Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

End of an interstice

Notes on a whirlwind:

Orange light

1. Beyonce - 1+1
2. The National - Slow Show
3. Weezer - Across the Sea
4. The Smiths - Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
5. Lovers - Let's Stay Lost
6. Otis Redding - Free Me
7. Ratat - Cherry
8. Youth Lagoon - 17

and here's where you will find me: get a pen --

I've been having a lot of fun experiences at work lately, but I haven't produced any work I've been really proud of. I do, however, think these kids I met at a program about bats at a nature program were all pretty cute. I love going to assignments with kids because they are so unselfconscious.

kids like bats

kids like bats 4

kids like bats 3

kids like bats 2

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Send me some lovin'



Some days, I wonder how I could possibly consider doing any other job. Like Friday afternoon, when I left an interview with a Doris Day impersonator later than I imagined I would be. I still had to travel 30 miles west to the county courthouse to pick up a civil complaint. It was already 4:15 when I arrived; the records office would close soon. The security guards made me take off my shoes. And as I worked them back over my bare feet, I listened as the guards talked about the differences between marriage and civil unions.

"Big conversations here today in the courthouse!" I said with a wide grin.

A gay couple had just come in, one of the guards told me. Though the guards have all worked there for years, that's something they'd never seen.

"I wasn't even sure if it was legal, and if it was, where I should send them," he said.

"Well marriage isn't the same as a union," the other guard said. "It's legal."

"I just never saw it happen here before," the first guard said.

They didn't sound judgmental, just truly interested to see something happening at the courthouse they hadn't seen before.

"Well, y'all have a good weekend," I called, imagining two men marrying as I half-skipped back to the records room. The courthouse was nearly empty. No noise drifted out of courtrooms. The records office wasn't playing music as it usually does. By the time I made it back out to my car, I was amped up enough just on overhearing the guards' conversation (not to mention my previous hours spent with the Doris Day impersonator) that I called Anna up to declare my renewed love in journalism.

As we talked, I scanned around downtown. My eyes caught on the two 130-year-old giant sequoias that are kind of the pride and joy of the city. Six women and one man were hugging and taking photos of each other with a tiny point and shoot camera.

"I think I see them," I told Anna. "The couple who got married."

We got off the phone quickly, and I walked up to the crowd, a little nervous that I might look a little crazy in the suburbs if I asked if any of the women had recently married each other.

"Did y'all just have a wedding?" I asked.

"They did!" the oldest woman said. "They just got married."

Friday was their fourth anniversary. They met online under a shared love of horror movies. Only Sasha's parents -- including a father who grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana -- came to the ceremony. I told them I had a nice camera. I asked if I could take some photos of the group, some with the parents in the photo. They smiled. When I came back, camera in hand, half the crew was crying.

"My whole life, I thought I would never be able to get married," Sasha said. "I never thought this day would come."

Her tears stopped for a second as her betrothed explained that one day she will be a he.

"I'm transgendered," he said. "I want to transition, and then we'll be real married. Just married. Like normal."

He said his name was Stanley, that the night he proposed they watched the Shining. He said Sasha speaks fluent Japanese and sings beautifully. After the courthouse, they were going to drink and sing at a karaoke bar.

An official-looking man walked by, the kind of guy for whom the courthouse is an everyday gig.

"Congratulations!" he called. Sasha started crying again.

We exchanged phone numbers. I asked some more questions, hoping to maybe write something for the paper. Then I drove home past several century farms, down the lengths of wide open spaces not yet touched by Portland's urban cool. I dreamed of my own wedding, what my parents would be like. I wondered about Stanley's parents. The sun set. And as I wound my way on to the Interstate, I thought of Sasha, and I started crying.


Friday, October 21, 2011

So much held in a heart in a lifetime.

There have been a few times in my life when I experienced pure, unencumbered happiness. They are:

1)Before I grew up and disappointed her by being myself, before I thought of boys or girls, I sat on a porch swing with my dad's mother in the just-dawn morning, drinking coffee that was more milk than coffee and watching hummingbirds zip up to her feeder.

2) The night before we started dating, I dreamed I was submerged in a clean-water pool lit from below. I did not have gills, but I could breathe underwater. My eyes were closed, but I could feel you climb in just before the dream ended. When I woke, I knew I loved you.

3) The summer before my senior year of college, I lived with two other people in what was basically a tree house of an apartment in Mississippi. We didn't have air conditioning, but we had hardwood floors, a sun room and the large branches of a magnolia wrapping around our windows. There were wind chimes in that tree, and one morning I woke up to what I thought was the most gorgeous natural melody. I lay in bed just listening for a few minutes. I realized soon enough that the melody wasn't the windchimes but my roommate Daniel playing the Aphex Twin song "Nannou" in the sun room, but for those minutes when I sleepily thought it was the wind chimes, I felt totally into the world.

4) We fought nearly non-stop as kids. You had scratch-mark scars left from my fingernails. But one afternoon, driving home with our usual Baskin Robbins, we heard a song on the radio and looked at each other, talking, as we've always been able to do, without words. I threw the car into park in the middle of the road. We jumped out. The doors were still open. We danced in the middle of the road in the middle of our neighborhood.

