For now, please email me directly with your orders, and we'll get those sent your way directly as soon as the new shipment arrives! Thanks to all of you who have already reserved copies!
Just a quick update here– I've added a page on the site with info about my book and how to order it. We're currently anticipating a second printing (!) arriving within the week. After it arrives the bookstores we have agreements with will start stocking again. Thanks so much for your support and enthusiasm in buying this little baby of mine! I never imagined it could be this popular! How I love being proven wrong on these sorts of things...
For now, please email me directly with your orders, and we'll get those sent your way directly as soon as the new shipment arrives! Thanks to all of you who have already reserved copies!
Having trouble buying the book? It's selling so fast we're already on backorder! But never fear, the second print run is underway. While we continue finalizing deals with local bookstores, email me directly to reserve a copy when they arrive. You may still be able to order from Elliott Bay Books here. Updates any day now; for now, enjoy another story! This one is a companion piece of sorts to the one below.
He swaggered onboard with the lost hope of a man who wished he ruled the world. In delusion there is comfort; maybe he did and still would, in the final place where such things matter, the secret recesses of your mind and that of your friends.
I was grateful for his familiarity on this 5/21, where I feel like a stranger in a strange land: a crush of haggard commuters now, the affluent, overworked, and exhausted set, not interested in talking and perhaps understandably so. I'm no judge. People have different solutions for the parts of their lives they don't like. I'm used to a different type of crowd, though. The Seattle I describe in an earlier post isn't the Seattle of most of these route 5 passengers tonight.
But this man, this swaggering dark-clad man with the wild eyes... this man spoke my language.
You may not know that crack cocaine often has no noticeable odor. He smokes it in the back of buses sometimes, and you can see the full whites of his distended irises from all the way up here, where I'm sitting, through the rear-view mirror. That sack-boned gone and dirty need, a speedometer starting at shame and going the other way... What is it about reducing yourself from a human mind to a mere lonely chemical? I see the pipe and I see irreversible brain damage. He sees it and sees release, freedom, comfort, all the things he can't find in easy reach.
But my job is not to solve the big problems. That's on someone else. I see too many. I'm not sitting on the piles of capital and infrastructure opportunities that would help. I'm doing what the power players can't do: I can be their friend. I'm the authority figure who has no agenda. Let me help you feel acknowledged, free, comforted.
I tell myself I'm okay with all of what I see. It looks like I don't care. But that's where I need to sit in order to offer what I have. You're Abdulahi, drunk at 8 AM, and all the cops and aid workers in Seattle know you and they're rolling their eyes. Everyone else is crossing the street to get away from you, because you're scaring people.
But I know your name, friend, and I lean in for a fistpound, as I did this morning in the line at CVS. Because you're my people and you've been nice to me. I leave the solving of problems to more-equipped others. I stick with what I'm best at, and what they may not be able to do as easily: make you feel human.
One night I talked to him at the terminal, after the others had all left.
"Hey, my guy."
"Listen, you're welcome to ride my bus again, but I gotta ask you one favor, which is to please, dude, we can't be lightin' up in here. Can't be smokin' out inside the bus with all these other people. I don't mean no disrespect."
"It's cool, it's cool, I won't do it no more."
"I know sometimes it's hard, maybe you really want to, but just outta respect, I gotta ask you please."
"I gotchoo, bro. I apologize."
And he stopped. Two weeks later he got on again.
"Thank you for not smoking, my guy," I quickly said.
"Ey!" Elastic toothy grin, making my heart soar with relief: "You remember!"
"I appreciate you!"
"You a cool bus driver!"
And that's how it's been since. "Ah be good, ah be good," he'll say when he slips on. And he is. It was in the breath of our histories (above and earlier, linked below*) that he saw me now, tonight.
"THE FIVE?" he exclaimed, in shock.
"I KNOW," I replied, throwing my hands up in the air.
"Aintchoo sposed tuh be on the 7?"
"TOTALLY, MAN! It's like, what am I doing here?"
"Ey. It's good to see you."
