April 1998 Archives

Don't run the red

Today a car almost hit me on my way to work.

It was entirely the driver's fault legally--his light was very red, and he decided to run it just as I pulled into the intersection.

But here is what sucks: I was riding my mountain bike, and if he had hit me...

Whether the rock hits the glass pitcher, or the pitcher hits the rock...

So I'm pissed off at people who run red lights today. Before this morning, I used to sit at intersections, shaking my head as cars trickled through. (In Spokane, Washington, where I studied for my bachelor's degree, there must be ten cars per minute running red lights all over the very small city.)

After this morning, besides the adrenaline coursing through my body, I am jittery with anger. What if this asshole had hit me?

He would be legally responsible.

I could easily be folded up, or cut in pieces, or just plain-old dead.

And today, there's no pithy moral, painted in clear and careful language. Just stop running red lights.



God, I'm tired.

It has been a long long week, and I cannot wait to get home to some quiet. Maybe I'll take a nap.

The weather today in Portland is highly schizophrenic. It was pouring rain not less than half-an-hour ago. Now it is blindingly bright. I expect it will hail just as I climb on my bike and head for my apartment building, where I will get off of my bike, sopping wet, or covered in ice, and tread up to my apartment.

God, the sky is unreal. Blue.

I have a friend who broke his foot skiing down from the top of Mt. Hood. He was going to lead a trip to the top of the mountain. The trip is still going to happen. I am going to climb. But he may not be able to go.

So this journal entry is dedicated to him.

Cheers, Henry!

Why I do this

I have a good friend who is beginning his web page today.

He is just barely beginning, otherwise there would be a link up there.

This dip into the new world of programming web pages for him reminds me of the first time I sat down to figure this out.

I don't think I did too badly, but I do know that what you see today (a little more than one month later... I'm still sort-of a beginner) is not nearly the same thing.

I remember staying up really late, reading printed page after printed page from a few of the many great sources for HTML programming. As a matter of fact, I'm still doing that.

So what's in it for me? What's in it for my good friend?

For me, the answer is simple: I like it. I like to write HTML, I like to think about the hierarchy of a site, I like to create and edit the images, and I like to see it when it's finally finished.

I love it when a plan comes together. (Reference: A-Team. If you didn't know.)

And after all of that, in the end, it is worth it to have my say. This site is mine, and in it you will find nothing but me. Fictions that grow out of my life experience, poetry that I write (mostly) when I'm happy, the story of my apartment, and a few things that give me hope.

There's more, but I don't feel like writing about it today. Poke around. See what you see. Email me to let me know what you think.

And to my friend embarking upon his first web endeavor: best of luck. And call if you need me.


Today I came uncommonly close to witnessing a suicide. Maybe.

The situation is not worth recounting.

What I am thinking about now is my reaction to it.

I have been near people who are dying of diseases that tear them apart or whittle them down to the last dredges of life and then suddenly, but with every possible warning, take them into death entirely.

But I have never in my life seen a perfectly healthy human being step intentionally off of that cliff. It happens all of the time, and at the very least, I count myself lucky.

Today as I stood at the bottom of a building--anticipating the screams, waiting the slow turn of a torso in midair, fearing the vision of a body broken by choice, broken among a crowd of young men and women, broken and bleeding and completely without life--as I stood at the bottom of this building, I shook and I prayed, and I hoped for the best.

And that was the best I could do.

Death is all around. Its slow and steady cut grazes over our heads, and inspired poets write their lovers immortally into verse. Its quiet form towers over our cities and our barren places, and we the people of the world are sitting below it, aware somehow that we are in a great shadow.

What could it possibly have meant, this event that passed quickly through my morning and was gone before the afternoon settled warmly over us?

I am not suddenly faced with my own death. Fear has no place there for me. I believe that life continues, maybe even really begins, after death deals its blow.

