Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Boards of Canada.

Ladadadadadadada…And in the light of what was there it’s been said they heard me bid you – “Come on!”

Due to the sporadic and scarce amount of musical talent that tours during the holiday season, I was able to spend the past weekend in the awkward graces of our metropolitan neighbour to the north. You (devoted reader) may be shaking your deeply concerned head at this news, but do not fret over some emotional freefall or repeated adventure that may have seemed to occur. For there was only a pause along the I-5 corridor in Seattle; enough time to pick-up a fellow, who will be referred to only as Alexandria. I had not seen Alexandria since I dropped him off at a Greyhound station some months ago, and now he was back in the region to spend the holidays with his immediate family. The two of us had been planning this excursion through electronic dialogue over the last week, and were able to make our open schedules coincide with another friend who had accompanied me on the morning travel. The aforementioned traveler is named Olympia and currently resides in the Washington capitol of the same name. It is there that I had spent the prior evening celebrating and, eventually, contracting a sore back associated with some dehydrated, hardwood floor sleeping. So there you (attentive reader) have it – the gathering of a holy trinity of sorts who wished to spread some patriotic cheer all over the Port of Vancouver and possibly become ex-patriots. That’s right, the trio went international with this weekend adventure.

Immediately we are flagged at the international border. Apparently Canada has some sort of tight deposition towards young Americans fleeing into her cold and expansive arms, which was displayed by the attractive brunette that had us park the Oldsmobile and retell our ploy to the officials in the security building behind her. Our lines were stated and some questions were fielded, and after some shared discussion concerning the stereotypes of those who are selected to pullover it was back on our route. There was some initial confusion on the speed of which to continue this journey (thinkmetric), but once it was agreed that Americans should pursue life at 65 mph –no matter what foreign law decrees- we were on our merry old way. There was about twenty minutes of car talk laced with imitated accents and jargon of the land until we began to take in the enormity of the surrounding mountains and the conglomeration of lights buried in its sides and protruding into its valley. We began our descent into the outskirts of the metro area as the final rays of sunlight disappeared for the day. There was an outstanding vibrancy to the international hub at this time that was noticed as we neared and, later, drove over the Granville Street Bridge into our destination: the Cambie Hostel in the Gastown District.

Once parked outside the hostel, we hopped out of the car anxious and ready to see what the party people do in this specific district. But first we had to verify arrangements for our sleepyheads of the future. “Is it cool if I leave my car parked in front of the hostile overnight?” The receptionist replies, “ What do you mean by cool?” Ah yes, this man is Canadian. He continues, “If you have plates from the ‘States you will definitely have your car window smashed.” Ok, I have an understanding of what is cool and decide to take his eventual advice of parking in the garage across the street. We unload the vehicle and load the hostile room with our belongings, and head to the connected restaurant and bar for some cheap rye whiskey and hockey. How novel this proved to be, since my attention was quickly averted to the football game on the adjacent screen. After some drinks and acclamation in the smoking room, we headed out onto the streets of the homeless and, later, an English pub on Water Street for some more whiskey and electronic music. This was a pleasant stop that followed an aerial view and cocktail in Harbour Centre’s needle, but it was evident by the sparse clientele that it would not be our last. The server was a cute, younger woman that informed us of areas in walking distance with more to offer a visitor opting for a night on the town. We were directed towards Granville Street, which was a strip of highbrow shopping and clubbing venues dotted with a limited number of watering holes appealing to Alexandria, Olympia, or myself. We scouted the extent and decided on an Irish Pub this time; a familiar place with grunge music on the jukebox, sportscentre on the tube, and rye whiskey and coke in the tumbler. Amongst the engaging discussion that developed, Olympia and I began to speak openly about the relaxed/nonexistent rules on the ganja in these parts. We had spoken of this before, but not much around Alexandria, and decided this had to be taken advantage of; after all, we do partake. The substance was not in our possession at the time, but would be in a matter of minutes. You (interested reader) see, Olympia was the one to build the courage to ask the suspicious skateboarder on the street corner. Eureka! Then it was off to the park near the hostel to settle that matter and then wander around the surroundings until the evening’s closure.

The following morning came and passed; we arose from our slumbers around the noon hour and paraded downstairs for some breakfast and coffee over pigskin. Our spirits were high after the rest and nourishment, and ready to wander down to the harbour for an outlook over False Creek. The previously described mountains were encompassing us as we peered out onto the development that covered its sloped sides. We remained in a voyeur state until the moment passed, and then we embarked on a mission, devised the prior night, to the Amsterdam Café. This was another one of those novel Canadian ideas, which was nonetheless very surreal and suspiciously comfortable. With clouded perception we left the unique establishment for the narrow alleys and stubby pins that is synonymous with bowling. Ah yes, another novel idea that is, once again, nothing more than a subtle alteration of an idea to the south giving it uniqueness to the north – or vice a versa. Nevertheless, the activity was a great deal of fun along with being an enjoyable manner to pass time without venturing for another tavern. A venue the trio has spent a great deal of time together in over our time shared in Stumptown. Following the lighthearted shenanigans, we headed across the strip for some Japanese cuisine to fill our appetites and to the café for further inebriation (some novelties are just too satisfying not to second).

