Here Is Today, and, If My Guardian Angel Is a Lot Like Dr. Walter Bishop, I Might Be OK With That

Here is Sunday.
7 am flying monkeys
rehearse on our slumbering heads.

Dawn of the dying weekend:
Jack Johnson & lattes,
maybe hash browns & grits.
Eric Carle memory game maybe,
Becca is Bulls 23.

Floors to lay,
toilets to fix, porches
to finish, windows to
replace, house to
burn and collect insurance on.*

to wireframe, logos
to design, videos to edit,
title sequences to build,
copy to write.

Evening of family cinema.
Natty Gann, maybe some
Dean Jones or Jerry Lewis,
popcorn, apple slices,
giggling girls, and me.

Prep for Montag; it has crashed here swiftly.

*I jest
Here is Monday.
6 am hungover walrus,
bleary, drag, chug
jar of hot water,

calmly push
'brew.' Chug black lifeblood.

The one day offspring
are not with one of us,
breakneck goodbye as we
race down mountain,
alternating between NPR news
and cheerful Eminem
nihilistic bumpety-thump charisma.

Drop Bride at work, linger as she 
disappears, enjoying the rear view.
Hit up mobile office,whisper thanks
for free WiFi and
complementary coffee refills.
Try not to get distracted with the conversations of strangers.
Occasionally, I butt in, and
unstranger them.

Back to laptop, fingers
Charlie Parker on keys,
Da Vinci Wacoming on tablet,
I like to pretend.

Refill to go, stick on Saul Williams'
Act Iii Scene 2 (Shakespeare) as loud as a bass-less automobile stereo can go.
I approach the school where
I teach young minds
new things and
encourage them to keep their
minds young.

Two classes,
plus independent study with driven young lady.
Picture-making & taking, ethics in media and
digital production techniques, connecting art & life.
Mercurial relationship between the 
How and 
the Why.
(I lean to the Why, which is why I prefer
The Mentalist over CSI, if we still had telly).

Bell. Zoom. Gone. Whiz up the Interstate,
occasionally venture to passing lane,
mostly get overtaken by F-150s and 250s and 950s
and motorcycles and…
is that a bicycle?
Wow, I gotta start driving dangerously. That's what
Danish babes like,
I hear.

Pick up Bride, sultry hygienist
in dirty scrubs;
pick up wee ones, squeals,
hugs, shrieks, fast supper,
dancing, reading,
bedtime gauntlet,

I invent story, likely involving
parallel story lines with multiple
protagonists in magical realist
mode; me, falling asleep 
while Magdelana prods me:

"Tell it….tell it!"

Off mattress. Down to Dungeon,
where magic happens in the 
witching hours.
Second wind kicks in, flip
machines on, crisp Portland skyline through night window.

Forehead slumping to delete key, snap 
awake, shut down,

Third wind kicks in:
wind down with
Fringe or 1956 Modern European History hardcover
I found somewhere.


Here is Tuesday.
7 am water buffalo
pound rhythms on
our weary oasis bed.

Vegan waffles, a
cuppa Joseph, &
Duke Ellington help bring the world to focus,

plus my contacts, without which
I am Stevie Wonder.

Morning in the Dungeon,
emails & briefs,
invoices and all that which 
is not creative, but
which is 60% of the job.

Noise from above.

Daddy, hey Daddy?

I gallop up stairs to:

: find missing toy,
: wipe a poopy rear end,
: read a 'homework assignment,'
: get a refilll,
: kiss my wife,

or such, and I plow ahead
doing work I am sometimes really 
good at,
and sometimes just
sorta good at.

Video, copywriting, 
editing, design

I love it, and frequently 
get to work with
my little brother,

Fortune shines; as 
distant from 9-5 as
Andromeda is from Earth.

But it is hard for my mind
to close down, to to turn off,
when the stresses and deadlines
are 17 stairs away;
too available.

