December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


I wish I could publish my photos much larger than blogger allows, in this case to see the tears streaming down Emily's cheeks.
Have a fabulous holiday season, ya'all! 

December 12, 2010

Never Ever



Here's Marlee, 2, sitting in the captain's seat aboard the Baja after the sun set yesterday. I like the lines of the boat, in addition to the color. When you're watching the light and attempting to shoot the day's last light for its softness on a subject, but arrive at the beach late so that the sun drops out of sight less than a minute after feeding coins into the parking meter, there's nothing to do but gasp something to the effect of "I'll never get anything now!"

December 1, 2010

Heartbreak


The high school volleyball team I cover played in the semi finals for the California state championship last night. They played a team that had beaten them twice before. The match went into a fifth and final set. The Sea Hawks were serving for match point, but ended up losing the next three points, and the match.

The players are really sweet girls. I took my 6-year-old niece to a game earlier in the season, and we arrived very late (my fault), so we only saw the last point of the last set. My niece was so disappointed, as it was her very first high school sporting event to attend. But then a few of the players spoke with her, and now my niece still talks about meeting the players on one of the best teams in the state.

I took this photo after last night's match. It's a little artsy the way I framed it. Honestly, my first inclination was to shoot the moment straight because it's such a tremendously strong moment, with Hannah seeking the comfort of her father Don in the stands after coming so close to playing for the state title.

The reality of getting this shot was I was in a crowd of people, and I shot from where I was standing before trying to move any closer. Moments are truly fleeting, especially while attempting to capture them. I couldn't help shooting another parent checking her cell phone in the right side of the frame, and I had to crop her out. That's really when I noticed the lines on the wall.

Here's the photo gallery of last night's match if anyone is interested.

November 22, 2010

Anthem



In the photo, water polo players stand for the national anthem before the game. It's strange to me the national anthem is played before a high school sporting event. I remember my uncles, all of whom served in World War II, telling me there was no national anthem played before major league ball games in the 1950s. The umpire said "play ball" and that's how they started the game. I find myself thinking of that often while I stand through the anthem.
Have a good holiday, friends.

November 15, 2010

Champs



I've been shooting a lot of prep sports lately, especially playoffs. I took this one Friday, after the Mustangs won the game and the league title. When I snapped the shot, the game clock had just expired and the team was gathering to shake hands at midfield with the other team. 
After not finding work for so long, I'm very grateful for the work I'm doing. And when I can get a good image, it's so damn fun.
Hope you have a great week.

November 5, 2010

Costume and Winning

Hi. I took a couple shots i really like: Natalie, dressed as a nun strolling along Hermosa Beach on Halloween, and Skylar, after her school's volleyball team upset a cross town rival last night and won a share of first place for the first time since 1987.




September 25, 2010

Stumbling


I thought I was stumbling.

I had no idea I was really whirling and

twirling.

It’s a little embarrassing, the truth is.

Sometimes.

Lots of times:)

I finally saw myself as I truly was, moving so sure-footed through these dark woods. I thought I was flailing across this moving water. But I saw myself as I really was, with that goofy smile pasted across my face, skipping over this crocodile-infested river. I thought those crocs were snapping at me. I had no idea they were really hollering encouragements as I danced from head to head.

I looked for you around every ancient tree trunk for so long I gave up.

Who knew the magic words were Leave Me Alone.

Only when I abandoned all hope and expectation did I discover.

For I was lost in these woods

And now I am found.

Tough days lie ahead. There’s no doubt. It is the nature of this world. We’re all walking a plank in this place. Just wait until we are all living on this earth with full knowledge of all of our lifetimes.

This is not written in any of the great books, only in the greatest book of all, the one inside each of us.

Search

What is your hope for this thing called life?

Heaven on earth, my friends.

As you know, what we have here is no heaven on earth. The crimes against the poor are too many to mention, the crimes against our animals too horrifying to describe, the crimes against this planet too institutionalized to bother documenting.

Once upon a time, your roots curled around mine in the winter. You licked my face in the tall grass every afternoon. You gave me bread in the alley.

The Great Awakening is just beginning to color our sky.

I smell rain.

Our time is what it is here.

Then we shall see ourselves as we truly are

and return home

to us.

September 20, 2010

Big Pops


I spent most of Saturday covering Pop Warner football games. Here's the photo essay, if anyone's interested. It's funny how ideas sometimes come to us later. The photo essay I did was a day of football, from 7-year-old flag footballers to 13-year-olds, some of whom were bigger and stronger than I am. But I couldn't help noticing the head injuries a few kids sustained during the games.

Concussions are a big issue in pro football, with medical staffs now prohibiting players from re-entering games. There's also talk about protecting high school football players. I'm attempting to spend some time with the medical staff at the Pop Warner games in the next few weeks to learn more about head injuries to 9- and 10-year-olds.

Kids see the ESPN highlight reels of vicious helmet-to-helmet blows and go out head hunting in their own games as a result. Maybe my hunch is wrong and there's no concussion issue at all at that level. There's also no guarantee I'll get to hang out with any medical personnel and nail down a story of some kind, but I'll keep ya posted on my progress.   

September 13, 2010

Wind Sails

Once upon a time there was a boy. And something happened to this boy so that he understood clearly he could no longer trust other human beings.

He told God sincerely one evening when the sky was pink and majestic that he didn’t want to be a part of this world anymore.

The Old Woman took mercy on this boy. She gave him a special gift. The Old Woman presented him with a set of magic wind sails.

