day 1 | ‘this is everything’
2011. Berkeley, CA
reading through old journals, letters, and other things i’ve saved over the years.
taking stock. there are four boxes stacked against the wall of my studio that i
brought in from our storage room:
1) journals and screenplays
3) letters and misc. memorabilia
4) yearbooks, school work, scrapbooks, calendars
“this is everything i’ve saved from my life” is the thought that comes to me. it’s not
a lot, but i’m glad i kept what i did. it seems important right now. like clues. what
does it all add up to? a friend said she burned most of her journals – years worth.
at first i thought that was sad, but maybe not. sometimes I wonder if hanging on to
all this has held me back in some way. dragging around the past. i guess it
depends on what your relationship with it is, which is what i’m trying to figure out.
hopefully gain some insight
day 2 | 'hotel tonala'
June 3, 1992. Tonala, Mexico. Journal Excerpt
it rained during the night
we are in a small town called tonala
there is one hotel; hotel tonala
the roads here are slabs of rock – no traffic to speak of
last night we walked around the town
children play in the streets at night when it’s cooler
simple games like leap-frog, games with balls and sticks
on every block there was at least one young couple sitting on the curb or front
porch, facing one another, touching, talking, laughing
a sweet and innocent courting – most likely chaperoned
yesterday when we arrived, walking through town looking for a hotel we got lots of
curious looks. we passed a schoolyard and children ran to the gate, giggling,
watching us pass. i said hello to them, which caused quite an outburst
day 3 | ‘filling the bill’
List Circa 1995
a list i found of bands that True West shared the bill with:
REM – did a west coast tour with them; fables of the reconstruction. 17 shows or
so. the high point of true west’s touring days
Jonathan Richman – in sacramento. he was cranky, yelling at the soundman
during soundcheck. had a big band
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – in england. brighton. the club was a cave in the
side of a mountain. before he got cleaned up
Rita Coolidge – strange pairing. at the lonestar in nyc (original downtown location).
she and the band were very friendly
Long Ryders – did many shows together as we both toured across the country
between 1984 and 1987
Rain Parade – same as above
Del Fuegos – i flicked a beer cap at the bass player during their set. that was rude;
sorry. they had great energy
Dwight Yoakam – we were supposed to headline a show at al’s bar (i think that
was the venue) in LA. when we got there we were informed that dwight yoakam
was headlining. never heard of him. the name sounded like a swedish yodeler.
we were pissed.
Violent Femmes – at the palace in LA. nice guys, lots of fun.
Jim Carroll – at the stone in SF. he was intense. great stage presence. very
badass. not a guy you’d small talk with
X – one of the greatest rock bands ever. mindblowing. such power and conviction.
a privilege to have played on the same stage
day 4 | ‘sleepy like a cow’
October 2007. Berkeley, CA
A conversation I recorded with my son when he was 5 or 6:
h: did you write asha?
s: you have an asha in your class?
h: yeah, but she’s not my best friend, but did you write any asha?
s: no, i didn’t know – i don’t know a lot of kids in your class.
h: did you write anthony?
s: yeah, anthony’s on there.
h: he is? where is anthony? there?
h: i want to make an arrow that says this row is in – this row is in hugo’s class.
thomas! he plays soccer.
s: yeah. he likes pirates.
h: but i don’t, ’cause they’re so nasty and they never brush their teeth and they’re
smelly and they’re just so weird. but i do like those skulls. the cross sword things.
what is that? an ‘r’?
h: that doesn’t look like a ‘r’… daddy, when can ju-ju have a playdate with us,
because she said “when can i have a playdate with you?”. that’s what she said in
kindergarten. i mean not in kindergarten, in pre-school… what’s that – peter?
h: what’s that?
s: jack. jack the dog was in your class?
h: no! jack the person, who’s lazy because at nap time he’s almost always the
last one to wake up. he’s like a cow he’s so sleepy.
day 5 | ‘alkali flat’
November 22, 1987. Journal Excerpt. Sacramento, CA
“To begin to write, begin to write”
and so it begins. just start writing, every day, with no expectations, rules, or other
possible means of judgment. therefore no way to fail
this book can be something to decorate and talk to each day – every day.
I will train myself to turn thoughts into words and words into songs
describing things is the bottom line.
maybe when I develop a style it won’t include ‘bottom line’
my apartment neighbor moved out. the note on his door:
Moved To Desert Sands Motel #16
there were smoke stains on the underside of the awning and the window screen
was off and blackened. inside it didn’t seem like there’d been a fire. i saw a couple
lonely chairs in the kitchen – looked like a photograph in a book. could have been
the setting of a Sam Shepard play. Alkali Flat – that would be a good name. i
should write about it sometime; the rail station and the pawn shops, bars and
boarded up buildings. people living in the fields. not a pretty picture.
day 6 | ‘i can help you, nora’
Summer 2010. Berkeley, CA
trying to capture an idea while on duty. the song, “no end”, is on my new album.
stumbled into your heart
slowly became a part
of everything that you are
twisting around our lives
drawing us deep inside
leading us through the night
here new life begins
here love has no end
day 7 | ‘six suspicious sorcerers’
Drawing circa 1990. NYC
when i first started singing i was pretty mumbly, and people would tell me they
couldn’t understand the words to my songs. i worked hard on writing lyrics, and it
was important to me that they were heard clearly. so i made up some annunciation
exercises. then i illustrated them. i’m pretty sure it was the drawings that helped
me sing better.
hillary’s happy husband helps hasten her holistic healing
penelope’s peculiar problem predominantly pertained to a particular porcupine
rough and rugged roger rarely remembers reverend rourke
sally sent sissy to see six suspicious sorcerers
bowling before breakfast bothers bob’s bad back
day 8 | ‘the impossible dream’
January 1987, Journal Excerpt. Sacramento, CA
sundays are for putting things in order so you can spend the rest of the week
watching them fall apart
“the impossible dream” is playing on muzak. i keep the soft and easy radio station
on at all times, played through a thrift store stereo with the treble turned all the way
down and the bass turned all the way up. it creates a muffled fog machine of music
that obscures all the other distracting sounds and noises. i started doing it when
the new neighbor moved in upstairs. he’s big and gross, belching and pacing
constantly. constant thumping. back and forth to the refridgerator or the bathroom
or who knows where the hell he’s going. it’s a tiny apartment – there’s not too
many possibilities. also things like dripping faucets and noisy toilets – can’t hear
them with beautiful music making everything easier to accept. the people who talk
on this station say “soft music that feels good”, and they act like they are your friend.
“if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest”
another rainy day. stayed home sick from work and wrote lyrics
sitting in the usual chair with my clipboard and one of my bic roller pens (the only
kind tolerable). this is what the “way to write” book recommends, so the whole act
becomes habit. ritual. sit in the chair, pick up pen, mind starts thinking, or
day 9 | ‘firehouse rescue’
Winter 1992, New York City
me and peter lewy at firehouse studio recording what should have been my first
solo album. unfortunately the session wasn’t recorded or mixed well, so the album
never came out. at the time i was devastated. we had worked hard preparing for it,
and i’d saved up money for months.
a few years ago i had the 2″ master tape transferred to digital (as it flaked apart
before our eyes) and i plan to resurrect and release it sometime soon.
day 10 | 'alone in a room'
Spring 2010. Berkeley, CA
i recorded the “song of love” album in my basement. it’s the first time i recorded an
album at home. my setup was; a chair, two microphones, and a laptop.
every morning for a month or so i sat down and played my songs. then i picked the
best takes and added other parts; xylophone, piano, pump organ, melodica, etc.
i used my mom’s nylon string guitar on most of the songs – it’s the guitar both my
older brother’s and i learned on.
day 12 | ‘the home of a young folksinger’
* nyc 1990
man: “now where are we?”
woman: “at the home of a young folksinger. they say his career is about to soar.”
one of erica’s friends from parsons design school told her that a japanese tv show,
‘the world around us’, was filming in town and they were looking for an artist or
musician to film. i was nominated and they included me in the segment, which
appeared to be about questionable lifestyles. at the time i was living on east 14th
street in a flat with three other guys; jp olsen, richard malone, and will knapp.
day 13 | 'shooting fireflies'
* march 14, 2011
i did a test shoot for the ‘dream of fireflies’ video (a song from the new album). it’s
stop motion – very labor intensive. we shot a few seconds and i love how it turned
out. now i just need to spend a couple hundred hours finishing it.
the background was created by isabelle. it was her ‘fairyland’ that she built in her
room over a period of a few years. when she outgrew it i wanted to save it,
thinking it would come in handy someday for something.
day 14 | ‘gig in a field’
i had been out all day – don’t remember where – when i got home i was informed
by my bandmates that we were playing that night at a party. “we got a gig”, they
announced proudly. i was confused. how could we play a party when we didn’t
know any songs? not any whole ones anyway. we knew most of ‘doctor love’ by
kiss, and my brother could play the solo to ‘cat scratch fever’, but it certainly didn’t
add up to being ready to perform in public.
the party was in a field, which was not unusual – davis was surrounded by
cropland. all you needed were some coordinates, a keg of beer and some plastic
cups. if a band was playing a gas powered generator was necessary. someone
always knew someone who had one. it was never a problem.
we played the party. we were lame. i was embarrassed. at the keg a guy said to
me sarcastically: “why don’t you guys just jam?”
i think that was our only gig.
day 15 | ‘lovelock’
* journal excerpt, 06.10.87. on the road
nevada is just as i remembered it – unmemorable
thunder showers at elko. must be butterfly season – they’re everywhere
coolest thing about the barren desert and hills is the train tunnels, tracks and
bridges. they look exactly like what a model railroader would build.
