I'm putting this off. I'm getting distracted. I turn my head every time the door opens. My article is due, not yet crafted. Unfocused, I feel I'm on opium.

Oh dear, oh my. I've been here for five hours but still I haven't left the seat I'm on. My hand touches a bug lamp with flowers. I look back at my doc, haven't begun. It's blank, white and the cursor, well, it blinks.

What I've got is much worse than fucking block even though that is what everyone thinks. I flex and crack back, I adjust my cock.

Getting comfortable is all in the heart. To finish really you just have to start.


Unsure of the future, of course I am
I don't know what'll happen how can I?
All I know is that the past is damned
I'll tell you all about it, let me try

I've loved before and others have loved me
some day, some day, some day, why not today?
I love you right now, hope that you can see
The past and the present are all I say

What's left, what's here are all those me-pieces
Ones created and ones you've helped create
so should I say more when we meet faces
should we enjoy time before it's too late?

don't know, don't know, don't know, we'll wait and see
what happens after now is all fantasy


Up half the night with whiskey and wonder
It's the phone that knows I have a date today
Head hurts, belly aches, I feel like murder
I can't get up right yet, I'm not ready

Before I levitate I consider
the following: my days are full, fair, fast
living so I may have made a blunder
one or two or three, it's anyone's guess

A lot of them I have to keep inside
Not that I'm ashamed, but they'd make you angry
without you around I just don't confide
keeping things in ain't all that bad, Baby

I get up, make my way to the shower
try to wash away my sins for an hour


To see, I lift and crank my head upright
concerned with time, I start to calculate
I feel tired; think, did I sleep last night?
Still, today I gots to work and can't be late

I open my door, it's dark and cold out
It's like I'm the only one that's at home
the paperboy did miss us on his route
I turn on the heat and the light that's shown

I gather to wash: my clothes and dishes
Got to get it all done before I leave
never all, though, my dearest of my wishes
Still, I fold pant legs, boxer shorts and sleeves

Then, when someone comes home new life comes to
this constant feeling of things yet-to-do


I overheard a girl at the coffee shop. She was convincing a musician to makeover his myspace page. Maybe it was her boyfriend. They discussed why they were good together, better than a couple-friends of theirs. And also this: she was acting like a life coach, an interior designer of sorts for his electronic world, creating his music image online. You should be more mod than goth, she said. Maybe that is what made them a good team: they work well together on their web images.

But then I got to thinking that maybe it would be a good idea for a girl like that to go into business. She could coach people into what's on their myspace, how what they write and the friends that are in their top five, how that makes them look. What movies they select, photos they display, skins they plaster on their background, she could do all that. And then when people look (for me, say) on myspace (well, not me I'm not there) then they'll want to be a friend. Request only the best.

Outside of myspace, there are more digital devices to give advice about. What your ringtone is says a lot about who you are. Together, you and this girl could select the one that would fit your new image. The right people will start to call you if the right ring rings when they do. Hey, that has a ring to it.

What she could for you, too, is pick what bands, what songs play in your ipod. Just in case you are ever asked what you are listening to (I never am), she could make sure that the right song projects how you should look. I'm convinced we all need someone who will make us over musically. Next, she could come into your car and select your presets.

While she's at it she should tell you what to read. Not because she's read it or knows it's good but because of what it'll look like on the bus or at the coffee shop when you have the newest hardcover or that well-worn classic. The author that's in will make you (I don't read) look smart but not too smart. You wouldn't want to appear to be able to read a book you know nothing about, or can't talk about, maybe like Kant.

In the meantime I'll just make up my own mind. I'll read all I can, listen to the music I have. I'll leave my phone on vibrate because I like it when people don't look at me or pay attention to who I'm not.


Sometimes I'm not even paying attention when I cross the street. I could get him by a car or a bike. I stand and watch trucks go by – they're so big. They would hit me, I imagine, run right over me, crush me to death.

I wonder if I would die instantly or if there would be pain. I wonder if I would cry out and what and who's name(s). I wonder who would watch and who would stop and help if anybody.

I've been thinking that I'll grow old – but not that old. I wonder what I'll die of or if someone will be there with me. I wonder if I'll get ill and of what. I wonder if there'll be an accident, someone else's or my own. I wonder if it will be on purpose.

Right now I wonder how much longer I'll live. I wonder if I live longer if I'll get to do what I really want to do, if I'll get promoted, published, married.

I wonder sometimes if I'll have kids. If I'll move out of this city. If I'll change my address, my phone number, my email address. I wonder who will call, write, send me text message.

I've been wondering if I will travel like I once did. If I'll go somewhere I've never been. I wonder if I'll get a car or if I'll drive again. If I'll get another driver's license, another pair of shoes, a new pair of jeans, a new shirt.

I wonder what book I'll read next. What band I'll get into, what kind of person I'll meet next, or who I'll get close to, connect with.

I've been wondering if I'll ever see again the ones I've loved before. I wonder if I'll fall in love with them, again. If it will be like it was. If I'll feel like I did or different or nothing at all.

I don't want to die. I'm not going to harm myself. I want to love the one I'm with. Sure, I want to do better, be stronger, faster, smarter. So why do I think of such things while I'm waiting for the bus?


I saw something in Parade magazine in this Sunday's paper that led me to Union Station. The story “Can We Save Our Trains?” referenced that with the rise in gas prices, the constant plane delays, and with the railroad infrastructure already existing in our country it's nonsensical not to have a better train system in the United States. The story suggests that we as Americans are behind other countries like France and Spain, Germany and Japan in our development. And that they are better than us because they understand mass transit is the answer to our energy crisis.

While the solution to the U.S.'s problem has more than something to do with federal funding and better technology, my reaction to this like like most news is fueled with frustration: Why couldn't we have done something before it got this bad? My bafflement after reading the article got me thinking. Mass transit, that’s what Portland's all about. More precisely I wanted to know what's going on at the 100-year old Union Station that’s in the Pearl District? So, I went there with no real agenda. I was just curious to see what was going on.

When I got there I found out: not much. I went to the station in the middle of a week day, and there was no rushing for the next train. There were no trains at all that I could see. I saw no lines when I looked at the Amtrak ticket counter at the east end of the station. A handful of people were scattered on the large slabs of wooden pews that make up the station's main hall. I sat down with them, admired the marble walls and floor; it’s really quite a charming building. I began to think of things.

I've been on an Amtrak train here at Union Station exactly twice. Once, I had to come back from Seattle because my car broke down there. I got off the train here and was picked up by my friend Steve late at night. The other time, two years later, I went the other direction, south from here to visit my girlfriend who is living and going to school in Eugene. And while the former trip changed my life (two years later and I still don't have a car to drive), the latter was a more pleasant experienced even though the trained was delayed to leave Portland and stopped soon after it left for an hour – dead on its tracks, you could say – and I ended up getting to Eugene two hours after I was supposed to.

After taking some notes on my surroundings I stood up went to the waiting room. I saw a few more waiting passengers. One person was in line at the Korean-owned convenience store. I stood behind her and bought a large coffee for myself. This, the only store in the station, is a store is just like any other convenience store save for the various train trinkets and souvenirs. The Asian woman behind the counter was nice enough. She gave me a cup to fill for a dollar fifty. I put 16 onces of the gas-station coffee and a splash of the milk they had in my cup and put a lid on it.

Outside the store I noticed a middle-aged man staring at a three-panel poster made up of yellow tinted photographs. I looked around and noticed a theme. The collection
of art in the waiting room is of the outdoors and is comprised of scenes entitled: “Mount Shasta Reflection,” “In Lake Bishop Creek,” “Bryce Canyon,” “Pinnacle Peak,” “Cape Sebastian,” “Gun Flint Trail,” “Jefferey Pine” and “Mt. Hood Sunset.” These posters, along with two historic images of Union Station (photographers unknown) are what decorate the station. I sat again on one of the benches and picked up newspaper from the next bench. I read the sports section. I flipped through the classifieds and pulled out the crossword puzzle and read some of the clues. An Amtrck attendant walked by me to assist a wheelchair ridden traveler with her baggage. Attentive, he picked up the sections of the newspaper that weren't in my hand and asked me if I was done with them. I was, said. I read a few more clues and drank my coffee. I was waiting for a train I wasn't going to get on. Also, I didn’t see anyone I wanted to talk to.

