a good year

and so 2008 thunders to a close. can i say it was a great year? it was, for us anyway. a momentous year of change, sucess, actualization, attainment, process, travel, movement, death, (re)birth, breakthrough. here we find ourselves, on the lip of so many glorious things, on the edge of living the lives we've dreamt for ourselves, on the margin of something so beautiful. {note: i'm a little prone to overdoing it here, in no small part b/c i'm still riding the high of the blazer victory over the celtics last night - wow, what a game. that said:}.

ride like the wind, like a glorious unicorn leaping from mountain-tops, across ravines, illumined by the glow of the star-scape! ride man ride! on to 2009!


"...disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence..."

i'll say it loud and proud: (yet again) i agree w/ dennis kucinich. Diproportionate is the understatment of the year.

b e l l a

been dog-sitting bella for A & S. it's been great to have a dog in the house again much less one who knew maxwell. she's been a great bridge between our sense of loss and our hope for the future. thanks bella...



4 years ago today i had the first mri, the one that kicked the party off. it wasn't until tonight, en route to dinner, that either of us recalled that. we toasted to forgetting and remembering, to our great fortune, to the miracle(s) of drawing breath. so easy, too easy, to forget.

sentence of the day 12.27.08

"hey, bananas get hung."

mm on my unskilled unpacking of grocery bag


winter sketch

weather extraction and munificent burdens, uncloaked and then rebundled, toe to toe.


woke to a loud noise early in the am

the snow ripped the awning from the porch, a task we'd been meaning to get to ourselves...


william stafford interview excerpt

Once you said, "It would be too much to claim that art, the practice of it, will establish a 'good,' a serene, a superior self. No. But art will, if pursued for itself, bring into sustained realization the self most centrally yours, freed from its distortions, brough from greed or fear or ambition."

I remember that.

I don't quite understand the distinction you're making, because a self that is more centrally yours and freed from greed, fear, or ambition, sounds pretty good to me.

I probably ought to tone that down a bit, but I forgive myself for saying that partly because I was coming out on that skate from avoiding the other skate. The early part of that is I didn't want to claim that one should assume that one is creating something worthy of the ages. Not at all. So the product is expendable, but the process is precious. This is what I'd like to say. I keep meeting poets who say something like, "Well, I'm trying to do something that is worthy and lasting and beyond my lifetime," and so on. I think that's just frivolous. That's something only society decides and I don't see that it makes any difference anyway. But the process is the process of living centrally and paying attention to your own life. Surely that's worth doing. If you don't, who will? That's what living is about, and you can be distracted from living by trying to create things that will last in the terminology and the mode of society that may or may not be harmonious to your life. So I want to shrug that part off.

I think it is a big claim, and if it hadn't been an interview, probably, if I had been carefully phrasing it, I would have tried to accomplish the same thing without making such forensic claims for art. I don't want to make claims for it, but I'd like to recognize what I think I see in it and that is that real art, genuine art, comes not from hammering out something for posterity, but from making the discoveries that are yours to be made because of your unique constitution and the unique encounter you have in experience.


fun w/ redaction

snow from my work window, 12.17.08

lost, then found

on the trip to yosemite in july i lost my camera. it's nothing fancy. 4 m-pixels. i used it to take pix and shoot low-grade video. i lost it sometime after i shot an exit sign that said Maxwell, somewhere near a gas station maybe an hour outside san francisco. or at least that's the last time i remembered seeing the camera. we stopped in san fran for a couple days b/f our yosemite hike and i could not find the camera. this was a good thing in a way b/c it made me less reliant on the crutch of always shooting things as a way to make them meaningful. it made me appreciate the moment(s) in a deeper way.