But I will not stop living this life now. I cannot say if it is stubbornness, hard heartedness, craziness, or pure love--something keeps me moving forward.

Today the sun is pure and unabashed.

Today, like every day until it is my turn to step into that dark mystery, I choose life.

Wet and lonely

Okay. I'm back from the incomprehensible world of javascripting.

I don't mind coding a bit here and there for fun. It's all new to me, anyway. But too much of it, and my brain begins to expand. I need water, I need food, I need rest.

I've been poking around water this evening. Maggy reminded me why I'm on the web. It won't hurt to learn some coding, but I can't forget that I'm here for something deeper. What is deeper? Go see.

My mother and her husband are in Minnesota tonight for a funeral.

My father just bought a new house with money from the sale of the house I grew up in.

My sister is trying desperately to decide what to do with her life before she leaves college (will someone please tell her that life decisions can be made after college...)

My brother is working harder than he is playing, and not getting much for it.

And I'm sitting alone in front of this computer.

This is a night I long for my family.

Where have you been?

You've been wondering whether you should email me or not.

This gives me great pain.

You see, I want to hear from you. Tell me anything. Even if you just say "hello", I'll be happy.

So I've cooked up a little something I call my AutoJerEmailer:

First, enter your name here:

Then click here.

Crinkled gifts

My two dear friends, Mike and Ashley, were recently married.

I stood in the wedding, in a double-breasted black tuxedo with a silver vest and tie.

Mike wore a black tuxedo with a gold vest. Ashley wore white.

I have known Mike for almost six years. We met the first week of our freshman year in college. I have known Ashley almost as long.

Standing in their wedding was not foreign to me--mine is the time of life when marriages crop up at a dizzying pace, and I have been in my share of them.

But something about Mike and Ashley's was very special to me, and I am still vibrating with the joy I received (an unintentional gift, doubtless, but one I took from the two of them with open arms). My brother wrote the music (Ashley walked in to the sound of a piccolo trumpet, spectacular and graceful).

Mike and Ashley wrote their own vows.

Mike and I have lunch together about once a week in a little restaurant roughly between our offices downtown, and I haven't had lunch there in two weeks because they have been on their honeymoon.

It's not that I couldn't have eaten there. It just feels funny to be there alone. So today as I was walking by this restaurant on my way to work, I was wondering whether or not I should go there for lunch. Frankly, I didn't want to go there alone.

And I came to work to find an email from Mike. He and Ashley just came back from their honeymoon in Zihuatenejo.

So we had lunch together today. He is very tan.

He gave me a gift from the two of them, wrapped in a piece of crinkled newspaper.

Gosh, I'm glad they're home.

Okay, so it rains a lot in Portland

It rained again today.

Recently, I've been thinking about a cool fact concerning the northernmost native people of North America: that they have a million (or whatever) words for "snow". And I'm wondering why Pacific Northwesterners don't have a million words for rain.

What do we call a day like today, when it pours for three minutes straight, followed by bright and eye-searing sunlight? You can literally watch the water evaporate off of the pavement.

Rains like today smell good, too. Just enough rain to pull the stinky stuff out of the air, distribute a fresh, wet smell to the world, and then disappear before the quick (but often wet) ride home.

So let the naming begin. Pick your favorite kind of rain, give it a name. Then tell me both. I'll pick my favorites and post them later.

I'll begin.

JacksonPollackRain: the fast appearing, fast leaving, spattering of rain I described earlier. You figure it out.


I have been thinking a lot about tattoos.

I have one--a little green frog about halfway up my right side, under my arm (a tender spot, if you are wondering... it hurt like hell).

Getting it was a significant experience. A rite of passage. Not from boy to man, but from untattooed to tattooed.

I have several friends with tattoos. From little ones like mine to huge ones that cover whole portions of their bodies. (Oh, the pain!) When I went to get mine, three friends came with me, and two of them got tattooed. And my tattoo sparked all kinds of interest, sending at least five other people careening toward the nearest tattoo parlor with painful skin-painting on their minds.

