Although it’s early May and it’s not quite noon yet, it’s already blisteringly hot.
In a second floor room of a run-down Holiday Inn worn thin by too many spring-breakers from the snowy north and rock bands touring the southern circuit, Tom twists in a shabby, hard arm-chair wedged into the corner of the room. He fingers the dials on his Canon TX SLR camera.
The two double-beds in the room have had their mattresses moved off the box springs and placed on the floor to make 4 double beds.
Enough room for six, rather large, African-American men and one skinny, soon-to-be-diabetic, 20-year-old white man to sleep.
Outside, the Florida sun bakes the stairwell, parking lot and the beach beyond. It must be 95 degrees with 95% humidity out there.
Inside the room, it’s worse. Continue reading
I’m so easily distracted.
I have too many things that I’m trying to do or learn how to do at any given time. I get wrapped up in one thing and then something else shiny catches my eye and I’m off.
I could list a ton of things here (commuting, working full-time, learning Flash, learning Action Script, polishing my Photoshop skills, playing guitar, going to the gym, blogging, trying to finish my movie on Auschwitz, that I have to learn Final Cut to do, shooting photos, shooting video … sleeping) but I won’t.
So I started posting photos on Flickr just over a year ago.
At first I posted one or two then weeks would go by before I would even visit the site.
Sometimes when I look at dogs I wonder, what are they thinking?
I actually think that it doesn’t take long for them, once they live with us, to understand our language.
They don’t just get the intonation and emphasis of a “SIT” or a “SPEAK.” I think they actually comprehend everything that we say. They sit across the room, seemingly minding their own business as we humans communicate with each other on such a high level. They just choose to ignore most of what we say because, well it bores them.
Next time you’re in the room with your dog or a dog friend, try carrying on a regular conversation about politics or religion or some other mindless human
topic with him. I’ll bet you a dollar he’ll look at you for a minute and then lay down and put his head on his paws.
This is proof that dogs are bored with human dialogue.
Then after he’s been laying there for a while, ignoring you and any other humans in the room that you may be chatting with, and while watching him closely, casually throw in a phrase about another dog he knows or the neighbors cat or … a cookie!
Watch the eyebrows. They’re a dead giveaway.
I’m not that old, yet.
I’m not ready to retire or something but I am pretty tired.
I’m tired of commuting to Los freaking Angeles, something I’ve been doing for the past 13 years.
I’m tired of sprinting around in squeaky wheel but never actually getting to any meaningful destination, like a rat in a cage.
That’s why Linda and I decided to visit Portland, again.
We did it to sort of reactivate our aspiration to get out of Dodge and land somewhere where we can watch grass grow. Somewhere where trees grow right out in the open. Somewhere where gentle rain falls to Earth with some regularity.
We’ve pretty much decided that place is Oregon.
During this last visit somebody mentioned that a little town outside of Portland called Silverton might just meet our emotional requirements and not turn us into alcoholic troglodytes who no longer see a need to bathe.
When we got there we found this little piece of nirvana tucked into a green valley along a clean, strong river. Except for the fact that the outside world (money-grubbing developers) had somewhat recently discovered the place and were in the process of building new neighborhoods where nothing but forest once stood.
We drove around some of these new neighborhoods and eventually walked into an open house in a brand-new, never-been-lived-in house.
The real estate agent there had lived in Silverton since at least the 1960s. She told us she lives up on the hill with 10 acres of land.
She then began to rattle off for us some history of the developments in the town over the past several decades. She told us the names of the builders who built homes there. She told us what they looked like, their mannerisms and how much hair grew out of their ears. She did all this while drawing maps on the back of a flyer and telling us where we should go to find homes that fit our idyllic criteria. Older house, mature neighborhood, close to town with some room to breathe.
She talked so fast that even the maps she was drawing for us made no sense whatsoever once we drove away.
But we did manage to find a few of the properties that she described to us.
One was the house above.
She told us that this house was not for sale, yet. She said the current owners were looking for another place to live and when they did, they would put this house on the market.
When we turned the corner and saw it I looked at Linda and said, “This is the house where I will die.”
Funny, I didn’t say that this was the house where I would like to die or wanted to die, I said that this was the house where I WILL die.
For some unknown and likely deep, disturbed psychological reason, I loved this house so much that I had to drive by it again and again.
I loved it so much that when the idea that maybe we would all drive back out to Silverton again the following day I was all over it.
It felt kind of like there might be a possibility, that by driving out to Silverton, I might have a chance to see a secret lover.
This time we parked the car and I got out and walked around it from one corner to the next discretely taking pictures.
It’s sort of irrational but I look at this house and I see the entire cycle of life. It was built around 1920 and by it’s age alone I know that peoples lives changed in there.
Babies were born in there. Parents or grandparents died in there. Families evolved in there. Kids grew up and went off the college or at least to work in some lumber mill.
In the yard stands a powerful conifer, probably 100 years old and 100 feet tall along with some new, young, athletic trees, wise old shrubbery and a rich, determined lawn.
The house has a life of it’s own, a spirit that I could detect from the interior of a Honda Accord parked across the street.
And from across the street that spirit knew my name and it sang to me.
In a loud but beautiful voice, in concert and perfect harmony with the big, old tree and the young athletic trees and the wise shrubbery and the fine lawn it sang just one thing.
All it sang was, “I’ve been waiting for you. You’re home now.”
Two hundred sixty weeks.
One thousand eight hundred twenty five days.
That sounds like a long period of time.
One second longer…Yes, that’s a long time. It feels like a particularly long time to me since that is exactly the amount of time that I’ve been sending a large sum of money, by check or electronic transfer, every month to General Motors Acceptance Corporation which shall henceforth be designated GMAC.
The large sum of money I’m referring to, the amount of which shall not be revealed here but trust me is not a hundred or two hundred or three hundred hard-earned American dollars, but significantly more than that, is my car payment.
For the past one thousand eight hundred and twenty five days I’ve been sweating behind a plow, working my fingers to the bone, breaking my veritable back to scrape together enough change to make that payment every month, and still be able to eat.
I spell that number out instead of expressing it numerically because it’s seems longer and thereby articulates the period more the way it actually feels, which is more like a prison sentence than the terms of a loan. Continue reading