The sails were larger than any sails in this world. Imagine the largest set of 12 sails for a ship you’ve ever seen. Now triple the size of those sails, and we’re getting close to what began to steer the boy’s spiritual ship through this world.

The sails were going to be the boy’s flypaper, his spider’s web, but he wasn’t going to catch bugs on his sails. He was going to catch energy, other people’s energy, and even the movement of energy among the people.

The sails were constructed by a legion of angels. The top sail was the most special. The master angel craftsman himself threaded together the top sail, and the green and gold goddess of telepathy calibrated it perfectly to hypersensitivity.

If someone was angry or annoyed at the boy, he would find a splotch of red energy on that top-most sail. In fact, the very first day the Old Woman presented the boy with his new sails, he shimmied up forty stories at the speed of thought and found a nice-sized blood stain on that top sail. That top sail didn’t miss anything. It was built to catch the tiniest speck of dark, dangerous energy.

The boy relied on that top sail to catch those dreaded red and black splotches quickly— very quickly. Those red and black splotches meant Watch Out! The boy’s life relied on that top sail more times than fingers he had on one hand. And it never failed him.

None of his sails did.

Were any of the boy’s sails ever wrong? No. But energy gets jumbled sometimes, and his interpretation was sometimes off. Sometimes people were unaware of the energy they put out and didn't like to be told what they were emitting, as they were not ready to own their actions yet. The boy learned these things.

The boy also learned other things, like what a yellow splotch on his sail meant.

Before anyone told the boy they were pleased with him, he might hear and later see a big splotch of yellow and green hit his sails. If someone was open and transparent with him, then he’d find the colors on his bottom sail, easily accessible. If the person lived with defenses up, as most do, including the boy, then he’d find the energy higher along his mast.

Of course, the boy’s sails worked best if they were all facing someone sitting directly across the table from him, so the boy could view body language as well. But they worked just fine receiving splotches from long distances. As he grew older and became a teenager, the boy began picking up energy from miles and miles away.

After a few years, the boy didn’t even have to look at the canvass anymore. He could tell what sort of energy was coming by the sound it made when it struck the canvass. The boy could tell where the energy came from by which way the winds were blowing in his life and how high or low on his sails the splotch landed.

The boy liked nothing more than finding a big pink splotch on my bottom-most sail. That meant someone was enamored with him, and she was coming. What fun!

As the boy grew to be a man, his sails became like extensions of his own limbs. He figured that was the gift of the sails: Learning how to operate them better and better and better, truly as an expert. He figured he’d take his place in the pantheon of souls who have operated and relied upon magic wind sails to catch energy and thus guide them through this tricky world.

Instead, something strange hit his sails one day. It sounded like something he had never heard before. He snapped his head up at the noise, then shimmied to the top sail and found nothing, which was really strange because, based on sound, the man hadn’t been wrong about the location of a splotch landing in years. He found the mystery splotch much lower, near the lowest sail, in fact.

It was a color he had never seen before. Truth be told, the man recoiled at first because new things are frightening. But he quickly became interested because new things are also fascinating. And this color was the loveliest color he had ever seen. He studied this splotch for days, even tasted it, something he hadn’t done in many years. The man had heard rumors of this sort of energy, but had never seen evidence of it, not on his sails.

Something wonderful was just over the horizon.

And so all his sails were pointed in the direction from which the new and exciting splotches were arriving. The man watched the winds like he hadn’t done in years. The crow’s nest became his home for the first time since he was a boy with a magic new gift. The man scoured the landscape for weeks. He set sail in the direction of the exciting new energy, but found nothing.

He did not understand. As an expert with his sails, he knew exactly where this amazing alien energy was coming from, but he found nothing when his ship arrived. He picked up more new energy, and again found nothing over the horizon. This went on for weeks.

Finally, the man began to understand he was not meant to find the source of this energy. We simply cannot have everything we desire in this world.

One evening, when the sky blushed a deep peach, the man felt a loneliness he hadn’t felt since he was a boy. The Old Woman paid him a visit for the second time in his life.

Do you want to sail in unknown waters? There is only one way.

Our most effective defenses are usually not cinder block castle walls. They are often much prettier and much more difficult to come out from behind, since they become a part of ourselves over the years.

The man spent a few days feeling the fabric of the canvasses, remembering when the first bit of purple arrived, the first touch of gray, and how different his life would have been without that top sail.

He was still the same boy he was, only in a man’s body, with the same fears and hopes.

On the fourth night since the Old Woman’s visit, the man sailed out into the desert, docked next to an enormous orange sand dune and abandoned ship. He thought he would kiss that top sail goodbye when the time came, but instead he only flashed the peace sign as he walked away, headed out into the great unknown.

Danger was waiting over the horizon, inevitably. And something wonderful, too. That was the Old Woman’s second gift to the boy: The chance to find out.

September 10, 2010

The Bomb Makers

There once was a family of bomb makers. They didn’t make the sort of bombs that killed people. No, this was a very special family, throughout the ages, that made very special bombs. These bombs destroyed human organizations-- the bane of all existence in this world.

Not everyone in the family was born a bomb maker. Sometimes one of the children turned out to be a bomb maker, sometimes two or three. Sometimes the family would go generations without a bomb maker. If that happened, the family might forget about its history. Then someone in the family would awaken, build a bomb, and set it off.

After the destruction, the family would remember that our destinies are written in the most ancient language deep inside us, and we can never outrun who we are.

What was it like for a bomb maker to awaken? Well, it was like discovering a secret talent. It was like writing all your life by scratching a fingernail into paper and then finally discovering a pencil. It was like breathing pollution since birth and then finding the clean ocean air after a rainfall for the very first time.

Once a bomb maker was awakened, he or she didn’t want to do anything but build the most beautiful and powerful bomb that could possibly be constructed.

And therefore it was important when a bomb maker was awakened. Parents gave thanks when a child was awakened to bomb making, for it was a very unsophisticated bomb that a child could make. There was destruction from a child’s bomb, for sure, loss of friends, hurt feelings. But the bomb-making phase never lasted longer than a few years. And by the time the child grew to become a teenager, the danger had passed.

When a teenager was awakened, the bomb he or she built often blew up the family itself, scattering everyone to the far corners of the world.

Bombs built by a mature adult were the most explosive.

Once a father built a bomb that destroyed an entire kingdom. He and his family lived as peasants in the fields. The father was a proud farmer and enjoyed his work. After he was awakened to his bomb making abilities, he understood clearly that he could be an even better farmer if he received more back from the king of the land.

And so the man began to talk to his fellow peasants about the state of affairs in the kingdom.

Constructing a truly beautiful bomb involved more than whispering about injustice. Constructing a very powerful bomb involved organizing and inspiring others into action. By the time the king realized a bomb was about to go off in his backyard, it was too late, for a bomb maker from this lineage worked efficiently and meticulously to insure detonation.

After the kingdom was destroyed, the peasants were absorbed into another kingdom, and so many wondered whether it was any good at all. The wise old peasant women of the fields said to have faith. The destruction of a kingdom was good if only to show that kingdoms could in fact be destroyed.

It must all be leading up to something, the old women said.

This was before the great powers moved all the peasants into super cities. I know it’s difficult to believe, but the great powers talked openly in the capitals of the world about how best to convince the people to move off the land and into super cities. The great powers told the peasants that in the cities they could choose whatever profession they fancied. And the people went along, as people do, and moved into the super cities. And the family of bomb makers was among them.

After the people had been moved into the super cities, a mother was soon awakened to her bomb making abilities. She was very charismatic woman working as an administrator for a large human organization inside a super city, and she easily gained the trust of so many of her bosses and learned all the secrets of the organization. 


Like many human organizations, this one plundered the earth for resources to enrich those at the top of the organization. This woman spent months gathering evidence of crimes against the land and people and when she set off her bomb by releasing this evidence, the organization for which she worked came tumbling down.

Of course, those at the top of the organization survived quite well while the rest found themselves displaced and without work. Many were angry at the woman for blowing up the organization, saying there was no point since other organizations simply moved in and filled the void created by the destruction. But the wise and dirty old men who lived in the streets of the super cities said to have faith. It must all be leading up to something.

And so it went. Every generation or so, a company that was big and strong vanished overnight. A government agency thought to be immovable was gone in a flash. Even a nation sometimes collapsed. The entire world system teetered more than once, though no one realized it other than the great powers.

Like Herod, the great powers wanted very much to locate the bomb makers. But by now the bomb makers no longer belonged to a single ancestral chain, for the blending of family lines is a fulfilling destiny of our times. The great powers invested heavily in security at all the doors of all the important buildings in all the super cities. Pockets were checked. Metal detectors were employed. Threats of jail time were levied.

Have faith, the old people living in the retirement homes inside the super cities whispered. It is all leading up to something.

Then one day a boy was born with the bomb-making gene. He was a strong boy and enjoyed the outdoors. That’s why he chose the profession he did: Roofing. He wanted to spend every moment he could outside becoming stronger. And so the boy became a man, and the man became a very well known roofer in one of the capitals of the world. And while the man was putting a new roof on one of the most important buildings in one of the most important capitals of the world, he was awakened.


Instead of tarring down a quality roof, the man spent months atop the building constructing the most special bomb, gorgeous in its potential. And when the man was finished, he walked over to the center of the decaying roof atop the very important building and did what he was destined to do: He caused every organization in the entire world to shudder, creak, teeter, break and fall by dropping his most beautiful bomb down the main ventilation shaft and into the core of the system.


And when the sun rose the next morning, it was truly a new dawn.

September 6, 2010

Getting There

I struggle with organization in my life, but I'm getting there. When my life is organized and I'm satisfied with things, I become a better artist and more functional personally. I'm getting there. I did a first day of school photo essay that turned out well. I shot the first high school football game of the season, which was so much fun. I also covered the Wii National Championships, which was mildly amusing. This is my favorite photograph I've taken so far for Patch. Hope ya'all have a great week. I'm looking forward to visiting your places over the next few days:)


September 1, 2010

I'm over at thinkingtoohard today, staring up at the night's sky. Join me?

August 20, 2010

Patched Up

I worked at Patch for six weeks and earned about $4,400. I’m considering spending the bulk of the money on a new camera and telephoto lens so I can shoot nighttime and indoor sports photos. I was as a freelance photographer briefly once and loved it.

Since I left the editing position at Patch last week, I have commenced with my freelance career. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of photo assignments, and I’ll also write whatever I can sell because I will be needing the money.

Cheap apartments are not easy to find, but I be looking. It felt good to begin the search for a home. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a home of my own: Five years. Over the five years, I’ve had a bedroom of my own for a few months in a hippie house, I’ve had a wing of my sister’s house to myself, and I’ve lived in a rundown motel room on the beach for a few months at a time in the off season.

But I haven’t had my own home since I lived in New Hampshire in 2005.

