more of an adult

beautiful, dreams, funny, love, music, pictures, Portland, sad, true, Yakima No Comments »

Hey, look, this is me!  Writing in the blog!  I didn’t procrastinate or anything, I just started thinking of something and decided that it could very well turn out to be blog-worthy.  Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Yesterday, I went to breakfast with a friend who used to live here in Portland but now lives in Europe.  She’s been married for a few years, and she and her husband have a six-month-old baby.  Dad and Baby stayed home and slept while Friend and I went out, and before too long I asked her how it was all going.  Among other things, she confided that she thought she’d feel like more of an adult than she does.  I know how that feels.

When I was a young kid, I always imagined that by the time I was the astronomical and somewhat arbitrary age of twenty-five, I’d be married with two kids and a career as a UFOlogist—yes, you read that correctly; I’ve written about it before—or an archaeologist in Peru or Mexico, or a reclusive writer who’s just successful enough to live on an island like Mont Saint Michel.

mont st michel

Truth be told, that last one seems like the most plausible and attractive of the scenarios, and I do still imagine that there’s a parallel universe in which that is a reality, and I live in a combination of cities, beautiful outposts in which I divide my time and write the stories that need to be told about those places and their people.

It may still happen; hope springs eternal.  I suppose it’s much more likely to happen if I actually start to write again, but hey, this is a pipe dream, and while we’re at it I might as well invite Winona Ryder to come live there at Le Mont with me.

I bring all this up because in reality, twenty-five, thirty, and even forty have come and gone, and sometimes I still feel like the same dumb kid blundering his way through life, wishing that things could be different but not knowing how to bring them to fruition.  I’ve changed my mind about wanting kids of my own—I don’t—but I do think it would be great to be married.  Given my track record of being a very solitary person who doesn’t do much in the way of dating, I have no idea when or if that will ever happen.  Again, hope springs eternal.

Perhaps if I’d become an archaeologist or a UFOlogist, things would be different.


Come to think of it, I haven’t seen or heard of any current UFOlogists in a long time.  When I was a kid, they seemed to be highly visible in the popular zeitgeist, and many books such as Communion sold millions of copies.  These days, the subject is relegated to late-night AM radio pariahs.  My ten-year-old self sure didn’t see that coming.  Guess I made an okay career choice after all.

I always knew I wanted to be a musician.  I didn’t want to teach.  I didn’t want to be a concert pianist.  I gave up playing the clarinet (although I was first chair) when I was done with high school, in favor of the electric guitar.  I spent too many years living in Nowhere, and that caused precious years to pass by.  Ennui, inertia and a bleak worldview got the best of me for a long time.

The move to Portland (and years of therapy) helped tremendously, and I usually enjoy life these days, but I’m getting a bit tired of this town, if I’m honest.  There are many things to love about it; its beauty, its cheap and plentiful world-class food culture, its proximity to various types of natural surroundings, and its clean air and all-around livability, but I’ve been here for a long time, and I’m starting to feel a bit constrained by its lack of serious opportunities.   Also, I feel like I’m a bit past the age where I should be struggling with decisions like this.  I feel like I should be able to jump in with both feet.  It’s been occurring to me more and more lately that I really need to go elsewhere, and I can totally do that, but it will take a lot of planning and resources that I just don’t have at the moment.  I need to work on that.  I don’t want to ‘do a geographic’, as my friend’s dad would say (I love that expression) by running away from whatever problems or shortcomings I have here, because those will follow me anywhere I go.  I want to go for the right reasons, and to be prepared, with my head held high.

And then there’s the question of where to go.  New York seems like the best choice.  I love it, I have friends there, and it’s the quintessential land of opportunity.  It’s a bit daunting, and very different from weird little Portland, but I’m not too worried about that.

In the meantime, I still need to get a day job and pay some bills here, while I think seriously and have some conversations about what the future holds.   Here’s to the future.



I’m seven!

beautiful, blogging, funny, music, sad, true No Comments »

It’s probably time for a drumroll or whatever.

This is the seventh birthday of BFS&T, and it almost went by unnoticed.  By ME, I mean.  It’s easy for no one else to notice, because I haven’t written a damn thing in six months, but you’ll be glad to know that I do at least consider writing once in a while, or I’ll have an interesting dream that I think about sharing, for about one second before I roll over and go back to sleep.  It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s that I want to share things—good or bad—that I think are compelling, and whether it’s a case of writer’s block or the financial stress and lack of self-confidence that extended under-employment brings, I haven’t felt capable of creating compelling content lately, so I’ve continued to lie low.  The good news is that I’m not trapped under the black cloud of full-on despondency, like I was when I wrote the previous entry.  What a strange time that was.