richard is trying to tune-in something on his watchman… jeopardy i think
stopped in a little town with “two stiffs gas and minimart”
next door to “two stiffs hotel”. what a pleasant thought
already drained my walkman batteries. three tapes; one wilson pickett, one velvet
underground, one lloyd cole
day 16 | ‘longing out loud’
elizabeth street in little italy was the last place i lived in new york. i loved that
neighborhood. at the time it was a pretty quiet block; there was a hardware store, a
butcher (albanese meats), a bar on the corner at houston, and a cafe on the
corner at prince (bella’s). that was about it. lots of boarded up store fronts.
erica lived around the corner on bowery in a building that was originally a ymca
day 17 | 'accidental bellhop'
erica was doing a photoshoot at the spring mansion. she staged it like a hotel – an
abandoned hotel. i thought it would look cool if there was a bellhop in the
background of some of the shots. she liked the idea, so they rented a bellhop
costume. then they looked around to see who it might fit…
~ more photos @ erica tanov
day 19 | ‘that’s not a question’
it was the morning of my birthday. erica had spent the night
i got up and went to the bathroom
walking back to bed i decided i was going to propose
immediately my heart started pounding
we’d been together for five years but it still felt impulsive
i laid down next to her and said: “for my birthday i want you to be my wife”
we both cried
later she pointed out that that was not a question, therefore i hadn’t given her the
option of saying no
when i got to work i went into joanne’s office and collapsed in a chair
“what happened to you?”, she asked, “you look like shit”
i was feeling a bit lightheaded, but i had no idea it was so obvious
i didn’t tell her i had just proposed
i never told my wife that last part of the story
day 20 | 'unbiased'
* bits & pieces, 1989
for years i recorded song ideas on cassette tapes
any scrap of a melody or interesting chord progression
i kept the tapes in a box, and over time accumulated a hundred or so,
always thinking i’d go through them and maybe find some nuggets worth
once in a while i’d put the box in my car and listen to a random tape while driving
the recordings were sloppy; the guitar almost always out of tune, my voice
fumbling for the right note, lyrics made up as i went
listening to them was not enjoyable
there were lots of variations of ideas
there were lots of bad ideas
there were lots of variations on the bad ideas
so when i discovered, after our last move, that the box was gone i was kind of
relieved. even if i lost some promising song bits, i no longer had to feel like i should
listen to every last tape, just in case
i still have a few tapes that were in drawers or cabinets and didn’t disappear with
the others. a few is plenty
day 21 | ‘the windmill is burning’
* July 8, 1988. Friday @ 1:00 AM or so
having a night cap at Paul’s on 11th street
saw sandra bernhard at the orpheum; ‘without you i’m nothing’
frankenstein is on the TV above the bar
he just carried the little girl into the lake. you don’t see him drown her, but you
know that’s what happens
‘are you lonesome tonight’ is playing on the juke box
the screen just went fuzz. my mind is fuzz. lately i’ve just wanted to sleep and hide
from everything. i need to clear my head and focus my energy. it’s dispersing into
now frankenstein is in the windmill and michael jackson is singing ‘the way you
make me feel’
two guys at the end of the bar; a big guy smoking mores and a regular guy who
hasn’t gotten more than an ‘uh-huh’ in in the last hour.
the regular guy just ordered another vodka and cranberry juice. he’s had a lot
now the windmill is burning
day 22 | 'foreign exchange'
* 1985. journal excerpt: true west european tour
arrIved in holland 3 days ago. ferry ride was long. played black jack in the bar
the rooms were tiny; approx 6.5′ x 6.5′. each had three bunks
bought gloves and sox at a truck stop. richard and kevin bought switchblades.
eating lunch in a mall in appledorn. a pastry covered with potato gravy, chicken
first gig went well. approximatley 200 folks. the club had a hashish den
mickey didn’t want to exchange currency for kroner when we were in germany, so
we had to sit in a parking lot for three hours waiting for the bureau to open. he is
obsessed with getting the best rate
day 23 | 'anything at all for you'
rehearsing one of my songs; ‘the sun will rise’. i was still figuring out the lyrics for
the transition to the chorus
there were two people i was thinking about when i wrote this. seeing they were in a
lot of pain. wishing i could help them in some way
day 24 | 'lori likes you'
junior high – math class – terri dorris passed me a note that said ‘lori likes you’.
lori was in the class, sitting a few rows back. she and terri were best friends.
i didn’t respond. didn’t look over to terri or back at lori. i was surprised and excited,
but completely at a loss for what to do.
that friday was the dance. the rest of the week i did not acknowledge the note – did
not change my behavior in any way.
friday night in the gym i stuck with my usual group of friends. lori and terri scurried
around most of the night – at dances the girls always seemed to be going back and
forth to the bathroom
lori was wearing a floor length dress. we crossed paths a couple times.
there were expectant glances from both of them: “well, are you going to do
something?”. i never did
all i had to do was ask her to dance. then hold her hand. then she would be my
girlfriend. it was all set up.
but i was somehow frozen. unable to act. say hi. smile. anything
i would have been so happy to hold her while we slow danced. maybe get a
at the end of the dance terri came up to me and said: “lori doesn’t like you
anymore”, then walked away. that was it. i missed my chance.
the next week at school lori was holding hands with chris winger
day 25 | 'now leaving euphoria'
i took a year off from college between my sophomore and junior years
i hadn’t declared a major and had no real direction toward one
i joined a band called euphoria. they had an agent and gigs that paid well.
mostly high school dances playing whatever songs high school kids wanted to
at first it held my interest because the other musicians were good
then it didn’t. i stopped rehearsing and my playing suffered
so they fired me
i couldn’t blame them, but i was still surprised and hurt when i got the call
it was the keyboard player
he did say: “as a person you’re a ten”
that was nice
day 26 | 'sorry hugo'
* written june 1, 2009
i was strict with hugo and i feel bad
i didn’t read him a story because he didn’t get his pajamas on fast enough.
he was tired. i was grumpy
i said i didn’t want to be mean to him
he didn’t understand: “grown-ups always say that and it doesn’t make any sense.
then why don’t you read me a story?”
i tried to explain; “if you have a pet and you really love it and it does something it’s
not supposed to do you have to say ‘bad dog’”
it seemed like that made some sense to him
then i said that i can’t have to tell him 3 or 4 times to do something
he interrupted; “why do you have to say it again!? i know!”
then he started crying a little bit
i said i was sorry
i said i would sit with him while he fell asleep
i asked if he wanted me to do that, or go
he said “go”
so i went
day 27 | ‘paul’s garage’
paul and joe and little face lived on the same block
we lived around the corner
my brother and i would tell our parents we were going to hang out in paul’s garage
“what do you do over there?” my mom would ask
“spit and swear” we would answer
paul was always working on a 1950s truck, trying to get it running. there were so
many things wrong with it no one ever expected him to succeed
the rest of us just messed around. shot things with a bb gun. melted things with a
paul’s wasn’t like a normal house where there was always the possibility of a
parent walking out and disapproving of something you were doing.
his parents never came out of the house, and we never went in
they were in there, but we rarely saw them. they were like shadowy mythic figures
paul’s garage was where i would later keep the motorcycle my parents told me i
couldn’t buy. where i burnt my hand dropping a lit match into a half empty gas can.
where joe fixed my triumph spitfire after he crashed it into a tree.
day 28 | 'making room'
hugo was born at home on a wednesday at noon. isabelle was there. she was
five-and-a-half. she did well with the whole experience; got close when she felt
brave, walked across the room if it was too intense.
she had been the only child and only grandchild for so long we knew it was going
to be a hard transition for her, so everyone made an extra effort to involve her in
it was a nice gesture, but the reality was that the new baby would be getting most
of the attention for the forseeable future. whether cooing or crying, yawning or
sleeping, everything he did was new and amazing
after dinner i spent time with isabelle, playing in her room, trying to preserve our
connection. when it was time for her to go to bed i read her a story then kissed her
goodnight. as i was leaving her room a wave of sadness came over me that took
me by surprise. i felt the loss that she was experiencing; the end of her being the
only child. the end of it being just the three of us. our rhythm, our routines -
everything would be different now
when i turned off her light it felt like putting a period on the end of that chapter.
the next chapter would be called “life with the new baby”
i don’t think either of us were ready for it
day 29 | 'final request'
i was playing in a brightly lit coffeehouse in a mall in danville when a woman
walked up to me and started a conversation. or tried to: i was in the middle of a
song and it’s difficult to carry on a conversation while you’re singing. she wanted
to know, among other things, if i took requests. i tried to discourage her from
speaking by giving her a look that conveyed: “hey, i’m trying to sing a song here,
do you mind?”. she got the hint and opened her purse, pulled out a post-it note,
wrote down the song she wanted to hear, and stuck it on my folder of lyrics that
was sitting on the table next to me.
that was the last time i played at a coffeehouse. the note is still stuck on my folder
day 30 | ‘life is good’
Journal Excerpt: 2001
wow. i’m dizzy. it feels good. i could stop to think about it but i won’t.
the weeds are tall but that’s ok. the roses are bountiful
today i missed some of my friends in new york. i thought about the ones who
maybe sacrificed too much trying to “make it”. some of them have been battling the
music business for almost twenty years now. that’s a long time. it just creeps up
it’s hard to know what to do sometimes until it’s too late. i went down kicking and
screaming, but now i’m married, have an amazing five year old daughter and a
perfectly charming little house. i got lucky. it could have gone the other way
we just got back from going out to dinner. isabelle met all the waitresses and they
hung up her crayon drawing from the paper they put on the tables
she is the joy of my life
it’s eight thirty five and just starting to get dark. it’s quieter now than when I started
writing this. maybe I should go in the house. i need to memorize my scenes for
life is good
day 31 | "indelible'
Journal Excerpt: April 15, 2009
saw leonard cohen last night
i don’t think i’ve ever been so in awe of an artist
he’s at the top of his game at 74 years old
he has arrived at a place in his life where he can deeply appreciate all that is.
