Bus Project

Lately I've been drawn to taking pictures of people on my morning commute (mostly) and afternoon commute (sometimes) on the 75, 17, and 9 bus-lines here in Portland, Ore. This is kind of new b/c previously I mostly have focused on more benign things like bridges, trees, clouds. Taking candid photos naturally involves subterfuge - after all I'm not announcing it or following up afterwards - and a peripheral concern presents itself as to whether my action is appropriate, even if it's technically legal. I don't want to be all creepy about it. (There is perhaps a longer inquiry here to be made about how I relate to people and need some sort of artificial buffer zone just to engage with them but that's the topic for something else). I find something glorious about these moments in transit, all of us wishing we were somewhere else but stuck together. I also feel like this transitory zone allows people to sort of relax and drop their masks, even momentarily, across all sorts of backgrounds. A note about the particulars: these are solely photos of convenience in that I am sitting somewhere for a practical reason, usually an empty seat. I am not sitting near selected people to take their photo. I look up and they're there and sometimes the light is good. I generally take between 1 and 3 or 4 photos in rapid succession on my phone, save one if it's workable and delete the rest. After messing w/ the image I delete the original.


upcoming project

october 2017

currently up to my ears in pre-production for pending webseries project which thus far has engendered a raft of internal grievances (why this? why not this? why am I..? etc). it's been helpful to strip out the emotional reaction where possible and just focus on the act at hand. not dissimilar - and yes maybe this is just a convenient reach b/c i just ran one - to running a half-marathon where in the act of you don't really have the luxury to whine/grieve about the particulars of your running form or compare yourself to other runners (don't get me wrong, I still manage to do this) b/c you are literally in the act of passing the 9 mile marker or whatever. That said, I am deeply excited to make this (or more correctly, to have made it) as it's been a bazillion seeming years since I was last on a set. more to come


giant insects

the best i have felt in the last several years was standing on top of a dune on the southern oregon coast 2 weekends ago. we wandered up a forested path near our campground w/ no real plan and kept going. soon we could see a gigantic dune in the distance, urging us toward it. a short time later we stood at the bottom of it. we scrambled to the top w/ some effort and took in the impossible vista: ocean to the west, forest to the east, endless dunes north and south. the wind was steady and strong, blue sky, not too hot. the insect-like buzz of motorcycles and dune buggies off in the distance, intermittently coming into sight and then disappearing. a teeming wealth of glorious photo ops but I left my phone and camera back at the campsite. I was pissed at first but all I could do was document it in my mind. the longer i sat there watching there were slow openings: i had been wrestling w/ some concerns for upcoming movie projects and they suddenly felt so minor. everything human is really so gd tiny. I have to hold on to this feeling I thought.

later that day while everyone was back at the campsite I hiked back to dunes w/ camera. the giant dune was too far away for me to make the trek but i took some pix from the top of a younger sister dune. pix were fine but they didn't touch what was in my head. the perfection of it, the power of it. it was a weak facsimile, a bloodless iteration.

contemplating this all a week later I wondered was the magic ingredient was not having my phone w/ me? no ability to check/update, no ability to document the moment w/ photo. no choice but to be present. no way out. if i had been taking pictures I would not have been seeing. but then these are just tiny insect thoughts.


Return to Humboldt

MM rented us a van to drive down, which made more sense since our car's tires are bald and about to pop and the IRS just can't seem to deposit our tax return no matter our increasing desperation. drive down took 10 plus hrs b/c of stopping extended 2 times (once riverside park in grants pass, once in crescent city). at last we arrive.