One thing that can potentially get me back on track is if I write about music.  For some inexplicable reason, when I started this blog I didn’t intend to write about music too often, if at all.  I figured there were (and are) many people who wrote (and write) about it much more eloquently than I ever hope to be able to, and that’s fine.  I’m happy to create music, and to make a meager living at it; I don’t necessarily need to write about it.  As the famous saying goes, “Writing about music is like dancing about art.”  That being said, music is what I care about more than anything.  I also probably know a lot more about it than most people do.  Having the opportunities to play so many instruments with so many people in so many styles and in so many places, I feel I have an interesting perspective.  I guess we’ll find out together whether or not I actually do.  The tricky thing is that this blog is quasi-anonymous (unless you’re friends with me on SocialNetwork), so I may have to get clever about the way I describe and pseudonymize people, but that’s definitely a challenge I’m up for.

I’m not going to make any promises here.  There may very well be another extended hiatus.  But I haven’t forgotten about this creative outlet that I love, and I’m certainly not giving up on it.   I can’t believe it’s been around for seven years.  Seven is a good and supposedly lucky number.  Truth be told, I thought it was six—and at first I even called this entry ‘I’m Six!’—but then I looked back and remembered that it was migrated over from that other blogging platform in 2006, not 2007, and that this is now 2013.  Phew!  All that to prove that my skills at simple addition remain intact.

I should probably wish you happy holidays, too, in case I don’t get back here before then.  I hope your season is filled with any combination of joy, love, friendship, family, travel, and fun.

‘Til next time, then.

See you soon.


diving in the sky

beautiful, funny, Oregon, true 1 Comment »

Last summer, I jumped out of a plane.

It was fun, and scary, and it’s definitely the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life, up to this point.  I did it partly because I wanted the experience, and partly for solidarity with GhostBand.  SingerDanielle made a vow as part of our KickStarter campaign that if we reached our goal, she would conquer one of her phobias and go skydiving.  We did reach our goal, and when the time came, there was a group of us who thought it would be much more fun to do together.  So we did.  In addition to the aspect of moral support, it gave us a discount on the price.  One has to be frugal, times being the way they are.

The business of skydiving is a strange one.  The first time you go, you have to take a short class, and you have to sign a huge waiver that says (in no uncertain terms) that if you are injured or killed, you or your family will not hold the company liable and sue them.  The waiver is insanely detailed.  There’s a little box after the end of each sentence that you have to check, in order to show that you’ve read and understood every last bit of the document, and that you have no recourse.  It can take half an hour to fill out the thing; it’s crazy.

Once we finished the paperwork, we stood around and waited for our class.   We filed into the little room, and they told us what position to be in for our jump—lie on our stomachs with our arms and feet raised behind us—and we each had to demonstrate the position so they knew we understood.  They also stressed the importance of doing exactly what the instructors, to whom we would be bound by an elaborate harness, tell us to do.  If we struggle, or go against what they say, we could have problems, and that could make the instructor’s job of controlling the landing much more difficult.

When the class was over, we stood around outside and watched a number of other skydivers land, gently and effortlessly, and our nervousness abated.  I actually wasn’t nervous about the skydive, surprisingly.  I just thought it sounded amazing, and was looking forward to it.  Certainly, once I’d seen a bunch of other neophytes land without incident, I knew we were in good hands.  Finally, our turn came, and we each joined our respective instructors.  We put on jumpsuits and were assigned helmets and goggles.  We followed the guys to the airplane, climbed aboard, and got into position.  There were six of us in the group, each with his or her own instructor, and one experienced skydiver who was jumping solo.

As the plane ascended to the requisite thirteen thousand feet, our instructors set to work harnessing us to them, so that we were essentially attached, and we could move as a single aerodynamic body.  They even gave us last-minute chances to chicken out.  They tapped us on the shoulder and yelled (since the plane is extremely loud), “Are you ready to jump?” to which the acceptable answers are either, “Yes,” or “No.”  They have to be absolutely clear that we’re giving them permission to take us on the jump.

Suddenly, the plane came to altitude, the door slid open, and there was the sky.  Right there.  The experienced solo guy jumped first, followed by SingerDanielle, followed by the rest of us.  Since I had been the first to board the plane, that meant I was the last to jump.  My instructor tapped me on the shoulder, as all the others had to their assignees, and asked if I was ready to jump.  I said yes, and we scooted awkwardly down the length of the otherwise empty bench seat until I was sitting on the edge of the open doorway.  Before I could even formulate a thought, my instructor said, “GO,” and he launched us out of the plane and into free fall.

