Sent: Monday, May 05, 2003 12:51 AM
Subject: It was 2 years ago today
Friday May 4, 2001 - My last day of work,
sometime around 5pm I shut down my computer and walked out of my cubicle.
11 days later I turned in the keys to my apartment, my belongings divided up
into their new homes; storage, my parents basement, and my van. I find
it a little hard to remember it all 2 years later. I can't believe it's
been 2 years. If what I was doing then was at the limits of my
imagination, where I've been and what I've done to get here right now was
unimaginable. Like all journeys though, right now it seems quite
ordinary, where else could I be and what else could I be doing at this moment?
It is only when I look back, connecting the dots from there to here, that I am awed
by how any of it could have possibly happened. But here I am.
In my apartment in San Francisco. Just two blocks from Golden Gate park,
and only one block removed from Haight Street. Getting ready to finally
start working again...tomorrow. The serendipity of the timing has amused
me to no end. How did I get here?
In some ways it was all like ordinary life,
good things and bad things, joy and tragedy in the usual doses. Or
rather, the usual proportions, it was the dosage that was different. As
the main character in the Tom Robbins book Fierce Invalids Home from Hot
Climates would say, it was more Vivid. Instead of the
usual 500mg/day of LIFE, I got something more like 2000mg. In what I'll
call, for lack of a better name, ordinary life, there are many
buffers. These are the things that nudge us back to a steady state,
gently bringing us down from the highs, belaying us from falling too far.
These routines and commitments provide a useful structure to life,
bringing us back to center. As I mentioned, all of the same
types of things happened, however there were none of these buffers. So
when I found beauty, or joy, it was profound and intense...and when I found
boredom or despair, it pulled up a chair and made itself comfortable. I
had to find new buffers. I didn't have to look far - but it wasn't
easy. Instead of these external influences I had to find something
portable, something inside me: faith, and trust. For those of
you that know me, I am by no means a religious person in any conventional
sense, so the word faith might seem a little strange. But I believe you
can have it without any sort of traditional construct to hang it on.
I discovered that the right things would happen if I allowed them to. I
started to notice that when something went "wrong", or I had a
bad day (or week), inevitably something truly miraculous would happen next.
And in the middle of things I would remind myself of this. The
other part of this was learning to trust...myself. Turns out I have
no problems trusting others, but I didn't grant myself much of it. I
learned to trust my feelings, my judgment, and my decisions. And to
trust in the faith that the universe would somehow work things out
if I let it, and the amazing became ordinary. Randomness, coincidence,
and serendipity all merged to become the norm, clearing the path ahead.
A path now so obvious it seems it must have been there all along,
somehow directing things, a verite deus ex machina. Since I
last wrote you in early December (The
Last Waltz) that pathway has been it's usual sublime self...
January and February elapsed,
appropriately, to the soundtrack of the foghorn in the bay. I did do a
lot of photography and exploration of the city. One of my favorite
photos from this time is up on the first page of my site (www.findtao.com).
My living situation slowly became untenable, my realization of that fact
coming suddenly in early March. Rather than try to make sense of it all,
I changed it. I moved all of my stuff into the garage of my friends
Kristen and Jim's house over in the East Bay. Kristen, my good friend
from photo school in Missoula doing her part to support the arts in the bay
area by letting me stay there instead of living on the street or moving home.
I hit the road for about a week to clear my head. Drove down the coast
to LA and spent some time hanging out with my friend Tiffany, also from
Missoula. For the first time I started to get my head around the whole
LA experience. Not one I would choose to live day in-day out, but an
experience that I could at least understand a little. Don't ask me to
explain it though. But I did see David Duchovny. Actually, I
walked right past him, and by the time I understood what Tiffany was trying
to tell me he was a block away.
I returned to the bay area in mid-March to
start my apartment search in earnest. To make a long story short, in
spite of all the angst I caused myself, in about a week I found a place. The
first place I looked at. Ok, I'm still working that faith and trust
thing a little. It's a great apartment in an old Victorian home in the
Haight-Ashbury district. My room is small (think small, then a little
smaller, a little more...ok, you are almost there), but the apartment is
a pretty good size, with a big kitchen and living room. We also have a
nice back yard with a lemon tree in the middle, which faces East, so it's a
nice place to go sit and drink coffee in the morning. I have two great
roommates who are also involved in creative fields. The neighborhood is
nothing short of amazing. I'm just two blocks from Golden Gate park
(think Central Park for San Francisco). Within 8 blocks I have numerous
of the following: Coffee shops, Clothing stores (Vintage!), Restaurants
(Thai, Middle Eastern, French, etc. etc.), Bars, and more. Also, the
best record store I have ever been in, a specialty cheese shop (artisan hand
crafted cheeses only), a bookstore, an art supply store, wine stores, some
galleries, and much more. I haven't even explored it all yet. And
it is only one neighborhood of many in the whole city. The "whole
city" situated on the end of a peninsula that is about 7 miles
square, so it can easily be explored with mass transit and walking.