So I worked this job to make some money to spend on equipment to make me a little more money. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, which I am famous for doing, but I think it might all work out. If I make just enough to be financially independent again, the solar systems I have crossed will have all been worth it.

August 19, 2010

Patch Point and Shoot


At Patch, I found journalists of all ages determined to produce quality and relevant stories. Those same journalists also knew time wasn't on their side. The Patch game was about the number of stories, not about writing the definitive piece with seven sources. One had to adjust one's expectation for success.
Two quick stories, or three, over a week's time on a topic was just as good as a single definitive piece.

My news writing was rusty after six years off from working as a daily newspaper reporter. News writing is so different than story telling. Story telling proceeds in chronological order, largely. News writing is structured in what's called the inverted pyramid, with the most important bit of news pushed up to the top and all corresponding relevant information following.
I found my joy working for Patch in the fact that I could hog all the photo assignments, as I was the local editor. 

I always dreamed of working as a staff photographer. In the newsrooms I worked, I was as likely to be found hanging out with the photographers in the photo departments as I was at a vending machine in the cafeteria trying to shake loose a Snickers without paying.
I enjoyed taking photos for Patch. Then my kick ass camera broke down after my first week of work. When that happened, the universe patiently waited for me to stop swearing in order to inform me that I could still take as many photos as I liked. I simply had to use the crappy Patch point-and-shoot camera.
After more swearing and waiting, the universe informed me that a real photographer would accept this turn of events as a challenge.
Sometimes I hate the universe.

August 18, 2010

Startup No More

During the interview, my boss didn't downplay the intensity of running a Patch website. The workload arrived like a wave: Three deadlines a day. Go.
I foolishly told someone that I liked a challenge and this job was indeed a challenge, just as my boss explained, just as I expected.
I worked 75 hours a week to keep up.
As a temporary editor, I inherited the previous editor's salary, about $37,000 a year. That came out to $740 a week. That came out to less than $10 an hour. Some local editors claimed to have made as little as $7 to $8 an hour.
By the sheer generosity of the universe, I had an intern helping me. She was a terrific reporter, and an amazing worker. I could not have succeeded without her. She made $12 an hour. The intern made more than me.
I was grateful to be making steady money. And I was happy for the work because I needed the money, and I guess that's the point.

Patch calls itself a startup company. The term startup began during the dot com era, where people formed companies and worked to grab a chunk of the market in the hopes their long hours would pay off and they would be a part of a successful and wealthy corporation. Employees putting in double-time usually held a stake in the fledgling company.
The justification for startup working conditions went like this: If they're trying to get rich, they can work as long and as hard as they like.
No local editor is hoping to get rich working for Patch. They don't hold any stake in the company either. They are instead hoping Patch will succeed so they will have job security. Over the last several years, thousands of journalists have been laid off, and now this new company called Patch is hiring. People are lining up to apply. They need the work, whether they are at mid career points or recent graduates from college.
But Patch is no startup company. Not anymore.

Patch is owned by AOL, the granddaddy of online companies. Venture capital is not funding Patch, and neither are angel investors. AOL may not be the powerhouse it used to be since high speed internet came along, but AOL is rock solid.
Patch was launched last year in New Jersey with seed money from Tim Armstrong, who was then a top executive with Google. The board of directors at Time Warner liked Patch enough that they hired Armstrong away from Google and made him the new chair of AOL. Then Time Warner bought Patch from Armstrong for $7 million.
Armstrong was paid in AOL shares when AOL split with Time Warner late last year.
Patch believes it can take over local news coverage and the advertising revenue that commands after so many newspapers went out of business or were reduced in size over the past several years. AOL blessed Patch with $50 million to spend this year in an effort to grow as fast as it could.

And it's growing. Patch celebrated the launch of its 100th website yesterday with the announcement that it plans to cover 500 communities by the end of the year. If Patch does as it plans, the company will employ 500 journalists by the end of the year, which will make it the largest hirer of full time journalists in the country this year.

When Armstrong and his Google buddies launched Patch in New Jersey last year with a few websites, sure, Patch was a true startup then. But Patch now has websites on the East Coast, in the Chicago suburbs and in Southern California. Patch is coast-to-coast and has been for months, battling with the New York Times for local shares in New Jersey and running big ads on Yahoo! for more local editors. Pepsi is a sponsor of Patch.
This is no startup company. This is a well-financed company.

AOL calls Patch a startup to justify the working hours and low pay for its employees. Overworked and underpaid journalists aren't anything new. But the Patch model is worth taking note of.
An editor is assigned to each town and runs the website for the community, writing stories and editing copy from freelancers. Each editor is supplied with a laptop, BlackBerry, camera and police scanner. Each editor's town also has a Twitter account and Facebook page. A local editor is on call for breaking news at all times.
Someone on call for a job typically makes time-and-a-half for being on call. It's a joke to mention how things typically work when talking about a startup company, or one that claims to be.

A local editor for Patch can be a very fulfilling and demanding job. If I could have tended to my blog and self-publishing hobby on the side while working for Patch, I might have stayed on. In time, I believe I could have reduced my workweek to 65 hours as I became more efficient.

Many of the local editors are recent college graduates. They need work, like we all do. Many of them are working for Patch because it's the only job they can land. And they're grateful, as many applicants are turned away. The fact is, it's great there's a big company hiring journalists after all the layoffs over the past several years in the industry. I'm glad Patch is doing well, if for no other reason than journalists are finally finding some work.

