Bad day turns bright

April 23, 2008

A familiar formula: too little sleep plus a frenetic start to the day equaled foul mood. My black cloud lifted in two stages.

Stage one: spotting one of our little boy’s books in the bathroom, propped against the wall directly across from the toilet. Suzame bought it for Atticus, and this was the first time I’d seen the title: Little Monkey’s BIG Peeing Circus.

Stage two: interviewing David Sill, 68, about his father, Jesse Sill, a legendary Portland newsreel cameraman who was among the first to film the Pendleton Round-Up, starting in 1915. (I’m co-authoring a book about the world-famous rodeo.) Reveling in memories about their life together, David said: “I had a great dad, best as you can get, or close to it. He really spent time with me.”

As I drove home shortly before noon, the sun found a crack in the low clouds over the hills of Forest Park. Among the brooding evergreens, hardwoods showed off their newborn leaves, glittering in shades of sage as if proclaiming, “We’ve returned!”

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April 21, 2008

Portland being Portland, it’s not unusual to see pairs of shoes dangling from overhead wires. I imagine the fun some jokers had flinging footwear in the air until one of them got lucky. Somewhere in Northeast, where I live, I once saw high-heels similarly perched above the middle of a street, string looped around the heels.

Dangling shoes probably represent a secret code that I’m not hip to. . . an anarchist cabal’s communiques or a notice that on this block the really cool people reside.

Thinking about this prompted me to Google the expression “shoes dangling from wires.” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a global shoe-dangling fixation appears to be spreading. Theories abound, as do of photos showing the creativity of this “art.” My favorite pictures are here and here. And, naturally, there’s a buzz word — shoefiti— and a web site by that name, featuring everything anyone would possibly want to know about the practice.

But what’s the meaning of a pair of black Converse All-Stars abandoned on a sidewalk along busy Northeast Broadway? A few days ago the shoes were positioned on either side of a metal pole, as if the wearer had been hugging it. When I came back with my camera, the shoes were gone.

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Flickering images

April 20, 2008

Seeing the haunting movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly two days ago was timely given the title I’d chosen for my blog. Because of the film I think and look at the world differently, and that’s as grand a recommendation as I can make.Watching with my wife, Suzame, I couldn’t help but think of my life as I contemplated the fate of Jean-Dominique Bauby. It’s a selfish response, I suppose, but isn’t that what art often accomplishes? It not only lingers but burrows into the receptive viewer.Now I have to read Bauby’s memoir, though mindful of the controversy regarding differing portrayals in the movie and book. However, I’m not linking to articles about the controversy because reading them would spoil some parts of the film for you.

I’ve grown to enjoy reading books on which movies are based after seeing the films. My most recent example is No Country for Old Men. Much of the dialogue is verbatim from Cormac McCarthy’s book, which I bought within a few days of seeing the movie, mostly because I wanted to learn more about the dream Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) relates at the end. I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s an excerpt from the dream, in which he’s seen his dead father:

. . . it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback going through the mountains of a night. Going through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in the horn in the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.

Darkness and dread then a flash of illumination and hope. Is it a waiting reality or fanciful and fleeting?

As for the film version of Bauby’s story, seeing the world from his rare circumstances and perspective reminds me of looking through a cracked window. Incomplete and blurred images flicker then flow into sharp focus in moments of bracing clarity. At the shifting refraction of light, what he sees changes again.

Like memory.

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April 19, 2008

I’m now an Official Stereotypical Blogger, languishing unshaven in my pajamas as I write my inaugural entry. An unpleasant image, yes, but not a habit in the making.

Why blog? I want an outlet to write more. Writing in a public setting imposes obligations and expectations, even if only family and friends occasionally traipse through here. Blogging creates deadlines, too, however loose and unenforceable. I like deadlines; I need deadlines.

Other blogging benefits: commenting and reflecting in print on things I observe and ponder keep them from vanishing into the ether; they also force me to examine such things more deeply. But can I comment and reflect without lapsing into insipid navel-gazing? Or without trying to impress myself or whoever stumbles upon Cracked Window? In other words, an underlying goal is honesty.

Honesty is an easy declaration but hard to achieve when delving into the personal.

Stay tuned.

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