Montana Life

I’ve read that humans perceive some numbers on a logarithmic scale, rather than a linear one. On a linear scale, the difference between 1 and 2 is the same as the difference between 50 and 51. On a logarithmic scale, the difference between smaller numbers is much more pronounced. 2 is 100% more than 1, while 51 is only 2% more than 50. I’ve read that this is why it feels like time moves faster as you get older. Each year is a smaller percentage of your overall life, so it feels like it takes less time. I’ve also read that new experiences make time feel slower.

I just spent the last 27 days in Montana, from July 7th to August 2nd. I wasn’t originally planning on staying for so long. A few months ago I scheduled flights for a high school ten-year reunion on July 9th, and a family reunion on July 30th. The day before I left for the first flight, I realized that I had little reason to come back to Oakland in between.

I scheduled the original flights around work, but I didn’t have that job anymore. I needed to look for a new job, but I could do some of that groundwork from Montana, and it would be cheaper to live with my parents for a few weeks anyway. My boyfriend Will was also willing to watch my apartment, and my cat Niko, while I was away. I don’t normally have a chance to spend this much time in Montana, so I took it.

I thought it would healthy for me to spend some time away from the city, a place where I could relax and let off some stress. I could spend some time with the dogs, walk around the woods, take some pictures, look at the stars, visit some old friends, and spend some time working on music. It would also be a nice detox from Overwatch, a game I’ve been playing a lot lately.

I was also thinking about my parents, and how it’s rare that I get to see them for more than a few days at a time. I like my parents, and I thought they would appreciate time with me as well. This was a good chance to get some quality time in with Chuck and Cathy Loucks.

So I packed a little extra, and the next morning I was off to Montana.

* * *

The high school reunion went well. A group of about thirty of us met near the river in Polson, ate food, played beer pong, and caught up on the last ten years. The people I hung out with most in high school weren’t there – many of them were a year under me anyway – but everybody was welcoming and friendly. It was nice to remember my hometown and the home town people.

After the reunion I met up with some of my old friends that were still in the area. We were hanging out at their friend’s house, and I liked being in a Montana house again, tucked in fields at the base of mountains. These views lose some of their impact when you see them every day, but they’re always beautiful. We watched a pirated UFC stream, and I got in a nice couch nap. We threw a football in the yard, and I took some pictures of the sunset. I spent the night at Jayce’s apartment, falling asleep after we played Overwatch on their PS4.

The next day I got to sit in on a music recording session. Two guys from Kalispell were in town to work with my friends, and I got to see them in action. I’ve been picking up digital music production as a new hobby over the last few months, and I’m still very much a beginner. It was really helpful to be able to observe people that have many years of experience. To see their raw process. The hardware they use and how they set it up. The way they used the software and the processing and effects they added along the way. The way they recorded a live synthesizer and a live guitar. The way they talked about the music and their goals with the track. The way they structured their recordings and put together a full first version. I learned a lot.

We took two breaks other than smoke breaks. We sat in Logan’s room, and they shot the shit on underground hip hop. Logan was playing select songs from his vinyl collection, and each song came with a story about a show somebody went to or an artist they had met. Each story transitioned into a new song that logan would excitedly fish out of his collection. I got an unintended lesson in the underground hip hop scene of Montana, told through their favorite tracks.

I slept on Jayce’s couch again that night, and drove the hour and a half back to my parents’ place in the morning.

* * *

For the next twenty days I was trapped at my parents’ house, just the three of us. The car had a problem, so I couldn’t use it anymore. I might have visited other cities otherwise, maybe even made the trek over to Seattle, but it was not to be. I would be in Plains until the day I left. It was time to settle in to my temporary home and pass the time until the rest of the family showed up for the reunion..

My parents are renting a house in the woods. The turnoff is about two miles outside of Plains, and about a mile up the mountain on a dirt road. It’s not a house I grew up in. It’s actually about three houses removed from the one I grew up in, so it’s not even one I spent college summers or Christmas at. I recognized some of the stuff, but I would expect more nostalgia if I also recognized the place. The couch is short, too small for me to nap on.