My question is: What should the minimum wage for working 75 hours a week be? If a deep-pocketed company like AOL were to give a 23-year-old or a 55-year-old employee a workload so that he or she had to work at least 70 hours to keep up, should that employee make more than $9 an hour?

August 17, 2010

The Patch


For a while I’ve told the universe I’d be willing to write anything for a living.
I really don’t care what I write, so long as I can make a living off it. That’s been my attitude for a couple years now. Clearly, it’s the dream. And I am the dreaming fool.
In my mind, I was thinking I’d be willing to write fiction or non-fiction books. Turns out, the universe heard me say exactly what I said, which the universe has an annoying habit of doing. I said: I’d write anything.
So the universe dropped my old job back in my lap, the one I happily left six years, and that is community journalism.

I’ve been looking for a job since January. I’ve inquired about work at Cosco and coffee shops, and even hit up a very successful high school classmate for a job at my 20th reunion earlier this summer. No luck anywhere. The census wouldn’t even hire me, and I got a 26 out of 28 on their silly screening test. There’s not much out there for anybody in this economy, and there’s less out there for someone who has a giant gap in his resume from quitting his full time reporting job six years ago to write a few books on his own.
So while I was in Chicago for my high school reunion, I had lunch with a former reporter colleague and she told me that a former editor was working for something called Patch.com.
Patch is basically local community news websites.
Most importantly, Patch was hiring.
So I dropped that former editor an email and he recommended me to the regional editor here in Southern California and she offered me a job, which I took with some conditions.

One of the conditions was that I would do the job temporarily, for about a month. I was balking at taking the local editor position permanently because of the demands of the job. By working the position for a month, I would give my boss more time to find another qualified candidate, and I could also decide to take the job permanently if I wanted. 

It was a sweet deal. I was grateful, largely because I was broke. I ran out of money in January, and had to move back in with family. I’ve been living between my sister’s family’s house and my mother’s condo in Torrance, Calif. The job at Patch would provide a paycheck that would allow me to be financially independent again-- the sweetest of all dreams. The cost: No time for anything else.

July 19, 2010

Granting


I suppose it is time.
This might sound harsh, but I think it’s about time I forgave God.
I know you’re supposed to thank God for wonderful things, and I do. I give God lots of love. But there’s also a part of me that might not ever go away witnessing the misery of this diseased world of which I am a big time member and blaming God. Maybe that part of me is ready to just let it go.
Just make peace, more than ever.
I think so. I think I’m really ready to acknowledge that part of me.
I've had an image of myself in the deep, dark woods. I see the sky, and trunks of trees. I ask for help finding my way out. I think I know the way. I go but only find more tree trunks and nothing else. And finally I stumble across a trail overgrown with weeds, but it is there. It is an ancient road. It isn't the way out. It's the way in deeper.
My out was in deeper.
Granting and seeking forgiveness are acts of generosity, seems to me. The release is the gift.

July 6, 2010

Tuesday


I have an idea.

I want to feature a local blogger on the news site I run-- and pay him or her $50. (Wish I could pay more but that's the budget for freelance pieces. Yeah.)

Whenever I've seen guest bloggers on mainstream news sites, they're usually news bloggers or sports bloggers, or advice-givers on relationships.

I'm thinking of featuring someone who blogs about his or her life, and anything else that comes to mind, like we're all doing.

I think I'm looking for someone who's been at it for a few years.

I cover Redondo Beach, Calif. Anyone know a good blogger in Redondo Beach or have any suggestions on finding one?




July 4, 2010

Monday

My life is changing. I start a 70-hour-a-week job today. It's an intense editing and reporting position for a local online news start up. I'll be working the job for a month.

I'm not interested in working the job permanently because of the 7-day-a-week demands, but agreed to do it temporarily.

I'm grateful for the work. There are plenty of applicants for this job, like all jobs in journalism. I'm looking forward to learning some new technical skills since this is an online news service and my experience is reporting for newspapers.

When I was a newspaper reporter, I worked long hours. But I always made sure I had one day off a week. I was producing one story a day back then, sometimes more, sometimes less.

At this new job, a team of freelancers and I will have to produce three stories a day. I'll be doing Facebook and Twitter for the gig as well.

I'm working for something called patch.com. It's owned by AOL, which is pumping millions into it. Since AOL calls patch.com a "start up," that allows AOL to impose such big demands on its employees. That's why so many local editors don't work out and positions become available.

There are some amazing journalists working at patch.com, and that's the appeal.

I'm eager to see how I do. If I can't produce three stories a day, I'll give 'em two. It'll be fun writing on deadline again-- there will just be more due on deadline than ever.

I'll keep ya posted on how things go with this new job.

                                         * * *


Went on a week's family vacation to Ohua. Below are my four nieces and nephews that were the hell and joy of the trip.






July 1, 2010

Treasure


I admit I was disappointed when God leaned out of Her kitchen window and dropped a string of black pearls in my outstretched hand. I was dreaming of chests upon chests of gold and silver coins and rubies and diamonds and emeralds, truckloads. 

And then all I got was a crummy string of black pearls?

WTF.

This was only my latest method of overlooking a dazzling gift.

Funny thing is, all that pirate's treasure I was fantasizing over, it would have been a burden to possess. I'd have been like a miserly old dragon sitting atop a mountain of jewels and never leaving for fear of someone coming along trying to steal a coin or two.

After She dropped those pearls in my paw, She said to stop by anytime. I guarantee that no matter what She gives me next time, I will initially be disappointed yet again. And I will let Her know by moping away grumbling under my breath yet again.