When you first jump out, you flip onto your back (like scuba divers do) and look up toward the plane, which disappears from view surprisingly quickly.  You stay on your back for a short time, and then flip over and assume the arms-and-feet-raised position you’ve been taught in the class.  Meanwhile, the wind is pummeling you, and the ground is rushing up at great speed.  If the instructor’s parachute doesn’t open, he or she will go ahead and deploy the one on your back, which is the backup, and they won’t tell you they’re doing that, since you would almost certainly freak out up there and make the situation much worse.  You know how you are.

Falling through the sky at a hundred and twenty miles an hour is not something the human body was ever designed to do, and the feeling is like no other.  Every muscle in your body tenses, and you can feel a bit nauseous, but you also feel more alive than you ever have before.  It takes about one minute to plummet from thirteen thousand feet down to two thousand, when the rip cord is pulled and the parachute presumably opens.  One minute is a really long time to fall, and your body doesn’t really get used to it, at least if it’s your first jump.  I imagine it gets easier once you’ve done it two or three times, but the first time is. . .well, it seems so ridiculously cliché to say a ‘rush’, but that’s really what it is.  You’re completely outside of human experience, and you’d better believe that your body knows it.

Near the end of my free fall, I had a bit of difficulty with my goggles, since I wore them over my glasses, and nobody told me I shouldn’t do that.  [NOTE:  If you wear glasses, take them off and just wear the goggles by themselves.  Trust me.]  My instructor could see that I was having difficulty, so he pulled the ripcord on his parachute and reined us in, while I could see the rest of the group far below me as their parachutes deployed a few seconds later.  I felt a huge but not entirely uncomfortable jolt as we quickly slowed to the normal drop speed, and our bodies swayed forwards and back, a bit sickeningly (if I’m honest), as we moved into an upright sitting position, and after we settled down I was able to adjust my goggles.  Since there had been a small air gap along the bottom edge, my right eye got scratched pretty badly, and I had to struggle to keep it open.  I didn’t want to miss any of the experience.  My instructor showed me how to turn, by having me reach up and grab the ropes on either side of us.  I pulled one, and we lunged to one side.  I pulled the other, and we lunged to the other side.  Then it was all gentle curves and beautiful views, as we flew over the lovely Oregon countryside and headed back to the tiny airport.  The instructor and I had done a quick practice landing in the air, and I had watched enough other people land that it totally made sense.  I kept my legs stretched straight out in front of us, and the instructor  landed us on his legs and ran us out.  Easy breezy.  It all went off without incident, and we were safely back on terra firma.

Our group, uh, regrouped and compared our experiences.  We were all exhilerated.  SingerDanielle was pretty nauseous.  I was the worst for wear with the scratched eye, and I felt a bit nauseous an hour or so later, back at home.  Skydiving is pretty hard on your body, but it’s an incredible experience, and I might actually do it again, especially now that I know what to expect.

FrenchSinger has also been skydiving once, and we were discussing it and wondering how often people get sick in the air.  It seems like the kind of thing that would happen pretty often.  We cracked up as we imagined some unsuspecting guy working in his garden or whatever, when suddenly, out of the clear blue sky—BOOSH. . .he’s drenched from above by projectile vomit.

I would recommend that you try skydiving, at least once in your life.  It’s not for the faint of heart, as I like to say (usually when describing movies), but it’s an absolutely unforgettable experience.  The free fall is scary, but when you’re floating gently in the air after that, it’s just sublime.  The instructors are totally professional, too, and despite what the litigious waivers may say, it seems safe enough.  I never felt unsafe, let’s put it that way.  I felt like I was in good hands, and that we were totally in control.

Since then, I’ve heard a couple of crazy stories of mishaps, but those are definitely the exception rather than the rule.  One person told us about a long-time instructor who decided to randomly go on a solo jump.  He was completely in the moment, and feeling great.  The only problem was that in his excitement, he’d forgotten to strap on his parachute, and no one noticed until he’d jumped out.  He’d jumped so many times before that it never occurred to anyone that he wouldn’t be prepared.  Whoops.

My friend’s dad jumped once, back in the days before instructors were required to go down with you on your first time.  He hit his head on the foot bar on the side of the plane and knocked himself out.  He came to, luckily, during free fall, and once he realized where he was and what was happening, he was able to pull the ripcord and parachute normally.  But holy crap; what a story.

These days, there are lots of checks and double-checks that instructors do, and they don’t leave anything to chance.  Well, except for pure excitement, I suppose, like the guy who forgot his own chute.  But, I mean, come on.  If I can do it, you can certainly do it.  It’s awesome, and crazy, and unlike any other experience.  I don’t think I’ll ever bungee-jump off a bridge, though.  That’s where I draw the line.