After finishing my coffee and losing interest in the crossword, I looked at the giant clock on the eastern wall of the hall, and then my cell phone to double check the time. My phone said it was 1:35 p.m. but I noticed the station's main interior clock was an hour ahead. The staion had not observed Daylight Savings Time that had occurred two days prior. I wondered who's job it is to set the clock at the station. And I thought to ask, but was in one of those moods where my tone would come across as a complaint no matter how I'd say it. So I held my tongue. To me, though, it seems not having the correct time at the train station is one of the things that's holding this country back.

I began to wonder, what would it be like if I were a foreigner in this country? At in this station for the first time? If I was someone from one of the rail-advanced countries, say like Spain or France, Germany or Japan and I got here, and, ready to leave the station, I wondered what I would do, what I would see and where I would go. Which direction would I head now that I was off the train.

I looked at my phone's time and then the clock on the wall and nodded to myself as I put my empty coffee cup in the trash can and I began walking – I'm not going to stop. I make it a rule: I'm going to let the crosswalks dictate where I go. I'm a foreigner, I imagine. The signals on the boxes at intersections are all that make sense. I interpret what the white man walking means, what the red hand means: Walk. Don't walk. I decided I would follow this rule as a foreigner might do after walking away from Union Station, and this is what happened.

Union Station is on sixth street. There's a bunch of construction going on here but it’s not that loud. With the development of the new MAX line, set to be completed in 2009, this railroad station, this block is going to be a different place in the near future. I read an article weeks back that indicated an indoor public market that will straddle the station I was just in. Even if that doesn't happen it's going to be different soon, that's obvious to me. Now, though, there are few businesses here and as I'm walking past the Greyhound station, south on 6th, I wonder why there's nothing here yet. Construction.

My first crosswalk is at 6th and Glisan. That's where Harvey's Comedy Club is. I think of the time I went there with a girl I dated. After we broke up. The new green line will go here and there are empty shops that have yellow page phone books in yellow plastic bags at doorsteps to doors that don't open. I pass the Biltmore Hotel, apartments for low income people. Robert “R.J.” Anheier lived there for eight years until his body was found a few blocks away. Anheier worked at Sisters of the Road, up the street to pay his rent. He collapsed and died this past spring and was unclaimed by anyone. He was thought to be homeless. His body was then donated to Oregon Health Sciences University. I think of the homeless with night jobs and with no place to sleep during the day except parks and benches.

I come to my first intersection with a signal. I don't know what street it is, it's not marked. I get the red hand and turn right 90 degrees – I'm on the east side of the street – and wait for the hand to turn to the white man walking. It does. So, now I'm going up or west on what I see is NW Everett. I pass the Pony Club, which is an art studio and shop and its displaying Dia De Los Muertos skeletons. I pass a place called the Wandering Gypsy. Like me, I think as I walk for no reason except to write down what I see.

The first sign that reads Pearl District is on Broadway, which is equivalent to 7th. After Broadway, on Everett I'm at the North Park Blocks. The street that is on west side of the park called Park, which has dual meaning – cars are parked on Park. There are some bums sleeping in the the grass of the park, maybe night workers I think. It's a nice day for a nap in the park, warm and not raining. I walk on by.

The Pearl gets nice around 9th and on10th I get the green, so I'm still going up or west on Everett. I see construction up ahead on the corner of 12th but I keep walking – normally, I would have crossed – because this is the rule I made. When I get to the intersection I can't go forward so I look to the other direction (left) and eventually I get the man so go south on 13th. I'm off of Everett as I pass the Everett Street Bistro. I notice that the red hand starts blinking before I even cross the street; it's impossible to cross comfortably, I think.

I see “DO NOT ENTER" signs on 12th, it's one of those one ways. I see stores that are part of the new Pearl: The North Face, P.F. Chang's and Whole Foods. Some places I've never heard of like an African import boutique called Swahili's. I keep on walking past Couch (pronounced cooch) and I pass Disel, a place that sells bluejeans for hundreds of dollars, and Henry's brew pub for which these blocks are named The Brewery Blocks.

When I get to Burnside the white man man changes to a blinking red hand, and I wait for the go-ahead from the guy going the other way before I cross 12th street. I'm going up West Burnside instead of across it. I see sights I recognize: the Annex, which is a McMenamins basement bar on my left and across the street. In front of me there's a man in a hat waiting for the No. 20 or Burnside bus. On the corner of 13th there's an Everyday Music I walk by before I come to the stop light on 14th. The signal turns to walk the other direction before the one in front of me so I cross West Burnside; I'm on 14th.

I'm writing down my path and walking it across Burnside while someone is trying to turn right right in front of me, the opposite direction I'm walking. I notice them but not much else.

This is where the Crystal Ballroom is. I know that from memory, and my roommate Barry works here as a security guard. He recently told me he watched Portland Trailblazers rookie Greg Oden drinking a whiskey here even though his underage. There's a sign, a poster on the door I read as I walk by. The Decemberists shows on December 5, 6, and 7 have been canceled. Modest Mouse did the same thing at Edgefield when they were working on an album that was behind schedule the summer before last. I wonder if that’s what’s happening to the Decemberists. Or something else.

After that block I cross the street, still going straight. A group of four people, all smoking cigarettes, walk in front of me from the block they were on, Alder. They are in pairs and the first pair, a black guy talking to an older white woman, notice I'm behind them and he says in a nice voice, “Sorry, go head,” and they sidestep left and out of my way. There is some room between them and the couple in front of me. I decide to follow them at their pace. I'll only pass if they notice me and not rush ahead (I'm not going anywhere in particular, so I don't have a particular time to get there). They do slow down and move towards the left side of the sidewalk, and so I pass without a struggle.

From 14th I'm standing at the corner of Morrison, to the right of me and below is the 405. I turn 90 degrees and, when I get the signal I go up Morrison and across the overpass, I'm parallel to the MAX line. Across the street from me is the Morrison Plaza. A large Rose mural is painted on that building, along with an American flag and the caption “Freedom.” On my side of the street is Webb Plaza. I go up Morrison to 15th. The sun is shinning and I'm hot and starting to sweat under my coat and cotton sweater. It's hotter than I thought it'd be. I also have to urinate at this point but I don't want to stop, so I try not to think about it. Instead, I look around to distract myself and do so by noticing the Scottish Rite Freemason building, which is quite impressive, large. On my side of the street another building called Artists Rep. I don't know what this is and do not investigate. Instead I keep walking.

I cross 16th and now walk by the Commodore building. There is a diner at the ground level and apartments above where people are finishing a late lunch. One of my first friends in Portland, Ben Chapel, lived in one of the studios in this building with his brother Jed. I notice the fall leaves and a sandwich board sign on the corner of 17th for Rexpost video rental. This is the intersection where the red and blue MAX lines stop and turn from going east west (downtown) to north south. It happens here near PGE Park. And the No. 15 Trimet bus passes me by.

I get to the intersection of Morrison and 18th. I'm looking at the stadium, now. Next to me is Rack Attack, across the street I spot a mask sculpture in front of the stadium that hosts the Portland Beavers (baseball), the Portland Timbers (soccer), and the Vikings, Portland State University's football team. I wait for a moment. All the lights are red. I turn my head back and forth: solid red hands. Finally, the light to my left changes and I cross left across Morrison and I cross the MAX lines after looking every direction. On the sidewalk in front of me a small dog walks off the leash with a woman in a wheelchair. I notice large newspapers on the building to the left of me and realize this is the Oregonian building where they print the paper.

I cross Taylor after that and to my left is Bull Pen, a sports bar. For the first time since I left the train station I look at my phone to see what time it is. It's 2:02 p.m.

At Salmon I wait for the light to change and anticipate going straight. I think it's that light's turn. But I'm wrong and the light changes going the other way first, across 18th. I think it has something to do with the MAX track as I cross. I'm going up Salmon, past the Multnomah Athletic Club. Man alive, I have to piss, I think. Salmon past 18th is a steep slope and I'm getting worried that there won't be any crosswalk signals up here and I'll walk all the way up to Washington Park. I think of the public bathroom there and that seems to make me want to piss more and climb this hill less. Why didn't I go at the train station before I left? I don't know. It's that large coffee. I look across the street and see a Lutheran Church with a sign that says, “Everyone Welcome.” It's really an uphill hike, I wrote and now type.