a three and a half hour show. skipping on and off stage
the audience adored him. worshipped may be more accurate
when he recited ‘a thousand kisses deep’ i was moved to tears. i think most
people were. you could feel the price he paid for every word
and on top of that he was funny: “the last time i was on stage was 14 years ago,
when i was sixty years old. just a crazy kid with a dream”
he gave with such generosity, then thanked the audience for “the gift of this night.
we will never forget it”.
i get choked up just thinking about it
‘hallelujah’ is the best song ever written
so is ‘famous blue raincoat’
his songs are tattoos. they’re beautiful. they hurt. they can’t be erased
day 32 | 'free for all'
Winter, 1978. Davis, CA
high school. party at pandora chapman’s house. what i remember:
she was cool. i had a crush on her
lots of people from the ski team were there
i sat on the fireplace hearth most of the night
her parents were away
ted nugent was in heavy rotation on the turntable
i drank too much and fell asleep/passed out in the back seat of a volkswagen bug
that was parked in the driveway
someone found me and called my house. luckily my brother answered the phone
and came and got me
the next day i had my first bad hangover. very bad. couldn’t get out of bed. my dad
came into my room and asked what happened. i didn’t answer. it seemed pretty
obvious. eventually he walked out. i stayed in bed most of the day
day 33 | ‘art and betty’
April 24th, 2004. 50th Anniversary Party
on my parent’s 50th anniversary my brothers and i had a party for them. we held it
at the davis art center. their names are art and betty, so, for the night, we re-
named it the davis art and betty center. we had their wedding pictures blown up
poster size and hung them on the walls.
lots of people came, including some of my mom’s relatives from canada. several
people got up and made toasts. the one that stayed with me was by my cousin
cathy – my dad’s sister’s daughter. she described something she saw many years
earlier. it was at our house, in the evening, the sun was going down and it was
getting cooler. my dad got up and got one of my mom’s sweaters and put it over
her shoulders. she hadn’t said anything, he just knew she’d be getting chilly.
she put her hands on his and said “thank you, darling”.
they’ve always been very sweet to each other. it’s something i’m just used to.
when i heard her tell that story it made me appreciate them in a way i hadn’t before.
day 34 | 'time has told me'
2002. Berkeley, CA
one weekend when i was getting rid of things i took a bunch of my records to
amoeba and sold them. i hadn’t played them in years. hopefully they’d be bought
by someone who still used their turntable.
one of the albums i sold was a nick drake box set
nick drake was my favorite. he is why i became a songwriter
the first time i put on one of his records, after the first song played i picked up the
needle and paused. i’d never heard music like that before. i wanted to take it in
before going on to the next song
after waiting a minute i set the needle back down on the first song. i felt like hearing
it again. when it finished i picked the needle up – paused again – letting it sink in.
then i played the first song again
after that i was hooked
on the night of the day i sold the records i got a hollow feeling, like i was lost or
homesick. i told erica about selling the nick drake box set. she knew the story of
me and his music. she said go get it back.
i called to see if they’d sold it yet. waited anxiously while the guy checked.
it was still there. i went and bought it back
i still don’t play it, but i’ll never sell it again
day 35 | 'step right up'
i took my camera to coney island to shoot some footage. i didn’t have anything
specific in mind, but i figured i’d find some interesting things.
walking along the boardwalk i heard the sideshow barker describing the acts
through a cheap megaphone: “see the human blockhead pound a spike into his
skull”. it only cost a dollar so i went in.
the seats were mostly empty. i saw the snake lady, the sword swallower, the fire
eater. i even got called on stage by the illustrated man to stand on him while he laid
on a bed of nails.
day 36 | 'hawaii 5-0'
i had a roommate in college, kit sparks, who would watch hawaii 5-0 after dinner
every night. at the beginning of the show, during the theme song, he would turn the
volume all the way up and i would play along on drums. our other housemates
would come running in, dancing and yelling
it was a ritual
as we watched the show we started thinking about the tests we should be
preparing for, or the papers we should be finishing.
one by one we returned to our studies
everyone except kit
every day, when he wasn’t in class, he would go to the library and do his work.
he was always caught up and had his nights free.
i think of kit sometimes when i’m putting off something i don’t want to do.
i tell myself “if you get it done now you can watch hawaii 5-0 later”
usually it doesn’t help, but it makes me laugh
day 37 | ‘firewalker’
July 27, 1999. San Bruno, CA
in a file cabinet in my closet i have a folder with “gung-ho stuff” written on it.
inside are 2 notebooks, a bunch of loose papers, and the program from tony
robbins’ “unleash the power within” seminar i attended in 1999
the seminar was in a large convention-type room at a hotel near the san francisco
airport. on the evening of the first day he took everyone outside – a couple
thousand people – to see several huge bonfires made of stacked railroad ties. he
told us that later that night, when the fires had burned down to coals, we would
all walk across them.
it was ten or eleven when we went back out. the coals had been raked into long
walkways. everyone lined up in front of one and waited their turn. the first
person in each line was coached on what to do, and evaluated for their readiness.
when i got to the front of the line and passed the readiness test i was sent walking.
it was probably fifteen feet to the other side. at the end a small ember stuck to the
side of my foot and burned a little, but the bottoms of my feet were fine.
the transformational part of the experience was that we were all supposed to have
a newfound confidence in our ability to do things we previously thought impossible.
i can’t say that that happened for me. maybe in a subtle way, but nothing dramatic.
day 38 | 'dear mom'
Letter to my Mom – 1992
i got your letter today. i’m always glad to get a letter from you – even when you tell
me things that might be sad. i want to know how you feel. i hope you continue
writing – i’ll try to write more often.
about my future plans – i really don’t know where i’ll be a year from now. there’s so
much to learn and so much to experience in life, it’s hard to know where to go
next, what to do, and for how long, so there will be enough time for other
things. new york is beginning to wear on me. all the filth, commotion,
un-friendliness, stress, etc. i’m not programmed for this environment.
my “life plan” is not exactly on schedule; being a successful recording artist
touring the world. if i had another life maybe i’d be a high school teacher, married
with kids – a house and a station wagon, an ice cream maker.
i feel fortunate for all i have, especially for you and dad and mike and rob – my
family will always be the most important thing for me. it’s hard to be so far away,
but i know our relationship won’t let the miles draw us apart.
keep painting and looking for vitality in life. it’s there, somewhere, you just have to
keep your eyes open.
day 39 | 'four numbers'
* photo 1988
my decision to move to new york wasn’t based on a strong desire to live there.
it was because i was ready for something new. ready to be somewhere else.
it was a time of things coming to an end for me
a band i’d been in for years. a relationship i’d been in for years
going far away felt like the thing to do
moving to new york had a certain weight to it
in the months leading up to the move i asked people i knew if they had any friends
who lived in new york. most didn’t.
i was able to collect four names and numbers which i wrote on a piece of paper
and put in my wallet
when i got to new york i called and eventually met with the four people.
three of them i’ve lost touch with
the other one i married
day 40 | ‘fairly happy’
April 13, 1967. Kaiser Progress Record:
has had tics
throws head back and to side every few minutes. over last 2-3 weeks.
generally a tense child
1st grade – likes school
a bit bored – doesn’t complete paper too well
overall fairly happy, but occasionally stubborn and lashes out at mother a bit
no specific physical symptoms
has had a little mild allergy
talk with mother
trial of valium
(she didn’t give me the pills. the tics went away)
day 41 | ‘tutu’
1996. Halloween party
before my daughter was born i worried about how things would change
i didn’t have any close friends with kids, so i really had no idea what life would be
like once the baby arrived
my imagination tended to lean toward the negative – not the new inspiring
experiences, but all the things that i wouldn’t be able to do anymore.
i imagined that we’d stop going out
that we’d only socialize with other people who had babies
that we’d get swallowed by parenthood
i knew there was good stuff, i just didn’t know what specifically
staring at the baby and saying “oh my god, it’s so cute!” didn’t resonate in the way
“you’ll never go out again” did
isabelle was born in may. when she was a week old we pushed her in her buggy
to a cafe. we ate lunch. it was kind of amazing
as she got older we took her to the park. pushed her on a swing. wow – it was fun.
when halloween rolled around we went to a party. we brought her with us
we dressed her up. we socialized with people who did not have kids
it was just like old times only better
it was a huge relief. i felt hopeful that everything would be OK
day 42 | 'hand writing - past'
1993. Writing exercise from an acting class at Alvin Ailey:
grew up in california. 2 brothers. i am a tall male person.
went to college in santa barbara.
have a very close family. my father taught at the university in davis.
mom raised kids, occasionally painted and worked in a gallery.
had a dog named chelsea. lived in a cul-de-sac. liked to go on bike rides.
our town is flat and quiet. walked to the park to play tennis. went to the mountains to ski.
had a guitar lesson at age 12 and that was that.
learned “sweet jane” (lou reed song). my older brother taught me.
used to smoke cigarettes and get stoned in junior high.
got suspended from school for smoking in the boy’s room. that cured the habit.
day 43 | 'disengaged'
when we were planning our wedding everyone told us that registering for gifts was
just something you did. i wasn’t crazy about the idea but i went along with it.
as we were driving to macy’s i started getting agitated. i understood that it made
sense, but it also felt all wrong. maybe it represented something that i was afraid of
when we got to the parking garage we sat in the car for a while talking about it.
i think i must have been a little intense – erica started crying. i decided to walk
around to calm down. while we were talking i had taken off my shoes. as i walked
through the garage in my socks these are the thoughts i had:
1) fuck macy’s – i am not going in there
2) this sucks
3) the air quality in here is probably really bad
4) i better go check on erica
5) these socks are ruined
6) where the hell is the car
when i got back to the car we talked and decided that it didn’t make sense to get
married if it was causing stress and conflict. we knew we were going to be
together and start a family soon. that was all we needed.