at airbandb in bayside and the smell at night/morning is so long ago familiar that it aches. there are mirrors reflecting and refracting into hallways and corridors*. here we are at breakfast at X which used to be called Y which was where we ate when M and I were pretending we weren't a couple in summer of 95 so her ex didn't kill us; here's the loggia at the Minor Theater where M and I sat after our first benign coupling (her in a b/w pixies t shirt) saying 'we both know it didn't mean anything' except now I'm yelling at our son to calm the f down. here's the Plaza in full farmers market mode w/ organic nut pastes and whatnots. here's patrick's point state park and the memories of M and I getting married there, making everyone meet us there, making everyone walk out to wedding rock; here's the memory of going there in the july before our wedding to scope it out; here's where Darren and I camped that night after my son's namesake died. here's redwood park which triggers the memory of the photo I had of CR there w/ her beau at the time who we called 'hair guy' months before she and I got together, where I went for a run or two w/ J prior to apparently turning into a giant asshole. Here's the coop where M's ex works and where we all stop for sandwiches to see him. Here's me in the car w/ DMG (who went to school w/ me and lived in LA when we were there but lives in portland now and who worked on my movie) driving and SB (who shot/coproduced my movie) en route to the Avenue of the Giants so all 3 of us can run the 1/2 marathon - all 3 of us in various states of transition, transfiguration, repair. Here we are running late, stepping forward, the air charged w/ past/present, moving, running, going, not stopping.

*the corridors contain: my first arrival, 26 yrs ago, me moving in to apartment w/ CR 25 yrs ago and working at the American Deli (RIP) while not going to school b/c I was someway or other going to be some sort of artist (though that only manifested by me reading Henry Miller's oeuvre and writing in my journal); me moving to the Beverly House a yr later after CR and I broke up and she moved to Portland; me and Matt and George moving to the 11th st house a yr after (and where M sought me out  to talk when she and not-yet-ex were in death throes); me in the shack behind 11th st house the yr after; the house on Grant Ave 6 mos later; the death of my son's namesake on the side of the 101 near Moonstone Beach; the film department at the college; a couple romantic dalliances that were defining in several ways but that share the DNA of those-people-want-nothing-to-do-with-me-ever-again which suggests I was an asshole; the summer b/f my last yr when i worked floor camera at tv station during the olympics w/ Joe S who in some manner sold me bill of goods about LA and AFI but maybe he didn't really know who he was then; the projectionist gig at the Broadway Cinema; this creeping sensation of nobody knows what I am going to be/do and boy won't they be sorry; and so on and so on, all humming at once around every corner, pulsing with some varietal of cosmic wisdom or dumbfuck randomness. 


bad day/good day

You're 13 minutes into a 7.5 mile run (on your way home after a half-day at the day job b/c you have to pick the kids up from 1st grade and preschool b/c MM is away at a retreat for a few days to be present as teacher for a local writing/publishing institution), needing to cross the street. You look left over your shoulder and see a biker approaching making your immediate crossing not possible. God fucking dammit motherfucking asshole you think. 

The biker slows, is talking to you. What the fuck you think as you pull your earbuds out. 
Hey man, he starts, some woman stopped me and made me find you. She said you dropped a bunch of stuff from your backpack, a ways back. You nod and say thanks. This isn't news b/c about half a mile back, as you were crossing the train tracks at the W end of the Tillikum Crossing bridge you noticed that your backpack had come slightly unzipped so you threw it off quickly, noting that your pants and work shirt were about to fall out and speedily threw them back in and zipped up before continuing down the path. This biker must be working on behalf of someone who saw that and is now showing unnecessary concern. Biker moves on. You stop your running app. You've been running 13 min and 30 sec for a total of 1.2 miles. Just as a precaution you take your backpack off to take an inventory. 

It's been one of those days already. Lack of sleep b/c daughter up a couple times in the night, up again at 5:45 AM. Groggy cognition. A heavy pot in the drying rack falling into the sink and breaking a wineglass, spraying glass shards everywhere kind of morning. You considered not even doing the run but you're training for a 1/2 marathon next month and you need to stay consistent w/ the training. Open the backpack: pants, shirt, undershirt, work ID badge, keys. All seems good. Wait. Wait. Where's the wallet? You check all the pockets. Can't remember exactly where you put it when you were changing in the locker room at work. It was in with the pants and shirt. Fuck. You double check. you triple check. 

A pregnant woman dressed in black approaches. She's the woman who stopped the biker. She said she saw a shirt and some headphones on the ground back there. The headphones, fuck. These are the heavy, cover-your-whole-head headphones you listen to on the bus to work. They're not in the backpack. The woman is apologetic for not having more details. She motions to her six or seven month belly and says she is running late for an appointment. You are so grateful and say so. 