I look down and notice a scuff on my new white shoes. It doesn’t really anger me. I look up and notice a sign for a bus stop. Buss 63 and 51 stop here. I pass the Portland Towers and cross a street. A car isn't looking or doesn't see me and turns right right in front of me after I have stepped off the curb. It almost hits me. Hit by a car, I write down crossing the street with my head down. I see a mailman or just a man with mail in a USPS sweater. I know people wear those. I see a sign for Scenic Drive.

I remember crosswalks, the reason I've gotten here and know there won't be any up here--I've been here before. The street I'm on turns right without an intersection. I'm on King and walking downhill towards West Burnside away from the Scenic sign. The corner has a secluded park. A yard, I notice, there's a fence. On my right is a house with a for sale sign. Across the street is King Towner. At 840 King is the Washington Park Inn. Across from those the Park Lane Suites. At 806 King there's a barking dog looking up from his fenced yard at nothing at all in the Washington Park Inn parking lot. In front of me walks a man in a large gray jacket. He turns down an alley and shuffles away from me to my right.

I look up and notice a recognizable sign, the Volvo sign on West Burnside and King. I'm back at Burnside and at a stop sign. In front of me is busy Burnside. There are no crosswalks. I don't know what to do and wonder if I should keep doing this. I look up Burnside and see a Goodwill and Ringside steak restaurant. I decide I'll at least just walk down Burnside, and I cross to the other side when there's a break in traffic. There's a Wells Fargo and a Walgreen's that I pass. I walk down Burnside past Taco Bell, Panda Express and a McDonald's. As I cross the streets 21st, 20th, then 19th. I notice the crosswalks but don't pay attention to what they tell me to do. I'm now paying attention to cars and not the flashing signs. If I was waiting for the lights to turn I'd be standing around a lot on Burnside. I really have to use the bathroom.

I can't cross the 405 from my side of the street so have to cross over Burnside again. I wait awhile to do so. I cross and then cross the overpass.
Sill on Burnside I'm at 14th again, in font of the Crystal Ballroom. I notice something that I didn't notice the first time I past by here, a ghost bike. It was here nineteen year old Tracy Sparling died less than a month ago when a cement truck turned right and ran right over her. A white spray-painted bicycle is chained here along with some tissue paper flowers in a makeshift memorial that makes a statement. Everyone who's lived in Portland for sometime has recognized these statements, these tributes to the dead.

I realize I wouldn't know the term ghost bike if I was a foreigner in this town. I would learn it if I spent enough time here, tough, I would start notice them more. I would come to realize that intersections even with crosswalks and lights are all around but that some people just don't pay attention to the obvious.

The man in the mechanical wheelchair

I clock out of work at 10:55 p.m. because it's the earliest I can. I don't feel bad about doing so because I got to work early. I feel a little bad about doing so because I took a longer-than-normal dinner break to watch the Red Sox win the World Series. But still, I'm out of work on Sunday night and walking to the bus stop. It doesn't make a difference when I leave my workplace on 10th and Burnside so long as I'm at the bus stop at Couch and 4th by :21 after the hour, so leaving work at five til is slightly nonsensical but I don't want to be there any more and don't have to so I leave.

To kill 26 minutes I make a phone call. I don't have much to say except to say that I left work and that I'm walking to the bus stop, which you know but the person on the other end of the line didn't but figured out because I was calling and then said so. The call took up maybe four minutes but could have taken six or seven and by then I've walked the six blocks (city blocks are super-short in Portland) and it's just after 11 p.m.

I'm not listening to my headphones this night, which I usually do but am not because my ipod wasn't charged when I left for work, and anyhow I brought a book and don't really need both but often have. This night, however, I don't have the buds in my ears and am exposed to the sounds of Chinatown, a colorful and vibrant part of Portland. It's here you can watch prostitution transactions but more likely drugs deals especially between the blocks of Park and 4th, which is where I'm walking through, all set to wait the 20-some minutes for the bus.

A man in a mechanical wheelchair calls my attention. He wants to know if I have a cigarette and I tell him I don't smoke. He mumbles about how proud he is of me. This is something he's said before. He's mumbling a script of lines he knows and no longer puts much feeling into, I can tell. He's just trying to get to the next part of his monologue which is that he wants money from me. I don't normally give change out because I'm not a rich man and it's hard choose these days who deserves it more than others so I just don't -- most days I don't even carry change around. Tonight, I know I have two quarters in my pocket because I didn't have enough to get a snack out of the vending machine at work, and so I offer the man in the mechanical wheelchair the fifty cents, telling him that's what I have. I put the two coins in his black, rough paw and before I pull my hand back he asks me for a dollar fifty. I told him that was all I had and turn my back to wait for the bus a half block away and thinking this is why I don't give out change.

I'm reading my trade paperback at the bus stop and every paragraph or so I look up to see the man in the mechanical wheelchair saying something to passerbyers who don't pay him much attention. I don't even get done with two pages before he cranes his next around and calls out to me, "Hey man." I look up but don't take an immediate advance until he calls one or two more times and holds up that black paw and physically signals that he needs something.

When I approach carefully he doesn't say anything I can understand. He's mumbling and I turn my head so my hear is at least facing him and push my neck forward. My body is still a few feet back but my attention is closer. I still can't understand him. He stops mumbling and makes this sound with his mechanical wheelchair:

Click, click. Click, click.

Without explaining it to me it is apparent that he's got no more juice for his electronic-powered wheelchair. He mumbles something I do understand about a cord in the back of his chai, in a pouch, which I locate and pull out and to show him that I understand. What I don't immediately understand is where exactly he wants me to plug in this three-pronged cord. And he doesn't either. But mumbles how I should wheel him to a bar that's on this block, just on the other side of my bus stop.

The bar is Pala and on Friday nights when I'm waiting for the bus after work I notice well dressed people coming and going from it, waiting to stand in this establishment for a ten-dollar cocktail. I've never been in but the man in the mechanical wheelchair says he's charged there before, that if I wheel him over there he'll be able to do it. He motions to the back wheels and it's clear I have to pull a lever on one side and then the other to put the chair from its electronic operation into the free-wheeling motion. It's easy to do so and in no time, I have the mechanical chair's headrest in my hands and have control of the chair and of this man's movement.

It's Sunday, however, and Pala isn't open. There's a gate that's closed in front the two of us. The man in the mechanical chair and I stare at the situation for some time. I notice hanging behind the locked gate is a power strip. The strip hangs up the wall some 9 feel and plugged into it are two strands of Christmas lights. I wonder briefly if I can reach it, if the Christmas lights would come unplugged, if the power strip would be low enough for the wheelchair's plug to reach, if there is even power flowing into the power strip (The Christmas lights are not on). I pull on the gate. It's locked for sure but there's a bit of a gap. I suppose I could wedge myself between the wall and the gate. I could reach for this power strip. This could be possible. I'm looking for a security camera. I see a sign about illegal parking. I wonder what time it is and if my bus will get here soon. I look and it's only 12 after. I have eight or nine minutes.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to get the strip," I tell the man in the mechanical wheelchair. He mumbles something I make out to be: Don't leave me here, man.

So I survey the intersection we've come from. There's a construction site across the street and a bar that's open named Dixie opposite us, which I've never been in but have heard they have a mechanical bull like the one in Urban Cowboy, which I don't find ironic until now, having written the phrase "man it a mechanical wheelchair" now a half dozen or more times.

I push the man in the mechanical wheelchair diagonally across the street but in doing so his paralyzed leg, extended, gets caught up in our descent of the curb's ramp and his left shoe comes off. I'm going to have to stop and pick up the man's shoe and I have to put it one his foot because he sure as hell can't do it. I put the tied shoe over his toes and jack the heel of the shoe up and onto his feelingless foot. I wedge it on and the man wants me to lift his leg so it's perched onto the chair's footrest. His leg is stiff and I try bending the the knee. Push as hard as you can, the man says, I can't feel shit. So I do and he adjusts himself and I'm looking at him, really noticing his state: This man's wearing blue sweatpants and they are damp. I have no doubt that he's pissed himself, he reeks of it.