Winking blinking lights of
Portland are familiar friend;
climb in bed past Cinderella hour,
start to turn on lamp for quick 20 pages of Agatha Christie,
stopped by Becca's sleepy
Clint Eastwood tone, calm & sharp,

      "Turn that on and
     you're dead,"

I roll to mattress,
in darkness, trying to think about nothing, finally falling 
to dreams with thoughts of

$30 million for my dream project, a transmedia narrative series
based around a young girl and her ensemble of friends,
including a wolf, a giant, and
a hot air balloon.

Here is Wednesday.
6.15, Mags up to "get ready" with 
Becca in front of mirror,

Johanni's room, wafting
the stench of donkey
carcass from putrefying diaper; he sleeps purely,
comfortable, content in the 
stink of his own body.
He is so cute.

Kitchen, coffee, a kiss.

A Brilliant Little Recipe of Becca's You Might Want to Try for Breakfast.
1. Dump a 3-1 ratio of water and rice into a baking dish. Add a little salt.
2. Put the oven on 175 or so.
3. Go to bed.
4. Wake up in the morning and have hot breakfast. Mix with milk, brown sugar, liquid amines, peaches, peanut butter, and tomato juice, etc.

Note: can use brown rice or steel cut oats also.


The Wildcard.

Morning worship, usually an Old Testament
Biblical tale involving intrigue, violence, vengeance,
and other children-friendly 
morality narratives. The questions fly; wow,
Game of Thrones is tame after a few pages of Saul & David.

We have a "breakfast conversation"
that centers around a 
particular person or event,
and metastasizes from there.
Recent topics:
     Amelia Earheart
     Louis Pasteur
     Marie Curie

The questions fly higher, the
answers fumble,
Johannes joins in with 
occasional messy-faced comebacks of monosyllabic 




To give attention, to give
someone your full attention.

The ultimate respect.
Finger off keyboard,
eyes off iPhone,
mind away from - 

     Aahh! Have to return that email now!

The challenge, to forget
and tuneout, to compartmentalize 
and give myself - and my kids - the gift
of Attention.


Yet still, responsibilities live,
and I cannot turn a blind
eye, and to electronic portal
I race to communicate
and to put out fires
and to respond to those to whom
I must respond and the 
guilt weighs
resentment builds
and I hate phones and computers and interconnectivity
and I love them too.

Daddy, you're always
on the computer!"

Mags, I have
I have to send. That's it.

And I tune out those
devilishly angelic 
voices as I craft
an email explaining
the nuances of
copyright vs. trademark
contracts as they relate to graphic design and client ownership of work…

And those squeaky voices refuse
to be subjugated,
the specter of MLK
is strong, they will
    not be silenced,
their voices shriek, 

demanding I exit work
and enter play,
a distinction that 
is less geographic and
more state of mind.

The day moves on,
dancing from sun to moon,
soundtracked with

     Benny Goodman,
     White Stripes,

     Magdelana's perennial fave,
     folksy punk mom

     Kimya Dawson.


Always conversing, always
the melody of dialogue

I love, 


conversing with Magdelana.

Her questions, a Gatling onslaught;
my responses a Derringer, dripping
partial answers, afraid her
recognizance of my fallibility
will come too fast.

It's okay; questions aren't
usually about the answer anyway.

(reaction against "dinner").

The list is short:

     potatoes & veggies
     soup & bread

We apron up &
dervish around the

racing up the driveway
when Becca gives the 
5-minute warning from
bottom of mountain.

Rain, snow,
steel, hail,
sun, wind, we are

Pony Express, we are
unstoppable, we will
be there, waiting
when she pulls in,
because it is important, the ritual.

Of thank-you's for
a long day of hard

We eat, Charlotte Gainsbourg or Cat
Power drones
quietly, underscoring
loud conversation.

How was your day?
all ask each other.

Terrible, mine was
really really awful,

Magdelana grins seriously.

Build some blocks,
maybe hot hot chocolate,
dance party that we
convince ourselves is
serious exercise.

long story (I invent, and try to stay awake to tell).

To the couch with
my beloved,
for post-mod electronic snuggle:

Facebook on iPhones,
opposite ends of couch,
toes touching,

liking each other's 
comments & posts &
everything else &
laughing at ourselves

because certainly every
other person in the
universe must be.

Largely the universe is silent except for us
and Johannes cough-tooting
in his sleep,

and Mags calling,

You're not watching a movie, are you?
Do not watch ANYTHING without me, okay?

Guilt does not overcome the desire for 43 minutes of
genuine old-fashioned snuggling in front of telly,
Bree & Susan & Gabrielle + Lynette &
the Housewives grabbing our
attention with their
selfish lives of kids and family & obligations & saying things that
are completely different
than what they mean.

It is such a treat,
and we both like Lynette and her chaos,
and Teri Hatcher's voice.

Credits roll I wonder if I 
can afford to stay on couch,
and once in a moon I do, 
but duty and deadlines scream
and inevitably I slog to
The Dungeon

and bask in carcinogenic 
blue light. Portland filaments
flickering far away, frogs croaking close.

I remind myself my body
will do better falling asleep
to a book than
alien-filled Fringe.
So I crack open, risking wrath,
and make it three magical pages
into Jorge Borges' Labyrinths
(3rd time),
before nodding off.

Here is Thursday.
A day I will be massively productive,
I will arise 4 am and hit it
so hard; Ali stinging butterfly.

I might even exercise.

And now it is 6.45 and
Becca didn't awake me.
It is her fault,
and I am still so tired
and half-dream of an Hawaiian holiday where
I don't even make it
to the beach; just
watch HBO programming
in the hotel and take
breaks to watch people
frolic in the ocean
(from window)
and the half-dream is
murdered to reality
by the kicks from a Clydesdale,

Are you guys EVER
going to get up?

Angry, I am so angry
at the Clydesdale
and vow I will never
watch a beer commercial
with a horse again
and this Clydesdale is too cute to stay mad 
at so I just kick her back and
yell angrily
and she doesn't buy it, and laughs.
We are up.

Just for something special,
a cuppa Joe.
Check in with Facebook family,
prep for a day abroad,
dress sharp, maybe shave 
but probably not.

Caravan Palace bounce,
maybe Glenn Miller swinging' it.

A thermos a kiss, NPR update,
switch to Saul Williams
Act Iii Scene 2 (Shakespeare) before arriving
at school.

No song that makes me want to
LEAP into action, that goosebumps 
me to want to change the world,
like this, in its vague
call to arms:

I'm not scared of the Truth
Just scared of the lengths
I'll go to fight it.
I tried to hold my tongue son.
I tried to bite it.
Not trying to start a riot,
Or incite it.
Cause Brutus is an honorable man.


It arms me to step into class.

Give me a room of students
with vigor, with enthusiasm,
with something to say,
the slouched apathy of head-
nodding Stepford Wife classroom.

I love the curiosity of 
childhood; the questioning
of youth; it should
perpetuated, a
foundation for


My hope is to help them learn to:

think critically.
ask good questions.
creatively problem-solve.
feel, with empathy and look at life from broader perspectives than their own.
find patterns and search for connections between disparate ideas.
look deeper than surface properties, to find beauty in the minutiae & trivialities of life & people

You can interrupt me, I say,
If it is with respect, and
relevant to our discussion.

Discussing, conversation, The
crux of relationships.
Not to just ask for an
answer and get an answer,
but to start a 


I want to be a 

How's your day?
- Fine.

It is the surface, people
ask and respond, Devo

Conversation, in dialogue
and disagreement, listening,

I like my students,
they are curious and

They disagree with me
sometimes, aloud, and
I am proud of them 
for it

(though their arguments are frequently specious, underdeveloped, and naive, it is the act of
speaking up that is important)

and creating an environment that is
safe for all to speak up
in, an environment I
want for my classroom and our

Drive home
I think,
and steering-wheel drum to
Fiery Furnaces or
Neil Young.