we told our families our decision. it didn’t make any sense to them.
later that year when erica got pregnant we went to mexico and got married.
we invited one friend
day 44 | ‘almost hobos’
we were out on the side of the building. we had finished sound check and would be
getting fed soon. gavin was smoking a cigarette. when he was about halfway
through with it he rolled the lit end back and forth on the wall until the ember was
off. then he put the half cigarette back in the box
i’d never seen anyone do that before. it struck me as something a hobo would do.
then i realized we had a lot in common with hobos
going from town to town, waiting behind a bar for a meal, staying at cheap
motels or sleeping on someone’s floor if they offered
while on the road we were paid per diems. our daily stipend was $10 when things
were going well, $5 when money got tight. so we learned to get by on $5 a day.
if we had a show that night we would be fed dinner, so we could spend more on
breakfast and lunch. the guys who smoked had an added expense
the vast majority of meals were eaten at fast food places along the highway.
i remember one day when every meal stop was mcdonald’s
by dinner i was so sick of it i couldn’t eat there again
so i bought some fig newtons at the gas station
that was the only other place open
day 45 | 'losing my dad's marble'
1971. Davis, CA.
my dad had a wooden tray on his dresser where he kept his wallet, keys and
change. there were little compartments with fingernail clippers, paperclips,
matches. i liked looking at his things. one day i noticed a marble i hadn’t seen
it looked different than any of the marbles i had. a creamy white with pale watery
swirls in orange, green, yellow, blue. it was beautiful
it was medium size – about as round as a quarter
i really wanted it, so i put it in my pocket. i wasn’t stealing it, i just wanted to
have it for a while
our school had a great yard for marbles. a huge grass area with long boundary
lines burned into the lawn for football. the lines were like trenches that you could
roll your marbles in. if you were far enough from your opponent you’d risk putting
your marble in the trench; it would give them a good shot at you, since the marbles
tended to stay in the trench when you rolled them, but if they missed you’d be set
up for an easy shot
one day after school i was playing marbles with paul brooks. he was in sixth
grade, i was in fifth. i don’t know what i was thinking, if i was down to my last
marble, but i played the marble that i got off my dad’s dresser. and i lost.
as soon as they clicked i felt sick. what i would have traded to get it back.
day 46 | ‘acting is a lot like life’
2002. San Francisco, CA. Photo: Jack Lemon, Cliff Osmond, Walter Matthau
i took a scene study class from cliff osmond, who is one of the best teachers of
any discipline that i’ve ever had. in re-reading my notes i realized that acting
is a lot like life:
know your weakness
you will always have counter productive habits. know what they are. know where
you hide and/or fake it. tell people – give away your secrets so you are forced
to be good
don’t leave the scene
don’t “check out”. stay in it. be with the discomfort. get comfortable being
always be vulnerable. you have something to lose – what is it?
how can you set the words to motion. make a dance of it. be free and creative
sex and death
relate every scene to sex and death. they are what’s interesting. and don’t rush it.
both sex and death should never be rushed
day 47 | ‘second person’
1994. New York City
erica and i were newly engaged and were about to move to berkeley. i was
excited, but also conflicted; i hadn’t accomplished what i’d hoped to in new york,
namely getting a recording contract, so in some ways leaving felt like defeat.
i wanted to change that before we left. resolve things somehow
i also wanted to capture something about my experience there.
something visual and visceral
i’d been experimenting with a camera i bought, filming in my apartment and around
the neighborhood. i was a big fan of the jim jarmusch film ‘stranger than paradise’
and godard’s ‘breathless’. i loved the mood of those films – the feeling i got when i
i knew an italian bellydancer named lola that had done some acting. i decided to try
filming some scenes with her. see what happened.
i had an idea for a story about a writer whose girlfriend disappears one day. two
years later she returns – with no explanation – and moves back in with him.
they never discuss what happened.
the first scenes i shot went well so i recruited two other friends, and then i was
making a movie. i shot mostly on weekends. i edited it using the camera and a vhs
when it was done, right before we moved, i screened it at the anthology film
archive. afterwards we all walked to erica’s place on the bowery for a going away
day 48 | ‘protective cup’
May 1970. Davis, CA
when i signed up for little league i knew i wanted to play first base. i thought it was
the coolest position; stretching for a catch with one foot on the base, getting the
runner out by a hair. but when the coach asked me i didn’t say it. i thought i might
not be good enough, so i said “i don’t know.” “how about catcher?” he asked. that
was the one position i knew i didn’t want to play. i’d play anything, just not catcher.
but i said “ok”, thinking it was what the coach would want me to say.
he asked me if i had a cup. i wasn’t sure what he meant. he explained that
catchers have to wear a jock strap with a plastic guard in it to protect their private
parts in case the ball hits them there
that was the most humiliating thing i’d ever heard
when we had our first game i left my cup at home on purpose so i wouldn’t have to
play. the coach asked me about it in front of my dad – they were both staring at
me. i said i forgot it. after much serious discussion they decided my dad would
drive me home and get it. i felt so ashamed. i just wanted to not be on the team.
forget the whole thing
we went home, got the cup, and went back to the game
i played catcher and hated every minute of it
day 49 | 'the interview suit'
1983. Davis, CA
both my older brother’s and i got business degrees in college. when we graduated
we got a suit. the interview suit. with it we were supposed to get a good job and
be off on our own.
when i graduated i had no idea what i wanted to do. amazingly i’d never given it
much thought. so i moved back to davis, and into my old room at my parents’
house. not exactly the next step they’d hoped for.
i got my suit and a haircut, and started signing up for interviews at the u.c. davis
career center. none of the companies interested me, so i picked ones that were
located in places i might like to live.
i did some interviews and pretended to care, while secretly hoping i wouldn’t get
one day i was listening to kdvs, the college station, and a song by true west came
on. i’d been in a band with one of the members before i went away to college -
i’d heard he had a new group and that they were doing well.
the music was cool
i was jealous
i ran into him shortly after that and he told me they were looking for a drummer.
they’d be making a new record soon, then going on tour
i auditioned and was asked to join the band
i canceled the rest of the interviews i’d signed up for
the suit went in the closet and i never wore it again
day 50 | ‘ten cent cat’
June 1966. Walnut Creek, CA
i don’t remember much about this day other than my parents giving me a dime to
go have fun at the fair or carnival or whatever it was we were at, and i came back
with a kitten. i was so excited to get a kitten for only ten cents – what a deal!
my parents didn’t have the heart to make me take it back
i named it friskie
day 51 | ‘jazz foliage’
December 3, 2007. San Francisco, CA
for 10 years i impersonated a jazz musician for a living
at least that’s what it felt like half the time
it started when a friend asked if my band could play at a corporate party she
was planning. she thought we’d be a good fit – we sounded “jazzy”.
my band consisted of me on acoustic guitar and vocals, playing my originals,
backed up by really good jazz musicians.
nick drake, van morrison, rickie lee jones all played and recorded with jazz
musicians – it was part of their sound: upright bass, saxophone, a drummer that
knows what subtle means.
i accepted the gig and spent the next month learning a bunch of standards. the
party went well and soon after the caterer called wanting to book us for another
event. before long i was able to quit my desk job.
the guys in my band were all serious players who were dedicated to being the
best musicians they could be.
then there was me
my strategy was to play as little as possible; “first do no harm”
i sang a few standards, but mostly made sure everything ran smoothly.
performing background music at events takes some getting used to. for the most
part no one pays any attention to you. often we’d be set up in a corner next to the
large rented fern. like the fern, our job was to add ambience to the proceedings.
day 52 | 'visiting hours'
August 2010; Journal Excerpt. Sacramento, CA
when i first saw my mom in the recovery room she looked better than i had braced
myself for. i was so relieved. her color was good, but it was hard for her to talk.
she hadn’t been allowed water since she first entered the emergency room the day
before, and her mouth was dried out
her hip and collar-bone were broken from the fall. the hip required surgery; they put
a rod through the ball and down the length of the femur, with a screw holding it in
place at each end. the surgeon described the bone as “crumbly”
the room she was in was very small. too small to comfortably fit the four of us (me,
erica, dad, rob). with no space for even one chair we all stood. looking. looking
away. trying to think of what to say or ask.
a nurse came in and we made way for her to approach the bed. she was cheerful
and efficient in her movements. she checked off some things on a chart and left
we stayed for a few hours. mom slept off and on. when she was awake she was
groggy, but she smiled.
erica fed her ice chips with a spoon from a styrofoam cup
then held the straw to her lips
she said drinking the water was just about the best thing ever
day 53 | '233 east 14th street'
January 18th, 1989. Journal Excerpt. New York City
saturday afternoon. made a desk in my room using my hamper, a metal cabinet
that was abandoned in the hall, and a board.
looked at another apartment yesterday. a two room sublet in the village. it was a
total dump and they wanted $1,100 a month:
no doors on either room
tub in kitchen
no living room area whatsoever
wood slat floors with gaping holes
at least there were no mice running around this time
saw a taxi burning on 3rd avenue around 10th street. there was an explosion.
probably the gas tank. the fire department came.
ran out of cash so i tried playing in the subway station – see if i could collect a few
bucks. it was kind of depressing but i got enough for a meal
this desk is a little too high but it will have to do
day 54 | 'perfect day'
August 13, 2009. Journal Excerpt. Berkeley, CA
what would a perfect day look like?
perfect doesn’t mean no mistakes. it can be lots of mistakes
some things it might include:
gratitude and appreciation
being cheerful. lifting people’s spirits
doing something i’ve been avoiding
spending time with my family doing whatever they want to do
being generous. helping others
challenging myself. being bold
expressing myself deeply
it seems like it shouldn’t be that hard. so what gets in the way?
day 55 | 'number forty-four'
October 1988. New York City
the first time i performed solo in new york was at open mic night at the speakeasy
on macdougal street. sign-ups were at 7:00. i was staying in the bronx, so that
meant leaving around 5:00.
i got there early and got a good spot in line, which i mistakenly thought would get
me a good time slot performing. when i reached the sign-up table i drew a number
from a hat – number forty-four.
the open mic i was used to, at the fox and goose in sacramento, got ten people on
a busy night. forty-four? i asked what that meant.
