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Under Construction
Pioneer Square, Portland

September 2nd, 2002

With the Execution
PISCES (Feb 18 - March 19): Assuming the worst may be a form of self-defense, but it can also narrow your vision. Optimism, though risky, is more gratifying. (SF Chronicle, August 31, 2002)
That's the danger, of course, hunkering down instead of standing up and marching toward the light. No, I don't know what it means either, but it sounds nice and it must elicit a response, cause here I am writing, "toward the light". (Cough! Cough! As in the refrigerator light? The porch light? The light filled hollow where my brains reputably reside?)

Sunday. I started that on Saturday, the day of the gay pride festival over in front Oakland City Hall. I shot maybe a dozen pictures, started feeling wobbly, started feeling sorry for myself, came home, crawled into bed and spent the afternoon reading. Now, this may not sound like much, but when's the last time I crawled into bed and spent an afternoon reading? A long time, let me tell you. When's the last time I was able to polish off a half a dozen books in a couple of weeks? More than a long time, longer than I can remember.

And what were my thoughts, lying there, still wobbly (an inner ear thing, the doctor said the first time this happened: "Take this pill kid, feel better."). Well, I had the realization I felt I should be up doing something to prepare for tomorrow, Sunday, a day of rest and recuperation, before Monday, another day of rest and recuperation, and I was thinking, wow!, how neurotic and dysfunctional is that? "A lot", was my thought.

The gay festival was larger than last year, surrounded by a green canvas covered wire fence.A sign in an Oakland window. They removed the fence for the Art and Soul Festival for today and tomorrow and put up additional stages to accommodate more bands. I drove down to the office, as I have a parking pass to go with this pager that hasn't buzzed since late Friday afternoon (I may volunteer for pager duty again. The free parking is pretty nice.) and wandered through what was now a much larger crowd. No entrance fee, you see. Nice. I ran into a web developer friend who works at the office, plastic cup of red wine in hand, kicking back to the blues on the patio with wife and family.

I'd packed both of the big cameras, one with the 35mm-70mm zoom and one with the 80mm-200mm, both big f2.8 glass, the 80mm-200mm looking and lugging, as I've mentioned, like a small mortar. Many photographers use an 80mm-200mm zoom, but I've never much liked it for weight and bulk. Still, loaded with gear, wearing a shooting jacket over a t-shirt, sweating, I shot maybe one or two good pictures, but I began feeling wobbly and light headed again so I went back home, climbed into bed for more reading. It was Sunday. Take a Sunday as it comes, my son, and you will feel better. I was feeling better.

Monday. Another trip to the Art and Soul Festival, this one more successful. Got up early and ran a load of laundry, dropped by the local 7-11 look alike to buy paper and two bottles of Coca Cola, the real Coca Cola, not the diet stuff. (What the hell, it's a long weekend. Celebrate.) The laundry done before ten, I crawled back into bed and continued Haruki Murakami's The Wind Up Bird Chronicles til around two. This is the fourth Murakami book I've read these last two weeks, the tone, the internal head set of the main characters consistent across all four.

Every book, for example, slips in a mention of a woman character's ear. He's obviously an ear man. I don't think ears lend themselves to elaborate ritual, but I could be wrong. He just, you know, likes women's ears. And, my goodness, he appears to be Japanese, so his characters behave pretty much (one assumes) like Japanese, except, well, you never know with a writer. Hunter Thompson is an American. Are his characters representative Americans? (I, for one, would say absolutely, but, you know, with, um, some stipulation.)

Anyway, I am reading Murakami, who's characters seem totally self absorbed - a consistent theme, I guess, his work an examination of this insularity - and I am thinking my existence, other than the job, runs in a parallel fashion, what with the self absorbed photographs and this journal, and I am thinking, running little riffs really, thinking, wow!, maybe this is good and maybe this is bad and maybe this is why I stopped writing in the 70's! Which makes me think, writing this, that I'm stoned or something. Do people really think in such little circles? Murakami's do. Or is that why I'm liking him?

Of course Murakami is also giving me ideas I could take off with in my own writing, if I were, um, writing something other than a journal. I could have used him when I was 25. Where was he when I was 25? (He was 20, and, one assumes, living in Japan, writing in Japanese and unpublished.) I remember my own writing in the 70's, my world morphing into something half words on page, half out there reality, head, in other words, full of cotton. Not to worry, I said then, as long as the rent gets paid and my street appearance doesn't scare the locals, but decided, finally, well, what? To stop? Maybe. To go back to "a real existence"?

Where is this going?

Same old place. Pay no attention. I'm trying to tie it together before it ends. A drink might help.

An email arrived at the office after work Friday announcing a company meeting this next Thursday to go over the company financial results which will be released to the public the day afer (When the axe may well fall. They'll say we may be losing money hand over fist, but we've made changes that will correct the problem, starting with our lazy assed tech staff here in Oakland.). Lying in bed reading, dozing, fretting this weekend, I realized how much this particular worry is eating at me, getting to me in ways I don't really recognize. Easy to think yourself into a corner, particularly when you're living in this Murakami head space of mine, and Friday I may well learn how to apply cotton on the brain to unemployment.

I don't want to be living inside my head, totally inside my head, when they punch my ticket. I would like to come out into the real world just long enough to land another job, something not too stressful, get up to speed, and retire back into the land of photographs and journal writing. Murakami's characters seem to just let things happen to them when life throws them a curve, and believe me, life throws them curves, one or two straight out of science fiction. My own life is a fiction, but not a science fiction. Words, photographs and a few computers, but no weird alien sheep, seer sisters or earthquakes, except between the covers. Book covers.

No, none of this makes any sense to me either. Rewrite, my son. The theme is good, everyone who reads understands head cotton, the problem is with the execution. And the length. Too long.

The banner photograph was taken in Pioneer Square in Portland and the sign was found in an apartment window in Oakland.