We would spend the evening’s hours in a similar fashion to any of those we had while in each other’s company back in Stumptown. Wandering from bar to bar in search of a gratifying time and story to reflect upon for the next adventure. You (by now, exhausted reader) see, this is what the twenty-something males of America do – in foreign locale, or not. We share spirits and raise spirits. We tell each other about times in our lives they have already missed and those that they soon will. We reveal our pasts to one another and divulge each other with ideas for our future. Intentions whose outcomes each of us may have predicted for one another from our time spent together. Outcomes we hope to once again share.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A Gambol on Portland.

The past week has been a reunion of sorts. It was a reconnection with a familiar and inviting friend from the past that began with a purposefully ignored phone call about a month ago. I was at a neighborhood café with a friend and a new housemate when I felt the vibrating associated with an incoming phone call within the pocket of my blue jeans (I am not one to seek the outside attention that comes with any ring tone). I got hold of my cell phone and noticed a long distance call from an unrecognized area code. As usual I chose not to place myself in an uncompromising situation that can arise from answering an unknown number, so I press ignore and wait to discover whether or not there is enough importance in this failed attempt at contact to leave me a voicemail.

The first half of the visit consisted of sharing some of each other’s last seven years and attempting to recall our brief encounters at each other’s college towns. Neither of us seemed to remember hosting such a visit, but I do remember a beer pyramid on a porch and the high praise given to some band by the name Lawrence Arms by some local Carbondale punks. There was also time spent with my old friend’s travel companion, who is a recent graduate in the arts that plans to move here in the New Year. All this time seemed cordial and pleasant. It was fast and impressionable with stops at a number of watering holes (Mash Tun, The Know, The Nest, and Clinton Street Pub) and restaurants (Beulahland, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and Vita). The two travelers also spent a couple of hours each day trolling through the eastside neighborhoods for the one who is relocating. Giving me an opportunity to work on my final class project about gentrification in the same Alberta District that I showed the two upon their arrival, which I seized by resting my head for a couple of hours. The first half ended with a continuation of their long travels with a side trip north on I-5 through Seattle and Vancouver.

The first half of the second half was relocation, Zack and Doug. The two spent a few Marriott nights to the North and returned here for the next couple of nights. Agreeing that this place is a good fit for both of them and that there is also now a recent graduate in beauty school that plans to move here in the New Year. I am pleased to hear this and will continue to wonder if it will happen in the future. The old friend and her travel companion returned with news of meeting up with a college friend that lives nearby. The college friend is in a local hardcore band and suggests that we go to the Hungry Tiger, which is near the mailbox of some friend he wishes to drop off a picture for. The suggestion sounded good so I spent the beginning of the evening listening about some Carbondale punks, drinking whisky, playing pool, and briefly speaking with some folks by the name of House Party Revolution. After the Tiger, we went to the Fir and had some late night food with the fake logs and pretentious vibe. The Cholula is stolen off the table in response to this atmosphere and staff demeanor.

The second half of the second half was education and the Blood Brothers. We slowly awoke the next day and met up with their nearby hardcore friend and went to Junior’s where we spoke about the prior night over some coffee and plates of food. After the meal, the old college friends exchanged farewells and spoke about being in the same city again. The three remaining friends spent the afternoon printing and turning in my final project for my lone graduate course, and touring the West Hills and Mount Tabor. After the errand running and cooler air there was time to rest to the volume of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on the living room couches and eat a Lebanese meal at Riyadhs. But then it would be onto the Matador, Scooters and to view a band by the name of the Blood Brothers. The drinking establishments provided some of the stiffest whisky and cokes; just the kind of jumpstart to this sort of rock show that you would desire. There was a tour of the venue/workplace for the relocating friends along with some uncommon interaction with coworkers. The buttons are stolen off the merchandise table in response to this atmosphere and my lack of concern with the staff.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Sunset Horseman.

I’m sorry ’cause someone told me to watch, and I watched for it all over Spain with my eyes.

The latest short-term relationship must come to an end, this time on my accord, since there appears to be nothing more than suspicious and undesirable crossings. It was the morning following my return to Portland from a family visit to Illinois the evening prior, and I was punishing through rain puddles with a friend who was treading to work on the same path as I was to the university. We crossed over the train tracks and went our separate directions – he to fight the noble fight against local measures featured on this year’s election ballot and me to the Powell & Milwaukee bus stop. I arrived at the depot in time to peer through my rain soaked glasses and notice the bus I should have caught charge ahead to the next awaiting congregation of commuters. So I ducked under the covered benches, waiting to step on the next bus that is due in fifteen minutes. Time is passed by observing a dreadlocked panhandler pacing the boulevard in miserable pursuit of charity and exchanging subtle glances with a stranger standing next to me under the awning. Here she is, the bus has arrived, and as I board I notice that she has also arrived. She is a recently familiar encountress who is intelligent and sitting predictably, almost in a display of planned figurement, in the front of the bus. Oh, unwelcomed surprise.