“you’ll go on around 12:30 or 1:00. after midnight you get one song”
“so i should come back in” – i had to count on my fingers – “5 hours?”
“yeah. that sounds right”
first i got a falafel. then i watched a guy escape from chains in washington square
park. i went back and heard a few performers. i walked around the village.
“wings of desire” was playing at the bleecker street cinema. i bought a ticket.
it was the first time i took my guitar to a movie.
when i got back to the club it was 11:30. another hour to go. when i finally went on
there were 5 people left. 2 of them were performing after me. one was passed out.
i played my one song
i got back to the bronx at 2:00
nine hours to play for three minutes in front of five people
welcome to new york
day 56 | ‘whistling lesson’
1995. Berkeley, CA
somehow i became aware of a whistling teacher that lived in oakland. he’s the one that whistled woodstock’s part on the peanut’s episode where peppermint patty performs at an ice skating competition. he was also on the tonight show.
taking a whistling lesson from a famous whistler seemed like a fun thing to try, so i called him.
he said: “when you arrive be prepared to be greeted with a hug”.
the lesson started with a demonstration. he described in detail the piece he would be whistling for me. i sat on the couch. he put a cassette tape in the stereo and left the room.
after a brief musical prelude he came bounding back in – literally flying through the air – and proceeded to give a full-blown operatic whistling performance; acting out the story, playing all the characters, dancing, gesturing, whistling like i’d never heard anyone whistle before.
when it was over i was stunned. i clapped – he seemed to expect it. it was strange being the only audience member.
he quickly commenced with the lesson, which felt like a big letdown after such a dramatic performance.
i didn’t have a whistling breakthrough. i didn’t take any more lessons. i sensed that he would have liked to have a student that took whistling as seriously as he did.
now when i whistle i feel self-conscious, thinking i should be better than i am since i’ve studied with the master.
day 57 | 'song a day'
1992. Guanajuato, Mexico
we stayed in guanajuato for two weeks – longer than we stayed in any other place on our ten week trip. it was a friendly town with good restaurants. the rooms were $6 a night.
i started a routine of getting up early, when the sun came up, and working on songs. it was quiet and peaceful. i’d write for several hours, then go out to get something to eat. i’d spend the rest of the day exploring the town.
songs took shape more effortlessly than they had in new york. i was finishing a new one every day – sometimes two. nothing like that had happened before, or has happened since. a lot of the songs i wrote there are on my first album.
it was such a simple existence; nothing to clutter my thoughts or distract me.
life seems much more complicated now. it’s hard to imagine getting back to a state like that again.
day 58 | ‘building 2, room c’
October 20, 2003. Oakland, CA
class meets 1st & 3rd mondays. building 2, room C. 5:00 – 6:15
50% of stressful thoughts are unconscious (how can they be revealed?)
we believe 100% of anxious thoughts, and a very low % of neutral thoughts
top anxiety producers:
• embarrassing ourselves
• losing control
dreams: this is how our unconscious works things out. having bad dreams doesn’t mean something is wrong; they are code – they are an attempt to put images to thoughts. impressionistic.
dreams are deep unconscious – as you come out of them you pass through consciousness and pick up the daily specific bullshit.
write down whatever you can remember
retrain your nervous system; this is learned behavior that can be unlearned
what do i worry about? try to really determine the answer to this…
• being to blame for something bad
archetypes are in our dna – in our cells – it is not a choice to believe them
taking of internal inventory: “how am i feeling”, “what am i thinking”
get a jaw massage
day 59 | 'faking it'
1972. Davis, CA
i remember being told a dirty joke when i was twelve. i had no idea what it meant
but i laughed. later i told the joke to a friend, hoping he’d get it and from his getting it
somehow it would become clear to me.
he didn’t get it and told me so. then he asked me to explain it. i couldn’t, of course,
so i acted like it was beneath me to have to tell him what it meant.
i felt bad; i was just as in the dark as he was, but i made him feel alone in his
in p.e. class in junior high jeff walker turned to me in the locker room one day and
said “sixty-nine”. he didn’t preface it with anything, he just said it in a way that
made it clear he was testing me.
he waited for my response.
i assumed it had something to do with sex, but i had no clue what. i nodded my
head and mumbled some sort of acknowledgement that indeed i was in on the
secret meaning of that number. he seemed satisfied, and that was the end of our
being thought of as cool was so important that i’d often find myself doing things
that i didn’t want to be doing, pretending to know something i didn’t know, or acting
like i wasn’t scared when i was. it was a drag.
i’m glad it’s over.
day 60 | ‘out the window’
November 13, 2011. Amtrak
i love riding the train
taking hugo to see my parents in davis
we’re on the upper level of car two
things that give you permission to be lazy:
riding a train
waiting for a guy
passing ship yards, freight yards, junk yards, backyards
cows and calves by a little lake
beach ball that went over the back fence and was never retrieved
a totaled car under a canopy
trampolines in back yards with dead lawns
sofa tipped over by a bush on the side of the road
‘for rent’ sign leaned against a shed
rows of alfalfa surrounded by reservoirs
two ski-doos on a trailer covered with a clear plastic tarp
power lines continuing forever
the end of a dead-end street
2 television sets face down in a ditch
goats feeding outside a drooping barn
this pen is running out of ink
train whistle as we near the station
“ladies and gentlemen, our next station stop is approaching”
“one, two, four and five are the exit cars”
day 61 | ‘grandiose musical dreams’
June 23, 1995. Kaiser Behavioral Medicine, Oakland CA
after moving to berkeley i was really struggling with having to start over.
with no job and being an unknown in the music community, i was doing temp work
and going to open mic nights. it all felt like a huge setback.
i started getting depressed, so i made an appointment to see someone in kaiser’s
behavioral medicine department. a therapist.
she told me i had a “peter pan complex”, and referred to my music ambition as a
“rock star fantasy”.
i left feeling worse
i recently requested a copy of her notes from the session.
maybe her observations were accurate, but the way she presented them to me at
the time was not at all helpful.
here are some excerpts from her notes:
34-year-old wm, single but lives with fiance
musician: guitar, sings, writes
obsessed with grandiose musical dreams
has pursued career in music full-time since college, which has yet to pan out
presents with high anxiety w/ somatic symptoms
manicky defenses – hard to relax
explored family scripts, unmet dreams
his style is intellectualizing: “yes, but”
value of self without stardom? sees alternative as being a loser
recently produced CD on credit card $
understands parallels to gambling – can’t stop now
youngest of three sons
no further contact
day 62 | 'one way ticket'
October 1988. Bronx, New York
the cab from the airport took me to student housing for albert einstein college of
medicine in the bronx. deborah’s friend chris lived there; she said she was never
in her room and i was welcome to stay. she left the key on top of the fire
extinguisher in the hall.
i set my things down inside and stood at the big window staring out at the city for
a long time. i’d been so focused on leaving that it just started to hit me: “what the
fuck have i done?”
then an empty homesick aching
i got a drink of water and sat on the bed. there were no chairs. it felt uninhabited.
the floor was dusty.
there were a few books in the corner, i picked one up – “house of god” – and
started reading it. when i put it back down it was dark and i was hungry.
i looked in the refridgerator, knowing that if i found any food it wouldn’t be right
to eat it. there was nothing there.
i put on my jacket, got my wallet and the key, and went out.
everything was so unfamiliar. i walked several blocks – carefully keeping track of
my route – before finding a corner market that was open.
i bought some saltines, peanut butter, and a beer, and walked quickly back
i stayed there for two weeks until i found a sublet
i never saw chris
day 63 | 'kid'
Photo circa 1963. Mt. Tamalpais
when i look at pictures of myself when i was very young, three or four or younger,
i can’t conjure up what it was like to be that person.
there may be things about the photo that i recall; places, events, objects, but i
still feel like i’m looking at a kid that i know was me, but i don’t really know him.
i wish i could talk to him. ask him some questions. hang out together for a day.
day 64 | 'hello, neighbor'
January 4, 1988: Journal Excerpt. Sacramento, CA
i always start writing when i’m very tired
a bad habit i’ve gotten into
my eyes are burning
it’s a new year and i’m feeling anxious. the 80s coming to an end. time passing.
i’m 27 years old – what am i doing and why?
who can know
i hear sirens. my new old-man neighbor, who replaced the usually intoxicated
french harp playing old-man neighbor, said “hello, neighbor” to me today.
his name is joe. he’s eighty years old and has a chihuahua that yaps.
saw the sad lady this morning. wearing the same brown sweater and old sagging
nylons with holes. the same blue tennis shoes and dirty house coat, with a
look of unbearable sadness.
she walks back and forth in front of her apartment; she never goes too far
either way down the sidewalk. always looking / calling for her cat.
right now i’m rubbing my feet together to get them warm. june, my friend in new
york, laughs when i say it’s cold here: “i guess you’ll have to wear your
windbreaker with the lining”.