Every day I walk out my door I discover something new and amazing.
By now it was the beginning of April, and
time to get serious about what to do next. Time to start looking very
hard for photography work, and even some kind of job to pay the bills.
As I was digging into those tasks, my friend Kristen called me. A
friend of hers who had recently started her own real estate agency in
Berkeley was looking for artists for a small gallery they run using their
streetfront commercial space. They wanted to do a show with photography,
and had asked Kristen to show them some work, which they liked and are using,
and then asked her if she knew any other photographers. She told them
about me, they took a look at my website and called to ask if I wanted to
submit a portfolio. I spent about a week getting some images ready
from the desert photography I did last fall and took them over.
Fortunately they really liked the images, and I got some space in the show.
Almost another week finalizing the prints, matting, and framing and I was
done. Here's the link to see the pictures.
In case you were wondering...yes, they are for sale.
Right now you (and I) are thinking things
can't get any better. When I showed Heather (owns the agency) and Brigid
(runs the gallery) my portfolio, we spent some time talking, I told them about
my adventure, showed them some other work, including some self-promotional
pieces I created to help find work assisting other photographers.
They really liked the work, we all got along famously, and, to cut to the
chase, they offered me a job doing their marketing for them. Which
pretty much brings us up to the present. I start work tomorrow.
It's a 3 day a week gig. There's a creative component to it, writing
some copy, some graphic stuff, getting some stuff on the web etc. There
is a fair amount of flexibility in scheduling the work, so I can fit in
photography work as it comes along. And it gives me two days a week and
weekends to work on photography. Plus it's a really great work
environment. And it's enough to live on.
Now it really can't get any better...well,
while all that was going on, my friend Jim from back in Richmond called me.
He and some other friends and family are renting a Chateau in the French
countryside for two weeks at the end of May. After they got everything
organized, they realized they had some extra space, so they offered me the
opportunity to come over there. I of course leapt at the chance, spent
some time on the web getting a cheap airfare, and will be leaving for France
in less than 3 weeks. I'm planning on doing a lot of photography while I
am there, and am going to try to get it in some restaurants or coffeeshops
when I get back. Or wherever else someone wants to hang it or buy it.
That has to be it. But wait, there's
more. My friend Kristen has been letting me tag along with her on some
of the weddings she has been photographing, so I've been getting practice and
building my portfolio of wedding photography. As she is already booked
for the year, she has been forwarding people to me that contact her looking
for a photographer, and this week I meet with a couple to discuss
photographing their wedding in September.
I think that's it. I do have one last
story though. I wanted to go on one last trip before I started working,
so last week I went down to LA to help Tiffany move and to work on some
photographic techniques that we had been discussing. On Thursday night
we went to the Viper Room so she could photograph a band that she has been
doing some work for. After their set, we hung around to get a drink and
talk to some people she knew. I had been commenting on the lack of
celebrities, and just before the last band came on, she pointed me towards a
booth by the stage. Who should be there but Avril Lavigne. And
right next to her was Kelly Osbourne. Turns out the last band playing
that night is opening for Avril on her tour. So they were out on
the floor dancing right in front of us, and then went up on stage to sing
along with the band (Gob - punk, sorta Green Day-ish). It was the
quintessential LA experience. The band was actually a lot of fun, and
afterward Tiffany talked to the lead singer and he sent someone off to get her
a free CD. We then decided to leave, as it couldn't get any better,
popped the CD in, turned it up, and headed off to a late night diner for some
french toast and bacon and a debate on whether Kelly Osbourne's 15 minutes of
fame is up. I said she was at 14:59, Tiffany said 13:00. I
shot down my own argument when I pointed out that she hadn't completed her
"Behind the Music" story arc yet.
I guess that's about it from here, time to
go to bed, gotta get up and go to work. I hope everybody out there is
Soundtrack for this message: Kid A
- Radiohead, A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay, Hi-Fidelity Lounge
Vol. 3, Dub Selector 2, American IV: The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash