing fields smell like dread. This is about the mediocre swimmer, the same one who gets out of breath…

June 5, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 36: memorial

Everywhere in this city. The suicide of a man I didn’t know, but was loved by someone I love. The stabbing of three men, two of whom died, on public transport not far from my neighborhood.

May 30, 2017 · 1 Comment

week 35: presencing

The morning we drove to Seattle the sun was not only up and out but strong, warming the air in a way that seemed impossible just a week or two ago. As we approached the city, my friend and I both dropped our jaws at the sight

May 22, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 34: different vocabularies

What a strange process: The light and shade of a cheekbone, a book spine, a shoelace taken in by the eye to spark the brain. One spark then another, like a game of telephone down to the wrist and index finger.

May 15, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 33: remains

Outside the Oregon State Hospital is a small brick building filled with shelves of old copper canisters. They contain the cremains of the hospital patients who were never collected. Some have labels. Some have splashes of bright green patina. All once contained ashy bits of bone.

May 9, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 32: witness

What if this was bigger? What if I was bigger? And if not bigger, then gorgeous. Not lips, hips and hair gorgeous. But grand gorgeous. Splendid gorgeous.

April 30, 2017 · 2 Comments

week 31: (over)sharing

I was going to attend four much-anticipated readings this week. I was going to dive in and bathe myself in language and the love of my community of writers, finally meeting some of the people I’ve only known on Facebook.

April 24, 2017 · 2 Comments

week 30: dig

I love gardens, but I’m not a gardener and I don’t want to become one. It’s taken me the full 15+ years I’ve owned this house to get around to tending to the patch of weedy lawn

April 18, 2017 · 2 Comments

week 29: gong bath bliss

I was going to take a picture of the old-school yoga space tucked nearly anonymously into the corner of an ungentrified building on lower NE Broadway. But, apparently, gongs make me forget.

April 9, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 28: lobby

I’d never been to the Oregon State Capitol. In fact, I’d never done anything more than drive past Salem on my way somewhere else. For most of my life, civic duty meant voting in every election,

April 4, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 27: surge/succumb

If you added up all the time I spent driving in SW Portland and it’s neighboring suburbs over the last couple decades it wouldn’t come close to all the time I spent out there this week.

March 27, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 26: jointly

I swear I’m not feigning indifference or forgetfulness when I say I don’t remember when we got married. It was nice out so we biked down to the county office in the late afternoon to pick up our license.

March 20, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 25: slow art

I’m very lucky to have parents that were both willing and able to make art museums part of my education as a little kid. My first visits were probably to the Art Institute in Chicago

March 13, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 24: death cafe

Sit in a well-lit room, eat homemade brownies and talk about death with strangers. This is the Death Cafe and how I spent my Sunday afternoon.

March 6, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 23: fight

I grew up as neither a lover nor a fighter. I was a hider. I mostly wanted to be left alone and if not alone, then moving peacefully, peacefully, peacefully through the dynamics of friends and family.

February 27, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 22: orcas

For many months, Elaine and I talked about going on a little vacation. Other than overnight trips to the coast here and there over the last couple of decades,

February 21, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 21: africa house

On a morning when the air was barely warm enough to keep the rain as rain, I drove to an unassuming building on a busy commercial street near I-205.

February 13, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 20: water pressure

My body remembers this kind of water: a steaming hot spring on a hill that brings a flush to my skin and surprises all my tiny hairs as soon as I slip into it. 

February 6, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 19: the skin of the heart

In a matter of minutes, my body went from happy and healthy to curled and wretching on the bathroom floor.

January 29, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 18: other marches

We chose not to march with our feet this weekend, the twenty or so strong women and three thoughtful men. Instead we sat in a hotel conference room and listened

January 24, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 17: consumption

One of the first people I met in college was my beloved friend, Elaine. She arrived on campus as an animal rights activist. She was the first activist of any sort that I had met

January 16, 2017 · 2 Comments

week 16: shelter

We are having a very wintery winter here in Portland. As I write this, a sheet of ice covers everything while the wind rattles the frozen branches and the gas heat rattles the grates of my house.

January 8, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 15: wrapped in snow and water

Could it be that in the twenty plus years I’ve lived in Portland I’ve never driven through the gorge when there’s been snow in the mountains and sun in the sky? It’s possible.

January 3, 2017 · Leave a comment

week 14: altar

Sometimes taking a deep breath and jumping in is the best way. The shock is part of the fun: the way the body grabs itself from the inside as the cold hits.