Instead of staying in the guest room, I slept in the camp trailer in the driveway. It would be nice to have my own space, and the trailer had air conditioning and working outlets. I could barely get wifi in the back of the trailer where the bed is, enough to get Netflix working 75% of the time, but casual browsing was better done inside the house.

It was easy to slide into a routine. I’d wake up at 10am and turn on the air conditioning, then keep sleeping until a little after noon. Then I’d put on my dad’s flip flops and walk inside. My dad was usually puttering around, tinkering with something in the garage, taking the dogs for a walk, making a run to the dump or the post office or the grocery store. My mom was usually on the couch with the TV on, playing a casual game on her laptop, I never did ask which one. Then we’d sit on the front porch at four, before hot tub time at five, dinner at seven, bed by nine.

The TV is one of the first things I notice when visiting my parents. It’s usually on, and it’s distracting. The commercials are loud, and the content is limited. You get one of three programs on that TV.

1) People racing cars. NASCAR, usually. We don’t like this Kyle Busch guy. We like Ford, I think. We used to like Dodge, we had a Dodge, but they’re not racing anymore. There were a lot of crashes this time, seemingly whenever they would restart. The other race was called early because of fog. We like the guy that won that race, the young rookie.

2) Couples looking at houses. Some of them want to buy a vacation home on an island, so a realtor is showing them three options to choose from, and they debate the strengths and weaknesses of each. (Which one will they choose?!) Another couple stars in a show about buying houses, renovating them, then flipping them for a profit. (Will they make money?!) Another show pits a renovator against a realtor, and a couple must choose to keep their renovated house, or move into a new one. (Will they stay?!)

3) Cop shows, the most prevalent genre. Earlier in the day it’s Cops proper, arresting dumb criminals and drunk rednecks. Then you enter the true crime drama phase, where some retired detective takes you through reenactments of a real case from their past. Or there’s one where a reporter interviews the family members of the victim as they walk us through the case. (That one weirds me out.) Then you get Law & Order, where fictional cops and lawyers catch fictional bad guys, usually alongside some sort of social justice or political storyline. They also like Blue Bloods, where a whole family of cops catch bad guys while also learning more about family. Whichever show is on, I’m telling whoever is talking to the cops to stop talking and get a lawyer, but the room rarely appreciates my commentary.

In the mornings, before I wake up, my dad watches shows like Game of Thrones, Narcos, and Marco Polo. I told him he should watch Breaking Bad next.

A Christmas or two ago I bought my parents some kind of Amazon box that streams Amazon video, as well as apps like Netflix and HBO Now. This was so my dad could watch his shows, and I hoped my mom would find some as well. She watched all of Justified, and I also got them to watch The Jinx.

On this trip, I told her we should watch Making a Murderer. I thought of it as a good version of the usual true crime drama reenactment show. They watched the whole thing while I was there, and I caught a few of the episodes with them. I felt bad a little bad at the end, it’s kind of a downer, but I was glad they saw it. I think they liked it.

Their usual cop shows are formulaic. They always get the bad guy, and the cops are always the good guys. If a cop isn’t a good guy, then they’re a bad guy, and they get caught and punished within the hour. People always cooperate with the police, unless they’re guilty. The police never assault innocent people. The good guys never nudge a story towards their biases. In my mom’s words, “It’s like a Hallmark show.” Neat, orderly, and good triumphs over evil. I thought it was good for them to see a show that questioned law enforcement, both police officers and the judicial process.

This doubt, the questioning of authority, is an important element in Making a Murderer to our culture. In order to get people like my parents to believe that there is systemic racism in law enforcement, they have to be able to accept that the law enforcement process is flawed. That all it takes for the judicial process to convict an innocent person are the actions of one or two corrupt individuals trying to nudge a story a certain way. That rest of the system is built in such a way to constantly reinforce those actions, over and over, rather than question them. Making a Murderer tells this story from the perspective of a white man from a poor family. I hope this perspective will help poor white people come to accept that black people aren’t the problem.

* * *

I had a lot of free time.