Communication had been fading between us prior to my just-finished trip, and I planned to use this distancing to begin a typical cut-and-run without any new destination. An obviously immature and emotionless attempt to make for a clean-break without the “whys?” or “what ifs?” Yet, I act somewhat delighted to see her and sit my uncomfortable body on the vacant seat next to her. I immediately direct conversation into a usual exchange common to friends who have not seen one another in a week or so, and then I touch on the only topic of communication we have shared in the past week: Fannie Mae candy. “I received your text message… I wasn’t able to get you the mint meltaways.” She states how that is alright and that they were intended to be given to her boss at the candy shop anyway. You see she is a sweet(s) girl, and that is what I want, but we just do not share much in common other than sarcastic tone and the state of Illinois. Ten minutes of cycling conversation continues and passes, and a building of Advanced Technology arrives. Our stop. Umbrella is visible and functioning as soon as we step off the bus. “You’re too tall” and “I’m comfortable in the rain” fill conversation as we briskly walk up to the division between our two halls of destination. As we approach the divide, I begin to reach for any distraction – in order to avoid the questions pertaining towards a future rendezvous. Aha! I have found the distraction necessary to my spontaneous ploy of distancing in the presence of an old friend. So I gasp her name in exasperation and relief, and give frank words of departure to the familiar encountress –oh, she was late for a midterm exam in French and I did not wish to keep her.

That is where it all should have ended; that is where a clear lack of attention should have been more carefully observed. But there will be no clean-break since I have received text messages (one of the present’s attempts to maintain lines of communication more easily at the expense of intimacy) that will force me to make another physical encounter with her to avoid a more uncomfortable surprise on future commutes.

Friday, September 1, 2006

A Convergence of the Have-Nots.

Alberta Street. The last Thursday of every month the sidewalks of this corridor are littered with makeshift stands featuring proud displays of the efforts of local artisans. Works of grandeur sparsely shining through the surrounding dark of amateur members of the community trying to capitalize on the newfound gentrification of the surrounding neighborhoods. An evening walk down the crowded passage may find you awestricken by a simple canvass that has been transformed into a unique piece exhibiting a digital photograph of a series of bottles that has been superimposed and layered with an epoxy resin. While inquiring the creator, you may find yourself in a one-sided conversation due to a neighboring booth of teenagers portraying gypsies that has diverted your attention by repetitively yelping until they have drawn a passer’s attention for an inaccurate interpretation of one’s path. Continuing on your struggle to remain in control of what you select to view, you advance towards a series of booths occupied by familiar faces all attempting to sell their auxiliary activities. They ventured out to the festivities early in the afternoon hoping to maximize profits through ideal product placement and a lengthened day; however, most folks that are able to afford items of a higher echelon don’t come at three o’clock, but rather as the sunlight begins to wane. Making the latter purpose one of socializing and gaining comfort more than an entrepreneurial decision. Among these inviting voices you are able to view the entire experience in a microcosm. The most unique idea (selling tasters of homemade Kombucha tea) is pressed by the most social of the bunch to financial avail; the friend who was relaxed by a prior yoga class was offering self-described simple paintings (including a replica of a 1950's Czech matchbook) in social serenity without monetary success; a neighbor who peddles screened t-shirts with drug-referencing jargon (spliffs) to a targeted audience with moderate influx recycled into cases of Pabst’s Blue Ribbon; and, finally, another neighbor with a professional exhibition consisting of an array of articles (apparel, stickers, etc.) displaying his personally developed logo to a consistency of purchasers.

Last Thursday is a delightful convergence of the have-nots. The cliche of the starving artist hoping to connect to one stranger in an effort to sell one overpriced work to cover the payment for one month’s rent. While the stranger is in complete comprehension of the artist’s aspiration and is willing to exchange his white-collared dollar for a pleasant story or compensation for his/her void in artistic talent.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Civic Duty Wednesday.

I boarded the #4 headed to the Multnomah County Circuit Court. Civic duty was waiting for my arrival the past couple of weeks, along with various utility bills, and a living quarters debacle. The bus stops at fourth avenue and it’s off to the line wrapping itself around the outside of the building. Metal detectors and laxed, stagnant security awaited this day’s juror pool of democratically-enlightened optimists. Stories in the hallway would share their occupations: African American nurse who is an hour removed from her half-day nursing shift, thirty-something middle-management white male with a solid short-game and a pension for poor cellular phone etiquette, and a hundred or so more participants.

Room 130 is seated by the specified time of eight o’clock and has been summarized the day’s scenario by one of the county’s judges that will not be residing any trials by jury and a staff member who earlier handed me my plastic necklace with white keycard for identification. Morning hours were passed by reading and seated-sleep until news was announced concerning a trial requesting 15 jurors. My name was mispronounced and I responded with an affirming "here." My chance to practice my civil duty was upon me, and my fingers were crossed that I would fit into the desired profile of the attorneys. When introductions had come and gone, I had presented myself as a graduate student who recently returned from an internship without any knowledge of the judiciary faculty, prosecution, or defense. But after a brief recess to discuss and vie for jurors, I was dismissed from the courtroom/ passed over and left unable to determine the innocense of a fellow charged while intoxicated on what I assumed to be a combination of substances. Civic Duty was not to be. I wandered out of the courthouse for a lunch of solitude at Captain Ankeny’s to enjoy a tennis match on the television and the Willamette Week over a deep-dish pizza. The hour passed and I returned to the line wrapping itself around the outside of the building and to the second-half of that direct-action liberating feeling of awaiting an old woman’s voice to read the randomly-generated list. She had read 53 names out of the 55 requested for the hearing, when her dry deliberate delivery struck my attentive ear with "Steven (two second pause for anticipated mispronunciation)." To my astonishment she didn’t say anything resembling a domestic bird or manufactured chew product. The elation was recognized by a woman seated next to me, who was also rejected from the earlier trial. One more name would be listed with nervous anticipation. It wasn’t sick twist of fate in this secular sanctuary. The winners of the great juror selection process left defeated in the civil process and the rest of us were dismissed early to enjoy our afternoons knowing we have at least two-years until our civic duty may be practiced again.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Unalaska, Alaska Journal Entry 5

