With a move just a day away and an exhausting week of packing almost done, I hope to move forward with my energy and purpose. Our new home offers many windows of opportunity to put forth. Or, at the very least, supplement the ideas and plans I’ve been looking to add, subtract, or continue as we’ve made it a habit to visit the condo since our closing day regularly, sometimes to bring essentials, others to measure or plan. It never goes without notice how an empty room allows for boundless thoughts, ideas, and creativity. Below is a shortlist of actions and undertakings I plan on implementing or continuing.
Tai-chi – What a great way to start the day? In with the good and our with the bad.
Minimalism – This has been an obsession of mine for some time. Packing for the move has been a revelation—a back-breaking reminder of everything I had to have.
Meditation – Since I was in grammar school, I’ve relied on meditation for long periods, often interrupted by being too busy with complete nonsense. Considering how beneficial the results have always been, I often find myself scratching my head as to why I ever stop. Whether it be stress, anxiety, overthinking, breathing, or just clearing the mind, five minutes to a half-hour of meditation does more than any pill or time with a therapist has ever done for me.
After wondering for days whether the fob for the south tower worked in the north tower, I took a walk around the corner to find out for sure. When my keychain hit the spot, a beeping sound automatically opened the doors as if the heavens were welcoming me with open arms. Seeing the Space Needle up close for the first time since we first arrived in Seattle felt all warm and fuzzy. Watching the sunset and the sky turn orange is just about the most effective stress reducer around, as I’ve already taken more than enough pictures. I hope to use the space and calm to practice meditating and tai-chi. For now, I’ll feed my addiction and take/share photos.
Earlier this afternoon we closed the doors to our apartment at Angeline by dropping off the keys. Angeline was, without a doubt, the best rental experience I can remember. Everything from our apartment, the staff, our neighbors, and our neighborhood was fantastic. We enjoyed having a library next door to us during the almost three years we were there, a city park behind us, a historic movie theatre across the street, and a healthy grocery store just under us. After our dropoff, we picked up some fresh cookies at Colombia City Bakery, did some food shopping at QFC, and even got to say goodbye to the panhandler who stands at the end of the grocery store parking lot. As good as our time there was. We had to decide to either go back East or stay and buy a home in Seattle. Choosing the latter took a lot of thought, but in the end, I think we’ve been happy here.
When we first moved to Seattle in June 2017. It was a completely new experience for me. Having lived on in New York and New Jersey my entire life, I was more than ready for a change of scenery. Before the move, we visited Seattle and did our fair share of online research on the area. I also consulted a close friend who had worked here, and he was excited about my opportunity as he was sad to see me go. To quote him, “The trees are fucking huge, and you’re going to love it.” Upon our arrival, my wife’s new company assigned us a real estate agent. However, after seeing five or six less than convincing condos, we decided to rent while we got more familiar with the area. Almost three years later, we decided to link up with our original agent and struck gold on the very first day. We immediately made an offer on the spot and received an acceptance call shortly after returning to our apartment. The rest, as they say, was history.
Recently, my father and I have engaged in numerous conversations regarding drinking and his alcohol consumption over the years. This morning’s call to him had no intention other than to tell him how proud I was of the man he’s become. As of late, I’ve become somewhat reluctant to write about him within a specified period, as not to paint him as a one-dimensional character. You see, the stories and the time frame in which I’ve chosen to write, come from a time, though not forgotten, happened long, long ago. If I can take away anything from both our conversations and the many experiences we’ve shared over the years is that A; We’re lucky he’s alive, and B; Grateful for the changes he made.
Though we often clash on things such as politics, religion, music, and even sports, they all feel pretty small when I think of how far we’ve come in creating an environment of mutual respect and admiration. So, in short, I just wanted to write a few words for a man I always looked up to, but could never dream of coming even close to being.
Over the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the features on my camera. Experimenting with long exposures and mapping out areas where I’d like to put my ideas to work. Being that the symptoms of my sorta/kinda diagnosis have consistently worsened in recent weeks and months. My wife has become warier of my jetting off in the wee hours of the night without her.
So one night, just before dusk. We drove down to Seattle’s International District, where I immediately realized why, when it comes to photography, it’s almost always better to go it alone. After passing up a half a dozen spots that she deemed unsafe. We settled for Dr. Jose Rizal Park. A nice place, but one I had taken pictures from at least a dozen times. From her continually telling me to move to spare people from having to simply sidestep me. To telling me where to focus and complaining about why I had chosen to take long exposures and her getting cold on a brisk June night. Needless to say, I did not have the opportunity to take many images or follow through with any ideas I might have had. Instead, I spent the ride home explaining camera settings to a woman who, more than not, refuses to take any pictures. Overall, Dr. Jose Rizal Park and the overpass that leads you there are great spots to capture the city of Seattle, I-9, the sunset and T-Mobil park, I highly recommend visiting.