I worked on music quite a bit. I brought a MIDI mixer, a device with a partial piano keyboard and knobs and such. I finished a song I had been working on for a while, but fell out of love with it a few days later. I learned a lot about the software with that track, which I could feel good about. Then I focused on music theory. I started using a notebook to sketch out the structure of a track, and the chords involved. I thought I would finish more tracks than I did, but I learned quite a bit anyway. I’m still planning on wrapping up some tracks up and releasing something before too long, just to keep putting stuff out there.

I watched some Netflix, but made sure that’s not how I spent the majority of my time. I watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close after somebody recommended it on Facebook. I watched a couple Louis episodes I hadn’t gotten to yet. I watched ET on a whim. I watched Comedy Bang Bang and am somewhat fascinated by it. Then I found Stranger Things and watched the whole season, loving every minute, and glad I had just watched ET.

I spent time chatting with my parents. I joined them for 5-o’clock-hottub-time every-other day. (The days I didn’t shower, basically.) We talked about the upcoming reunion, the people that were going to show up, and whatever story from the past we could remember about them. We talked about work and the search for a new job, and times they’ve had setbacks in their careers. We talked about health and aging. We talked about politics, not very much, but still probably too much.

I went for a couple of short walks. I found a really great place, just past my parent’s back yard, technically past a neighbor’s NO TRESPASSING sign, but not much. It was this overlook, where I could see the entire town of Plains, tucked under Mountains, surrounded by its namesake

I took a lot of pictures of that view, most of which look the same. I also took pictures of my mom’s knick-knacks in the yard. Wooden bears and ceramic pigs and metal frogs and cement turtles. I took pictures of my dad’s stuff in the garage, saws and clamps and wood. The best pictures I took are of the dogs, and my parents.

* * *

Family showed up on Friday the 29th, a welcome break from the usual. First we had aunt Lorna, my dad’s sister, and cousin Chelsey, my aunt Judy’s daughter. Sadly, Judy passed away about three years ago, and this was our first family get-together since. Then we welcomed uncle Kelly, Judy’s ex husband, and cousin Chuck(ie), Lorna’s son. Many of us hadn’t seen Chuckie for ten-plus years. Then uncle Bernie rolled in, my dad’s best friend for fifty years, as much a part of the family as the rest of us. Lastly, in came my dad’s brother, uncle Dennis, and his son, Brian. I hadn’t seen Brian for a long time. I was thankful for the three days we all had together.

I was always the youngest in my family, so it was odd to feel like I was one of the adults all of a sudden. I wasn’t used to talking to my cousins as peers. The four cousins went down to the river one day and sat in it to escape the heat. It was fun catching up and feeling like the old gang again, in our own way.

The older generation, the aunts and uncles, spent the day battling the heat, until they could finally settle around a campfire at night – the fire being more ambiance than heat source. They would drink and tell all the old stories, spreading the Loucks family oral history. Most of these stories were only made possibly by heavy drinking.

We had Uncle Charlie (not present) crashing in The Race of the Vegas and relieving himself in front of the police officer that responded. Bernie and Chuck making Dennis ride in the back of the truck on top of a pile of Stolen Lumber in the rain, “so that none of it would blow out.” Chelsey Spilling Three Drinks in a row on Judy, “and I hadn’t even been drinking yet!” Charlie’s Toupee. The Lost Cat in Vegas. The Fight on Prom Night. All your favorite classic hits, and more! My family has always been a storytelling family, and I think it’s a big part of why I like writing and telling my own stories.

On Sunday, after dinner word was spreading that we were gathering around the fire to wish my dad a happy birthday. The scattered groups grabbed their chairs and drinks and whatever else they needed, and eventually we were all settled around the fire. We wished my dad a happy birthday, aunt Lorna gifted him a bottle of scotch and passed around the card, and story time continued. It was my dad’s 65th birthday.