Still, no matter how much of a brat I am -- and I can be a famous brat -- She does not become irritated with me. She only calls after me to return anytime.

This is love of the highest order, just as the sun does not demand displays of gratitude from the earth.

June 28, 2010

i'm at indie ink today. what a kick!

June 27, 2010

Finding


The master spoke to me when I was 14.

I found myself stumbling and bumbling yet again at a cocktail party put on by my friend's parents in which there was plenty of under-age drinking. I couldn't talk to anyone, my age or older, and my discomfort was such that I couldn't even blend into background of the far wall. 

Sure, there are larger problems in life. But not for a 14-year-old.

I fled to the basement. 

I figured I'd pray in the dark until someone crashed downstairs for a rum-and-Coke refill from the basement fridge. At that point, I planned to pop up and claim to have been taking a nap. But no one came downstairs, and I ended up praying for nearly a half hour. The string of prayers I recited over that half hour was like meditation, in retrospect.

I didn't want to be an awkward loser anymore. I was desperate. I said so. 

Well, about the time I forgot I was even praying, about the time I stopped listening for the basement door to click open, I understood something.

For most people, asking questions of others is common sense. For me, common sense said to run from the party and never attend another social event again. I compromised with my common sense and retired to my friend's basement to pray, instead.

Turned out, I actually had a curiosity about others. And the more I learned about other people, the more I realized we shared things in common. Though I'm still terribly shy and continue to struggle in many social situations, I began to lose my fear of superficial encounters after the master sat on that basement sofa with me and let me peek at his roadmap of the universe.

If you want to accentuate your beauty, find the beauty in others.

If you want others to listen to you, hear what they are saying.

If you want to become more interesting, develop a genuine interest in others.

June 22, 2010

Become


This lover speaks different. This lover feels different. This lover sounds different. This lover loves different.

And why?

The master says it is because I am different.

A man sees the world as he sees himself.

The universe may give you a gift, but it is not a gift unless you accept it.

If you must perform an interpretive dance in the early morning sunlight to allow yourself the privilege of unwrapping something dazzling, do the dance.

And become.

Gifts have no expiration dates, only the names and faces change.

Especially yours.

Become different.

Become worthy.

June 20, 2010

Hey there, I'm over at jumping tandem this glorious day. 

June 19, 2010

Movement


Everything is fight these days. I turn on the TV and the war movie on AMC tells me to fight. The lame -- but I'm still watching -- reality show tells me to fight to the finish. The Avatar cartoon tells me and my little nephew to fight. The sports announcers of absolutely every game, no matter the sport, tell me to fight. Even random T-shirts at the beach tell me to fight on.

Fight. Fight. Fight.

When the master returns, he will, once again, demonstrate the full power of the universe by...

Yielding.

June 17, 2010

Happy Friday! I'm over at Tori MacLennan today.

June 16, 2010

Master This


Somewhere within these posts is a line about how the master plays the role of servant so convincingly. Then in another piece there's a story about how I'm sweeping the floor, like a servant. So the implication is that I'm calling myself a master, in a clever sort of way.

Well, stay skeptical. That's the only advice I like to give. That's the highest function of the human mind: Treating everyone that talks a good game as a con man until the evidence says otherwise, and as of now you have no hard evidence, so stay skeptical.

But I really am a master. I can sweep floors like nobody. Everywhere I go I see floors and the sweeping that's been done or should be done or could be done better or differently.

If we spend enough time doing something, we inevitably become experts, masters. 

When I was a youngster and swept the basement floor of my childhood home, I knew where to hide the dust bunnies from my father's inspection. I knew where to push the dirt under the furnace if I didn't feel like picking it up.

And now as an adult, that knowledge has matured within me and I can tell you in all honesty I am an expert at what it is I have done my entire life. I know where all my dirt piles are kept.

June 15, 2010

Stars in the Dust Bunnies







I've worked as an apprentice to my master for eons. "I'm going to run this place someday," I declared my first day. My master repeated "someday," and I've been sweeping the floor ever since.


This isn't The Karate Kid where I'm learning Kung Fu moves with every push of my broom. No, my master is simply holding me to my own words.


Be careful what you say. Someone important might overhear and whisper, "Your wish is my command."

At the same time, don't hold back. Be honest. Live out loud. The master honors transparency. But don't be disrespectful, or arrogant. The master does not value disrespect or arrogance, not because he is easily offended, but because disrespect and arrogance do nothing for us.

Find the good in life. It's there. But also experience the valleys for what they're worth. Live from the heart. Understand that our struggle is about progression. And our journey through this world is ultimately about finding peace.

Sound difficult to follow these stars in the sky? Yeah, well, that's why I'm still sweeping the floor.

June 14, 2010

Self Publishing

Putting together a self published book is truly a joy. First, writing a book is a journey. That's no original sentiment, I know. You have to dive deep inside yourself to say say something about the human condition. Now that the book is roughed out, the fun starts. I have the benefit of an incredible artist and friend, Mark Dixon, who is designing the cover. We talked about a traditional cover, then I pushed a cosmic theme and found after showing it to a couple friends that the cosmic theme didn't work. Now we're going to do a dragonfly theme on the cover. And I'm pretty excited about it. I dig the symbolism of the dragonfly, mucho. I'd love to have the book published before I start a full time journalism gig this summer. I'll have to see. Right now, I'm going through my 60 or so posts and looking to cut the weak ones, add some I never put in the blog. Killing babies is an important part of any serious editing process. Still haven't decided on a title. That's fun too, waiting for the title to arrive.

