stolen plates

sunday morning i came out of trader joes armed w/ a bag full of snacks for the oscar party and realized that our car did not have a license plate anymore. since the lot was humming w/ activity i presumed that someone scummy ripped it off right in our driveway the previous night. since we did eat on foster the previous night it could have been there too. but chances were, given our proximity to 82nd ave and further our neighbor's recent break-ins, that it was from the house. this made me mad. piping mad.

yesterday at work i called police to report stolen plate. when i arrived home, m was playing cello. there was a license plate on the table. 'what is this?' i said.
'a license plate' she said. 'i can see that' i said. she then went on to inform me that a policeman had just brought it by, found on a stolen car that had been driven off rocky butte. and balance was restored.


m's essay is now available. i've read it many times before publication but somehow the fact of it bound and in your hands, inserted among other essay/fiction/poetry, alters the context, changes the perception. it is a strange phenomenon to (re)read about a traumatic life-altering event (part of it anyway) years later. you have the picture in your head. you have the memory, fixed and immobile. and yet there is another viewpoint, equally valid & equally correct, which can bring into question your initial memory, creating in turn a sort of white-noise loop where things are indexed according to relative value as opposed to anything approaching conclusive finality. How can it be both? Well, it just is.

There's another component to this: the public aspect of what had been highly private and personal. in that period (the essay covers the first wk after my brain tumor diagnosis) there was only m and me. no one - not close friends, not family - really knows what it was like. [in fact the argument can be made that i can't speak to m's experience really and her to mine. it was that divisive, that singular. two separate entities orbiting the identical event]. but now people can read a text-based approximation of that week. now they can peer in. this is good as far as our book is concerned but adds another degree of strangeness and remove to the entire undertaking. Does the addition of the anonymous reader now alter context further? I have no answer.


man and hat, another iteration

again it has happened. a hat lost and then found. safe to say that the volume of these incidents has me now veering away from a sort of cutesy absent-mindedness and into a darker corridor of monkey-minded mania wherein my focus has all the still and quiet of a tropical monsoon. i briefly considered that a portion of this was influenced by my surgeries/treatments but m assures me that my faculties are at the same operating power as they were before-hand, which is of marginal comfort, depending on your vantage point.

here's how it all went down:

last saturday, w/ m in chicago and oscars approaching, i met kmac and a-dog at fox tower to see slumdog millionaire. i drove down, parked in a parking garage and at one point my hat was on the dash. i grabbed it and placed it head-ward and walked to theater. kmac/adog weren't there yet so, as we had pre-discussed, i walked up the stairs into the main concession area, and into theater 6, which was sparsely populated. an impulsive whim brought me back to the concession promenade where i was quickly separated from 5.50$ for a small popcorn. i returned to cinema and sat down, holding 2 seats for my wayward friends, and endured an assault of mind-numbing ads (sidebar: i freaking hate the fox tower, w/ their overpriced snacks, their 8.25$ matinee price and their stupid, omnipresent pre-show commercial barage). the theater began to fill so i spread my jacket across two seats, hat tucked slyly into jacket sleeve, and sat. eventually they showed but moved to the seats on the other (left) side of me. at this point i retrieved my jacket from the seats to my right and scrunched it up into one seat, allowing a vacant seat, should anyone want it.

we watched the film (sidebar: mini-review in haiku format is thusly:

a benign enough
entertainment but unde-
serving of wild praise

as the credits rose i told kmac i was running out to the restroom and would meet them in the lobby. i stood and put on my jacket and right away, no hat. gone. i figured it had fallen out the sleeve-hole and onto the floor but it was dark and there a couple hundred people still in the theater. i made a split-second decision to spare those people the sight of a hat-less shadow groping around on all fours under the seats and removed myself until the lights came up.

moments later, a frozen tableau: me, kmac, adog and theater-cleaner looking on the floor and behind seats, employing two illuminated cell-phones for extra guidance but there is no hat. We check all the places of probable hat-ness. Nothing. There is so definitively no hat as to call into question my certainty that there was hat to start with. considering that i am a man who loses pens behind his ear and can't find his wallet on his person it is becoming increasingly clear that i must have left hat on the dash. it must be in the car and i've now embarassed myself by involving friends and random theater-employee alike in my twisted imbroglio. we vacate the theater.