That generation is hitting their mid 60’s, retiring, and switching to medicare. I kept thinking about how important affordable health care is. Most of them were moving carefully and avoiding stairs. Most had regular prescriptions. Aging is hard on your body. At some point the struggles of your body overtake your experience, and jobs get harder to do. This makes paying for medical care more difficult, and caring for yourself is expensive. Your reduced ability to recover physically also hurts your ability to recover economically.

Seeing them has made me pay attention to my own body more. It’s easy to get used to your body improving naturally in those first 20 or so years. That’s the time when you’re mostly just gaining features. I didn’t notice, as my body coasted through my 20’s, that the upgrades had stopped. Seeing my family again made me realize that, from here on out, I can only lose options. Now, it’s about preservation.

Losing aunt Judy was tough on the family, and it took us a few years to recover enough to get together again. I know we felt her absence, but I think it also emphasized the importance of coming together. Seeing my family was incredibly valuable, and I don’t think I was the only one. I love them all, and even though we’re very different, I feel loved by them. They all seemed genuinely glad to be together, genuinely interested in catching up and breaking bread and telling the old stories.

* * *

Suddenly, it was my last day, just me, my parents, and Lorna. The house was calm again, a startling return to the old routine. I could feel that I was about to leave, that this world was about to become distant again. I knew what I was going to do that night. I had to say goodbye to the stars.

After the family went to bed, and after the sun was down, I grabbed my dad’s flashlight. I climbed up the hill in the backyard, and found my way through the darkness to my favorite spot, the overlook. I could see Plains, a small collection of lights around a highway, partially obscured by a smoky haze. When the wind shifted, it was warm and smelled like a forest fire. I turned off the flashlight, and laid down on the rocks.

There were the stars, in a wide open moonless sky. I watched the milky way, spanning the horizons. I saw a few shooting stars, and the big one left a momentary streak. I saw the Big Dipper, but no other constellations I could remember. I saw flashing planes and faint satellites. I saw the stars I had been missing.

We live in a weird time. We’re able to look at the stars and know what they are, and we’re able to take that knowledge for granted. I try to imagine what it would have been like to spend every night under the stars, as ancient man. To spend your whole life looking and wondering. It’s impossible for me to really pretend to look at the stars for the first time, without previous knowledge. I find it amazing that while it’s impossible to know what that view could have felt like to ancient man, we’re still looking at essentially the same thing. I imagine how familiar the stars would become if you saw that clearly every night.

Heck, we’re probably looking at essentially the same view as other intelligent life in the universe, and maybe even other universes. Do they look up and see a sky full of their own stars? I wonder about the ways this shared view connects us, despite how unimaginably different we probably are.

I flew into Oakland last night, and felt upside down. The sky was barren and washed out, but the city was magnificent, lights spread to every corner of view.

It feels weird now, being far away from the Montana life, both in space and time. I can visit that place, I can visit those ways, but I’m not living it anymore. That life has passed. From here on, at least for a while, I’m counting those experiences on my fingers. Maybe I’ll move back one day, or maybe I’ll find my own Montana somewhere else. It’s hard to know where this is going.

In the end, I found the perspective I was looking for. I’m glad I took some time for myself.

Hello Stranger

I see you stranger, going the other way down the sidewalk. A younger me might have collided with your path, causing us to awkwardly interact as we shuffle left and right. These days, I use a method I picked up in college. I look down at my feet as we get closer, maybe 20 feet away. After a few seconds, about six steps, I look back up. By then, you’ve clearly chosen a side – left or right – and given me mine. Thank you.

Hi stranger, I can tell you want something from me. You’re just standing there, and you’re not even looking at a phone. Whether or not you have a clipboard, I can tell. You’re waiting for me. I hope somebody else will get to you just before me, grabbing your attention so that I can avoid another interaction. Otherwise, I’ll probably have to lie to you. The truth is, whatever it is you’re hoping for, I don’t want to. But the truth sounds bad when you ask me if I want to spend one minute fighting white supremacy. I don’t want to. See? So I’ll mumble to you that I don’t have the time, sorry. Good luck, though.