Family awaits,
driveway, sweet potato smells,
London Symphony on vinyl.

The evening rituals,
exchanges of stories,
information, accomplishments,

I feel like Walking Dead
sometimes, at this point,
smiling, wrestling,
laughing, tired, wanting
to give my Best, my Best
having got sucked out of the day, but
trying to fake it well.

Will you lay by me tonight
and tell me a story, Daddy?

I love those imps, these chimps,
and their acrobatic mom.

And the city lights refuse
to die, waving across the
river, reaching 'cross state
through Dungeon window.

Here is Friday.
A kiss, a coffee, birth of weekend.

"Pickin' Up Day," my mom would call it.

I stick coins under cupboards, nooks, hidden;
Magdelana sweeps her way
though, looking for treasures

Daddy, I'm going to save my money for
either college or shopping…

…probably shopping.

Groceries, the endless list.
Avocados, tomatoes, tofu, peanut butter…

Automobile score:
Mates of State,
we slow for highway construction;
ghost of youthful 4mph-over
ticket still haunts me.

Day of Reckoning.
Look in the mirror:
what did you do?
what did you accomplish this week?
whatever you didn't do,
it's DONE.
You will step away from it.

Fatalism, a comfort.
What is done is done.
What is, 

I accept the here, the now,
the marching goose-step of Time violently tromping on goals.

What I was going to do.
What I was going to finish.

In some countries, in some
situations, you can (rightfully) be
considered a successful parent

if you get your children to adulthood

We all have different rubrics to measure ourselves by,
and I do not take lightly the existential
luck-of-draw card I
drew in having the luxury to measure
success in terms more
ambitious than simply

"getting them through childhood."

I do not apologize for having lofty goals.
My goal, our goal, is to help our children learn to
set their own goals, and to help them develop the 
self-confidence and curiosity and
other tools necessary to turn dreams into action.


to pursue
their interests,

and fight for

and the
desire to construct their own 

How to never,

How to stand
your ground with a 

They don't think about these things now;
their minds are on the
curiosities of life,
as they should be.

It's my job, our job to think about them now.

Friday night: opening of Shabbat;
the Jewish Sabbath,

I grew up in a Seventh-day
     Adventist household,
a Christian denomination
frequently associated with:

A. the LDS church (no relation)
B. Vegetarianism, temperance, and general "healthy lifestyle" initiatives
C. observance of the seventh day of the week (Saturday) as a holy day. Judaism refers to it as Shabbat, which I like.

Without sparking an exegetic debate about Emperor Constantine,
evangelical pluralism, or
apocalyptic interpretations of the book of Revelation,

let me strongly throw my support
behind the concept of 


: a 24-hour period beginning
Friday sundown and ending
Saturday sundown.

: a period to reflect, rest, step away from work, 
responsibilities, and stress in general.

: a chance to say No
to even thinking about the 
projects & deadlines looming overhead.

: an opportunity to close out the 
week with semi-formal family dinner, candles,
Phillip Glass twinkling softly….

a Ritual,

a chance for me, post-bedtimes, to lay
on the floor, empty sketchbook & pen,
fill the dim room with Sigur Ros e-bowing, and


like write what I'm writing now, or
maybe read some Borges or Chesterton.

There is a growing movement (even) in the broader secular 
community to observe
a Shabbat,
a day of rest once a week.

It feels so good,
the gift of not
having to head down
to The Dungeon.

No need to argue internally over whether or not I should. 
I just don't. 

By this point in the week,
I'm so excited to
not have to stay up late
I stay up extra-late,

Here is Saturday.

To really make it special,
make a very special 
pot of dark roast,
Americanos, maybe
topped with whipped cream,
in my favorite mug
(Wonder Woman).

Johnny Cash thundering out
warnings about beasts and virgins & men coming 'round,


and we wrestle Nartje and Hanna Anderssen brights
onto kids,

lock up, pull out,
race down mountain,
perhaps to be
on time, which we

consider, sadly, to be
within the -neo-Hawaiian
zone of 'less than 30 minutes late.'

there is a place we have been 
going to worship that
feels like what
Christianity should be

for us.

