17 July 2007

Drivetime Salute!

Every time I drive between Eugene and Corvallis I discover a new sort of calm in the rows of trees and shrubs or whatever it is growing out there. There's that certain angle in each field where you can stare down the row, and the countless lines reveal themselves like the fragile teeth of a comb. In a car that angle is visible only for a brief moment, but in the next moment the next row appears, then the next, and the next, like the gentle and endless arrival of a new wave on wet sand. The rows of trees are the same but different. At ground level you can see their trunks poking through the dirt like the long arms of nature in an entirely unnatural grid pattern. At the tops of each of these skinny brown arms rests a ball of green clenched fist. What is most amazing, however, is the way these fists mingle and mix amongst each other, creating the illusion of one giant treetop.

It reminds me of this incredible piece of artwork I saw and walked on at the Seattle Art Museum a billion trillion years ago. It's called "Floor" by Do-Hu Suh.*

On to something new.
I'm moving to Boston in just about a month. I have the troubling task of balancing spending time with Rachel and getting settled in Boston. And now another dimension has made its way into the picture. My dad and I have talked about driving across the country, possibly and probably stopping in Indianapolis to see my two-year-old twin nieces. I also just started reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and the connection (or lack thereof) between the narrator and his son reminds me that there is so much I don't know about my father. This fact is made all the more frightening by my slow but consistent evolution into that man. Robinson writes with an incredible and simple beauty that seems to have made my emotional senses more intense and acute (I hid a tear from Rachel as a keystone character in Ratatouille remembered a moment of his childhood). But now more than ever I really feel that I not only want to drive cross-country with my dad, but I need to, to talk to him and learn about the history I don't know. I need to know what his father was like beyond the shriveled, weak man that couldn't remember my existence or how my Filipino mother somehow got so tan. It's important to me to know where it was that my dad decided it would be a good idea to put a small piece of a railroad track in his bicycle basket and ride as fast as he could down a rocky hill, or why he spent his 16th birthday in jail. All I know is that he flipped his bike over, and his response to the birthday behind bars was "I lived in a small town, so that was a little different." This drive could possibly reveal a lot I don't know about the man I should probably know the most about, and if not that, I'm sure it will at least give me some stories to write about.

*Photos taken from http://www.democratici.sm/appuntamenti/venezia/venezia.htm without permission.

13 July 2007


When I lived in Hawaii, up until I was nine years old, I went to Saint Joseph's Catholic School. Boys from kindergarten up to 8th grade all wore the same thing - blue slacks, white button-up shirt, and white shoes. Girls wore blue jumpsuit looking dresses with white collared-shirts underneath. The higher grades, 6-8, were allowed to wear the blue St. Joseph's windbreakers. I envied them, no matter how hot it may have been, especially during P.E. time, which consisted of lining up in equally spaced rows and doing jumping jacks and other exercises led by one of the jacket-wearing kids. I wouldn't have called them kids back then, even though one of them very well may have been my brother.

The school didn't have a playground, so during lunch/recess, we'd eat our food as fast as we could then run outside to play tag on the school grounds, which was little more than a large parking lot. On especially wild days, some of us boys would bug the jump-roping girls, and they'd chase us around pretending to be angry but not hiding their smiles or giggles. I remember though, one relatively calm day, when my best friend "Bubba" (nicknamed for his skinny, miniature stature) and I used the oversized Smarties candy and pretended to give and receive communion. Our first communion wouldn't be until the next year, so we were too young to know what really went on during the Eucharist. Honestly, I still don't completely understand the ceremonial first communion. On that day, under one of the few covered areas of the school grounds, which only now do I remember being surrounded by chain-link fences, Bubba and I took turns giving and receiving the pastel colored, sugar based body of Christ. I don't recall much about Bubba, whose real name was Jeffrey, but I do remember his goofy dwarf-like face giggling and smiling, trying to hold back fits of laughter. I also remember on that day, we called our little game "Chameleon."