Oh hey stranger, you know you’re kind of in the way right now. You’re taking up two seats. You’re not standing far enough back. You’re blocking the top of the stairs. Your backpack doesn’t need the space of a full person. These are sins, stranger. I’m judging you. You see, I’ve always been afraid of being in people’s way. Maybe it’s because my dad yelled at pets that were in his way. Or drivers that were in his way. I hated learning to drive, and I wonder if that’s why. In any case, I’ve grown up to think that what you’re doing, standing in the way, makes you a bad person. It’s too bad you didn’t happen to grow up the same way I did, stranger. I probably wouldn’t think harshly of you if you did.

You know stranger, you’re quite attractive. And not just technically. Practically. I want to talk to you. I want you to smile at me specifically, because it’s a genuine smile. I bet I could even marry you. I know that’s a little quick, but you see I have this system. I’ve already classified you. Stranger with that kind of face and those kinds of clothes doing those sorts of things in that kind of way. There are a lot of archetypes, sure, but not nearly as many as there are strangers. You’ve got more options if you’re white, though. I’ve met more of you, so you have more nuanced categories. If not, then you’re in a much bigger class. In any case, you’ve got an archetype I fancy, so we’re a great match. If we talked, maybe you’d get your own file. But we won’t. You’ll last another block as I think about how you would make me so happy, then fade into the murk.

Wow stranger, you are fascinating. It’s something about your look, your attitude, the words you’re saying. It’s your whole package. You look like a parody of a person. You’re the perfect character, something crafted by professionals behind the scenes. Yet, here you are. Just being yourself, the way you choose to be. And how is it that this is who you choose to be? You woke up today. You went through a morning routine. Maybe you remembered a dream, or showed up late to work, or had a good idea, or thought about your mom. You’ve lived a whole life. A full experienced, stuffed to the edges with the mundane and the unique and the sad. They all point at this one moment, our moment, after which your life bursts back into a swarming mass of pursuits and relationships and missteps. Your massive life overwhelms me, and I do not know it.

Anyway stranger, I’ll see you tomorrow. We should talk, one of these days. I’d like that, in theory. It sounds nice, when we’re apart. It doesn’t seem like a good idea when I see you, though. Something tells me to avoid eye contact. To keep interactions to a minimum. To get out of your way. To leave you alone. To let you live your life. Something primitive. I’ve tricked this drive before, but I’m not sure how. Hopefully I’ll figure it out. Maybe tomorrow. Until then,

Goodbye stranger.

It’s Been One Week

It’s Sunday night, and I feel ok. Things are starting to click into place.

Mostly, I finally got to do a load of laundry. The first in my new place, for $2.75 in quarters. In the words of my neighbor, “it’s an old hag of a machine.” He’s talking about the washing machine in our building. Only the cold settings work, but they work. I feel a lot better about the upcoming week with some clean clothes, and not just the leftovers from the move.

Speaking of neighbors, I’ve met two of them. Rego(?), the guy across the hall, said hi as I was moving in, and that we should get together once I’m settled. I hear him getting home sometimes, and I tell myself I’ll pop out and say hi next time, maybe get his number. I should do that.

Below Rego lives Noah, and who I assume is his girlfriend. Noah introduced himself while I was taking the trash out the other night. I awkwardly knocked on his door Friday night to see what they were up to, only slightly drunk with a bottle of whiskey in my hand. They were on their way to bed. Today I ran into him again, and we exchanged numbers, so he must not have been too put off by the late night visit. The timing was good, because I needed his laundry insight.

Today was also the day I finally unpacked the last of the boxes. Just some electronics and books that don’t have anywhere to go, but at least they’re not in boxes. They’re stacked on awkward out-of-the-way shelves, which my place has a few of, and my cat enjoys. She found her way to the very top of the tall closet today, and back down again. I’m glad she’s finding better places than where she spent her first day in the apartment.

Last week when I was moving in, I put her in the bathroom with food and water as the movers were unloading. We had been traveling since about 8 that morning, which she took really well. The rides to and from the airport, security, the flight – barely a noise. I’d put my hand in the top of her carrier and scratch the top of her head, which might have soothed me more than her. I was looking forward to saying goodbye to the movers and plopping down on the bed as Niko and I took in the new place.