We passed Dixie to another bar that I have been in exactly once called the Tube. What you should know about the Tube is that it doesn't get more hipster than the Tube and that there is some sort of musical performance this night and a guy standing outside who is too hip for his own good. Still, I push the man in the mechanical chair up to the Tube and before I say anything to the guy at the door he's shaking his head "no." He's got one of those sideways smirks I hate -- he's smirking at me and the sucker I've become, pushing around this man in the mechanical wheelchair. I tell him the story: All this guy needs is an outlet so he can plug his chair's cord into for a little while. "I don't know," the guy says. "You don't know anything?" I respond because I'm eager at this point to leave this man in the mechanical chair plugged in somewhere so he can zip around where ever his black paw directs. "Yeah, I don't know anything," the fucking hipster with the smirk says a little too sarcastically.

The man in the mechanical wheelchair asks him if he at leasts has a cigarette he could buy off him. He gets one and the next guy that walks out of the Tube lights it for him. I don't know what to do at this point because the man in the mechanical wheelchair has what he originally wanted from me, a smoke. I ask him what else I could possibly do for him and he mumbles something I understand to be that he needs to get in there. There's no way they are going to let this guy in the bar and I tell him that. He says I should just give him thirteen dollars. What?

Click, click. Click, click.

And he says nothing else. I need to catch my bus, so I walk back to the intersection and to the construction site. There's an extension cord behind a temporary fence, which has on it a reward sign claiming money for turning in wokers who don't wear hardhats. I'm still looking for ways to help this man, the man in the mechanical wheelchair. I've left him in front of the Tube, he's somebody else's problem. I didn't really help but with my two quarters he's bought a cigarette and maybe another. He'll be temporary subdued down here in Chinatown but with no juice for his wheelchair. I wonder what he did to deserve this.

I get on the bus and the bus passes the scene. Someone has wheeled him against the wall. He's out of the way, smoking his cigarette down to the filter and wondering who will help him get to an outlet, who won't abandon him like I did.

Dear reader,

Somehow you've found me and that's great. I mean it. Just not with exclamation points, or marks if you prefer. You are reading this because you've come here before and for some reason decided to check back in again. Maybe you've RSS-fed this site, which I've heard about but no little about.

I think you should know that I've lost contact with many people of my past and that this site is how they might find out about my doings. Maybe that's you. I think in some way's we've all gone through some turbulent times as of late. And by as of late I mean right now, a culmination of the time so far.

At points we might have lost purpose. We might not have been sure what the purpose was. Maybe we've given up in some ways. Settled with who we are, who we listen, talk to. We've grown comfortable with the lives we have. They are, after all, ours.

Some of us have shut others out from our immediate circle. We don't call or send care packages nearly enough. It didn't occur all at once, or maybe it did -- some of us don't forget, some would rather forget things. But what's lost in not communicating is everything we once had and the chance for anything we might have again.

There are reasons for how it got this way: it's easier to not talk and at the the same time hard to get back to get back in touch. We lose numbers or haven't dialed them in too long a time, so it's hard to do so. And, we don't have time, none of us. We make excuses. We factor in time zones, work hours, and the significant others of others.


Next month I will have been in Portland for three years. I'll also turn 28-years old. Or 28-years-young if you want to put it in that middle-aged-woman (truth too trite to say) way. Moving here I left behind a previous life to reinvent myself in this new environment. In many ways I've done that, but I have left behind who I once was. Part of that has been meeting new people. Allowing them into my life. In doing so I've lost contact with the old people, not seeing or visiting with friends and family I've had. Fortunately, they haven't died (yet), they're just (as I quote from the Sapranos, even though I never watched) "dead to me." But not really. Just a phone call away. Or email. Or, let me look for my address book, letter.

As I get ready to turn another year older I can't help to think about who I was. That person "I", the "me" back then. Who was that character who called himself "Kit" then "Carson"? Who was he who left his hometown? Who stopped calling people?

But I know better now than ever who I am.

So, If you are looking for something to get me for my birthday you can get a hold of me. Talk to me. Email me or write me a letter. Tell me who you are, and let us catch up. We'll remind each other of who we once were.

I'm selfish, of course, I'm asking this of you. But you know what? If this is enough, reading what I've written on this blog since I've moved to Portland and you'd rather not contact me, you don't have to -- I won't know and you'll rest in my memory folder labeled "then" -- but maybe this will inspire you to contact someone else: a former girlfriend or boyfriend, a father, a mom, a brother or sister, a grandmother, a grandfather (RIP), a cousin, an uncle, a friend, a closer being who you've been thinking of calling but have not in a long time. When you were someone else.

First-person eye

I was at Reynolds Optical replacing my eyeglasses, when I started thinking about why I need glasses in the first place. Some time ago someone struck me with a stick, and now I’m thinking about what happened then, who this guy is now, and if he remembers what he did to me.

I didn't know his name until I ask my mother to riffle through files—mental and medical—and to search for the name of the kid responsible for my partial blindness. Surprisingly, she came up with a name indicated by our insurance company as the party responsible.
“But the claim is not against him,” Mom says. It was an accident.
I write down the name anyway, and take it to my computer. I go to Google and type in the last name in the query box, then the first name. I use quotations marks so the names come back together. I’m not having much luck. The search hits, and, even though the name is unique, there are others just like it. I go to My initial search is free and comes back with the name I’m looking for. For a fee the phone number and address(es) are offered. The reason I know this name is right is that the city is in the region I know he’s from. Relatives are listed as well as their ages. A name is linked to the name I have that’s close to mine in age and I figure that’s who I’m looking for. I had the name of the father; my insurance acknowledged the boy's guardian as being the party relieved of responsibility. I begin a new Peoplesearch for the guardian's son name that's close to mind in age and find more. I can’t afford to pay for specifics but with this name I’m directed to an alma mater, a filed patent registration, and a Toyota truck club blog posting. The blog posting is consistent with the location of the alma mater in the region I know he’s from, but it hasn’t been updated in years. But the person I’m looking for has an email address in his profile, which I pan over with my cursor and copy. I open my email account and compose a new message. I paste the email address in the “to” field.

In the summer of 1989, at Camp Chimney Spring on the first full day of camp I hiked into the woods with a group of boys I befriended at breakfast. We wandered along a road, and off the road we explored down into a ravine. One of us started throwing pine cones. The next thing: sides were picked and pine cones and sticks and dirt clods were being used as weapons. We were fighting. It wasn’t a serious fight. I think we were just trying to peg each other. No one hated. This was church camp.
Truce was called. I remember retreating. Walking up an embankment and heading back to the lodge, someone called something that made me turn around. I looked down at who was remaining when something hit me right in the face. Whatever hit me knocked me down. I remember being on the ground. I tried to open my eyes, but only my right eye let light in. I thought I couldn’t open my left eye, but I did. And I cried. I didn’t cry because of the pain--I was in shock--but from what one of the boys said aloud: Dude, your eyeball is bleeding. Tears mixed with blood. The boys were above me looking down in a scene I see in retrospect. I told them to get my mom. I was at camp; the boys didn’t know for sure how that was possible. But my mom came because she was the camp’s director.
The nearest town was an hour away. My mom drove me to the hospital there and I stayed the night. They next day, after CAT scans and dilation, the doctor told me my retina tore, that now I had a cataract, that there was permanent damage, and that I probably wouldn’t be able to see out of my left eye again. We went back to camp. Fellow campers were hiking and playing volleyball, while I remained alone in the infirmary wondering what a dark world it could be. Eventually, my grandparents picked me up and took me home.