A thick gray mask has covered this island for the past couple of nights. The fog which has descended upon the village serves as a reminder that this region is an enigma; detached from the shared events of the whole. The present populace shows genuine concern with intimate interaction and displays a subsequent devotion to the indigenous. Forgetting the commercial aspect of the attached island of Amaknak and its port of Dutch Harbor, the Unalaskan village displays a faithful tie to its ancestral lineage. Influence of outside communities is evident-whether it’s the Russian Orthodox Church that represents one of the most recognizable man-made structures or the invasion of I-Pods amongst those adherent to a global technocracy- but, in my view, appears to be one of the last places in our nation to avoid immersion with an authentic sense. Members of the society have contemporary professions suited to the physical advantages the stretches of open water provide; leaving about eight-to-ten of the demographic to be directly connected to the sea (a potentially frustrating and sensitive topic being that the majority of this majority is not of the opposite sex). Levels ranging from: the immigrant fishery worker that departs his distant homeland for an opportunity to provide financial benefit, and hopeful comfort or escape to his family living lives away; to the coast guard worker serving a personally felt obligation to serve his country in a capacity he/she is restful in (not complacent?!); to someone convicted of a past misdemeanor, which he/she has distanced from and behaviorally recovered over, that can only discover employment in an encompassing factory at the end of the earth; et al. This is the career-oriented life found on the commercial side.

The village is tied to its surroundings in a natural manner that is aware, but not exploitive of these surroundings. A gratifying discovery remaining only in a handful of civil settings, which in my cynical view appear to be rapidly diminishing. This embedded pride in embracing the community predates the arrival of cutters and trappers, and will hopefully flourish long after their exploits conjure guilt. At a simplistic level that is why the cabin (note to reader: the cabin I previously wrote of, was completely incinerated a week after the memorable excursion) will be rebuilt. There is importance in maintaining a grip to the past and amplifying the positive impressions it has left with us. Leaving us with a higher level of community awareness.

This break from the reality of life in Portland has been refreshing and invigorating.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Unalaska, Alaska Journal Entry 4

Preface: Twelve days remain in my visit to the Aleutian Island of Unalaska, and I am now beginning to reach conclusions on the questions in my life that brought me here. Not going to spend much time explaining the specifics to the millions who wait under abated breath to hear these findings, but simply going to state that desolation provides one with an abundance of time for introspection. The answers are clearer, future intentions are better defined, and reintroduction is anticipated.

Body of Work (a): Weather in the past week has been exceptional (the heat wave felt across the mainland of this nation has not been evident to this subcontinent), with temperatures sustaining in the mid-fifties to low-sixties. Allowing myself and my social friend/professional superior to skip out on occupational duties and spend time communing with the nature that surrounds this village. The outskirts are littered with mountain peaks and trails that lead you to them or circumscribe them, through passes, and lead you to unique destinations (i.e. native Quonsets, rocky coastlines, etc.). Nodes that undoubtedly exist in Oregon, but have been unfortunately ignored due to the all-encompassing noise and social pull of the urban, social scene. There will definitely be more exploration of these venues upon my return to the state, yet I will also voluntarily once again become the victim to the entertainment within this urban noise. Populist excursions are limited here, and one of the simpler conclusions this escapade has brought me to is that I need these distractions in my life. But a better balance of immersion and distancing must be discovered to maintain high levels of health.

Body of Work (b): Work at the radio station has been both tedious and relaxing the past week, but the archival portion that was of priority to the social friend/professional superior is finished. With this task completed, more freedom to take on desired tasks is now available and I will hopefully be aiding the programming department (a middle-aged man that performs ballads on his key-tar on the weekends) or the news department (a peer who attended an Ivy League university and converses to open ears for mind-numbing lengths of time). This advancement began yesterday when I was able to fill-in for an absent on-air talent and host a sixty-minute program featuring independent artists. Male Songwriters: Bright Eyes (10:00 am), Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens; Canadian Artists: Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, New Pornographers; Female Songwriters: Neko Case, Cat Power, Jenny Lewis; Established Acts: Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney; Pacific Northwest Artists: Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie (11:00 am). A set of music that conjured up memories of similar sets in college radio that sent ignorant hands frantically turning their dials in search of familiarity.