still, i missed the camera. summer moved to autumn and we went on a couple trips that i couldn't document. autumn moved to winter and the streets are sudden icy death traps. yesterday i pulled out my long-forgot hiking shoes (better traction) and tucked inside was...my missing camera. i thought back to july, to pre-yosemite, remembering that i hiked in my running shoes instead of hiking shoes b/c they were lightweight and on a hike of that stripe every ounce gets noticed. so that was it, i must have, in a moment of quick i'll get this later that can happen in the swirl of travel, tucked the camera into my shoe and completely forgotten about it.

everything for a reason, right? (maybe wrong? maybe utter random confluence of timing, misfiring, dimness? maybe the mere belief in everything for a reason is the contemplative equivalent of thinking that a moment is meaningful if you take a pic of it?) undetermined. must return to this idea later.

today i uploaded all the pix on the camera and went thru them. recalling events from 7 months ago. the margin between the camera-toting me of then and the the freshly-reunited camera-toting me of now. maxwell had just died. we went to the japanese gardens, seeking a balm. kmac and adog got married. our cat got a bath.

i find meaning in these pix even as i mock my own need to document them. is the meaning in the reunion w/ them? w/ the nostalgia for lost time? are they meaningful the second the pic is taken or only months, years later? today these are the things that vex me, perplex me.


and you are (t)here...

i am quite certain i'm unable to fully articulate the range of what i'm driving at but i'll attempt it nonetheless: for seven yrs in los angeles i was fueled by a sort of epic ambition to achieve something. that unnamed something was codified and entwined in the Film Industry and there was - to me - zero percent chance of me achieving it w/o setting myself in LA. yet at the same time i internally separated myself from everyone else in LA: i simply wasn't that superficial, my artistic aims were more esoteric, more indie, more off the map etc so much so that any naked ambition i had was - i thought - neutralized by the 'purity' of what i outwardly pursued. but inwardly you see it was the exact same thing i was driving at. inwardly it was the exact same thing fueling me as fueled everyone. you can argue that this element is present to varying degrees in every single person who writes, draws, paints, makes movies, plays an instrument. i don't know if that's a sound argument or not but you can certainly make it. at my most honest i can confess that driving much of my pursuit in LA was the hunt for acknowledgment and celebration on an epic scale.

now, much like a cancer survivor (ha) i am nearly 5 yrs out of there.

hiking up runyon canyon on an LA visit a few days ago and a pea-soup of smog hung over the basins and valleys and i realized we're all - in los angeles that is - drawing oxygen from the same pool. its ubiquity and pervasiveness makes any type of self-distinguishment farcical. Whether or not you claim you are at least not them you are still forced to acknowledge their presence. you are still intaking identical oxygen and water (bottled or not) - you are there.

my point, and i don't really have one, has something to do w/ relief. gratitude that i made it out, that now - by leaving - i'm closer to what i wanted , that i had to 'fail' there to 'succeed' here. as mm always says i am a lucky sob and i am ever so lucky that i had no real taste of 'success' in los angeles b/c it would have broken me. i would not have been able to shoulder the burden. i would have crumpled, imploded, shrunk down, been hollowed out. now the codified part of what i want is the same as it was back then but what lies under it, what fuels it, has been altered. it comes from an entirely (mostly) different place and that is a good and beautiful thing.


new moon cafe, olympia wa

a snowstorm necessitated an overnight in olympia, wa. in the AM, we woke b/f hitting the rd b/c we wanted to give the sun time to melt things and trucks time to clear paths. walked down sidewalks in icy chill. we ducked into the new moon café for tofu benedict, chevre omelette and coffees. we wrote in the notebook that was placed on our table, right b/t the homemade blackberry jam and the napkin dispenser. photographs from a local photographer lined the walls. our server wore earrings made by a local artisan. figure 8 (the album) by elliott smith was playing. the menu boasted of locality and sustainability and an admirable number of hand-peeled potatoes per week. we hatched several creative proposals, among them documenting cafés in small towns. we walked up the street and found our car. we hit the road back to portland.