I came back from a quick run for cat litter, and I couldn’t find her in the bathroom. Then I saw that she had pulled a panel off the side of the bath tub, and she’s crawled into what’s essentially a hole in the wall. She was just sitting in this hole, surrounded by plumbing, in what seemed to be a really tight space. Long story short, she crawled out twelve hours later when I turned all the lights off and laid down in bed. I did not enjoy those twelve additional hours of stress, wondering if I’d have to get the fire department to tear my tub out. I’m glad I had friends to talk me down.

Things are a lot better now. The stress of moving, which was huge for me, has dissipated. Especially now that the first week is over. I’ve figured out where things are in neighborhood, how to cook in my new kitchen, how to pay my rent and utilities, how to do laundry, where the trash is, who my neighbors are, all that kind of stuff. I even did a Costco supply run with a coworker today.

Now I can move on to the task of filling this place out. I’ve got a desk and chair coming on Tuesday, so I no longer have to use my dresser corner and piano bench. There’s a bathroom rug on the way, and I’m about to pick out a lamp – my bedroom has no lighting otherwise. I’m waiting on the bigger stuff, like a couch or TV stand or bookcase, until I get a full month under my belt and can get a better sense of my budget.

There’s also a bit of apartment maintenance to be done. I have a lot of windows, and they all need curtains. There’s a fair amount of heat escaping without them, which is also why I need some draft blockers for the three doors. I should hang the art I have, and find some more. The light in the kitchen just went out again, I’ll have to look into that. In the long run, this place could use a paint job, and the cabinets could really use some love. I’m determined to make this place into a respectable apartment. Mostly, I want it to feel like mine.

The last big part of settling in was the first week of work, which I think went well. We’re certainly a scrappy bay area startup, but it all seems within the bounds of what’s normal. I like my coworkers, which helps. There’s a lot of work to do, but I feel like I’ve got the support I need to do it. For now, that’s about all I can say.

With the first week out of the way, I’m hoping I feel settled enough to start being social. I’ll have to muster up the courage and energy, but I’ve got some promising leads, and I’m convinced that I’ll find good people if I put in the time. Hopefully you’ll see some blog posts in the near future about talking to strangers!

See you tomorrow, week two.

Goodbye Hello

Goodbye Seattle.

To you, there are things I leave.

I leave you my best friends. Friends I spent hundreds of hours playing and making games with. Friends I made by going to your oldest university and working at your flagship companies. Friends I made by dancing with your creative weirdoes. Friends I dated, and grew close to, and relied on. Friends that taught me everything I know. Please take care of the friends I leave you, because they gave me the courage to leave them.

I leave you old hobbies. A network of game stores that nearly pulled me out of college. A Kiki-Jiki targeting a Pestermite. A max-level undead priest. An encouraging piano teacher and a few jam sessions. A dozen half-written blog posts scattered around your coffee shops. A couple punching bags and borrowed gloves. A modest album of pictures I took. A small coding project every two years and a few lost semicolons. Many of rows and columns. Movie ticket stubs in back pockets. You’ll have to share some of these with my new city, but you can keep a few.

I leave you too much stress. You can keep the stress of moving, which nearly crippled me. (Thanks again, friends.) Most of all, you can keep the stress of work, as much as I can leave behind. The crushing weight of decisions that drove me over the edge too many times. Habits and mindsets that I want to call old habits and mindsets. You can tuck these away, maybe the troll wants them.

Lastly, I leave you a few too many days without sun.

Hello Oakland. Hello San Francisco.

For you, there are things I bring.

I bring a desire to learn more about the world, even if it’s just one step past Washington, which was just one small step past Montana. I bring a curiosity about your culture and diversity. A desire to understand the extremities and oddities of how you work. The way you party, and how your weirdos are different from my weirdos. The way you walk and drink coffee and shop and write. The way you get from place to place.