Conclusion: My adventurous spirit has brought me to an area of exceptional beauty and endless opportunity for exploits of the natural setting. There is, however, limited amounts of opportunity for exploits of the social setting, which has reminded myself of how great of a fit the City of Roses and the Beaver State is for me. I am in no way placing an "x" over the box of each ended day on the calendar, but I am eagerly looking forward to my return.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Unalaska, Alaska Journal Entry 3

The past week has been one of apparent normalcy when describing life on the island. Diligent work throughout the workdays followed by the viewing of a film over a self-prepared meal of two-to-three courses, and then the decision of whether or not to catch up on a domestic or professional itinerary. Your alternative is to push these chores aside and socialize at one of the limited watering holes, where you discuss occupational matters in a setting outside the workplace or attempt to sequester the constant thought-line of labor by whimsical and nonsensical banter. This is the pattern of life for myself and friendly coworkers during the first five days of the week, but as soon as six o’clock appears in the bottom-right corner of your computer’s monitor you pack your bags and head for surrounding nature.

It was at this time on Friday that three of us headed out on a hushed adventure to a cabin located on the western side of the Beaver Inlet along the Agamgik Bay. This cabin is the more secretive of two cabins known to a select few on the island; the other being one that is a common hangout for highschool students and rats that inhabit due to the teenager’s lackadaisical behavior. After a drive along a meandering coastal dirt road, we arrived at the head of the trail and readied ourselves for a five mile hike out to the distant cabin. The trek out was fairly uneventful without any daunting inclines and only a bit of foraging through a handful of shallow streams. Along the barely-worn trail there was a light and refreshing breeze that enhanced our comfort, providing relief to our bodies hauling the evenings feast and festivities- in addition to the essentials. Upon reaching the cabin, I noticed it was an old makeshift shed dating back to the second World War. The dilapidated exterior had me second-guessing my friend’s lofty proclamations, but after further inspection I learned this poorly kept face may serve more as a deterrent from outsiders than anything else. The backside of the cabin was far more welcoming, including: (1) a running stream that flows ten feet from, (2) a deck with optimal picnic seating covered by a wooden roof and blue tarp that were recent renovations in response to a winter storm, (3) bedding for up to five occupants, and (4) enough food and supply to last these potential occupants for weeks. How had I ended up at this oasis? I felt incredibly fortunate to be introduced to this area by my Alaskan friend.

Events of the evening were typical to most camping excursions I have experienced in my past. The specifics being that we cooked up four halibut fillets and a pot of coos-coos for dinner, indulged in conversation that seemed to go off on tangents only to end on the initial topic of work, and plenty of consumption of Hamm’s beer and Corbett Canyon wine around an uncooperative wood stove. The evening wore on into the early hours of the morning, and the morning began in the early hours of the afternoon...awakening to scrambled eggs, sausage, and a couple cups of coffee. The weather conditions had flipped overnight and we were now faced with light showers that we decided to hike back through, but not before a game of Scrabble and a warming fire aided by plenty of kindling and fire paste (a substance of amazement that I had previously been unaware of). The drenching hike back to the truck seemed an exchangeable punishment for a great excursion, and provided my mind with time to reflect on the time spent at this resort.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Unalaska, Alaska Journal Entry 2

One week has now passed since my arrival to the port of Dutch Harbor and I have become fairly settled within the midst of this warming community. The population of this island is estimated around 4,200 year-round residents, but the census reader must have had a monetary dependence per capita since the island only appears to near this determined number when a ferry or coast guard cutter docks. Therefore, I have made it a priority to engage in noncritical conversation and take the few disparaging comments with a light shrug. No desire to burn any bridges or create any enemies during my stay on the island; a wise decision seeing that there are few places to escape any conflicts.

Being that this is the largest fishing site per gross national product, I seized the opportunity to spend last Wednesday on a thirty foot charter adventure on the hunt for halibut. The majority of the bill was flipped by my gracious host’s parents who were on a four-day visit from Florida. Thank you. Filling out the Suzanne Marie’s cabinet was a friendly couple that were the first residents that I met upon my arrival last weekend. The weather conditions were favorable to a day of successful fishing, with fairly calm waters and limited gusts of wind. I was able to catch two halibuts (the limit of my one-day fishing license), view a couple of puffins wading on the cold waters, and catch a glimpse of a porpoise skipping near the stern of the boat. An experience that anyone visiting this community should indulge into at least once during their stay.

My other afternoons this week were spent performing enjoyable, but tedious, work at the radio station. Monotonous duties of archiving the station’s minimal musical library that has enabled me to familiarize with genres that I have had limited experience with since my time spent in college radio. I must insert here that archiving and listening to music for any sort of income, travel opportunity, or combination of the two hardly seems like any sort of labor. To further strengthen this advantageous situation, everyone in the office shares a passion for the arts and shares in the common theme of welcoming visitors to their island village.