Moments later you are walking back the way you ran. You can picture everything laying there. You must have been too hasty re-packing the backpack when it opened accidentally. You must have been embarrassed about your exposure to check thoroughly. You feel the gentle stirrings of panic in your belly. All the shit you'll have to cancel, all the dominos, forms, more forms, reapplications.

You attempt to still your mind. More than likely nobody did a thing and all your shit is laying there. This is Portland after all.  As you approach the intersection you can see something laying in the middle, just south of the train tracks. It's...your underwear and socks. Fantastic. No wallet, no headphones.

After walking the promenade back and forth, looking everywhere to the side you call MM and check at a nearby Starbucks. MM calls the credit union to put alert on cards. Starbucks says nope. You inventory to MM all the cards you had in that wallet: our shared cc, your filmmaking cc, 2 cc's particular to The Black Sea (long maxed out), your DL, your SSN card.

You find yourself in a nearby Cha Cha Cha asking the slightly gruff server about a wallet. He says nope. You find yourself noting the hillside littered with tents and makeshift canvas domiciles, skeevy and sketchy. You find yourself walking into a parking lot, pretending to be in the middle of a heated conversation on your phone so you can get eyes on the 3 homeless individuals huddled by a transformer next to their canvas-tethered shopping cart, to see if your headphones are around their neck, or if your emptied wallet is on the ground.

You call MM and decide to abort the run. Take the Orange line back home. You are starting to feel your stomach pulse with self-loathing. Why didn't you take more time to check your backpack you dumb fuck? You check your phone repeatedly. Nothing. You google yourself in aim to see if someone reasonable could track you down online. They could. But no one is calling, no one is emailing. You realize that a reasonable person would probably have just picked up the wallet and called you. A person with sketchy intent would have grabbed the headphones and wallet. You lost it at a heavily trafficked area, filled with Max, Bus, Street Car, Tram, nearby freeways. Anyone with ill intent could be long gone. That SSN card and DL together have merit. Lots a person could do. You google what to do if you lose your SSN card and the result is not reassuring. There is mention of someone using your SSN to buy property, to file false tax reports, to create fiscal accounts. You begin to panic. MM tells you to calm the fuck down. Get off at the Woodstock iteration of your credit union. Go in there and tell them what happened. Tell them you are home alone for 3 days w/ the kids and you need them to issue a debit card. There are pix on the wall of the credit union showing the business that existed in this same space in 1974. There are 2 people laughing on a bicycle in black and white. Their ghost/s must be here right now watching me. 

After credit union you talk to MM waiting for the 75 bus line to take you all the way home. Fraud alerts are filed. SSN alerts are filed. It's been 90 minutes now since you lost the wallet. You curse the dirty, skeevy homeless people who no doubt found your wallet and claimed it for themselves
On bus home you have moment of brief relief, thinking of non-attachment and identity. What could be more tethered to manufactured identity than a wallet, filled with signifiers, both accepted and invented. Maybe this is a good thing you think. There will be a pain in the ass ahead but maybe a good thing. Moments later you realized your day job business card was in your wallet. You call your colleague and ask her to check your voicemail. She calls back saying there is a sticky on your computer screen, left by the reception team: a woman found your wallet and has been calling non-stop. There is a phone number. The woman has the same name as your sister. You laugh in the driveway as you walk up to the front door of your house. 

You call the number. The woman says she is a runner too, was running and found the wallet and headphones, didn't know what to do. She grabbed them and took them back to work. She shares that her wallet was stolen some months ago on a business trip to Chicago - endless hassle trying to fly home and cancel cards - and she felt like this was karma, an opportunity to erase the negativity of her experience by one good deed. You agree to meet up to retrieve the wallet.

You call MM and laugh. You apologize for blaming your problem on dirty skeevy homeless people.  Your problem was your own. Your problem is your own. Your problem is part of you. 