The ancient Persian poet Rumi has a poem in which a man jumps into a river after a bearskin floating downstream. Then it turns out the bearskin is a live bear. Rumi calls from the shoreline to let go of the bearskin, and the man yells back that the bearskin isn't letting go of him. I wondered if by doing a love poetry project that the project would be doing me instead. Well, I definitely learned some things about myself. And I'm looking forward to seeing the cool cover Mark comes up with. Like I said, I'm blessed. 

June 13, 2010

i'm partying over at thinkingtoohard, if you'd like to join us.

June 11, 2010

Reporters May Not Have Souls

So I'm freelancing for the man these days. And I'm doing a goofball feature story on those dudes who comb the beaches with metal detectors looking for treasure. And I talk to a couple guys and they don't find much but they're having fun. Like I said, it's a goofball feature. 

Then I meet a guy who is legit. He has been searching Southern California beaches for more than 20 years, pulled up $250,000 in gold and diamonds over the years. Yes, I believe him. As a reporter, I trust my ability to size people up, for the most part. Here's what made him extremely legit: He didn't want to talk to me if I was going to write a story. He said the attention in the media brings competition. And he would tell me his secrets of finding treasure if I didn't do a story. Well, I told him that maybe I wouldn't do a story after all. Maybe I would spike this idea, go out and get the sort of metal detector he recommends and follow his advice and make money that way. 

While we spoke, my energy clearly said I wouldn't do a story, but I made no promises. In fact, it was only several hours later that awakened from my gold-and-diamonds daydream to remember that I was a writer. I had less interest in looking for watches and rings with a metal detector than I had in writing fun stuff about interesting people. 

A tip for everyone: Don't tell a reporter anything you aren't willing to see in print.

So this guy unloaded his secrets to me. I took no notes, except mentally. And I of course did not identify him nor anyone else in the story with multiple sources.

As a reporter, this guy was a find for me. He was like finding a $1,500 gold ring-- though I only get about a hundred bucks for the story I wrote. For me, this guy was like finding treasure.

Sometimes, reporting can be fun as hell.

If interested, here's the story.

June 5, 2010

Noodles in Mumbai

I heard you fluttering around the universe last night. I knew you weren't going for a drink of water. You are such a bad liar. If you looked closely, you would have seen me smirking as I fell back asleep.

Let me guess: You slipped off to lead drunken Tony home to his cardboard box again. Then you fluttered outside the window of the county jail and finally made one of those psychotic inmates smile for the first time in forever.

After 5,000 years, you still have the same nocturnal habits: flirting with good-hearted, troubled men. You make them feel special, because they are. The master plays the role of servant so convincingly.

Speaking of which, I know the star god still has a major crush on you. I also know you make his day by sitting patiently in his drab office chatting up the properties of stardust and the importance of helium vapors. Yawnsville, sister.

You are a flirt, a bad liar and you are way too nice. Unlike me.

Today, you and I will chase comets, ding-dong ditch the royal family, lead that stray dog on 3rd Street to a home, and eat noodles in Mumbai.

That's later. Right now, I'm feeling a little psychotic myself. No, you are not allowed to leave this bed for an actual drink of water until I am through with you. Then I'm going to drift off to sleep again with a different sort of smirk on my face.

June 4, 2010

Beautiful Serpent

Show me your serpent. It's okay. I have one too. Serpents are scary at first. But our serpent sides have a purpose. Mostly, they just want to protect us.

They come armed with fangs and silence and deal in death. They wield a sword and cut off contact and allow us a retreat.

Our dark sides sometimes kill relationships when we fail to communicate our feelings well. Sometimes we're too self-unaware to even know how. We do our best, and then after a while, or maybe all too soon, our serpents emerge.

Our serpents are often the most loyal sides of ourselves, interested in protecting our most vulnerable parts. Unfortunately, our dark sides sometimes wield too much power in our lives and end up keeping us from the things we're after.

Show me your serpent, sweetheart. Bring her out. Let's do the introductions now, all four of us. I want to meet this beautiful side of you that has done her very best to protect your heart over the years. I want to kiss her hand and show her there's truly nothing to fear here.

June 3, 2010

Pestering Moon

Something is wrong with the ocean. The waves are crashing a little more unruly than what the moon suggests.

Now the ocean has always been a little hard headed. No one commands the ocean, no one tells it what to do. But the moon has found a way over the centuries to speak to the ocean, and so what's going on lately makes me think.

And what I'm thinking is you ought to put on that beaded necklace of yours and do up your hair in braids again, and we ought to go for another stroll along the shore and let the ocean stretch out its salt carpet for your feet. And we probably should wade out a foot or so into the icy water just like we did over the weekend.

I mean, the moon won't stop knocking on our window until we agree. So for the sake of getting some sleep, let's promise to go down to the beach tomorrow and let the ocean have another taste of your legs. 

June 2, 2010

The Gift


We start with a 30-unit apartment building. We make it totally green, in whatever way so appropriate. We put solar panels on the roof. We have a fleet of automobiles that run on vegetable oil.

It is the first building of our artist colony.

But it won't just be an artist colony. Whoever lives here will perform volunteer work in the community, whatever sort of work they want. Our art will reflect our work, inevitably. Everyone will receive a couple hundred dollar stipend every week, maybe more.

A few apartments will be used to house families temporarily homeless. Another for visitors. Another for the chronically homeless. Wherever this colony is located, it will conform to the needs of the local community, so that an apartment also will house victims of domestic abuse, which is prevalent in every community.