The above mentioned is, of course, just a glimpse of my experiences on this island thus far. Every moment in Unalaska has been incredible and enjoyable, whether it has been driving along the outlying roads in search of wild horses, foxes, and bald eagles, floating in the open waters hoping to catch the evening’s dinner, or exchanging favorable conversation with the locals (that are never at a loss for words) over some free beverages. This island has many adventures to share with any outsider that opens his heart to new experiences.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Unalaska, Alaska Journal Entry 1

Yesterday I arrived to the Aleutian island upon a PenAir island hopper to the breathtaking view of jagged cliffs of green earth comparable to the photographs I have seen of Ireland or Iceland. The runway suddenly appeared when descent seemed to have reached conclusion, parting a ceiling of cloud cover reaching no higher than five hundred feet. Destination for my summer had been reached and a warm face greeted me at the single-runway airport of Dutch Harbor, a commercial portion of the island flooded with various representations of a predominate fishing industry.

My gracious host immediately introduced me to peers of the community at the village’s only hotel where the four of us were served a hearty midday meal by Darlene, whose background of alcoholism and subsequent court ordered banishment and eventual reintroduction was revealed. Everyone here, like any other one of us, has a story to tell. Only in this isolated location, it becomes common knowledge to all settlers and one particular visitor in a fashion similar to that of a small town highschool.

After our meal, my gracious host and I departed the resort for an introduction to the living quarters I will reside in for the next five weeks. A pleasant one bedroom home separated from a family with two younger children (privacy, however, I do not foresee becoming any discomforting issue). After unloading my baggage, we stepped back into a familiar truck for a tour along one of the few routes that escape the community’s nook located at the mouth of Unalaska Bay, which is an inlet of deep blue connected to the Bering Sea. The steep rural hillsides were shrouded with the typical vegetation of a tundra in winter recession and a private land fenced from nearly all possibilities of exotic introduction.

A late afternoon rest would follow the brief tour, which allowed time for mental clearance and realization of my new surroundings and the familiarity I will develop with it. Then it was a thrust into civilized life including a trip to the town’s grocery store, a stir-fry dinner and a late night where I was introduced to friends of my gracious host and two of the island’s three taverns.

I feel blessed to be able to spend the next month-plus in seclusion from the mounting stress of life on the mainland. Such detail is expended upon everyday life here that one can find himself forgetting that there exists a world of international distress. Yet, life appears to resemble one of any other American - minus the assortment of entertainment choices found elsewhere and a stronger link to the extreme weather conditions.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Recapitulation of the “Great Alaskan Death Party or the Fourth of July I Spent in Heidi’s Room.”

My summer farewell to Portland was held yesterday in the shadows of an American celebration. It is now known to the masses that I will be departing for Dutch Harbor, Alaska on Friday evening for a five-week stint with the local radio station. Friends from two past occupations showed; they brought chips and salsa, they brought their wives and husbands, they brought their unwanted boyfriends, they brought their one-week old newborn, and they brought their childhood manners. The festivities were lively, which may seem a bit ironic or appropriate (some think on different wavelengths), since I am traveling to one of the more desolate places in our country. Here’s hoping that I will make an ironic return to this city and leave behind some of those who were in attendance to their static present. A trimming of the Portland family tree is in store for those who bring unwanted boyfriends and childhood manners. A branching out with those who inspire with their dynamic present and presence will follow. Yes, a pruning will occur and some will fail to make the cut. Trust me we’ll all be the better for it. There will be plenty of time to ponder self-improvement in the tundra, and it will be welcomed. When I return I will find that things haven’t changed all that much and won’t unless some effort is put forward. And forward as we all know is the direction of progression.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Room for None.

Oh shit yes, you're here girl. Blocks where I first laid my crosshairs on you, girl. I was hollerin' at my boy just this mornin' 'bout how you'd be crawlin' back to get some more of this. You was all over my shit last night at karaokee. Askin' me for some of my two-dollar tots...when girl you knew it was free game. Then I figured it was free game and asked you to duet some of that new Killer's bullshit and you was all, "that shit sets me right off, matty." So it was on, you hit the highs and I was all-up on those lows, hoes. Then we scattered back to the Motel matty with a grip of some whack-ass websters that were all, "let's post-okee some of that Fems back at room 86ed." I wasn't gonna be all, "nah, not tonight lads." But you had to be knowin' I just wanted it to be you and some matty kickin' it to some Marshall Mathers, while I be craftin' some tops-shelf microwave noodles for us to dine on. It's cool though, because we got some time to just talk about shit that just blew my mind straight off, canvassing. You was all twenty-five completes and two positive interactions, and I was all yeah we really shared something tonight, girl. And now you back in the spot to get all round two on matty, well girl welcome to Motel Matty; we gots to be wakin' around eleven.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Wolf at the Door.

I’ve never been the one to flaunt a clean bill of health; mainly because I’ve never had the opportunity to do so. You see, I’m not the fresh-faced student that receives the year-end perfect attendance award. No Christmas bonus will ever alleviate my family’s holiday spendings, for this body will never fend off disease for a yearly duration. But I don’t request all your thoughts, sympathy, or goodwill intentions. You see, I’m selfish and not always deserving of such. A kind gesture or light inquiry is all I desire or deserve. The constant pains I endure are not all brought upon by myself, but I’m not exactly breaking a sweat to take the best care of myself either. You see, I’ll never be confused as your considerate friend or your healthy brother or your innocent son. I’m not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes on this, it’s fact and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. However, I have lately been receiving your thoughts, sympathy, and goodwill intentions. I have friends altering their own actions and rutted behaviors to aid my debilitated movements. I have siblings (one of true relation) exclaiming for me to take better care of myself and stating that they will provide any necessary support to see that I do. I have my parents concerned and offering aid, and friend’s parents praying for my health in the most sacred places in the most sacred of lands! Thank you. Thanks so much, but please suppress some of this concern. Don’t get me wrong, all of this attention has helped, I’m just not deserving of it all. I mean, if roles were reversed would I be providing this kind of support or attention? I hope that I would, but I’m just not sure how selfish I really am.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Great Trans-Alaskan Pipe Dream.

Here it goes. The doubters will believe and the believers will be disappointed. Having recently caught up with an old friend in a present time conjured up strong associations and shared interests. By the time of our first face-to-face in some three years, myself & my former housemate(slash)boss, I had long passed on the pursuit of any profession or future involvement in public radio. The window had been shut by now, the ears were listening to the newly accustomed monitor hums from a cubicle and not a booth. Yet, a simple breakfast at a Killingsworth café near the end of this reunion and celebration for separate futures, sprang a moment of spontaneity where the former housemate(slash)subordinate decided to question time’s passing and inquire about a reunited future of sorts. I should have a more narrow vision by twenty-five, but what about expanding oneself and furthering optional avenues? The latter I had been pondering for some time, and had now seized on a slim opportunity to do so. Managing to land a second position in musicland could reopen this tightened artery, and allow myself to build upon past experience. This may be a favored balance to graduate school intentions in environmental planning in the not-too-far future. Managing to land an advanced schooling in studying the not-too-far future would keep a functional artery opened, and allow myself to build upon past education. This can wait ‘til autumn. Wake up! There isn’t much time before the window is completely closed and you can no longer escape down this closing passage. Clutch onto any sort of chance you have and ask the housemate(slash)boss about an escape. Hell, the friend(slash)friend is in front of you eating salmon cakes! So I asked him about aiding his community radio station this summer for a month or so, expecting little more than a passing glance and smile, and he throws back some gurgled direction about a possible paid-internship. Which brings us a month later, where I have now sent off the necessary pre-requisitions for a potential chance to intern in musicland and view the Great Northwest:
Thank you for your consideration for this desired position.
[attached: Steven Gehrke KIAL Cover Letter.wpd, Steven Gehrke KIAL Resume.wpd]
Steven Gehrke
ALARM: Believers, don’t forget the preface.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Enjoy your day, sister!

Tomorrow will be the twenty-fourth birthday of my one and only sibling, Jackelyn. She is a unique woman that I have so little in common with on the immediate surface, but a greatly shared bond in everything that is of significant meaning to me. It is only presently becoming easier to view her as a mature woman, now that I am spending the sixth of her last seven natal celebrations apart from her; viewing her maturation from afar. Throughout this period (and our entire lives), I have been fortunate to be given every opportunity to succeed and pursue my dreams while she has been forced to encounter numerous hardships and misfortunes. Selfishly, I rarely stop to think of everything she has accomplished and done despite these unwanted restrictions. Instead, I usually get lost in my next careless adventure or meaningless accomplishment and unknowingly gloat, while she is living with and helping to care for my wonderful parents...not to mention my grandmother, who is currently amidst some difficult health issues. She has chosen this path of nurture and familial concern despite her past of irrational behavior, and I have somewhat narcissistically chosen to unintentionally distance myself from those desired traits despite my past of apparently rational behavior. Are we simply following deeply embedded gender roles? I am not too sure nor concerned, I suppose. I just know I owe to her a great deal of gratitude that, at most times in our lives, has not been displayed. So, thank you Jackie and have a great birthday (I wish I could be there to spend it with you, but you know I can’t stand that small town of ours!)!

Friday, April 14, 2006

What will the turn of the monthly calendar bring?

Additional responsibilities were being presented to me as late as last week at my lowly position on the corporate totem pole. Signs that the duration of my temporary fit into the machine may become more permanent than I had initially perceived. That, however, was as lasting as a dry spell in a Portland season other than summer. Over the course of this week past, I have witnessed a severe fleecing of my recent expansion in professional duties to a degree that has left me with a workload equivalent in time delegation to that of your basic teenage neighborhood babysitter. I only loosely miss the direct interpretation of the word when I state that the work my position is obligated to accomplish, in a daily manner, has been decimated. This is referred to by honchos of the great machine as "phasing out," and is an act that is sheepishly applauded and cherished by heads of these totem poles, who flaunt their distinguished familial crests. Leaving the bottom of the post in an endless struggle of keeping his segment from being pressed into the settling mud by the pressure of the figureheads - until the base is forced to move on and leave another in his unfavorable position. It appears that I am being forced into the wet ground and will only be able to breathe, if I take action upon the writing that has recently appeared on the proverbial dry-erase board. Bringing me once again to the undesired position of searching for sparsely available gratifying work, which will likely turn-up fruitless and force me to temporarily contract my labor to another emotionless machine that leaves me without the personal aspirations of human healthcare and mental gratification. Fortunately, plans of summertime travel followed by graduate school enrollment are underway and keep thoughts of future progression positive.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Three feet deep is three feet too shallow, gravedigger."

Many of us have old vices in our past that we are convinced to have permanently loosened years ago. We have deceived ourselves to believe that there is no possible way these long-suppressed escapes could resurface into our present lives that are resonating with responsibility and advancement. Through the practiced tactics of displacement and education, the vices that once had an overbearing control of a psyche that was starving for altered experiences and constant action have been left to remain in those four-years. But sometimes we have a directionless will that reappears to us, which reminds us that we are weak to these avoided frailties that we all have; no matter how deep the present gravedigger buries them. Recent physical limitations seem to have directly led to a coup d’etat on the improved regime, seemingly indestructibly built on newly practiced tactics. Thankfully for this new regime, the gravedigger realizes his lapse and will continue to dig until his labor is complete. Yet, the vice still needs to be continuously loosened through deserved resentment since it will never completely be removed from the present, even if it is buried in our distanced pasts.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Our beloved disenfranchised trailblazer.

This dreary and bleak season has been an enduring and disheartening one, full of unsuccessful yearning and achieving in the romantic life of our disenfranchised trailblazer. The past winter has witnessed copious amounts of precipitation beat the rooftops, treetops and hillsides of this weathered and sequestered community, leaving a forced solitude for many, including our disenfranchised trailblazer. Self-embattlement and endless introspection left our disenfranchised trailblazer with an undesired emotional dependence to the damp and darkened climate, which we all know, is a formula for a slump in any facet of life’s game, especially that of love. But have we all been wronged by our disenfranchised trailblazer? With one week remaining in the season, our disenfranchised trailblazer has found one of both a physical and mental attraction more than desired, an honest idea that the supporters had long ago dismissed. A melancholy season had suddenly seemed more than salvageable for our disenfranchised trailblazer, for he has discovered a supporter who believed he may possess more than youthful potential and unattainable aspirations. Although it appears we were wronged by our disenfranchised trailblazer, we have in fact become a blind victim of belief. It has been recently brought to attention that the delightful new supporter of our disenfranchised trailblazer will be temporarily relocating away from our desperately hopeful city for the upcoming season. A new season that had miraculously appeared from this struggling season of disappointing effort and development, which is happily concluding for our disenfranchised trailblazer. Perhaps our beloved disenfranchised trailblazer also needs to relocate next season to rebuild, restock and, eventually, reintroduce his game to an eager and refreshed base of supporters.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

An out-of-line profile.

You view a stranger from afar and find their actions to be fascinating and captivating. This completely unknown figure has quirks and general idiosyncracies that are intoxicating to you; conjuring up premature thoughts of a shared future that is absent of a present. Almost instantaneously, you have become enthralled by an object whose existence was unknown in the prior moment. Being drawn to, you decide on approaching this fascination with awkward steps confident in hopeful intentions. As this attraction nears, you find what the earlier voyeur in you had seen as near perfection and delight to be riddled with flaws of superficiality and actions of the intrusive sort. Somehow this intriguing stranger has become someone very mundane possessing beliefs and opinions that you have never found to be inviting or valued. Fortunately, you have been oblivious to the knowledge that this now unwanted guest to the present has traveled the identical path, the entire duration; reaching the same unwanted conclusion.

Unwanted guest: "I am happy to have given this experience a try, but we are completely different people."

Gracious host: "As am I, and I would have to agree. Good luck in your future."

Saturday, February 4, 2006

I, anonymous.

Reclaim your dignity, shave your ironic mustache.

In the world of meaningful existence there is no place for you ironic mustache. You awkwardly appear on the face of so many identity seeking twenty-somethings, including one table bussing dolt. Next time I dine at your velvet laded venue of employment, I will be sure to specify that a portion of my tip goes to you in the form of a shiny quarter so that when your excruciatingly challenging day of employment is finished you can insert it in a nearby pinball machine. Better yet, seize the opportunity and flip this new found prosperity to determine whether or not to shave your face and pursue that college degree or to continue your free fall into the annals of pop culture mishaps. Lets all hope the coin lands with the well groomed face of George Washington staring at you, ironic mustache. Otherwise you will be left with a limited house of potential with Tom Selleck and John Oates lying face down on the roof. I must admit your antic had me laughing at first, but then I relapsed into my gratifying sense of worth and you remained reveling at your ridiculous lip cover. So tomorrow when you wake up, stop the mental masturbation to Burt Reynolds and take a long look at your minor attempt to revive an unwanted past. You will see in those private eyes that you can now finally evolve with us and shed your anomaly of Darwinism. Pick up the razor or dwell in this cycle of shame like your forerunners.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Shadows grow when viewed.

It had been thirty-seven days since the divine star had shone through the pulled curtains of this dreary stage. Darkness in my thoughts had since doubled, but listening to the rain subside today in favor of a sound of the earth hardening and drying leaves crackling made the seemingly eternal wait more deserved. Winter days full of warmth and promise bring renewed affection and vigor for the cast of this drenched setting and their hollowing souls. The arteries of the city were once again filled with life emanating from old smiles and broken slumbers; warming the pavement and scattering the collected puddles into isolated drops by lifting our shoe soles a little higher. In one bright afternoon, the bounce in my step has returned and brighter times seem ahead, although the red star has once again settled into the western horizon’s endless stretches.