Writer: Joan Didion

I just discovered Joan Didion for myself about 15 minutes ago via this article from MonsterChildren. I actually had to go back to another tab on my browser to in order to remember her last name- I’m that unfamiliar with her.

I am now, however, feeling slightly obsessed.

Screen shot 2014-10-28 at 12.25.50 PM
Photo: Quintana Roo Dunne, via Vogue.com

The voice she has is one I personally relate to, and one that is able to frankly speak the truth without sounding pessimistic or overly optimistic; they’re just statements that are true. Here are some quotations from her essay, “On Self-Respect” from a 1961 volume of Vogue. The notes she makes here on the merits of having “self-respect” and “character” also eerily align with conclusions made by Paul Tough in his book How Children Succeed. Please enjoy the following excerpts from her 1961 essay, and I hope you take a moment to read the piece in its entirety as well.

“There is a common superstition that “self-respect” is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general.”

“…[in reality], people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things.”

“If they choose to forego their work—say it is screenwriting—in favor of sitting around the Algonquin bar, they do not then wonder bitterly why the Hacketts, and not they, did Anne Frank.”

“…they display what was once called character,”

“People who respect themselves are willing to accept the risk that [people] will be hostile, that the venture will go bankrupt, that the liaison may not turn out to be one in which every day is a holiday because you’re married to me. They are willing to invest something of themselves; they may not play at all, but when they do play, they know the odds.”

“Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home”


Date Night: Ladies Only

Last night, I had a date night with one of my best friends here in Portland. I didn’t realize until we were settling into our beers and nursing our tequila shots that I had really needed a night with my girl. It’s funny, because when I met this particular friend years ago, I never expected our friendship to last beyond those a few months (never mind becoming sincere friends). She’s a little crazy, a little compulsive and very reactionary. There was a time I had scrambled around town to pick her up to meet with another friend for drinks, and she leapt out of the still moving car, onto the sidewalk and booked it- all because of a text message I’d gotten from our friend saying she was bummed that we were taking so long.

But that’s changing. I think we’re getting older. And what I realized last night, was that we were performing a form of therapy for one another. If I don’t want her for a best friend, who do I really want? Someone predictable? Of course not- I can’t handle anything predictable. If I know the ending to a movie when we’re only five minutes in, I can’t watch it. I don’t want to be able to guess what’s happening, I want things to be intriguing. And Brynne is fun- we get each other’s humor. We can watch Chopped at 2:30am after going out drinking and laugh at ourselves curled up together on the couch. She’s gorgeous and she’s all about female empowerment. She isn’t afraid to be loud and she remembers everything. These are all traits that I adore in others. So why would I want to have anyone else as a best friend?

“Nobody’s perfect,” is a true and classic saying. You just have to decide what you’re willing to compromise on and what you aren’t. All of these thoughts rolled around my head during date night at the bar, and then again this morning at breakfast- especially when the conversation turned to dating. One of our other great friends, Nadine, had recently hung out with a guy, Paul. When we asked how she felt about him, Nadine came right out and said, “I have to be less vain.” Apparently Paul was a little on the plain side in terms of dress for Nadine’s tastes; but he’s interesting, very sweet, and thoughtful. He has a good job and is working on a film project to document the vinyl scene in Portland. So the only thing flawed in him was his amount of stylistic flair. Hearing Nadine recognize this and openly call herself on it was a blunt and extremely self-aware move. It was refreshing to hear someone admitting a personal flaw like this.

I brought up another guy, one that had been pursuing me. He is interesting, thoughtful and handsome- but I wasn’t sure if he was the “right” handsome for me. And then I realized I needed to get over myself too. As Nadine said it, we sometimes have the image of the person we’re going to be with in our minds, and when that image doesn’t match our reality, we balk. I want to stop balking. I want to live with one of my best friends that I’ve known for years and I want to date someone who is interesting and who cares about me. Who gives a damn if it isn’t what we thought it’d be? We shouldn’t. If we get too caught up thinking about how something should be, we’ll miss the chance to actually have it when it arrives.




Movie Premier: Seth Hill’s, “Really Gotta Wanna”


I went to Seth HIll’s Portland premier of his movie, “Really Gotta Wanna.” It was good- I guage snowboard movies a lot on the gut feeling of whether I want to go snowboarding after watching it, and if I would be excited to watch it again. After seeing his movie, I wanted to go snowboarding and I wanted to watch it again.

The movie is more, “Discovery Channel Snowboarding,” than, “Cool-Kid Snowboard Movie,” and I like it- it works. How many times have I come across a mainstream media outlet trying to feature the niche topic of snowboarding and liked it? Basically none. But this movie would work for that- if I came across it while curled up on my couch channel-surfing, I would stop and watch it.

Seth explains the snowboard setting for a crowd that might not have a clue, but keeps the content engaging enough for those of us who really know what’s going on. I coul see myself settling down for a wednesdy night to watch this as a cabel network special and, instead of feeling like I want to shoot myself in the head (as usually happens when a mainstream media outlet tries to feature the niche topic of snowboarding), I would really enjoy it. So, good job Seth. I Really Wanna watch this movie again.

Event: The Lonesome Billies 4th Annual Family Tradition

Lindsey at Family Tradition
Lindsey gets into the western spirit of the night by modeling a traditional hat, just like those that real cowboys used to wear. She also models an expression that was known to attract and entice those lonely lone rangers when out on the plains.

Last night was the 4th Annual Family Tradition, hosted by the Lonesome Billies. It was put on at the My Voice music studio, benefitting My Voice Music and everyone who showed up looking for a fun night.

People were strolling in through the door with pine-cone pies, biscuit loaves and fresh salads. There were three fantastic tables set with tablecloths to host the potluck-style dinner and everyone was checking in with everyone else to make sure they’d gotten something to eat- it felt like a real family get together.

The kids were probably the best entertainment of the night (outside of the live music that was being performed- that’s a given). Tiny tots were twirling in endless circles in front of the stage, suddenly darting off in an obscure direction to chase another kid or two. I was run into more times than I could count and saw so many kids take complete shit-eating falls that my knees started to hurt. But luckly these kids were made of rubber and having the best time in the world.

As part of the fundraising event, The Billies hosted an auction with over 20 donated items, ranging from beautiful Oregon Pendleton blankets to amazing Transworld Skate photos. I helped out as a runner during the auction, finding people once they’d won a lot and getting their information. It was fun! There were three of us standing up in front of the crowd, right next to the auctioneer shouting out, “I got three and a quarter, threeandaqueater, threeandaquater, do I have four? Do I have four? Do I have four?” in his shiny, glittering vest. That guy knew how to work a crowd for money.

After the auction the stage was re-set for some rowdy foot-stompin’ tunes. A band from Seattle took the stage and I ran into a friend who had just moved to seattle but was down in Portland for the weekend. Coincidence- well, it probably was. I enjoyed the music, moving from one group of friends to the next, getting slightly drunker- definitely due in part to the free ‘volunteer’ drinks I was being served, but also getting drunker off of the atmosphere. I kept running into more and more friends, and dancing with more and more people. I couldn’t toss a stick into the crowd without it tapping on at least two-to-three people I’ve known in Portland for a while now. It was like coming back home to my second home again.

These were the reasons I wanted to move back to this city- one friend and I caught up on his latest filming project and reminisced on our terrible roommate from a while back, while another friend and I discussed how I could help her get work done while making sure she never handed her new-born baby into the hands of a un-known nanny. Building community is important, and maintaining it just as much so. I ended the night drunk, happy, and sitting on a sidewalk listening to someone play accordion on the street. Drunk off free cider, and drunk off free love (no- not the kind from the ’60s here). So, Thank You Lonesome Billies for putting on the best Family Tradition fundraiser potluck yet! I can’t wait to go to the next one.

ReBlog: Hiking Mt. Yotei

Repost from my entry on japansnowboarding.com; Feb 27th. Enjoy!

We tried to get up early, we really did. As with most things such as this, it just wasn’t early enough. Even so, our day of hiking and filming on Mt. Yotei near Niseko was nothing short of phenomenal.

We were up around 6:30 and out the door maybe an hour later. A quick stop at Seico mart for snacks and then another jaunt down the road and we found ourselves at the base of this stunning volcano.

Nimo the Inu found Yotei. Photo by Masato Aihara
Nimo the Inu found Yotei. Photo by Masato Aihara

Snowshoes were passed out, bags were packed, cameras started clicking and then we were off! We had one fantastic and diverse group heading out all together; Keita Nakamura again, Masato Aihara; a chef at Niseko Negula, Ryu Okawa; a friend of mine I’d met in Alaska and found out he was in the Niseko area, Wataru Miyazaki; the owner of the place we’ve been staying at- Niseko Negula, Darryl Naidu; an Aussie staying at Niseko Negula as well, and Mori-Mori; a determined guy who hiked the whole way snowshoeing in his ski boots.

We all trudged the mile or so to the base of the mountain together where we’d finally start our ascent. Getting in to the woods at the base of Yotei was exciting and bit intimidating at the same time. The volcano loomed up huge in front of us all, looking almost too steep for anyone short of seasoned mountaineers to summit. Keita and a few others said they’d all done it before though, so we had to believe it could be done and hike on.

Andy with the traditional peace-sign shot. Photo by Jenna Kuklinski
Andy with the traditional peace-sign shot. Photo by Jenna Kuklinski

As we clomped and slid (two people had skins on some planks) further up the side of the mountain the place grew more and more still. Earlier we’d stopped in a wide-open field to film a few talking pieces and get everyone’s first impression of the mountain. Our friend and mountain guide, Keita, had said during his short inquisition that he loved how quiet things got when you were high on the side of a mammoth mountain. I was beginning to see what he meant.

Jenna and Colby starting the hike up Yotei. Photo by Andy Stern
Jenna and Colby starting the hike up Yotei. Photo by Andy Stern

Japan is different, in almost every single way. It’s not just that we don’t share the same language. It’s the fact that they have things like necklace name-tags on their milk jug, just to let you know it is in fact milk. They drive on the left side of the road. You get carded for cigarettes but anyone can pick up a beer and be drinking while walking down the street (smoking, however, must happen in indoor designated areas unless you’re outside of town). Toilet seats are all heated and no one tells you how many group baths you’ll take with strangers, scrubbing next to them on low stools.

Not to compare soaping up next to a stranger with hiking a volcano in snowshoes; what I’m trying to get at here is that even the hiking is different. We were in an area that was easily accessed from town; the hiking was steep in places for sure, but not too bad. If this were a place in the states we would have seen at least one or two other groups out there. Instead, the only living thing we saw outside of our company was a giant white rabbit that ran across the snow and scared Dubs. It was empty, but not desolate. The terrain here is breathtaking, it can’t be describe in any other way. Andy commented at one point that he was getting chills down his spine. Later, our friend Ryu admitted to feeling the same. That’s how Japan is.

After hiking for about four hours Madison spied something in the trees he really wanted to hit and right after he sent it we found another gully that was begging us to ride through it. We then had to pause and debate for a minute; if we stopped there and filmed everyone going through the area then we wouldn’t be able to summit. If we pushed on to summit then we would have gathered very little footage from a whole day of hiking. After a bit we decided that we should forgo summitting for the day and instead get clips of riding in the trees.

Dubs checking his camera while Masato does the same behind him. Photo by Jenna Kuklinski
Dubs checking his camera while Masato does the same behind him. Photo by Jenna Kuklinski

Though getting to the top of the cratered volcano would have been amazing, we were all just as stoked to be riding through the trees and finding super fun natural features. There are so many stumps, gullys, sun-splotched clearnings of untouched snow and fantastic backdrops on the side of Yotei that we rode until we could ride no more and were still talking about how we could probably spend our whole trip on the slopes of Yotei.

Ryu Okawa hikes and skis fast. Photo by Masato Aihara
Ryu Okawa hikes and skis fast. Photo by Masato Aihara
Keita Nakamura goes deep into the chute at Yotei. Photo by Masato Aihara
Keita Nakamura goes deep into the chute at Yotei. Photo by Masato Aihara

Madison Ellsworth lays out a slash 2. Photo by Masato Aihara

Masato Aihara has some great surfer style. Photo by Keita Nakamura
Keita Nakamura has some great surfer style. Photo by Masato Aihara
Keita Nakamura getting chased by his inu Nimo. Photo by Masato Aihara
Keita Nakamura getting chased by his inu Nimo. Photo by Masato Aihara

When we were spent we packed up all of our hiking gear and strapped back in to our boards. Riding down through the trees was just as fun as hiking features and though I can’t speak for everyone, I know I had a perma-grin plastered on my face the entire way down.

At the bottom we were greeted by the other half of our group with running high-fives, tons of laughter and more mad grins. We hadn’t accomplished our original goal for the day, but what we had done was just as amazing. If this is how things are going with week-old snow, I can’t wait to see how it is when we finally get a real snow storm to blow through.

Oh, and after all of this we went to another Onsen to scrub clean on stools next to naked strangers. It was fantastic.

The crew stoked for a day hiking Mt Yotei. Photo by Masato Aihara
The crew stoked from a day at Mt Yotei. Photo by Masato Aihara

Cafe: Little T Baker

I love walking down the street from my house to Little T Baker. It’s been a favorite spot of mine since I first moved to the east side of portland back in 2009, and I’m still in love with it.

My favorite part of spending a late morning working on my computer at the window is watching people come buy their weekly bread. Families, couples, single patrons- they wander in through the big double glass doors and line up at the counter to collect their yeasty wares. The cashier takes their request, snags the crispy loaf and bundles it up in brown butcher paper- folding the wrappings up and securing the casing with a small branded sliver of tape.

The customer smiles, takes their bread and casually finds their way back out those double glass doors. The whole process feels comfortable, feels real, feels connected. The patron appreciates good food and knows what they prefer to snack on. Little T is powered by a passion for pastry and bread, and it shows. The baker needs the customer and the customer loves the baker- it’s whole.

Last Night’s Dream: 10/8/2014

There was a beach premier in California of the new Burton snowboard movie. I met some friends who were all surf coach chicks and followed them down to the piers. We jumped off of them into the warm pacific ocean waters. I followed them off higher and higher docks, until we reached one that made me stagger back. It was probably 40 feet and higher than anything I’d ever jumped off of before. My new friend plunged ahead of me. I took a deep breath. Then jumped, pre-bracing myself for the impact. I screamed. No sound. I hit the water and easily found the surface- I was smiling, it had been a real rush.

Someone grabbed me underneath the water. They pulled me down- I couldn’t breath water but I somehow gasped a few breaths. My new surf friends were quick to react and pulled my attacker off me underneath the water then dragged her into shallow waters. One of them held head down as she had held me under. I walked up onto the beach.

A group of guys were lounging on the beach, inflating giant balloon-animal kites. They swirled around above us and I cozied up next to one of the guys holding the rope of an animal. They were gigantic, probably 25 ft long. Mostly dogs, different shades of brown. The premier started. I was looking for another one of my guy friends. I kept seeing him in the crowd, or in the dunes, but he never came over to me. I wanted to talk to him, to sit next to him, but he never fully emerged from the crowds. My surfer-coach friends hung out on a railing, attaching sunblock tubes to the metal with clips and gazing up at the snowboard screen.

I woke up.