5) I met you at sunset. My hair was still wet. By the next day, I felt I'd known you a hundred years (or more) as we knelt in the library near Eudora Welty. The world smelled like old books and your cologne. You asked if I liked Faulkner. I wondered about Flannery O'Connor. I put a hand on the shelf of Welty to steady myself. It was May in Missouri and the sun seeped in through the stacks. We leaned toward each other and kissed.

6) In that same tree house apartment, we used to keep long sheets of butcher paper. When people came over for dinner (which they did nearly every night), we'd pull out the butcher paper and have everyone draw or write on it. At the end of the night, we'd tape the strip on to the back wall in the living room. One night, after polenta and vegetables, we gathered around the latest sheet and listened to a Talking Heads album. At that point, I'd spent my entire life moving around. My parents rarely stayed in a house longer than a year or two. For the past year, I'd been working on a zine about the meaning of "home." During the song "This Must Be the Place," I watched my roommate Amy -- as fine a poet/artist/friend as you could find -- sketch a portrait. When David Byrne sang, "Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there," I wrote the line down underneath her sketch. I never worked on that zine again, and that piece of butcher paper stayed up for the rest of the summer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Devils & Dust

when the devil beats his wife

When I was growing up, when the sun shone and the sky rained simultaneously, people said the devil was beating his wife. This happened often enough: In the South, in the summer, a mid-day downpour is usual fare. As a kid, I could imagine the devil clear as day, punching on his betrothed.

When I tell people these kinds of stories here, they mostly see them as amusing or funny. They’re the kind of wild tales that make me a hit at parties. But they didn’t feel that way to me then. I spent whole nights calculating the timing of the Rapture. I spent days petrified that a demon would posses me. When I was 9 or so, the pastor cast out a demon one Sunday evening. We were on the third row, and something hissed into the preacher’s microphone.

“And don’t forget,” the pastor said afterward. “A demon needs a home.”

In leaving this woman — she had the totally cinematic name of Trauna — the demon would have to go into another body. A demon likes a dirty house, the preacher said, so if you aren’t good or clean, you are a candidate.

I covered my ears. My mother put one hand over my hands, another on my brother. I didn’t feel good or clean. I was mean to my brother, lazy with chores. So at night I lay in bed, repeatedly asking forgiveness. I did this without stopping, as if in the seconds between repentances, I might accidentally sin.

I could imagine demons and devils clearly, physically. They populated every Carmen music video the youth group idolized. And though those manifestations seem hokey, ultra ‘90s now, I still think of the devil every time the sun shines and the sky rains at the same time.

But this morning, when I looked through my car window back at my apartment, I couldn't quite imagine what the devil or his wife looked like. Instead, I saw this picture.

'Fear's a powerful thing.
It can turn your heart black, you can trust.
It'll take your God-filled soul
and fill it with devils and dust.'
- bruce springsteen

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Carved your name across three counties

'Ten decisions shape your life'


Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The space between us

I am totally enamored with the wind mills that line Highway 84 along the Columbia River.






"Will you walk with me out on the wire?
Cause baby I'm just a scared and lonely rider.
But I gotta find out how it feels.
I want to know if love is wild. And I want to know if love is real."

Friday, October 14, 2011


While you wait (breath held, I'm sure) for the Basement Babies video we filmed, you can check out this early morning shot I made of Kate, singing "Oooze" acoustically. This is the song we made a video for, though in the official version Martin sings the song.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Self-portraits with monsters

Self portrait with monsters (1)

Self portrait with monsters (2)

Monday I interviewed a lady who has been in the costume business since before I was born. Over the last 30 years, she's collected (or sewn) about 9,000 costumes. But after this Halloween, she's going to sell off her collection. I had a good time combing through all the looks, talking to her about the way the business has changed and what it means to part with something (or 9,000 somethings) you've had for three decades.

Here's an excerpt from the story, but you can read the whole thing on Oregonlive if you want.

Two women had traveled to the store from Oregon City in search of a quality Santa costume. For years, Pam Flohr said, people have told her husband Russ that he looks like Santa Claus. He has the pink coloring, the full white beard. Last year, he decided to make a little extra money off the resemblance.

But breaking into the Santa industry isn't easy. You have to have a nice outfit. And the good ones go early, the Flohrs learned. The same principle applies for Easter Bunnies, Hayes said. Those should be sought out in early winter.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get teenage kicks right through the night

Last weekend, Ryan and I went down to LA to shoot a music video for our friend Kate's band, Basement Babies. It'll be a little minute before we can edit it, but here are some behind-the-scenes sneak peaks.


The girls of Basement Babies



Monday, October 10, 2011

City of Angels


I took a brief dip in Los Angeles. This is a photo of my friend Kate.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Leaving rope burns, reddish ruse

The city I cover has spent the year draining one of its two reservoirs so that it can repair a pipe. Right now, the 20,000-acre-feet reservoir is nearly dry, so the water department invited me up to "see the exposed glory hole."

The reservoir still has some water in places, though most of it is just exposed clay that has been hiding under 120 feet of water for more than a decade. Workers even found an old road still in tact.

Pardon my excesses here.











If you are still curious beyond this large amount of photos, there are more in My Flickr album.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Every chorus was your name

Every chorus was your name

No day is safe from news of you

no day is safe from news of you.
walking around africa, maybe, but thinking of me.

These pictures are supposed to be looked at while hearing this song

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tap on your windowpane

Things are getting a little self-referential in here. One last swoop around --