Things That Don’t Last Long Enough:
hot shower in the morning
feeling of accomplishment
day 65 | 'fidelity and tenderness'
December 12, 1995. Puerto Angel, Mexico
when we got married in mexico the ceremony was performed by a man who did
not speak english. the translator was a young woman who seemed inexperienced.
she struggled in places, and it wasn’t always clear what we were agreeing to.
afterwards we were given a sheet of paper titled: Rights And Obligations Of Marriage.
here are some excerpts, typos included:
civil marriage is the only way to initiate and legalize the family and to preserve the
human race, and to try and change the ordinary imperfections of every human
being who is not able to change by himself.
the couple must and will be sacred to each other.
the man’s main attributions are his courage and his strength, and also must
provide food and protection to the woman, always treating her correctly, gently
and with generosity.
the woman’s contributions are her beauty, compassion, intelligence and
each one must respect, trust, fidelity and tenderness.
both must proclaim that what was unexpected from each other before the union will not affect
both of them must be wise detain their faults, always show respect.
in the name of law the society, i declair you married under the law of the civil authorities with
all the rights and obligations that this institute puts at my charge that is the only way to found
and legalize the family and is important that you preserve the family firmly, defending it
against dangers that could rise its stability.
day 66 | 'hope you are having fun'
March 20, 1968. Walnut Creek, CA
when i was seven i had to have an operation. i was out of school for a week. the
teacher had each of my classmates write me a letter. my mom saved them all.
here are a few:
i hope you are having fun in the hospital. one time my mom went to a hospital to
see her friend and i watched daktari.
dear steve i hope you will come back soon and steve we started a new book
steve we have been missing you. and steve we made flowers for art.
love, susan c.
i know what it’s like in the hospital, you get ice cream and licwold. do you like to
go to the hospital? i do. i went to the hospital twise.
i hope it is nuthing searyis. where want to have you back. steve you are the best
cind in our class.
love, david warren
yesterday we made a girl and boy for our board. now we have a hole board of
misery stories. there are some sad faces of misery too.
day 67 | ‘bad pipe!’
Summer 1978. Woodland, CA
the summer after high school my brother and i got jobs working the graveyard shift
at a pvc pipe factory. we were each put in charge of one of the production lines.
pipe that came off the line fell into a large metal rack. when the rack got full you
fastened the bundle of pipes with a steel band and rolled it into an open area for the
forklift to pick up. the rack was heavy and hard to maneuver.
as you waited for the forklift the new pipe coming off the line fell onto the floor.
the longer it took to get your bundle picked up the more pipes piled up.
stopping the line was not an option.
before the forklift could take the bundle the inspector had to inspect it. he’d peer
down each pipe looking for air bubbles, then measure the thickness with his
micrometer. if anything was out of sorts he’d yell “bad pipe!”.
if that happened you had to cut the steel bands, pull out the offending pipe or pipes,
replace them with good ones, reband the bundle, and wait for the inspector to
by the time you got your empty rack back to the line the floor could be covered
with pipe. you’d scramble to load them up, filling the rack, then start the process
over. just like in a nightmare.
it was the most stressful and exhausting job i’ve ever had.
day 68 | 'open mike'
May, 1996. Berkeley, CA
when my daughter was born i was working for a company that gave six weeks paternity leave. i thought i’d spend it tending to erica so she could tend to the baby. i’d heard that that was how it worked.
it turned out that erica’s mom and sister and friends were all eager to help, and babies sleep a lot, so i was left with a lot of free time.
i decided to write a screenplay.
writing a screenplay is very different than writing song lyrics. there was a big learning curve. eventually i finished a draft that i knew was rough, but at a hundred and twenty pages it felt like an accomplishment.
i had a friend who had a friend in los angeles that worked for a production company. they’d just produced their first indie feature and it was doing well. i sent them a copy of my screenplay and, surprisingly, they liked it. they gave me notes on how to improve it, and i started revising.
that’s when i realized how hard it was to get from a promising first draft to a finished script. after a couple revisions i felt like i was losing track of where i was going with it. it was a personal story and i didn’t know how to craft it into a fictionalized one.
not sure what to do i decided to take a break from it. that was sixteen years ago. still not sure what to do.
day 69 | ‘sister belle’
Christmas, 1962. Walnut Creek, CA
my parents ordered two matty mattel dolls for christmas in 1962 – one for my
brother mike and one for me. they received one matty mattel doll and one sister
belle doll by mistake. there wasn’t enough time to send the sister belle doll back,
and they figured i was young enough that i’d be fine with it, so they gave it to me.
sister belle talks when you pull her string. these are some of the things she says:
it’s time to eat
let’s play house
i love you
sing me a song
please take me with you
do you like me?
i’m glad we’re friends
my mom says i really liked her. i don’t remember playing with her, but years later i
do remember my parent’s having a friend over, and their daughter was playing with
her and she stuck her gum in the dolls hair. i got pretty upset about it, so i must
have still had some attachment to it.
day 70 | 'dearest son'
February 8, 1989. Letter from my Mom.
how are things? did you see princess di when she was in new york?
my mother called me and said “betty, i had the most wonderful surprise – steve called me
from new york!”. she never had a call from new york in her whole life and was very thrilled.
thank you for brightening her day.
“where we love is home. home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts”
- oliver wendell holmes
sometimes i do miss you and your brothers so much. it’s sad having you all live so far away.
my family means so much to me – we love it so when we’re all together.
day 71 | 'goth'
October 17, 2011. Journal Excerpt. Berkeley, CA
been writing a lot more since the retreat in august. getting a little obsessed with it.
want to do some kind of project but not sure what
sitting at a cafe waiting for my sandwich. very hungry
returning from kaiser medical secretaries – had an appointment to review my chart.
it’s strange reading your own health history. i feel like i’m studying myself.
requested copies of a few things
engage all senses:
1. i smell syrup
2. i hear talking, water running, someone clearing their throat
3. i feel my back against the hard wooden bench. the sun on the left side of my face
4. i see my hand moving across the page. blue ink flowing
5. i taste the aftertaste of a sip of sparkling pomegranate juice
hugo wants to go as a goth kid for halloween. i told him i’d take him to telegraph to look for
costume items: wig, studded bracelet, fingerless gloves, leather vest
day 72 | ‘the wrong kind of flour’
Winter, 1990. NYC
after playing gigs around new york for a year i still felt like an unknown. i needed to do
more to get my name out, so i decided to put up flyers for an upcoming show.
i knew you could make a paste for hanging flyers out of flour and water, so i bought some
flour, poured it in a bucket, and added water until it looked like a good consistency.
i felt very self-conscious about putting the flyers up, so i went out late at night.
it didn’t matter – the streets were crowded with people.
i found a lamppost, painted some paste on it, and pressed up a flyer.
it didn’t stick
i put more paste up and tried again. it stuck for a second, then started sliding down,
slowly folding over on itself and falling to the ground in a soggy lump.
i stood staring at it. i felt like that was me, laying there on the ground.
i tried a few other spots but had the same result. each time i watched the piece of paper with
my name and picture on it fall to the ground i felt more dejected.
it wasn’t just the flyers. it was all the things that new york and the music business
did to make you feel unwanted. insignificant.
it added up. it took its toll
day 73 | 'wide awake'
June 18, 2006. Father’s Day card. Berkeley, CA
“today my heart is wide awake” – a line of lyrics i wrote years ago for a song i never finished.
that’s what i’m experiencing right now. everything slows down and the obstacles to feeling
things deeply fall away. it doesn’t happen often enough, but when it does it’s such a vivid
reminder of what’s possible. living with an open heart.
day 74 | 'coming to grips'
December 11, 2002. San Francisco, CA
the first time i tried doing stand-up comedy was at the luggage store on market street in sf.
i did it on a dare. a dare i had with myself. i was in one of my “face your fears” phases. i
made a list of the scariest things i could imagine, and doing stand-up comedy was at the top.
my strategy was to not try to be funny. the “routine” i came up with was to say that a friend
had bet me a hundred bucks that i wouldn’t do it. so i told the audience i didn’t actually have
anything funny to say, i just needed the money. then i said “if you have to use the restroom,
or just feel like stretching your legs now would be a good time”
then i pretended to call my “friend” and tell him i was on stage and that he owed me a
it didn’t go horribly – i got some laughs. it was very scary, so i decided to do it again.
i signed up for a class. did three or four more performances. i never let anyone who knew me
come see me perform.
it got slightly less scary. i never got to the point of being comfortable, or particularly funny,
but now it’s easier for me to talk in front of an audience.
day 75 | 'authority figure'
July 11, 1998. San Francisco, CA
joel and i were in north beach to meet a japanese band that we’d been hired to photograph.
it was their first time playing in the united states. the manager wanted some “rock and roll
lifestyle” shots, so we told them to meet us in front of the lusty lady.
the band was running late so we decided to go in and see the peep show.
it was my first time.
the booth was small and cramped. we had our camera bags, which made it worse. we put
some quarters in and a panel slid up revealing a window to a room where several women
in g-strings were dancing distractedly.
it was mid-afternoon, most of the booths were empty. if there was someone in a booth
across from you you could see into it, which was creepy.
one of the dancers started walking toward our booth. she had a very serious expression,
which i thought was odd. she got right up to our window, looked at joel, then at me,
and said sternly: “you can’t both be in there – you need to get your own booth”.
it was awkward being scolded by a strange, mostly-naked woman. some guys might be
into that sort of thing. not me.
we both left the booth and went outside to wait for the band.
day 76 | 'steven fell and hit his head'
1960. Ontario, CA
on the back of this photo my mom wrote:
‘steven fell and hit his head at doug and della’s – 1960′
doug is my mom’s brother
seeing my mom and dad as young parents is endearing
it’s a familiar scene – handing the crying baby to the mom, the dad concerned but also a
little relieved – repeated often when raising kids
day 77 | ‘decorative pillows’
1973. Davis, CA
the only class i ever failed was junior high home economics.
the teacher was mrs. buchholtz. i don’t have any memories of her smiling. maybe she did,
just not at me. i certainly didn’t do anything in her class that would make her smile.
home economics was the one class that elicited a groan from every boy who had to take it.
even if you didn’t mind it, you had to act like you hated it.
nicky thompson was in the class – he was one of my best friends at the time. he had just as
bad an attitude as i did, until the last assignment, which was making decorative pillows.
for some reason he got into it. he had the idea to make a bunch of them to sell at the
whole earth festival. he never did make more than the one required pillow (which i didn’t
make) but mrs. buchholtz was very pleased with his enthusiasm.
when we got our report cards and i saw my F, then nicky told me he got a B, i couldn’t
believe it. i thought it was so unfair. three grades higher than me just for being excited
i went to talk to mrs. buchholtz about it but she wouldn’t have it. would not discuss it with me.
day 78 | ‘travel alarm clock’
Spring, 1985. Athens, GA
true west played a gig in athens and peter buck came to hear us. he introduced himself after
the show and invited us to a party at his house.