Now, my tattoo is small. And it had this strange effect on the world around me. And I'm wondering, what about the others who went under the needle with me? Did their tattoos have the same effect? And if they did, then how many more people got tattoos?

Are we staring straight in the face of a tattoo epidemic?

The next time you find yourself in an elevator or a restroom with a stranger, turn to them and ask them about the status of their skin. Then tell me what they say. Together, we can gauge the power of this epidemic, and perhaps stop it before it is too late.

Easter came and went with less noise than usual this year.

I, obviously, went to church.

I also spent some serious time away from my computer, which was refreshing.

Today is the birthday of Samuel Beckett (b. 1906), Eudora Welty (b. 1909), and Seamus Heaney (b. 1939).

It is also the second birthday of Glassdog, Lance Arthur's irrepressible online bid for world domination. That makes Glassdog a teenager in dog years. Think about it.

So celebrate the week however you can. I always need a little bit of something to get me through Monday. And better an online party or a celebration of great literature than too many cups of coffee (is there such a thing?... yes, barely).

Sometimes it rains in Portland

Last night as I rode home from work on my bike, it began to rain.

It started light, like a mist, which is what most of the rain in my part of the world does.

But then, just as I neared our apartment, it started to pour.

Not your everyday kind of pouring. Definitely not your everyday in Portland kind of pouring. This was the kind of pouring seen usually in humid and tortuously hot places like Florida or the Midwest states.

Lucky enough for me, I was mostly home. As I pulled up to the side of my apartment, I looked up.

Above me, a shaft of sunlight was pushing its way between our apartment and the house next to it. The rain, like most rain, was not easy to see (though it was easy to feel, especially because I was wearing a pair of sandals without socks).

But the rain was vivid inside the shaft. It was like staring into a dishwasher as it runs. It was like static on an old television. The rain danced with incredible power; and as it fell, it disappeared nearly twenty feet above the ground, where the light ended.

I pulled off my helmet, stepped off my bicycle, and walked under the shaft. And then I was home.

It's time to join the party

Bandwagon, here I come.

I have come to the conclusion that the development-cycle of a web designer must include some form of journal.

So here I am.

New to web design.

Entirely flabbergasted at the incredible stuff out there.

In two words: I'm hooked.

It's like a nasty addiction. I can't shake the feeling that I should be designing. I want to begin writing and never stop. And everything is suffering for it.

I work hard still, but with reluctance, doing what I have been doing for the last 9 months (suffice to say it is not designing web pages).

Several nights during the last week, I found myself sitting at my desk after work, working away at this or that small piece of a page until the wee hours of the morning.

(One night, I got an email from a designer I admire, saying her browser was crashing whenever she tried to go deeper into my site. It took me two and a half days of searching to find the problem. I felt like a joke without a punch line. Where was the rest of me?)

I have spent most of my life "writing" about everything. Often, I don't have the time or the tools to actually write the words down. I'm usually more concerned with capturing the moment for myself. But the few times I have been able to write down what I have been thinking about writing down, it hasn't turned out all that bad.

And I can't imagine a better place to put some of those things than the web. Even (maybe especially) because my counters are not showing high numbers of visitors.

(But then I'm thinking: I need publicity! I need to publish in web journals! I need to enter the inner circle of designers/writers! Blah blah blah--Like I said, I'm being consumed. And I don't really feel that way. I've never been one to work my way into any circles. If they'll have me, they will. If not, I'll just keep on playing.)

The only major problem is this: all of this thinking with no action is putting me in a really bad mood.

How am I ever going to find the time to design my own projects without developing my skills by working as a designer, even a part-time one?

How am I ever going to develop the skills I need to actually start working on web pages for a living?

I'm pooped and discouraged and excited all at once.

I guess it's time to get to work.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 1998 listed from newest to oldest.

May 1998 is the next archive.

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