I bring a need for new friends. Maybe even, hopefully even, a few romantic ones. Like-minded people to relax with. Different-minded people to talk to. Maybe I’ll find them when I’m dancing, if I can brave the crowds. Maybe I’ll find them while drinking, if I can brave the conversation. Maybe I’ll find them while dating, if I can brave the people. I’ll forge new hobbies, and strengthen old ones, and hopefully friends will be there.

I bring a desire to do good work. To embrace and shape the culture of my new office. To learn and leverage my skills and theirs. To think clearly and calmly, to do the best I can with the time I have, to make something we’re proud of. To seek success with a clear conscience, and to raise the bar. I bring the drive to contribute something positive to the industry, even as just one small designer. Maybe I bring too much, we’ll see.

Lastly, I ask for you help. I bring the hope to write more, to record what this experience is, and to get better at doing it. Help me to find the motivation to stick with it, and the courage to share it.

I see a group of holy men and women split equally at a crosswalk, an age-old sign that my work here is done.

Eight garbs wore,
Split by four.
Time is short,
Resolve your chore.


The Thai Place

This is a story about my anxiety, and the thought process behind the things I say. In this case, a single sentence. Just one noun, really. A particularly squirly one, crafted from an odd situation: the intersection of a casual conversation and a delicate reference. A delicacy that, in all likelihood, exists only in my mind.

I was in an email chain with three friends I used to eat lunch with every week. Tom and Sean work up the street, and Brandon is my old boss and longtime friend. He was recently in the awkward position of having to let me go, hence the delicacy.

We were trying to figure out if there was time for one final group lunch before I leave, since I’m moving to San Francisco. I had just been told when my movers were showing up, so I finally knew my schedule.

“Looks like I can make it! It’s in my calendar.” Send.

“Sweet! Obviously your choice on where to meet,” Sean replied.

Reply all. “Oh, hmmm…” I thought while typing. I know! The Thai place! I can’t remember the name…

The one across from…where I used to work…oh god what do I call them…

DropForge? No, the studio name changed, that’s not them anymore. Using it sounds like I’m in some weird denial.

WGCells? No, we never really called it that while I was there. Sounds too formal in an obvious way.

Brandon’s office? No, it’s more general, but still sounds too formal. Like I’m pointing out that he’s claimed the territory.

Brandon’s work? No, now that it’s casual it sounds like I don’t exactly know where he works. Like I’m pretending to have forgotten.

Brandon’s? No, it’s not as specific, but it’s so informal that it depends on context. It would work in an active chat, but this looks like I’m rushing an email.

The Transit Center? No. It’s technically factual, but the reference is so unexpected that they might think I mean a different place.

The Bellevue…Whatever…Tower? No, I can’t even remember that building’s name.

That Thai Place? No, I like the switch in tactic, but there are too many Thai places. Maybe I mean a specific favorite, like the place we used to eat at. A classic.

…oh come on, am I really going to have to look up the name of this place? Is this what my life has come to? Fine, you win – OH WAIT! I remember now.


…eh, now that I think about it, we should eat somewhere else. I liked their convenience and speed, but we should take our time with this lunch and do something special. Oh, I know the perfect place!

“Let’s do Lot #8!” Send.

…shit, it’s Lot #3.


SAM Remix

SAM Remix

I have a hard time going out and doing things, you know? Especially new things. I tend to gravitate towards what’s comfortable and easy. So last year when a friend asked me if I wanted to go to SAM Remix, I did my usual. Yeah sure, ok, possibly, maybe, probably not though, I’ve got this thing, you see my couch gets lonely and…

As you can probably guess, they finally convinced me to go out. My first event was at the Seattle Art Museum itself. If you haven’t been there, it’s BIG. The entire bottom floors were filled with drinks, music, crafts, performances, dances. Best of all, what I was really thankful for, was it actually got me to go to the museum. A building full of art and history and creativity. One of those scary, new, uncomfortable places in the theoretical depths of my brain, yet there I was. And it’s fantastic.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got an internal party fuel that runs low pretty quickly. I can be the life of the party, for a while, but pretty soon I need time to breath, away from the masses of people. That’s exactly when I can slip away, slide up an escalator…and there it is. ART.