REM’s “fables of the reconstruction” wasn’t out yet, but he had a cassette copy of it.
i remember sitting on his porch with a walkman and headphones listening to it.
when we got home from that tour we only had a short break before leaving for a european
tour. by the time we got back from europe we were pretty wiped out. then we got a call from
REM’s management asking if we were available to open for them on the west coast leg of
their tour – 17 dates in the US and canada. we were surprised and excited – it felt like a big
break. we packed our bags and went back out on the road.
all the guys in REM were friendly. a couple times they invited us on stage for their encore.
one night i played bill berry’s drums on “wild thing” while he banged on the floor tom.
my favorite shows were at the greek theaters; one in los angeles and one in berkeley. they
had big dressing rooms, served great food, and even gave us each a gift. in LA it was a
travel alarm clock. i think berkeley was a jacket.
day 79 | ‘love supreme’
1990. 14th Street, NYC
one afternoon when no one was home i put on john coltrane’s “love supreme”. it was sitting
in front of the stack of records by the stereo. it belonged to my roommate. i’d heard that it
was an amazing album. it had a cool cover
i wasn’t into jazz at that point. i’d heard some things that i’d sort of liked, but i still didn’t quite
get it. hadn’t acquired a taste for it.
the windows to 14th street were open. the sound of new york filled the room; traffic, sirens,
voices. i turned the stereo up and sat on the ledge.
the music had a hypnotic quality. i felt like i was entering into it – or it was entering into me -
in a way i hadn’t experienced before.
when the album was over i sat there for a while, looking down at the street. still in a trance.
thinking: “so this is what great jazz is like”
day 80 | ‘timeless'
Spring 2000. Berkeley, CA
my parents were coming to visit, so isabelle went out on the porch to wait for them.
i explained that it would be a long time before they arrived. three hours.
isabelle insisted on waiting.
like most 4-year-olds she didn’t have a very good sense of time.
i would try to explain lengths of time to her by referencing things she was familiar with.
a few minutes was how long it takes to eat a popsicle.
twenty minutes was about the same as playing a game of candyland.
so i told isabelle that it would be as long as it takes to drive to the cabin before grandma and
grandpa got to our house. she knew it took a long time to drive to the cabin.
still she wanted to wait.
eventually she came in the house, but she wasn’t happy about it.
day 81 | ‘identity crisis’
October 31, 1978. Davis, CA
the party i went to was at a guy’s house i didn’t know very well
i felt a little out of place
then skipper larson showed up – also dressed as gene simmons from kiss
skipper was good friends with the guy throwing the party. everyone told him how great his
costume was. mine was better, but no one noticed
i hung around for a while, not having any fun at all
then i went home
day 82 | ‘snuggle bear’
November 24, 1988. Central Park, NYC
my first thanksgiving in new york i was excited to see the macy’s thanksgiving day parade.
all my life i’d watched it on TV – now i could see it in person. i asked my roommate if he
was going. he said he wasn’t. “wow” i thought; “i wonder why”. i asked some other people.
no one was going. apparently it was not a cool thing to do. that hadn’t occurred to me.
so i went by myself.
it was snowing and very cold. i stood along the route, freezing, with thousands of other
people who seemed much better prepared than i was. they had chairs, blankets, hot drinks
i quickly realized that seeing the parade live was very different than watching it on TV.
on TV there was always something interesting happening; a marching band, dancers, the
best of the huge balloon characters. and you sat on a comfortable couch in a warm house.
the actual parade moved pretty slowly. there were long gaps between things. you saw the
less famous balloons – the B-list characters – like snuggle bear (the fabric softener mascot),
an ice cream cone, a happy face.
i started to get why no one wanted to come with me.
i left the parade and walked to central park. since most people were at the parade it was very
empty and quiet. everything was covered with fresh snow. it was beautiful.
that was the highlight of the day.
day 83 | 'mr. luck'
Photo circa 1965
i had a few false starts in becoming a musician.
my first lessons were on clarinet – not by choice, but because my older brother had played it
and we owned one. i was in fifth grade. the music class was held in a school bus that drove
to the different schools. when it arrived in the parking lot whoever took an instrument went
out to the bus for their class.
the music teacher’s name was mr. luck. he didn’t seem to enjoy music or children. i dreaded
going to the bus; not only was it unpleasant, but i had to miss recess to go. i loved recess.
there was nothing more fun than playing kickball, tetherball, four square.
missing recess was punishment.
i didn’t last very long in his class. i don’t remember the specifics, but i remember it being kind
of a big deal to drop out.
the next year i took a guitar class through the city of davis recreation department. when the
class ended i stopped playing. a few years after that i picked up the drums for a while then
lost interest. then, the summer after high school, i started playing drums again and got into a
band. i stuck with drums for about eight years.
in my mid twenties i got interested in songwriting, so i learned guitar and started singing.
i was a horrible singer at first. no natural ability at all. it took a long time to get any good.
day 84 | ‘deeply hurt’
February 1, 1971. Davis, CA
“steve tends to waste an awful lot of time. this is made more difficult by the fact that when i call it to his attention his feelings appear to be deeply hurt”
apparently i didn’t take criticism well when i was a kid. that has not changed.
most of my school report cards have a similar theme – that i could do well if i applied myself. i’ve spent my life trying to figure out how to do that, meaning, how to consistently be focused and do my best work, whether it’s writing a song or filling out tax forms (writing a song is a lot easier). progress has been slow but steady.
here are other comments on my fifth grade progress report -
comprehension sometimes suffers when steve is dreaming while reading
no problem understanding. carelessness prevails
very creative. appears to have talent
likes team sports but isn’t too much for exercising
steve is a very sensitive child. it is very fortunate that we are able to communicate with each other and understand each other’s reasons for why we’re being a certain way
day 85 | ‘beer ape’
September, 2006. Berkeley, CA
i was approached on the playground of my daughter’s school one morning by james horner – a parent that i hadn’t met, but knew worked for an advertising agency. i was drinking tea from a beer mug, and he made the comment that i might be just the guy he was looking for – a musician that drank beer for breakfast – to do the music for a commercial he was working on.
the spot, called “beer ape”, took place at a backyard pool party; everyone sitting around bored because someone forgot the beer, then an ape parachutes down with a backpack full of rolling rock, causing everyone to jump up excitedly and start dancing to an 80′s hair metal inspired song.
that’s where i came in.
i spent two days in the studio with jon evans recording the song. i did most of the writing, he did most of the playing. we took turns on cowbell.
the song was enthusiastically received.
the ad was never intended to be aired; instead they would run an apology for it, saying they were sorry if it had offended anyone.
hopefully people would then look for it on youtube to see what was so offensive about it.
the plan worked amazingly well: the spot got over a million views the first month, and the wall street journal wrote an article about it.
that job lead to others, and to me eventually becoming a full-time composer
thank you beer ape
day 86 | 'caught'
1973. Davis, CA
in junior high we would go across the street to the park to smoke in the bathroom.
one day the principal walked in on us; the two other guys i was with threw their cigarettes
into the urinal when they heard footsteps. i didn’t, and was the only one caught.
he walked us all back across the street. the other kids were sent to class – he would have a
talk with them later. i was taken to his office. he called my mom and told her what happened,
and that i was being suspended for three days.
i rode my bike home. when i got there i ran straight to my room and locked the door.
i didn’t want to talk to my mom – didn’t want her to even see me.
i hated disappointing my parents, and felt terrible about what i did.
i laid on my bed and cried.
my parents knew i was upset so they didn’t punish me.
the next morning my brothers went to school, my dad went to work, and i stayed home.
it felt strange being home on a school day and not being sick.
the school policy was that you couldn’t make up any work missed due to being suspended –
which makes no sense to me – so, without any schoolwork to do, i spent the three days
doing pretty much what i wanted.
i don’t remember what i did all day. hung out in our fort. played with my dog chelsea.
day 87 | 'man on the moon'
2005. Berkeley, CA
i dropped my son off at pre-school one day and got attacked by a gang of three-year-olds
demanding that i read them a book
i sat on the floor, they piled in my lap, and i picked a book off the shelf.
it was the story of how a space ship flew to the moon and landed, and a man got off and
walked on the moon.
for whatever reason it felt like i was hearing the story for the first time. it seemed truly
amazing – almost unfathomable – that that actually happened.
the pictures were so beautiful – i was really moved by it.
i can’t imagine what it must have been like to stand on the moon looking back at the earth.
to be able to take that in, knowing everything that had to go right to get there, and everything
that still needed to go right to return home safely.
day 88 | 'the promoter's name was tord'
May 4, 1985. Journal Excerpt. Norway. photo: Kevin at train station
on a train returning from bergen to oslo. mountains are covered with snow. we pass small
villages and see people cross-country skiing rather than walking.
the houses are shingled with slate. on the highways there are “moose crossing” signs
(in norwegian – with pictures).
we’re in the smoking car of the train and everyone is smoking. i think i’m going to be sick.
may day is a big deal in scandinavia, with parades, a holiday, rallies. i didn’t even know
what it was, really.
i haven’t done laundry in two and a half weeks.