(sidebar on the nature of the hat: blue and green knit by my mother. hence, not just a hat that i could walk from w/ a shrug)

outside on the sidewalk we have a brief discussion on the nature of good friends and disappointing friends and then we separate. i have the sudden compelling realization that no, i indeed had my hat in that theater! i am so sure of it now, like i haven't been sure of anything and i race up the sidewalk back to the theater. i tell the ticket-taking employee w/ the walkie-talkie that i've just lost my blue and green knit hat in theater 6, which is being cleaned right now. she gets on the walkie-talkie and asks her team if anyone has turned in a black hat. i correct her and she refines the request but w/ an eyebrow that says i didn't screw this up, you did. A long silence stretches between us until the answer comes back: there is no hat here.

Later, I am unlocking the car, thinking that perhaps the hat is on the dash. but it is not. It is swallowed whole by the fox tower.

Days pass.

yesterday on my lunch break, i found myself at the central library downtown returning items. a block from the fox tower. i walked over, asked the ticket-taking employee w/ the walkie-talkie (a different one than saturday) if she could radio to her team to check lost and found. They do. But no. And then she radios to the employee in the ticket window to see if she has anything there. And the employee in the ticket window responds in the affirmative. And we are together again...


hour of the wolf

instant message(s)...

early am, tues.
i am at the kitchen sink, facing windowed corner in sw.
m opens the front dr to retrieve newspaper
and an enormous flash moves outside the window, in conjunction w/ the sound of the door, flying
into the air, suddenly gone.

i lean toward the window to follow - a large crow i suspect - and
see the shrinking image of a hawk landing on a distant

m re-enters asking, 'did you see that?'. the hawk had flown
just past her.

quite unusual to see such a thing in such circumstances. So close to the house.both of us seeing it simultaneously. we'd only seen b/c we slept past the alarm b/c we had trouble sleeping b/c we had too much red wine b/c we were celebrating my 4 yr surgery anniv.

hawk - i hear - is a good omen.
hawk is the messenger,
saying pay attention.
you are about to receive information.
above all else, pay attention.

a confluence of several promising rivers, should we put names to them: opportunity. fortune. possibility. change.


more dc photos

here's some photos


back in this strip once again, 2/3 forever the anniversary of my first brain surgery. i don't really think about it on the same level as before but it's always present. does this mean i'm more normalized? or does it mean merely that i'm better at hiding i'll never be normal again? i have no answer.

in any case, to celebrate please find a quick extracted remembered sketch of that morning, 4 yrs ago today...

5:45 AM.

We are driving to the hospital. As many times as I’ve played this scene in my head I am surprised at how normal and pedestrian it feels now that it is here. There is the bus full of people going to work. There is the stoplight turning green. There is the stream of early morning traffic across the Ross Island Bridge. None of these people or things seem to be aware that in a few hours time I will be having transsphenoidal surgery to remove most of a mass from my head, what (we hope) is a pituitary tumor.

The hospital sits on a hill in the Southwest quadrant of the city. How many of those little lights are rooms filled with patients experiencing some stage of life-altering drama? How often have I denied that the building’s mere presence is testament to the ephemeral nature of existence? Suddenly I am reminded of life’s fragility.

I look over at Margaret and ask her how she’s doing.
“Good” she says. “You?”

“Me too” I say. After anticipating this morning for so many weeks to now actually be in it is not so bad. It is strangely almost a relief. It is not exotic like we thought. It is what it is. It is the opening sentence of a story that was supposed to happen to someone else: Early one February morning in Portland, Oregon a 32- year-old man is being driven to the hospital by his wife.

The sky shifts and brightens. It is clear and beautiful for this time of year.

The road curves up into the hills. We drive past the now-familiar construction site and the hospital’s buildings come into view. We park in the same garage that we’ve parked in since we were referred here. The attendant booth is attendant-free because it’s so early and this image saddens me, cementing what’s happening around us. It is no dream or mirage.

We cross the street and pull open the glass doors. We step inside