I Am The Card Shark, SAM Remix Halloween

Suddenly I have an excuse to meander around art. I have no goals, I’m not pressured by time, I don’t feel like I have to do anything. I’m literally escaping. It’s great. Now I’ll grab a friend, motion up, and we’ll take a break together. We’ll pause and watch live poetry, or a dancing duo…or just look at art.

My second SAM Remix was a little different – it was outside! In the summer, they’ll throw a party down at the Olympic Sculpture Park, and it’s just as great. Dancing, music, art, crafts, drinks, the whole shebang.

This summer’s party is next Friday, 8/21! I’ll be there not just for the party, but also as a guest tweeter on @iheartSAM! #SAMRemix

If you want to join me, grab a ticket here. They’re $25 for non-members, and They’re $12 for SAM members. (You can use the promo code twitterremix0821 for $5 off the regular ticket.)

That page also has a list of the night’s special activities. You’ll notice that list includes something called the Internet Cat Video Festival. Meow. I’m looking forward to the “two super-secret” bands, myself.

Really, from somebody who doesn’t get out much, this is a great opportunity to do exactly that. I hope to see some of you there! Either way, you’ll see me on Twitter.

Photo: Robert Wade from 2014 #SAMRemix

Photo: Robert Wade from 2014 #SAMRemix

Sad Things

I posted this on Facebook a few months ago, and kind of forgot about it until recently. People told me they liked the writing, and I like it myself in hindsight, so I’m transferring it to the blog for safe keeping.

I will not post sad things to Facebook.

I say it out loud, a sign that I’m trying to reverse a decision that I don’t realized I’ve already made. It’s in these moments that I feel particularly like a monkey, still desperately trying to solve the puzzle that got us here – how do I get my brain to feel the way it wants me to feel?

Sure, there’s hunger and eating even when I’d rather be skinnier. There’s a sex drive that leads to strange social actions. There’s survival, fight-or-flight stuff. A video game causing an unnecessary pump of adrenaline and a faster heartbeat. Hair and sweat and colds and fingernails.

There will always be evidence that I’m a physical being, a sack of chemicals, but nothing makes me feel more like a monkey than the Facebook alert.

I will not post sad things to Facebook.

It’s shallow. There are more worthwhile ways of getting attention. I have friends desperate to listen. It’s not a sustainable solution. Just fix it already.

Great, so I’ll just post about books. Normal people post about books all the time. Anybody know a good book? Look at me, I’m a sentient being with free will! Watch in awe as I resist the powerful irrelevant urge to post a hollow cry for help on the internet. Marvel in my ability to construct a normal, every-day, inconspicuous post about books. Observe the way I return to cleaning my apartment, driven by a need for order. Ignore the occasional glances at the computer screen, the wonder why nobody has responded yet, the sense that maybe I’m not interesting enough…

Hear the ping.

The alert found me in another room. For an instant, a feeling of elation. Feeling wanted. Feeling interesting. Feeling cared for because another person read my post that represented a sadness, and they reached out a hand, as I knew they would.

I will not post sad things to Facebook.

I believed it, wholeheartedly, even as I did it. My brain, desperate to connect whatever wires it needed to connect, simultaneously believed a fact and acted in opposition to it. In the next moment, I became aware that I had tricked myself into posting something sad on Facebook. My brief elation faded, halting whatever process my brain was trying to spark. The realization of what I had done terrified me.

So here I am. And I’m going to be honest with you – I’m sad. A lot of sad a lot of the time. And even though I’m working on it, and even though I have help from a lot of people, and even though I believe that posting this fact on Facebook is unproductive and shallow, the urge is still there. Some dark force of chemicals that can hide in the shadows of good intentions.

Fine. If this is what you want, so be it. I’ll post something sad to Facebook. I’ll try to scratch whatever itch you’ve told me I have. I’ll do it. But if you’re going to make me put myself out there, then god dammit you’re going with me.

Behold! That dark force. That chemical reaction. That depressing itch. That /thing/ that makes you want to post on Facebook when you’re sad.

Are you happy now?