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Porshaa Zorana Jones
by Robert Meyerowitz  & Mary Lochner

In Memory of Porshaa Zorana Jones
She was sharp, full of promise and my friend

August 16 - August 22, 2001 / Vol. 10, Ed. 33

Porshaa Zorana Jones was born in 1976 in Abilene, Texas, the only child of Ron and Lil Jones. The family moved to Anchorage in 1985. Porshaa attended East High, where she showed her flair for basketball and math, and then went to Fort Valley State University in Georgia. She came to work at the Anchorage Press in 1999.

Porshaa died at home on August 6. She was 25 years old. A funeral was held Monday, August 13.

Porshaa Jones was a classified ad salesperson for the Anchorage Press for several years, but she was much more than that, too. At a small newspaper, the lines between the business side and editorial side can quickly blur. I knew Porshaa when I was editing the paper and in many ways she was as much a part of its creative guts as any of its writers. She was sharp, full of promise, and my friend.

Last year, after we’d both left the paper, I had chemotherapy. In the darkest winter I’ve ever known, Porshaa came to visit and was the sun. One of her charms was that she was so unpredictable. She came over once late in the evening and asked if I had any wood glue. I did, and gave it to her, and then we chatted for a while. Later I wondered why she’d come to me for wood glue. Wouldn’t a store be a more likely place to look for glue? But I was glad she had. She had some dark moods, too, but Porshaa was a loveable nut.

I don’t know and will likely never know how or why she died. In the obituary that her family helped prepare for the Anchorage Daily News it says simply that she died quietly.

I hope so. If not, I’d be angry that someone with all of Porshaa’s gifts was let down by an indifferent world. I’d be indignant that she couldn’t make or find and keep a place amid so many less imaginative people. I’d be mad at God, if I believed in God, and maybe I am. But that’s no way to say good-bye.

Porshaa, I hope you’ve found the peace you craved. I love you.

—Robert Meyerowitz

Like kickin’ it with a rock star of the universe

It was July of the year 2000 when I first met Porshaa Zorana Jones. I was ringing the doorbell of a yellow apartment building nervously, because this was my first time trying to find a roommate through a newspaper ad. I was meeting Porshaa at her pad for an interview to determine if I would be The One.

"M/F wanted to share 2BR apt. w/ quirky dreaded girl," her ad said. "Secure bldng., close to downtown. Huge bedroom!"

When I called the number in the ad the voice on the other end sounded ebullient and refreshing. We made an appointment for an interview, and I spent my time in anticipation, wondering if she would choose me.

The door opened to reveal, as advertised, a beautiful quirky dreaded girl. She was five-eleven with brownish-black skin and thick brown dreads riddled with a supernatural shade of red.

I followed her up three long flights of stairs to her apartment. We sat awkwardly in the living room; she confessed she wasn’t sure how to proceed. I admitted that I wasn’t either. We talked for an hour, and then walked back down the stairs. We were feeling in high spirits. She threw her arms around me. I was the one.

Porshaa seemed like some kind of a rock star. She was this hip chick who worked for the Anchorage Press. She was brilliant, funny, and unafraid to be herself. She eschewed dresses, makeup, and superfluous femme shit and to hell with what anyone else thought about it. She had a flair for the dramatic and yet she was grounded.

Living with Porshaa for the last year has done everything to confirm my original suspicions about her rock star status in the universe. She was matchlessly passionate and intelligent. She sculpted clay figures and had gone to college on a math scholarship. I discovered immediately that I could talk with her about social justice, about race, gender, and class in America and that she was one of those rare people who "got it." It was us against the world.

She introduced me to the writings of Frantz Fanon. She drew extended interiors on all the mirrors in our apartment with erasable marker, so that when you stood in front of the mirrored closet doors it seemed like you were really standing in front of the kitchen sink, looking out the window.

Porshaa was fascinated by real estate and marketing, and had a whole library dedicated to those two subjects. She ravenously consumed all reading material, picking through whatever she could find at thrift stores. She would bring home boxes of books, and she built the shelves to put them on.

She became a public notary at the Division of Elections just so she could register people in our neighborhood to vote. She wasn’t doing it for a political campaign or with an agenda; she simply thought it was important that the people of Fairview be heard.

She wrote articles for an Anchorage hip-hop e-zine called Grasp under the names "Disillusioned" and "Blaskan Ice." She won an award this year in the Anchorage Daily News annual writing contest for a non-fiction essay entitled "Call Me Black."

She wrote poetry and performed it at the Lyricisms readings at Organic Oasis and the Punk Rock Poetry Slam at Café Pax. She once made a treasure hunt for me with rhyming clues scrawled in marker on cards made from construction paper. We laughed as I went around the apartment finding clues and reading them until they led me to a wrapped, ribboned box in the closet. Inside there was a final poem and a pack of Camels. There was no special occasion; it was just something she did to make my day.

Porshaa made everyone around her feel special, and she made everyone around her laugh. She was receptive and real; she was someone who could be confided in. She opened up the life in people and added happiness to their days.

She was a quirky dreaded girl who gave people the indescribable glow of the presence of a Unique Being and the unfathomable joy of kickin’ it with a rock star of the universe.

I love you, Porshaa. I’m going to miss you terribly.

--Mary Lochner




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