December 27, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 13: pot shopping

Funny how I’ve become a much bigger proponent of state’s rights than I ever was before. Not that the country’s bigger, broader and increasingly frightening problems don’t need to be addressed

December 20, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 12: role model

I can’t remember ever having a well-defined role model, one of those people you look up to and write grade school essays about.

December 13, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 11: solo disco dance party

I was seven when Saturday Night Fever was released. Of course, at that age, I was a good decade away from being old enough to actually watch the movie

December 6, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 10: comfort or justice

I watched this video by Ijeoma Oluo yesterday. And the above quote is the one that hit home. Comfort is such an easy choice

November 28, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 9: trying

It seemed, at first, too small to matter and too small to write about. What new thing had I done this week besides make a few phone calls to the White House

November 21, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 8: welcome

Ever since I was little kid, I’ve struggled with feeling like I don’t belong (that’s me on the far right with the dumbfounded expression hiding behind her bangs).

November 14, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 7: hospice

I stand in the corner, squeezed in next to the recliner where the patient spends most of his days. I stare at the top of his purple fleece cap

November 7, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 6: practice

It’s so easy to pretend to take someone’s advice, or even mean to take someone’s advice and then fail completely on the follow through.

October 31, 2016 · 2 Comments

week 5: take up space

Hold space. Sure. I hold all I can. I’ll hold it if you sidle up close, hip to hip, and whisper something true.

October 24, 2016 · 1 Comment

week 4: exposed

Making a reservation at Kah-Nee-Ta, a resort on the Warm Springs Reservation, might have been new, but it wasn’t a challenge.

October 16, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 3: nothing but air (and helmets) to keep us safe

I’ve had a driver’s license since I was 16, but I didn’t own a car or really drive on a regular basis until I was 40.

October 11, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 2: undulation

I’ve been a practicing full-time massage therapist for 20 years. While my skills have improved vastly over the years,

October 3, 2016 · Leave a comment

week 1: pushing out/wandering in

I finished writing a book this year. Unlike the novel I wrote (and almost immediately threw in a drawer to forget),

September 27, 2016 · Leave a comment


I choose Before the Rain. When I start to describe the movie as Macedonian and Albanian, my partner holds up a hand, “That’s all you need to say.” He is history-minded and … Continue reading

September 9, 2016 · Leave a comment

Threat of Rain

This story was originally published in Vinyl, March 2016.   Threat of Rain   She couldn’t see or feel it yet, but it was there. All that wet wanting to … Continue reading

April 9, 2016 · Leave a comment

month twelve: giving up

It’s 2016, March already and for some reason I was compelled back here today after many months away. Part of it is my own completion complex, that thing in me … Continue reading

March 2, 2016 · Leave a comment

month eleven: thankyouthankyou

As a kid, my prayers all started with this: “Dear God, thankyouthankyouthankyou for…” I was pretty sure that the more times I said thank you, the more sincere my prayer … Continue reading

November 2, 2015 · Leave a comment

month ten: practice

Art month was fun, even though I didn’t actually make as much art as I thought I would.I made this really silly gif from pics of my bedhead every morning. … Continue reading

October 1, 2015 · Leave a comment

month nine: artsy and/or fartsy

My August challenge of completing one of Lynda Barry’s daily diary exercises was probably my mildest challenge yet. It was short and fast and easy: A list of Things I Did, … Continue reading

August 31, 2015 · Leave a comment

month eight: Lynda Barry’s daily diary

I admit it, turning the TV off for the month of July was not entirely successful. I cheated a bunch. I’d come home from work exhausted and sit and watch … Continue reading

August 1, 2015 · Leave a comment

month seven: turn off the idiot box

 First, let me say that June’s sweet-free challenge was, for the most part, a little easier than I anticipated. I got cravings now and then and occasionally drooled longingly at … Continue reading

June 30, 2015 · Leave a comment

month six: sweats and sweets

My month of mindfulness, in perfectly ironic fashion, lost most of its deliberateness about three-quarters of the way through. I stopped looking at my list of exercises because so many of … Continue reading

June 1, 2015 · Leave a comment

daily tabor 2012

 In 2012 I gave myself the goal of daily walks to Mt. Tabor, a big, beautiful park near my house in Portland, OR. I actually started daily walks there in … Continue reading

May 21, 2015 · Leave a comment


This essay originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review vol. 9.1 in the summer of 2012. It was selected as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2013.   Proof … Continue reading

May 20, 2015 · Leave a comment