I begin typing: “In 1989, at Camp Chimney Spring, I left camp because I was blinded. I was taken to the hospital, and then taken home by my grandma. You did this to me. ”
Sitting and staring at my screen, I highlight and cut. I’m looking at the blank body of the message yet-to-be-sent. The truth is I know little of this person other than his engineering skills and his 4x4 hobby. And though I haven’t spoken the individual since the morning of the accident now 18 years later (I'm not even certain we spoke then), I’m certain I have the right guy, and his email address in front of me. From this distance when I close my right eye and look at the computer screen, a dark spot covers a third of the screen. The periphery is grayish. I remove my finger from my right eyelid and let light back and begin typing.
“If this is the Justin M. that attended Camp Chimney Spring in the summer of 1989 keep reading,” I begin. “You are the 10-year-old who threw a stick that hit me in the eye; you are the reason I’m now buying eyeglasses. My name is Carson Smith, and you probably don’t remember me. I went by Kit back then. I’ve been mad at you for so long. Early in the camp week a group of us went into a ravine and started throwing sticks and pine cones and dirt clods at each other. We were messing around, really. “You were still at war after we called truce, though; you pegged me and knocked me down. You took away my perfect vision. You threw a stick or something that hit me in the face. It struck me in the eye. You blinded me but should know that I did get some of my vision back. I wear glasses now and it helps, but it’s not perfect. I’ll never forget you because being impaired made me depressed and vengeful. I was angry for a long time at you and at the situation. But I’m writing you this email because I know you didn’t mean it. It was an accident and not your fault. If you remember any of this or care you can write me back but don't have to. I understand. Okay Bye, Carson.”

I’ve had nine email addresses in my life. I currently check two: my school address and my yahoo account. One account from my undergrad college is forwarded to my yahoo. That leaves six addresses that I’ve given out that I do not check and which may no longer exist.
In my email message to Justin M. for fun I BCC my six former accounts. Four come back with mailer-daemon messages. The other two must have gone off into oblivion. I did not get a mailer-daemon message from Justin M.'s address. I’m not expecting him to pay for the glasses I’m buying, but I thought I should let him know I thought about him and what happened.
Far too often I think of someone from my past and do nothing about it. There, the memory rests. It doesn’t go anywhere and nothing happens. To expunge this from my mind I did an investigation and sent an email. One gets a satisfying feeling sending on an email that might just might wind up in a cyber black hole.

Press Release

For Immediate Release

October 4, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Powell's Books announced today that Carson Smith will begin his permanent schedule starting on Monday October 8.

Last month Smith was named a Generalist for the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. The contract agreement for the promotion weren't immediately released but were some have said that Smith's income would double, while others have suggested that the prestige alone is worth the new Generalist's weight, which has been reported to be upwards of 150 pounds.

"I've asked management to drop this ist and just call me General," Smith deadpans.

A General(ist) for those unaware has been called a "jack of all trades" by some that have coveted the position. Basically Smith will be responsible for all that goes on in the city-block bookstore. And while Smith refuses the attention that comes with the promotion, he's humbled by his new title and credits many in his recent and seemingly sudden escalation in the bookstore business.

"I certainly couldn't have done this without the support of my family," Smith said. "And by family I mean..."

The fact that Smith worked in the book industry for last three years, getting this promotion doesn't surprise many. Having heaved books for a corporate sinking ship that doesn't deserve blog type, Smith learned the book business by shelving, sorting, and most importantly reading.

His recent involvement in a small press, and that press' recent release of a book Smith worked on, along with his pursuit in a master's degree in publishing could all be credited for his well-padded resume and could have added to the talking points of what must have been a good job interview.

"Well, there was that," the modest Smith said.

Working full-time, while finishing his graduate work, Smith fits in a small writing session for this page. "Well, I've been doing this a while and people still seem to be interested for what ever reason. I'll try to do better. Now that I have a permanent schedule I'll be able to organize my time better.

Smith begins his permanent schedule Monday working 3-11 p.m. And can be reached through this blog on his off hours.

Mondays with Maury

My life is a cliche and here's a day. But first I'll say yesterday (fuck, I'm rhyming) was a strange one.

You have these days: they're all the same. Combine instances from several and put it all into one and you've got a pretty interesting dinner-table conversation, albeit fiction. But, if there was one interesting day of many you might want to write it down for yourself or for others to figure out that all the bland-full, typical days among your many, make it seem kind of unusual and sad. It puts your others in perspective and helps you realize what's important and what you should really be thankful for (ice-cream), or what you should really get pissed about (not the dirty dishes).

I continue to type by starting off asking the question: What day does your week start? (Since I am the only one here to answer that question.) I say Monday. While many continue to state that Sunday is the start of the week, I say Monday is the start of the work week.

Monday is where I begin.

I recently began a shaving schedule that puts the blade to my face exactly two times a week. I learned this from a profile of an online friend I have. Monday is a great day to shave-- Thursday's another. It really does mean it's time for business.

But I didn't shave this particular (Mon)day because Thursday I was sick and didn't work, nor did I shave.

I've been going on walks upon awakening. For my dog and to stretch my often aching body. What's helped has been the ipod I recently got in the mail. It's like my leash.

I take piss, put on shoes, put on ipod, plastic bag, leash, ChuckIt, and go--these are my weekdays!

Monday (yesterday, I guess, depending when you read this, depending also on how long this has been up) I woke up earlier than I wanted to to open the garage for M, who was riding her bike to work. My job (one of my jobs) is to close the door after she leaves (I'd like to think it makes her feel less bitter for having to wake up earlier than me and go to work).

I returned to bed, though (because like I said I wasn't ready to get up, so I didn't). I read a bit from this novel I checked out and fell back asleep for another hour. When I woke up I put on my shoes and set forth like I do and said I do.

Returning, I usually take the headphones out of my ears, wash my hands, and start boiling water for the power breakfast.

I made breakfast.

The following recipe was given to me by my brother: One cup oatmeal mixed in boiling water with one egg. In bowl mix oatmeal/egg concoction with walnuts, crasins, honey, and soy milk. Eat. When I had it this Monday, I put a dollop of peanut butter, which goes well with anything but especially oatmeal. I like to eat my breakfast in the company of Heidi, who I will feed after I am done, with a newspaper if I have one, or with Maury, who I like to watch and laugh at.

With my laughter I'm trying to wake up Barry, whose room borders the television room and who hates it when I watch Maury in the morning. And, it is the natural reaction to viewing paternal results coming in on national television--in most cases.

But Barry had left the house while I had left for my walk. So I sat alone, ate, fed Heidi and got ready for work(s).

On Mondays I ride my bike downtown, usually before 11 a.m. This begins my 12-hour workday, consisting of the two jobs I currently have.

My back, however, has been hurting recently so I've been riding the bus, which has helped (my back still hurts but I think it's getting better (others aren't so sure)). I realized I didn't have any money but managed to "find" some change.

Not eager to work but willing to find Barry, I walked by the coffee shop we often go together. This day he was there with another (if you can believe it) and I didn't like the looks of what was going on when I saw him there with his ex-girlfriend in the window, so I walked on by.

First, I go into the magazine, which is a monthly. The title of this magazine is two words the first word is the state I currently live in and the second rhymes with isness. I don't care for the content all the much but the "benefits" have been better than I expected and I seem to be learning how to type faster, clearer and more concise. I'm trying to finish work there (still am, I should be working right now). My last day is Thursday (I'm wondering right now if I'll shave that day, but probably won't and will start my schedule over on Monday next.)

I have to leave work at the magazine during the 5 o`clock hour to be at my other job by 6. The next five hours of my life will be spent in front of a computer, connected to a register, which has a scanner plugged into it for scanning barcodes of books for purchase.

I like to eat something (anything before this begins because I usually have had little more than coffee since my power breakfast. So, this afternoon/evening I go to Whole Foods, where I've almost died, and ate some soup, which I've almost choked on before, and listened to some Hip-Hop, which I've heard before but which keeps me company).

It's usually my routine to call M before this shift begins. But this evening I do not. I think about it but eat and listen and walk into work without making the call.

I've often zoned out doing this job. My mind, it's turning robotic like my body and mind are an extension of the computer itself. As if I am new hardware detected. I'll get a break at the nine `o clock hour and this is when I call M.

Her brother answers and says his sister (M) is in the hospital. And I think he's joking. He puts M on the line and I say, Why does your brother do that? as if he always has, you know, joked like this. She confirms in an almost-whimper that she wrecked her bike, that she's at OHSU, that she's a little out of it. Her shoulder has been dislocated, her face scraped, her teeth chipped/knocked out, I can't tell.

And gone is the thought that I should apologize for taking her quarters for the bus.

But here is the thought: I'm glad she's alright otherwise. I mean, we're talking--she can talk. She doesn't go further in the explanation of how this happened. She says her brother is there. I have two more hours to work.

When I call after my shift M is still at the hospital. She says she's getting out soon. I ride the bus for forty five minutes and get home and call her brother directly. He says sort of the same thing, that they'll be home soon, not to come.