We'll have a gardener to tend the grounds of all the buildings in our sprawling artist and service colony. We'll have a chef to prepare buffets a couple times a week, probably to coincide with guests invited to speak with everybody on various interesting subjects. People will visit from around the world.

It will all be so much fun, and work, and especially fun.

I mean, it's not like we're going to change the world or anything.

(I mean, yes, we are:)


June 1, 2010

The Gift of The Great Prophetess

While in the womb I negotiated with the great prophetess. We came to terms after months of back-and-forth.

No such thing as overpaying for the rarest of treasures. Once again, I made out like a bandit. For you, I would have given double, triple.

Many lifetimes ago I bought you at a slave auction and was laughed off the stage at the ridiculous price I offered. But I did the laughing later when I saw the hundreds of familiar secret worlds in your eyes.

This is no young love anymore. We drink the blast juice of a deeper color between us. Back when we were young, Abraham chased and threatened us with reed sticks for stealing his grapes. (Sucka!)

I have my doubts, as usual. I acknowledge these doubts not to contaminate, but rather to release them, to clean our energy, to continue the collapsing of space between us, to slope the land further.

To fall deeper into those secret worlds of yours.

So many of my friends today live as refugees from the journey of looking for the great unspoken horizon that is love. They resort to the safety of emotionless sex, in its various trendy presentations, woven to hide the handiwork of the dark tailor himself: Fear. Emotionless sex was one of the things I had to give up in this lifetime. You see, the great prophetess doesn't take from us anything that's truly valuable. She only demands everything that cloaks our true selves.

After a long journey, you'll always find a little wear and tear on the carriage. But nothing is wasted. Everything is necessary-- once you arrive.

I have my doubts, as usual. But we've already made our deals with the great prophetess, and we continue to make out like bandits. So what's the point of doubting?

No point.

To get you back, I would give up more than the misers of this fallen world could fancifully imagine. (Suckas!)

Ours is an ancient crush.


May 31, 2010

Smoldering

I bled for you but you would not have me. I bled the color red all over your palette of paints. I wanted your artist heart in my deepest ash pit. I wanted to mean as much to you as that tree you sketched on your crowded canvass. But you would not have me.

My passion flamed for you like a redwood on fire. A beacon for the planets is what I wanted to be for you. With my two feet planted in the earth, I wanted to stand tall in my heat and consume you.

I wanted to split you. I wanted to expose the pink timber of your insides and watch as your wood raged. I wanted you to see the yellow flickering in my mad eyes. But I was not firmly planted in the ground. I was flaring and hurting and misfiring.

I have never told anyone, but I have practiced black magic. I sprinkled the stars on the table in my favor. You can turn the universe whichever way you fancy but that also means twisting your fate like a screw backwards into the blind side of your life. I stopped when my hands and face became charred. One must learn this lesson, I suppose.

Another lesson I learned is that I never burn out, that I cannot be consumed. I may smolder blue for a while, but I will always return to torch. I will always bleed red hot for you.

May 30, 2010

Everyone Wants To Be Near You

When the planets decided who got which positions, Mercury would not be denied. Occupying the first position in line came with a steep price: A few envious brothers and sisters.

Bake me, Mercury said.

And Mercury has been baking since, without ever turning around to grin. Good thing, because Jupiter is still sore, and we might end up with a brawl in the solar system.

If everyone wants to be near you, one might begin feeling badly for Pluto. Don't. Pluto is the shiest of the bunch, and prefers hanging in the back of the classroom.

Behold the range of personalities within our planetary family, and within each of us, as children of the stars.

Take me, for example.

Normally, I'm shy and talk with my hands in my pockets at the end of the line. And sometimes I have to let go of a grudge because someone beat me to you by cutting in line.

And once in a while I go right after what I want and will not be denied, like this weekend when I baked next to your celestial body.

On Saturday, children, the sun goddess smeared me.

May 29, 2010

So Many Thanks and Praises

Everything has a beginning and end, even our earth and sun.

No such thing as life without death, least not in this world.

I'm not saying we're going to revisit How-It-Is-101 here.

What I'm saying is that for whatever time we're together, no matter how long or short, I blaze like the sun when we hold hands. I spin like the earth when you touch me under my shirt. I am the Wolf King running through the dark forest to see you. I am the ocean calming when you breathe on my ear.

Together, we throw blue stars into the sky when we speak with our eyes.

Everything has a beginning and end, yeah. Thanks and praises that we are just beginning together.

May 28, 2010

The Wind

I must introduce you to my old friend. He insists. My old friend has traveled the earth since the beginning of time, brushed every tree root, rubbed up against the outermost shell of the sky dome. My old friend has been around, every which way, up and down, backward and forward.

Five hundred years ago on this very land, my friend was worshiped as the god he is. Only wise spiritual leaders, shamans and medicine men understood the language he spoke.

And now my friend wants to speak with you.

Yes, you.

See, the world continues to change for the better in the smallest, most important places, the places that can't quite be seen so well from the mountain tops of power, and that's inside us.

Many of us carry sparks inside us these days. We're less interested in more money than living sustainable lifestyles. We're less interested in status than showing our children the value of non-violence.

But of all the little sparks floating around in the world today, my friend wants to meet you first. Because when my friend gets hold of a spark, that spark becomes an unstoppable flame.

And your spark, my darling, glows prettier than everyone else's, and hotter.

That's what drew me to you, the heat of your flame, and its color.

And that's why my friend wants to meet you so badly.

You are special inside.

You are beautiful inside.