Every teenager dreams of the day they get their driver’s license. It’s a right of passage that ranks up there with ones’ losing their virginity and the first time you got drunk. For me, getting my license and buying my first car with the money I had earned working at the Willowbrook Mall’s Bowery Lighting was like crossing the finishing line of a race while carrying a monkey on your back.
At the time, my most recent experience driving had included taking my mother’s car out while she and my stepdad vacationed in Puerto Rico and being told by my driving instructor to “Slow the fuck down.”
My first car cost me four hundred dollars. A two-tone blue 77′ Ford Maverick with an Eight-Track player. It wasn’t the Mustang I had my eyes on, the one that was eventually wrecked when an errant tire coming off Route-23 landed on its hood and went through its windshield, but it was mine.
I was so excited about pulling into the school’s parking lot while some rock anthem blasted over the speakers. Then my overprotective mother stepped in like a cop with an ax to grind and told me that, partly due to the distance of my high school and my lack of experience driving, I’d be taking the school bus or hitching a ride with a more experienced driver.
Though there was nothing, I could do or say to right this blockade to my inherent right of passage. I would find a way to get around this carnage of justice during the weekends. Having made many friends in a short time, I lived in Jersey. I had a few who lived within my mom’s imagined loop of territories I could travel.
Being that I had already spent much of my free time at a nearby friend’s home, we made an agreement that he would cover me if she’d ever call. Being that this was before the invention of cell phones and pagers, I kind of wonder how that would work if she ever did choose to call. “Oh, James said he had to drop a deuce. I’ll tell him to call you after, well, you know.”
Or “Oh, he just left to pick up some beer.” Luckily, she never did call.
On the weekends that I did manage to take that Ford for a spin, I often found myself racing down Route 3 South towards the Lincoln Tunnel and straight into Manhattan. The 9th avenue and Canal street traffic was, at least for me, the best education a young driver could ever get. The lanes seemed slimmer, the congestion multiplied, and the yellow taxies that darted in and out as if they were in a pinball machine. It’s a wonder I lived, let alone avoided any significant pileups.
Nine months later, upon graduation from high school, I would use that same car and the driving skills I had learned, to move back to Queens, where I would continue to drive that two-tone blue tank for another two or three years. Looking back, I might have wanted fully to declare my independence, if not chosen a safer outlet for my need for speed. Yet, my teen years were the best time to fight for my freedom.
There are few things I love doing as much as spending endless hours in a good book store or a library. Aside from loving to read all sides of history and true crime, I often find myself drawn to biographies and any author known for his knack for gritty storytelling. Like with most things I tend to love, I have this habit of taking on more than I can handle, or in this case, read. Add to it a touch of ADHD, and I can now count seven
books that I’ve yet to complete reading. Only time and the continually shrinking space I keep compromising will have me using my library card or my kindle more often. Until then. And most likely long after, I’ll remain a book nerd.
Though I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions, this year I decided to set some goals for myself. While I feel that some of these goals are quite ambitious, I think that they’re both realistic and attainable. One of those goals will be to focus more time on my writing, with a focus on non-fiction and, in particular, highlighting my early life and experiences. In recent weeks, I’ve focused much of my free time writing and trying to relearn the essential grammar skills I learned in school. Though my editor at Jersey Beat and my half-brother both teach at different levels and both volunteered to edit my work, I don’t feel it’s right to burden them with more work than they already have. Aside from my books and lessons I’ve learned, I’m considering hiring a writing coach, or at least utilizing some of the services available online.
In the end, it might be worth noting that my interest in creative writing preceded my passion for photography. For one who thrived on creativity, yet somehow suffered when not nourished by such. Writing and photography served as balance, allowing me to lean towards one while the other stagnated mentally. Short story long, I feel that some, if not many of my own stories need to be written and told while memory still serves.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of pictures I’d like to take. As someone who became interested in taking pictures in his teens, but didn’t own an SLR until his mid twenties. While debatable, I’d say photography has become the greatest passion in my life. As someone who made his name as a music photographer, built a strong portfolio as a studio photographer and worked continuously on a project called “Left Behind”. I feel that I’m always dedicating whatever spare time I have to learning, testing and putting new projects to work. It wouldn’t be overstating if I said it was. While my time on the East Coast offered an abundance of beautiful sunsets. Living in Seattle, an area with many lakes, bays and waterways at every turn. I have long imagined myself waking up in the early hours and driving to a spot where I can watch the sun rise.