They do arrive. About an hour later. And M is in a sling and her face has a scrape. And her leg is scraped. But she can walk on those legs and is coherent. And nothing seems wrong with her beautiful mind.

Good thing you were wearing that helmet we went shopping for yesterday, I say.

About that...

We continue to lose legends

Death by old age is the latest news craze--aside from Iraq bombings: TV star, War journalist, Jazz musician, Film director, Game Show curator dies age 82.

Do I care? You better believe I fucking care (I debated the placement of the word fucking here for emphasis). Reading celeb obits (or C-bits as I'm calling em) is one of my new favorite things. Not because I love the dead (that's gross) but because most times I have no idea who in the hell these people are (sorry, were).

I watched "Price is Right," who in their right mind didn't? But the face I associate with that show remains Bob Barker. (Not dead yet!) I read on, oh Merv Griffith also had something to do with it.

Guess what? Now, he's dead.
Also this week (and maybe last, it's been awhile since I've blogged):

Journalist Bill Deedes;
Jazz percussionist Max Roach;
Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto;
Society doyenne-philanthropist Brooke Astor;
World's oldest person Yone Minagawa;
Director Ingmar Bergman;
Singer-songwriter Lee Hazlewood.

Do I wish more people died? No, not really. But it sure is fun following the tracks of the people we love(d) to read about. All the way to the grave.

"These boots were made for walking."


A Carsonation Exclusive

If you were Carson, today

or, If you lived in Carsonation

or, For best results download schedule

or, Everything I do is stolen from what others do

or, My life is a cliche and here's a day

Try as I might to write first-person stories of my life, I never get the feeling you readers fully understand what an average Monday in my summer life might be like. So, in type, I break down my schedule.

And I start off by asking the question: What day does your week start? And since I am the only one here to answer that question, I will. Monday. While many continue to state that Sunday is the start of the week, I say Monday is the start of the work week. Better, I say Monday is the start of the school week. And since I'm one of the oldest schoolboys, Monday is where I begin.

Monday: I recently began a shaving schedule that puts the blade to my face exactly twice a week. I learned this from a profile of an online friend I have. Monday is a great day to shave. It really does mean it's time for school, or business. But shaving isn't typically how my Mondays begin. First I wake up with the sun. I don't always get up with the sun, but I do wake due to the fact that my window has no blinds, that the window faces east, and that my body had been programed to wake up at 4:30 for three straight years (I no longer do this). I've been going on walks upon awakening. For my dog and to stretch my often aching body. What's helped has been the ipod I recently got in the mail. Take piss, put on shoes, turn on pod, plastic bag, leash, ChuckIt, and go. Returning, I usually take the headphones out of my ears, wash my hands, and start boiling water for the power breakfast. The following meal was given to me by my brother: One cup oatmeal mixed in boiling water with one egg. In bowl mix oatmeal/egg concoction with walnuts, crasins, honey, and soy milk. Eat. When I had it, I put a dollop of peanut butter, which goes well with anything but especially oatmeal. I like to eat my breakfast in the company of Heidi, who I will feed after I am done, with a newspaper if I have one, or with Maury, who I like to watch and laugh at. With my laughter I'm trying to wake up Barry, whose room borders the television room and who hates it when I watch Maury in the morning. And, it is the natural reaction to viewing paternal results coming in on national television--in most cases. On Mondays I ride my bike downtown, usually before 11 a.m. This begins my 12-hour workday, consisting of the two jobs I currenly have. First, I go into the magazine, which is a monthly. The title of this magazine is two words the first word the state I currently live and the second rhymes with isness. I don't care for the content all the much but the "benefits" have been better than I expected and I seem to be learning how to type faster, clearer and more consise. By 6 p.m. I need to be at my other job, a bookstore which name rhymes with owls. The next five hours of my life are spent in front of a computer, connected to a register, which has a scanner plugged into it for scanning barcodes of books for purchase. I've often zoned out doing this, turning robotic like my body and mind are an extension of the computer itself. As if I am new hardware detected. I'll help close shop. Unlock my bike and ride back across the Willamette River to my house, arriving right before or right after 11:30 p.m.

Oh, the Roommates You'll Have

(and, The Stuff They'll Leave Behind.)

Steve Gehrke and I moved into my current residence two years ago this past March. Soon after his friend Nate joined us, filling the third bedroom.

Nate moved to Hawaii after that summer following a job lead. We let Matt (clearly, a mistake) move in because he needed a place to stay and we needed rent money. At the same time, Chuck, who just left Portland, moved into the garage because he had no other option and his $100 was a plus. This lasted the winter. (Though Matt lasted the Spring (painful), Chuck got at job at Freddy's and got a place of his own.)

Steven Garcia lived at the house on more than one occacion. He stayed while Gehrke followed an (un)Alaska dream. And then again he stayed when we were between roommates and before Garcia went to Hawaii--a common practice, so it would seem, among Portlanders I know. (It rains there too, you know.) The Steven G's remain friends and now both live on the East Coast, but more on that later.

After I asked Matt to leave the house (he also left a Scarface dresser full of shoddy clothes), my friend Sean lived at the house for a brief period of time. After accquiring money for a graduate program in Austria, he packed a bag and flew out, leaving behind: three bookcases, a futon mattress, a desk, a chair, a TV, DVD player, and some cooking utensils.

Sean left a vacancy that could only be filled with a craigslist advertisement. This ad brought on a slew of response including: a Reed grad, a 40-year old lesbian, a friend of Matt's, and a girl from New Mexico. However, the first person to come through the door was Gehrke and my's first choice for a new roommate. His name was Adam, and I miss him.

We all became friends, Gehrke, Adam and I. We enjoyed each other's company going to the coffee shop, bike shops and bars on occasion. But Adam, who graduated from Lewis and Clark, set out to buy his own house--renting is for chumps. He left us and not a whole lot else for a $400,000 starter home in Northeast Portland; we haven't heard from him since.

But that was OK; we had Barry. Barry was a friend of ours who came to Portland with Nate. Nate returned from Hawaii with two friends, Barry and Twan (see: The three invested in a rental that sits a few blocks from the one I live in. Barry and Nate, friends for life, could no longer live together and Barry moved into our house and left Nate, well, high and not-so-much dry. But Nate percervered: He found Andrew, who's a character but not one in this story.

The blow came to our hosehold when Gehrke said that he was following his dream to live in Baltimore (hometown of Ira Glass!) to be with the new love of his life. He left for good this month, and (though he'll visit once a month to fullfill medical research testing at OHSU) won't come back to live at the house, leaving Barry and I (Me once again) to search the website craigslist for someone seeking a home, but really to place an ad offering a room for rent. Steve leaves a room (mine, really) in the house open. (I pounced on his, his more comfortable bed, a desk (I can't have enough desks), and shelving unit he couldn't fit in his Oldsmobile.)

To look at the open room, three people came on Saturday during the time I spcified on the ad: 11-3. Allen, he's too moley, Aaron was accompanied by his (possible) parole officer or his mother, and Starlight (I shit you not) was too cute; she worked at Subway and was maybe 20. (Update: Starlight just left a message on my voicemail, she thought we all got along.)

Sunday three (acutally four) more roommate candidates came to see the empty room. First Tal, who just got off work showed up in his workvan. We had much in common--he got jokes, and recently moved from New Mexico--we like Tal. Two girls followed him (he was leaving as they arrived), announcing themselves as both people that wanted to see the room. Tami and Amy, (There's one lesson I'd like to give at this time for people looking for housing and visiting what you hope to be your future roommates in their house, and that's: save some of the information for when you are offered a place to live. We don't need to know you have a clan of Hawaiian friends. We don't need to know you just broke up with you boyfirend, or can't live with your boyfriend even though you "love him to death," but still want to "utilize your king-size bed." We don't need to know you smoke all kinds of pot, or wake up at four in the morning to work at Starbucks, that you are a neat freak, or that you came over together because of we "selected one of you we'd probably get both." These are not good things to reveal. Also, don't cry in front of us because you are so stressed about finding a place to live. That will not get you selected.), neither of which would work.