A place to get free food and coffee.

It is hard to not be judgmental about some
of the churches we have sampled, so I will 
just not fight it and 
be judgmental.

Maybe they are a good fit for some;
me, I like coffee with my sermon;

I like gypsy mishmash of suits, 
& cigarette-stained hands folded in prayer.

Me, vehemently anti-tobacco,
yet somehow, I feel
comfortable in a holy place where
sinners step out for
smokes between songs,

grab a waffle,
on our feet to sing-
a rousing chorus of
Our God is Stronger,

which is probably not actually the name of it,

electronic bleeps fading out
as Pastor Dan,
gentle motorcycle soul
badass authentic,
kindly, challenging,

lighting a little shining light to
Northwest Portland and
its homeowners and
shopping cart owners and
cross-river visitors
religious folks and 
students, and
our children, munching 
on fruit and coloring equipment fanned across chairs.

Filling hearts with music,
stomachs with food,
minds with the challenge
to look after God's people,

all of God's people,

on earth,
demanding their blood oath
allegiance to a
heavenly holiday.

Dan George in

Geoff Blake-Nelson in
San Francisco,

these are people 
who make me
feel at peace
saying I Am a 
who give me strength to balance intellectual rigor with
hopscotches of faith,

who militantly 
love all God's people
in the brutal face of

who make Christianity 
more Benny Goodman
and less
John Phillip Sousa,

(all respect to the drumliners).

who make me
comfortable saying to my friends,
to the freaks and
the gamblers,
the kids under construction:

Come around.
Come around. You are wanted.
You are welcome.

God loves you.
And so do we.

a hike, urban stroller jockeys,
maybe tofu & potato burritos at Pepino's
under five bucks if you're someone who
still has to check menu digits

(we do)

Or parkwalk, or haystack gathering
of personalities in cozy living room,
musical dialogue,
post-church gossip.

Haystack = basically a taco salad with chips.

Dream of a nap, a beautiful nap, curled in
Anthropologie afghan,
both unattainable, except
for that one time,

winter sun winking through window - 

- blasted window! Is the seal leaking on THAT ONE TOO!?

Breathe. Calm. Shabbat.
This is rest, if definition of Rest is
chasing adrenalized hyenas,
through vegetation & 
around dog walkers.

It is rest,
mental rest.


Home, countdown, sundown, legalities satisfied,
Jerry Lewis with wee ones,
maybe Ides of March later,
snuggled under yellow blanket.

Becca, awake, then out.
Decision tree:

To The Dungeon, 
To Fringe Division,
season 2?

Must rest.
Falling to dreams,
soft sandpaper voice
of Dr. Walter Bishop,
crackpot scientist extraordinaire,

is comforting, gentle,
I imagine my guardian angel is
similar to him,

I hope.

Here is Sunday...
7 am flying monkeys
rehearse on our slumbering heads...


  1. Wow.

    So so good. Your ability to visually and emotionally tug at the heart strings and touch on such hugely important yet often ignored and by-passed subjects is surpassed by zero. I love it.

  2. Thanks for reading, Jonny. And for your nice words. Really appreciate it.

    Now, can you reduce this entire post to a single photograph? Let's see if you can do it...Go!

  3. Jamey Long of Jamey Long's Very Long Media and Jamey Long's Jonny Long Photography unabashedly supports your words, sweet big brother Josef. You seem to have seamlessly combined the lyrical mastery of Shel Silverstein, Emerson's depth of feeling, the whimsical, playful use of language of Dr. Seuss, and the narrative brilliance of Stephen King into an incomparable masterpiece unparalleled by any of the aforementioned.

    I think I'll keep you on the payroll for awhile.

  4. James, you are a maestro of commenting. Your words are like the soothing exoticism of Solomon melded with the silky stylings of Marvin Gaye, as interpreted by James R. Becraft...


Love to hear from you. Thanks for your comments!