If you’ve jumped too, what was your experience like?




holy motors

beautiful, funny, Portland, sad, true No Comments »

Last night, my friend and I went to see a movie called Holy Motors.  We were intrigued by the preview, and thought it looked interesting and very stylish, but we had no way of knowing what a wild ride we were in for.  Here’s the trailer.

This is not a review.  This is a plea for you to watch the movie so that we can discuss it.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  It’s dark, and shocking, and lovely, and melancholy, and mysterious, and joyous, and occasionally hysterical, and it’s a myriad of surprises from beginning to end.  I don’t even want to say anything about the story, because I want you to have the same experience I (and everyone else in the theater) did.  I feel like I’ve already said too much.  Worth mentioning is the fact that I almost titled this entry, “Holy crap!  Holy Motors!”

More shocking than the movie, however, was what happened after.  It happened at the Living Room here in downtown Portland, at the early showing.  The film had just finished, but instead of getting up to leave, everyone stayed in their seats, talking quietly.  The guy sitting next to my friend and me said that he’d gotten up to take a five-minute bathroom break, and asked what he’d missed.  Another guy chimed in that he’d missed a bit on a bathroom break as well.  We did our best to remember, and we told him.  Then other people started to chime in and ask about what the group thought a scene meant, or how various elements tied together (or didn’t).  Before long, everyone was jumping into spontaneous conversation about the film, and comparing it to other films, and suddenly it became Movie Club.  The staff had to tell us first politely, and then a bit more pointedly, that they did have a lobby, and we were welcome to go out there, but that they had to clean the theater, and we had to vacate.  The group congregated in the hallway and continued the discussion for another fifteen minutes.  Everyone who was in that little theater stayed and participated in the discussion.  I’ve been going to movies for decades now, and that has never happened before.  It was fantastic, and it made me wonder why it doesn’t happen more often.

I want so badly to post pictures and scenes from the movie on here, but I’m not going to.  You can seek them out if you want, but I would encourage you not to, and to see it with no prior knowledge of the story.  Also, I recommend that you see it on the biggest screen available to you.  I imagine that it’s still playing in some arthouse theaters, but if it’s not, it’s out on DVD.

What are you waiting for?  Go!  See this film!


funny, music, Portland, true 1 Comment »

A few months ago, I had a funny conversation with a friend of a friend, whose very unusual first name began with an M.  When my friend introduced me to M, I said, “Oh, you must know [GhostBand singer].  I think she might have been in the same school program as both of you were.  Were you at the Goodfoot?”

“Nope,” M replied.  “Never been there before.”

“That’s weird,” I said, “maybe I’m wrong about the school program, but I met another friend of hers—maybe from college?—and there are two of you with the same name.”

“I don’t think so,” she said.  “If there was another one of us, I’d know about it.”

“Yeah.  It’s an unusual enough name that I wouldn’t forget it.  But she exists.”

“I doubt it,” she said.  This is starting to get weird.

“Okay.”  I said.  Resistance was useless.  Fast forward a few minutes into the conversation, and the little group of us was talking about food and restaurants; a favorite subject here in Portland.  I mentioned one and gave it a good recommendation.

“Oh, I love that place,” M said.  “Too bad it closed down.”

“Really, when?  I was just there.”

“A few months ago, or a year, maybe.”

“No, it’s still open.  I ate there a couple weeks ago.”

“No, it’s totally closed.”


I get no pleasure from arguing, and only resort to it if the subject is really something worth fighting about.  Things like people I’ve met, or restaurants that aren’t closed, those aren’t even arguments, they’re wastes of time that could be better spent in a good conversation.  I had a similarly funny and surreal one with my stepmom this past weekend.  The subject of music came up, and she had a question.

“Who’s the guy from Hoquiam [tiny town on the coast of Washington state] who died?  The musician?”

“Kurt Cobain?”

“Yeah, that’s him.”

“He was from Aberdeen, though.”

“No, he was from Hoquiam.”

“I don’t know if he was born in Aberdeen or not, but he grew up and went to school there.  I’ve watched a bunch of documentaries and stuff about him.”

“Yeah, that’s Hoquiam.  There’s a bridge there, and a memorial.”

“But that’s all in Aberdeen.  I’ve been to that bridge.”

“It’s Hoquiam.”


Well, here it is, the bridge over the Wishkah river.  I didn’t make this video, but it’s a simple and touching tribute.  And it’s in Aberdeen.


And since we happen to be on the subject of Nirvana and documentaries, I can’t recommend this one, “About a Son,” highly enough.  It’s told exclusively through audio interviews, and filmed in a very compelling way, and it walks you through Kurt’s entire life story.  You never see him speak, but his voice narrates the entire thing.  It’s candid and haunting, and I think you’ll agree.