Marcia was nice and called after Barry and I had given up interviews. We had popped a bottle of wine when she called and weren't really interested in interviewing another. We had our mind made up by this point. But we gave everyone who called a shot (that is except Kody who could be reached "best by email," and who's last name was that spark plug brand that sounds like douche--Kody' didn't get emailed). Marcia was nice. Barry said he could picture her hanging plants up and teaching children violin (though I don't know where, the garage maybe). But she left with parting words that sounded very much like the parting words I had given Allen, Aaron, Starlight, Tami and Amy: We're interviewing a few more people, but we'll let you know. Marcia, said in fact, "I'm looking at a few more places but will let you know if things fall through." We'd be, you see, her last option.

So, this morning I extended the olive branch to an Israli. He seems harmless enough. But that seems like a thing you don't want to say in a roommate interview. That seems like something I probably shouldn't say, yet.

My Dog's Identity

Heidi, my dog, does strange things. For a few days there she was running away. She wanted out of the backyard--I don't see why, it's spacious--so bad she broke through a wall, and two gates. She moved an arm chair that I had a hard time lifting. Recently, she's climbed rocks on the Oregon Coast and swam across the dangerous Sandy River.

At the river Heidi tried to shake her identity. Or maybe it was an accident that she slipped out of her green collar. Either way--I don't know, I wasn't there--she lost her only accesory, which had attached to it three metal twenty-five-cent-sized tags: personal identity (her name, my number), a license and a rabies shot proof. I was upset that she came home without these tags because they would be a hassle to replace. Also, she has been strolling the neighborhood without me, as I've mentioned. But again, I didn't go with her and there was nothing I could do about it. Like any good father I was just happy she came back from her river rendezvous safe.

The next day my cellphone rang with a number I didn't recognize. I let the unknown caller go to voicemail like I do. On the message the caller identified herself as Amanda. She said she found Heidi's tag, and wanted to know if she should get it to the owner, or, if it had been replaced, she should toss it.

I called back the next day--I'm busy--and, on Amanda's voicemail--I'm not the only one who screen's unknown numbers--identified myself as Heidi's owner and the one responsible for the tags.

She calls back and this time I answer. It turns out Amanda works at a downtown restaurant not far from the downtown location I'm currently working (for free). She says she's working on this day at four would bring the collar with her to South Park restaurant. I say I'll stop by, meet her and pick up the collar.

So I did.

At home, I place the collar over Heidi's head and strap it one notch tighter than it had been. She looks the same to me: tail wagging and tongue sweating out of an open-mouthed grin, sitting and awaiting a walk, or her next trip to the beach.

That's the Heidi I know.

In the garage I constructed a box

In the box I marked OLD THINGS I place a Prison Break poster, some wooden figurines, a blue baseball glove, and some burnt CDs of bands and album titles written in neat handwriting with a sharpie--songs I don't want to hear.

I found a plastic St. Louis Rams cup, a blue rimmed bowl, and some old VHS cartridges I won't watch and can't play that I'll place in the cardboard box above the newspaper I've used to line the bottom.

Still, there remains these items too big for the box: a bike, a bed, a desk I helped carry home. And a past.

In another box I'll have to place: music heard but not recorded, conversations remembered but no longer recalled; years and years of memories, of nights in-house, days in-class, trips in cars, on planes, on busses.

I'll place news not published in papers or aired on TV. News insignificant to all but the few of us, that of new love, lost love, lost loved ones, and new members of familes that are spread about many states.

I've left the boxes open--they're not full yet. Contribute to it what you will before I have to seal and send it.

Tonight I write in silence

But that's False

There's the TV in the background keeping me company. The glow of the screen reflected in the window in front of me.
And, there's the wrap-a-tap-tap of the keys I depress, that makes sound (when I'm writing, not just thinking of what I wish I was writing).
My neck itches and I brush across it with my fingernails, that makes a sound.
Now, behind my ears and on my scalp I scratch just to hear the huh-shreeet, and to satisfy a feeling that will be back. If not there then under my sweatshit, across my ribs, an itch emerges.
I get up to get a drink of water. I'm thirsty and have forgotten to drink anything these last few hours. I think, to make up for it I'll suck back a mouthful fast. Water becomes absorbed even before I swallow.
Back in my seat I stare at the window reflecting the screen. I run my tongue across my teeth. There's plaque I find on one particular tooth. My tongue stays on it as I become obsessed.
Now it's my neck. It itches, the stubble that's grown for a few days feels funny when I flick up to my chin my fingers, making an obscene gesture to my computer.
Now my ears, wax or hair tingles and I stick my index inside, my pinky finger's nail's grown too long.
Now my nose, hair or dried snot feels wrong and I rub and tug but nothing wants to come out.
It's everything and nothing you notice when you are alone.
My scalp I scratch and cover with a hood. My lip I lick and I stick my tongue out. Hands dance across the keys. I stop and run my finger's tip over my eyebrow. With the grain, then against. Toes go cold and tonails are noticed to be too long too. I'm tired, can't clip em. Don't want to hear the sound of snip em. The feeling of parting with part of me.

A Bird in the Airport

How does a bird get inside the airport? Past revolving doors, security. Through checked points and into the sitting areas by gates to planes waiting to be boarded. I don't know how this bird I'm looking at got this far; I had a hard enough time getting here.

In Denver, an older man slaps his unshaved face and looks out the airport window, he gazes at the snow-covered tarmac. He grins at a young girl standing on the other side of a temporary fence sponsored by the airline that calls this airport its hub. One of its hubs. The man is creepy, no doubt about it. His look–unshaven, as mentioned–is unkept; his hair is long, tied back in a ponytail and tucked underneath a faded royal blue baseballcap. His denim attire and his yellow teeth place him, in my mind, in the labor intensive workforce. He’s not a typical airport person. He grins again and points at the girl and then at the bird, which is hopping on the ground below, picking at popcorn particles displaced by shoe soles.

The bird hops about, still. Takes flight, even, in this airport. The girl doesn’t appear interested and moves further away from this man, which is relieving. The girl’s parents, who have an English accent, don’t fear the man, their concentration is currently on the whereabouts of a missing windbreaker, set down by their son, the brother of the curious girl, who’s mistake today was a kind gesture, alerting the older man of the cell phone he dropped on the ground. Lost in conversation, he doesn’t realize he’s disconnected from his wireless communication device.

And maybe he’s not a construction worker. Maybe I was wrong about that. He pulls out a laptop and makes me reconsider my stereotypes.

Open Mic Night

The following was written nearly two years ago. Back when I spaced twice after periods, and didn't know what an em dash was; Iwas alone in a communist coffee shop drinking not coffee but a pint of beer.

He’s a plucker. He sings of songs, words that he expects the moon to say to him, but he never says what the moon says. He sings of windows that faces appear in, but he never reveals who’s in them – who the people are. The secrets that the moon shares.
Thank you very much.

His voice, tender and sweet; he sings of streets he’s been on and people he’s witnessed on them but he doesn’t mention them by name. He’s as anonymous as they are.
Thank you very much.

German pop. He’s German, so he’s a few years behind and doesn’t seem to mind or doesn’t know any better. That’s him.
Thank you very much.

Now he sings in German and it doesn’t matter what he says, he says, we won’t know and it doesn’t matter, to him, to us. We listen, those of us remaining. It’s great because there aren’t that many of us left. Things sound better when there are fewer to enjoy it. Those of us that do. All backs are turned and he sings on. His sound inspires.
Thank you very much.

She’s back; I thought she left. Good. She’ll enjoy a few more numbers here with me even though we’re not together. What’s great about this, I mentioned, there’s hardly anyone here. The words sound better without a crowd loud. I can here them because I’m near them. They’re mine. His, but mine too. He was right, I don’t understand them, but enjoy them.
Thank you very much.

He plays Blackbird and the crowd goes wild; I do. It’s like beer, you have one, you have to have another. Recognize this cord… no….how bout this: Here Comes the Sun.

What if? He sings of love, and even if I don’t want to hear about love this night, I listen. It’s a nice song, really and reminds me of Lennon the Legend.
Thanks a lot.