Moments later you are in the basement, quality checking the DVD for your first feature film. You watch reluctantly having seen it a billion times in a billion forms. Your plan is just to watch a few minutes and then jump ahead but you get pulled in. It looks great, sounds great. Can it be that part of you is actually proud of this film, proud of what you made? These are strange sensations. Who are you? Having the DVD be almost done is amazing feeling. A long long road for a multiplicity of reasons. Shot 5 years ago, written across 10 yrs, intersecting with a person you used to be, the ghost of your intentions. 

You pick the kids up from elementary school and preschool. Lose your temper b/c they aren't listening. Later you will accidentally spill an entire bag of frozen blackberries in the freezer. Later you will attempt to get a peach out of a bottle for your kids and inadvertently tilt the bottle and pour sticky peach nectar across the floor. You will laugh about this. All part of a shitty day.

But then:

Later your father will tell you the oncologist has given the all clear. 

Later your sister will share some amazing, shimmering soul-stirring news. 

So, later you will decide to write it all down before you forget it. 
Before you forget about context and proportion.
Before you forget that two sentences of good outweigh paragraphs of bad. 
Before you forget about everything being an ephemeral puff of smoke. 
Here and then gone. Gone and then here.  A train arriving, a train departing. 

Your own ghost stands over your shoulder in 100 yrs, looking back/forward at you and laughs so fucking hard you can just about hear him. 


Rejection & Renewal

today is the 22 yr anniversary of the death of my son's namesake. he was driving back from his mother's funeral in Portland and fell asleep at the wheel 10 min from his house in McKinleyville, CA. (Margaret and I started dating shortly afterward and said if made it thru the hazards of being in a relationship in college and one day got married and one day had children, the boy would be named after him.) The last thing he said to me, in the foyer to our classroom on the 2nd floor of the Theater Arts Building, in a rush to get to Portland, the news of his mother's death fresh on his face was I'll be okay.

I got rejected for a job I wanted. granted still a day job (ie not filmmaking) but one that at least would intersect w/ my creative training and background. The sting was primarily ego-based but enough to mostly ruin the weekend. Late Sunday I started to think that maybe it was a gift, this not getting the thing I wanted, this transformative opportunity, this second chance to rise from the ashes and chart a course forward. That it was the pursuit of the job that was more important than the job itself (esp as relates to how I value my own self and voice).

It hasn't been confirmed but a rejection from a very selective film program I wanted desperately to attend is imminent. Getting in would have been a game-changer for my next movie Sister/Brother (which starts shooting this Spring).  When I got picked for the second round back in August, I had a few weeks to get the screenplay in shape and I did a line by line rehaul. In a sense that was the gift of advancing, not the perceived end goal. I am making the movie regardless.

Thursday I went to see the Pixies. In that weird sort of bookending that only music can seemingly do recalled seeing them 28 years earlier in Atlanta at the Roxy on October 15, 1989. Standing here in the recent present watching them made me think of the small tiny person I was then, a senior in high school, the broad deficiencies and wants that consumed me then. How I wish the me of now could go back in time, telling him not to put focus on such meaningless things. That made me think of the broad deficits and wants that consume me now. Is someone coming from 28 years in the future to tell me something similar? something like this:

Light can conceal as much as shadow can reveal. Things break one way, things break another. You'll be okay.

Today on my lunch break I ran up past the Duniway Park Lilac Garden, up Terwillger Blvd, on the path that circles the hospital where I had 2 brain surgeries, where my son had a fetal MRI when he was in utero to help them get a better look at the mass in his chest that was changing shape week to week, when we didn't know if he would live or die before he got to us, or shortly thereafter. The sun was out and the sky was blue. It was crisp and clear. My app told me when I finished the run but something inside me told me to keep going.


MM on Residency - end/return

really flubbed the landing there. meant to do a real-time day by day account of what it was like with aims to sort of document the price of art and love and marriage where both parties are pursuing something creative and there is taxation w/ in. I'll just say that there were a couple big low points (the macaroni night, Thurs b/f MM came home) but I weathered, we weathered. I am so proud of MM and cannot wait to see what kinds of fruit this trip bore her. Also, I'll get her back when I shoot my next movie Sister/Brother in the spring or summer of 2018