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.