This song’s called Lifeline. And, it’s a cliché. I’m sorry to say. Maybe he doesn’t realize it at this time but it’s true. A word. A message. A verb. A place to start over, again. We’ve had them -- lifelines. It’s OK, though. I think it’s possible in song, in verse. We accept. In writing it’s different. I can’t get away with it. But he writes. Am I just critical? Is this my cliché? If I can’t think of anything to write about, I write about the wrong doings of others? I’m not sure much is left for mystery. And so is he: Just come and talk to me. Thanks a lot.

Hans York played at the Red and Black Café in SE Portland, OR May 20, 2005. And I must have lugged my laptop there.

don't (M)ention it

Update! Medically, I'm attractive (better looking). My back is getting stronger by the day. Must be these Flintstone Vitamins I've been chewing. Or, these Percocet (I've been biting in half) I've been popping(!). However, there's a (several, really) side effect. Hair keeps growing on Face (and down my neck(!)), and for some reason Hand won't pick up a razor, direct said razor up and down Face. (Really) for the historical book of social dissent in the City of Portland (Oregon), "The Portland Red Guide" (available from Ooligan Press--see link below) I helped publish I've attempted to grow a Karl Marx beard, though it's coming in more like a Che (Guevera) beard. See Joke.

Q: What's black and white and red (communist, get it?) all over?
A: Face.
(Now laugh.)

Joke's over. Now, I've got a heart-accelerating ("We've Only Just Begun") poem for those of you still willing to check in.

Thanks for leaving the door unlocked
Sorry that I'm came over so late
I rode my bike, though
the one point six miles (mapquest),
the that many blocks
It was late at night but I wanted to see you
Sleep next to you
Wake up next to you

You were: nice;
unlocked the door (mentioned);
opened the window (it's been warm);
So goddamned irresistable (I got help with those words);
and, gone when I got up

Soon I'll work, too (it's sad, I know)
Soon you'll go away to school (sadder)
Then what?
I won't be able to feel my earlobe trace your nose
When your face is sleeping under my
unshavened one

Wait on the waiting list

Patients been here since this morning I dismiss.

Make it to the bus stop in time, but wait for the bus that's late to make it to the bus stop, and suddenly you are short for time or behind time.

After waiting for the receptionist to process your new insurance information, you'll walk up to the third floor of the clinic five minutes late to your doctor's appointment today, say, at 9:50 for a 9:45, and you'll be told to wait until noon--over two hours.

Your face says, 'It hurts to sit.'

'Well, you have miss over half of your appointment,' you could be told because you will only be getting ten minutes of this particular doctor's time--'He's prompt.'

But don't wait two hours, though, especially if you've waited ten days or so to see a doctor because you thought your condition--this pain--would have gone away by now--it has in the past. Ask to see an urgent care physician. Urgent care is on the floor below, and you've been there before.

Wait for the receptionist to change what needs to be changed, and then wait again on the second floor, and you should be in front of a professional in no time. They'll take vitals. Tell them what's wrong as you've told yourself and those around you the last ten days or so. Make sure to describe where the pain is, how long it lasts, and what causes it. Make sure to tell the truth about the things you fear most. Wait again and listen carefully to what the doctor says. Try not to cross your arms. Nod your head if necessary and say you understand that the narcotics being prescribed aren't going to cure you of said pain but will relieve it. Sort of.

After leaving the clinic, take the prescription that the doctor gives you to the first pharmacy you see, say, at the Safeway, and wait again in line and then the twenty minutes the pharmacist says it will take to fill your prescription, and then an additional ten minutes or so until the bottle is in your hand, until those white pills are in your palm, and until they take affect on mentioned pain.


Wait eight more days for a follow up visit with the doctor you were originally scheduled to see. Your appointment will be at the same time, 9:45, just on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. Get there early. Wait for the bus. Then, wait again on the waiting list until you can see the doctor, and until you are dismissed.

Don't turn your back on me

How hard this is to describe how I feel.

You’re not listening.

It's my past, and you weren’t there.

There’s this part of my body—it’s on the inside and I don’t know the name of it—that hurts in a way you’ll never know, even if I sit down and describe it to you.

You don’t have emotions, you tell me. Luckily, you have enough for both of us.

But I’ve cried, hurt, been hurt; felt depressed, stressed, tense, relaxed, in tact, focused, lost, in love, angry, and in sorrow. I’ve tried, lost love, lost loved ones. I’ve felt weak, worthless, and confident.

I’ve felt I shouldn’t have done something, gone ahead and did it anyway and have felt guilty. Like I knew I would.

I’ve lied and yelled and have been mean to people. I’ve held back actions and held my tongue.

Sorry I’ve not shared these things with you, these feelings you didn’t think existed in me. But you haven’t known me long enough to see me struggle, win, fall down, cheer loud, stay up all night, stare out the window, curse myself, talk to my dog in the park, gaze at the glory of a vibrant flower, bask in the sun, be amazed by a book, ponder creation, woe over people in my life I no longer talk to; call my grandma in the middle of the day for no reason whatsoever other than I know it will make us both feel good in a way that I could sit here and describe to you, but, still you’d never really know.

It’s because most of the above is depressing that, instead of audibly expressing the mentioned, I ask you: about your future plans, about your day, how your hurt leg is feeling, how your apartment search is going.

Just because there're some things you can’t see doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Adam's friends, the Bens and their girlfriends

Adam has a friend named Ben. Actually, Adam has two friends. Both named Ben. Adam has more friends (I think) but doesn’t have a girlfriend. The Bens live together. Each Ben has a girlfriend. Their names are not the same, nor are they Bens, therefore their names aren't important in the telling of this short tale. Both Bens like to smoke hookahs. The Bens have a hookah at their house. The Bens' girlfriends live together and smoke hookahs, too. The Bens' girlfriends have a hookah where they live. So, whether the Bens are at the Bens’ house or the Bens are at the Bens’ girlfriends’, there’s a hookah to be smoked. Sometimes, the Bens smoke the hookah at their house, and sometimes the girlfriends of the Bens smoke the hookah at their house (sometimes simultaneously). Sometimes all together they, the Bens and their girlfriends, smoke a hookah. Tonight (or maybe it was last night) Adam went to the girlfriends of the Bens and smoked a hookah with the Bens and their girlfriends.

Your couch surfer has a Cocker Spaniel?

When the hiccups stopped, or maybe it was before, I went to sleep.
It was winter, around the time I was using my cold hands to compress my aching backside, when Rob just sort of showed up. I had met him, sure, but I cannot say that I know him. Rob, that is. I still don’t know who did/does. One day he was just sort of there. And one night he had hiccups. Coming home from the bar – I was asleep in bed, at home after a week of work -- Rob turned on the lights, the music and his hypnotic hiccups.
Shut the fuck up, I yelled from the bedroom, hoping to scare the air out of him.
Does it bother you? he asked.
Well, I’m just concerned, I lied.
Yeah, I don’t know what it is. I haven’t been drunk since I’ve been here – hiccup.
Fuck! What can I get you? Can I get you anything? I feign sympathy.
I don’t know, nothing.
Well, I want to get you something. What I want is for him to have a job, a place of his own to live. I want my living room back, my couch. I want him gone, and his dog, did I mention the Cocker Spaniel? But prospects aren't good.

Does it bother you? Rob asked, when I asked him the very next morning why his Razor phone was beeping every couple of minutes.
Doesn’t it bother you? I want to know. He seems able to either black beeps out of his mind or else it’s that the beeping, which I can hear from my bedroom with the door closed, isn’t bothersome but hypnotic like the hiccups. It beeps again before Rob, a guy I’m uncertain why is still sleeping on my couch, informs me that it’s just because the battery is low and needs to be re-charged. Oh, that is why his Razor phone is beeping every couple of minutes.
Well, can you make it stop? I request, not a heavy request I don’t think, considering I haven’t asked Rob for anything in exchange for this free place to stay, now for exactly three weeks.

This couple that I’m friends with, Jake and Lilly, have listened to me complain about my unwanted houseguest for the last 30 minutes. They begin to tell me of a California law they've read about that scares the bleep out of me. In California, it is more than difficult to ask someone who’s been staying with you for more than two weeks to leave. It requires courts and thus fees. I hope Oregon doesn’t have such laws. I hope Rob finds a job, a place to live, maybe a muzzle for his Cocker Spaniel. But for now, I would just be fine wishing that Rob would plug his charger into his Razor phone and into the outlet that is on the wall next to my couch that he has made his.