there was a group of teenagers on the train yesterday. one of them was elected to ask us if
we were the american pop band true west.
i wish i was cross-country skiing right now
at our show last night i signed an autograph for bjorn
the promoter’s name was tord
day 89 | 'being born'
July 2, 1960. Walnut Creek, CA
when my mom was pregnant with me she went to the hospital twice, thinking she was in labor,
but was sent home. the third time the doctor, who she was in the church choir with, told her
“we’re going to have this baby if we have to blast”
the doctor gave my mom a shot to induce labor; the first time he tried he didn’t get a vein,
so he had to try again. my dad was watching from a waiting room on the other side of a
window. all of a sudden everything started to “go gray”, as he describes it, and he had to sit
down to keep from fainting. he put his head between his knees, because that’s what people
say you should do.
the doctor came out and told my dad they were ready to go to the delivery room, and asked if
he’d like to come. still feeling light-headed, and not sure he wouldn’t faint if he tried to stand
up, he declined.
the newborn babies were kept in a drawer that slid between the two sides of a wall; on one
side was the room the mother was in, on the other side was the nurses station.
when i was brought home my brother mike, a year-and-a-half old at the time, was not pleased.
his attitude improved with time.
day 91 | ‘crazy hair day’
day 92 | ‘sleepy guy’
1964. Walnut Creek, CA
on the back of this photo my mom wrote: ’sleepy guy in daddy’s chair with chocolate face’
a friend in new york told me that the first time he met me – which was in the morning – i looked sleepy. the next time he met me – which was at night – i looked sleepy.
i’ve always been in awe of people with boundless energy. they seem like a different species to me. my daughter recently described the teacher of a dance class she took as “ridiculously upbeat and energetic”.
i’ve accepted the fact that i will never be described that way
day 93 | 'lasagna issue'
Drawing circa 1995. Bayer Campus, Berkeley, CA.
my last ‘desk job’ was working for bayer. their berkeley site employed over a thousand people.
once a quarter the management held a sitewide meeting to talk about how the company was
doing, and to say inspirational things about the future.
at the end of the talk they would take questions.
one year at the november meeting an employee raised her hand right at the beginning.
the speaker acknowledged her, and politely asked her to save her question until the end.
the employee ignored the request, kept her hand raised, and started waving it around.
it was very distracting, so the speaker took her question just to be done with it.
the woman stood up and asked; “why do we have to have lasagna every year? we’re tired of
lasagna. why can’t we have something else?”
she was referring to the free meal given to all employees each year at the company cafeteria
around thanksgiving. apparently she felt that this was an urgent issue, and that any other
company business could wait.
for the rest of the day people talked and joked about the lasagna lady.
i was bored, so i sent an email to some coworkers asking if they’d be interested in forming a
lasagna task force to further investigate this pressing matter.
someone forwarded the email to the site manager – the one that had given the talk.
fortunately she had a sense of humor and was amused by it.
day 94 | 'amperage'
1979. Davis, CA
the first band i was in was called amperage. we mainly played parties at the houses of friends
whose parents were out of town. i have memories of drunk people falling and knocking over
the PA speakers, spilling beers on us and our equipment, yelling that we sucked or that we
rocked, depending on the night.
we practiced mostly at my house. my parents were amazingly patient and tolerant about it.
we would play the same songs over and over, until my mom got them stuck in her head;
i would hear her around the house singing “cat scratch fever”, or “running with the devil”.
one day the guys showed up unexpected, with their guitars and a friend tagging along. i asked
them why they were there. they looked at each other, confused, then started laughing as if
they’d heard the funniest joke of their life. they were obviously very high. i didn’t want my mom
to see them, so i snuck them back into my room.
after a while we added a guitarist named danny who had a van. having a van to haul
equipment to gigs was the dream of every young band. we were living large.
danny’s mom made him a “stage outfit” of white and rose colored silk; big billowy sleeves and
pant legs. the rest of us dressed like slobs, while he looked like part of a circus high-wire act.
day 95 | ‘caring is a special feeling’
1978. Davis, CA
i received a card from an ex-girlfriend when i was in high school. printed on the front of the
card in big letters was; “steve, i think of you”. inside was a flexible red plastic record, also with
“steve, i think of you” printed on it.
the recorded message was written and read by rod mckuen. here is an abridged version:
caring is a special feeling, and these thoughts are especially for you.
every now and then it’s nice to stop a minute and think about those people you like.
yesterday i thought about you. today i think of you. and probably tomorrow thoughts of you will
help make the day just a little bit quieter. a little bit better.
thank you steve
thank you for being you
it’s all very nice and, well, thoughtful, but i remember being kind of shocked at how hokey it
was. i knew there was no irony intended; the person who gave it to me was being sincere and
wanted me to know she was thinking of me. it was a challenge to receive the message in the
way it was intended, given the way it was presented.
day 96 | ‘i take it back’
i used to be very grumpy in the morning. when erica and i were first dating she tried
to wake me up to go to work; she was being very sweet, talking in a gentle voice,
saying it was getting late and i needed to get ready. i responded with six words that
not only weren’t true, but unfortunately became part of our relationship contract;
“i can take care of myself”.
i’ve tried to take it back, but it doesn’t work.
milan kundera writes about the phenomenon in “the book of laughter and forgetting”:
Every love relationship is based upon unwritten conventions rashly agreed upon by
the lovers in the first weeks of their love. They are still in a kind of dream but at
the same time, without realizing it, are drawing up, like uncompromising lawyers, the
detailed clauses of their contract.
maybe in the long run it was good for me to be left to fend for myself, but i can’t
help wondering what i might have missed out on by making that remark.
day 97 | ‘losing my cool’
2000. Berkeley, CA
i had a really cool car when isabelle was born. an old plymouth with huge fins. it was
the type of car that people recognized when they saw it and honked, usually giving a
thumbs up. i got notes left on the windshield; “if you ever decide to sell your car
please call me” with a name and number.
but old cars are hard to keep in repair; it leaked in the winter and the brakes were bad. i
couldn’t find anyone to work on it, so i stopped driving it. the worst thing you can do with
an old car is not drive it. i knew i had to sell it to someone who would keep it running.
i contacted the person i bought the car from. she had sold it under dire circumstances – her
mother was sick and she needed the money.
she was thrilled to have the chance to buy it back.
when she came to pick the car up i kind of panicked. maybe i was making a huge mistake. i
knew i’d be less cool without the car, but how much less? i’d already bought another car.
a sensible car. but i still owned the plymouth – that counted for something.
i told the woman i couldn’t sell it. i was sorry, but i just couldn’t part with it.
she was disappointed but understood.
a few weeks later i called her again. she came over, and that time i did sell it to her.
day 98 | 'imagination'
1999. Museum Of Natural History, NYC.
erica, isabelle and i were in new york for the opening of erica’s new store. there was
lots to do to get ready; my job was keeping isabelle entertained.
“what would be a really fun thing for a three-year-old to do in new york?” i wondered.
dinosaurs! the museum of natural history.
the first thing we saw were the dioramas on the first floor. she didn’t seem interested.
i was surprised. so we went up to the fourth floor to see the dinosaurs; i headed
straight for the t-rex – couldn’t wait to see her reaction. i knew she’d seen lots of
dinosaur books, but to see a life-size t-rex was sure to be a thrill.
she wasn’t thrilled.
in fact she looked kind of sad.
what was going on? i asked her what was wrong. she replied; “everything here is dead”.
it never occurred to me that she might expect otherwise. of course dinosaurs are going to
be dead – why would i have to tell her that? – but little kids think like little kids.
she’d imagined we’d see living dinosaurs.
i’d imagined that she’d have an amazing experience and talk about it for days.
we were both sorely disappointed.
we left and walked into central park. got a pretzel and sat on a bench. she was quiet.
some dogs started playing together. that made her smile.
day 99 | 'spider bite'
November 14, 2003. Journal Entry. Berkeley, CA
it’s 11:13 pm. everyone in the house is asleep
i have a spider bite or something on my wrist and it keeps itching
what happened today:
erica drove for isabelle’s field trip
i ate at vik’s
the roofers didn’t come
there are too many noises out here – raccoons or opossums climbing on the roof. i don’t
like it. i could never go backpacking in the wilderness alone; way too scary.
i just thought about christopher walken
i found a kid’s story i started about a girl named sylvie who can hear ants whistling.
it’s really cute. i want to write more on it, but i’m worried i won’t be able to
recapture the spirit of it. the voice i wrote it in. i’m always like that, thinking
“oh, that was an unrepeatable moment”. it’s very rarely true.
i’m sitting in a lame old desk chair that i bought at a salvage yard. it’s totally
uncomfortable. i’ve been using it for years. why don’t i get a better chair?
right now i’m thinking:
that writing something is better than writing nothing
i should go to bed
day 100 | 'snowed in'
March 19, 2012. Soda Springs, CA
up at the cabin. it’s been snowing all weekend. the nearest place with an internet
connection is about a mile away. yesterday i drove there to upload my post. today the
roads were covered with snow, so i walked. i thought about the postal service oath;
“neither snow, nor rain…”.
i also thought about skipping a day and doing two tomorrow, but something compelled
me to make the trek. the act of following through, i guess. keeping a commitment.
even if it doesn’t really matter, it matters.
hugo and his friend lewis are sledding on the roof
we had a snowball fight earlier; erica and me against the kids
the dogs were on their team
hugo’s been wanting to come to the cabin since thanksgiving, so this trip’s been planned
for a while. there were storm warnings all week, and we thought we’d have to cancel. every
day hugo asked if we were going or not. we told him we didn’t know, the roads might be
closed, we’d just have to wait and see. he really had his heart set on it. one morning he
asked me: “should i keep my fingers crossed or just give up?”
then on saturday the storm let up so we headed out
hugo was so excited, he said it was “a magical day”