(note: above photograph not mine, found online, but you probably figured that out since there is foliage in the shot)


sentence of the day 12.11.08

"in the winter they put poop on the grass"

mm on s cal aroma

la in thumbnail sketch

long drives, late flights, traffic, breakfast, hike to observatory, glorious sunset, traffic, catching up, old great friends, traffic, hike to runyon cyn, thick smoggy blanket, breakfast, wedding reception, live music, traffic, new spatial and temporal relationship(s) w/ old self, old ambition, old definition; the sense of interconnection and saturation: you are this here even if you claim to be not this. you are still forced to react.
more later, still here



wknd in thumbnail

busy as per usual, planning to go out of town as per usual. this time los angeles for a wedding. we should encounter some ghosts and their proxies and extensions as well as some good things too. despite all this planning, pre-planning and plotting, we decided this wknd would be the wknd to paint my office, which necessitated taking every item out, dismantling and dissembling my albatross of a desk, moving the futon to the middle of the room, covering w/ a drop-cloth, waking early sat am to go for a run before we go to buy paint which naturally lead to a whole host of other considerations, factors, variables, and details. after round one of painting yesterday i flopped my self on the couch to watch a movie and mm called down to me mister, get up here right now so i could see the sunset you see above.


fell, destroyed

the loss of a camera birthed excavations to retrieve an older one...

sentence of the day 12.4.08

"...so as you're listening to stars what you're looking for is changes in the modulation of the radio [signal] that are not nonsense, are not white noise..."

dr. pamela gay on astronomy cast re the search for extraterrestrial life


sentence of the day 12.02.08

"there are few things in life that can't be improved by a chili dog, except maybe a clogged artery"

mm on the subject of her dinner


"I'm going to go pajamatize myself"

mm on her nightclothes


...train sketch...

only a few minutes to jot these items down before heading out the door for a run and then heading out the door to meet w/ the endocrinologist but these thoughts are jostling in my head and i want to put them somewhere.

freshly returned from san fran for the t-giving holiday by amtrak train. something about the process of travel that is accentuated by the length of a train trip; there is someone's sad dog tied up in their sad back-yard, there are culverts and drains and ditches, there are majestic forests, there is mt. shasta dipped in snow like a donut glowing in the sunrise. train travel is intrinsically contemplative (for better or for worse).

had a lovely time (mostly) in san fran. got to see gh, a couple movies, spend some quality time w/ the in-laws and their extensions. i qualify w/ 'mostly' b/c hanging over the trip was this doctor meeting i'll be at in a couple hours. the past four xmas-es/holidays have all involved travel to san fran and have all involved me waiting for some type of medical verdict. 4 yrs ago it was the 1st MRI, 3 yrs ago the anniversary of said MRI, 2 yrs ago the same, last yr the verdict on that growth on my thumb, and this year the verdict on how my pituitary gland has fared after 2 brain surgeries and radiation, w/ the expectation that it has suffered some loss of function. It is, for me, near impossible to attend family gathering(s) of any stripe and engage in the requisite holiday chatter and small talk w/o this sort of white-noise radio-signal background hum; i am hyper-aware of my medical history and hyper-aware of how much the person in front of me knows or wants to know and hyper-aware of how to read the signals they're transmitting. this can impact a vacation.

went w/ mm's dad to the de young museum in gg park. incredible exhibit on modern asian art, anchored by maya lin who is truly amazing. i don't know anything about art really - not in any academic sense anyway - but i know that she is great. the museum also had some other modern stuff like the above, a sculpture by cornelia parker called anti-mass, featuring actual charred wood from an arson-ed black church hanging in space, seemingly mid-explosion. it speaks to me in ways that i cannot fully articulate.

gotta run.

update: several hours later.
went to endocrinologist. my pituitary gland is not failing. in fact it looks just like it did last year this time. we're gonna meet w/ him again in a year's time and monitor levels w/ a blood draw then. in case it's hard to interpret what i'm saying, let me put it this way: this is a good and beautiful thing.