I can't tell how he's doing, if he's better or worse tonight. But he engaged. He was kind. I no longer mind if people are unresponsive to me. But doesn't it feel good when they do respond? I'm sure these plugged-in people have their strengths. Silence and interiority are virtues, not drawbacks.
But. He was the person on this bus who said hi to me. I was Abdulahi at CVS, and he reminded me that I belong, too.
And that counts for something.
*These sorts of things can come and go with the tides. Here he is doing worse, and better; incremental improvement is still improvement.
In case you missed the broadcast earlier this week, here it is online! Hope you enjoy!
A huge thank you to Joseph Suttner, Suzie Wiley, Julia, and of course Michael King, for their graciousness and enthusiasm.
UPDATE: the book is now available for purchase online through Elliott Bay Books, here. Alternatively, you can email me directly (and get a signed copy!). We're finalizing agreements with other bookstores and libraries as we speak!
Read more about the The Lines That Make Us, a personal curation of the best stories of this blog, here and here!
I suspect my early formative days, spent as they were in the predominantly black and otherwise ethnic neighborhoods in South Central LA, have left within me with a certain positive bias, a subtle sense of long-ago comfort toward certain culture groups. It's not really a sensation based on specific experiences; just a feeling, the everliving hints of your earliest self.
Should we really be surprised that my favorite Seattle neighborhood to work in, Rainier Valley, just happens to comprise almost exactly the same proportional demographics as South Central LA? Some things don't change. Our yearnings reveal the children we once were. Writes the German poet Novalis, more than two centuries ago: "I am always going home. Always to my father's house."
Recently I was driving in West Seattle. I'm doing the 5 and 21 this shakeup for boring contract-related reasons pertaining to reblocked shifts and forced overtime on the 7 that I wish to avoid. I miss the 7/49. I'll get back there soon enough. I always get back.
For now I'm a visitor enjoying my tour of duty elsewhere, genuinely enjoying it, getting to know the entirely different, far less garrulous, more subdued, but still genial crowds in Greenwood and West Seattle. I'm a stranger out there though, and I can feel it. In the land of office workers, bankers and mid-level managers, my brand of loquacious kindness is an anomaly. These guys don't need friends. They just want to go home. I've gotten spoiled, spending so much time in neighborhoods that don't have the Seattle Freeze...
There I was in any event, southbound at 35th and Morgan. A young man waited at the stop. Early twenties maybe, or late teens even, the way kids can surprise you with their growth spurt. He wore a knit beanie and sweats upon sweats, the athletic type, everything a noncommital dark blue, sagging low with no logos.
Yes, he was black American. No one else in sight was a person of color, unless you counted my hapa-happy heritage. Something about him relaxed me. Formative Nathan, the child from LA touching some lost memory, textures I used to dream in. I thought about how like him, I too prefer to wear clothing with no logos.
I opened the doors and nodded the upward nod.
"Hey," I said.
That's all I did. I didn't even do anything... Or did I? He was tense before, numbed on edge, but now, upon looking at me, hearing me, he instantly relaxed. Instantly, reader. His head wagging in a sideways grin now, shoulders going down, the crook in his step practically a dance. Instantly. He nodded in return and swung his arms in an X over each other, rapping silently to the beat of his happiness. He wasn't a stranger anymore.
How did he know, though? He has no idea of my background, where I'm from, anything. My appearance indicates none of that. I'm just some skinny Asian-looking guy with nerdy glasses. How could he possibly know I felt comfortable, respected him, that I welcomed him as an equal? Could he perceive that he was accomplishing the very same comfort for me that I appeared to be giving him? Is the human brain sharp enough to delineate the worlds contained in a flash of bearing, everything about our storied lives that made me feel at ease?
I was a stranger in a strange land. We both were, and we made each other feel less so.
Seattle is many things to many people. You carve out a niche, and it becomes your understanding of the place, your very own personal city. All the other ways Seattle can be, ways the city is, recede from view. You get to take part in giving it a name.
For me, Seattle is very friendly. It's always been mostly ethnic: Asian and east Indian in my childhood, spent largely in Redmond during the days before Microsoft.
Do you remember Redmond then? Tall grass, bramble bushes, a bus once an hour, older immigrant couples taking walks after sunset, hands clasped behind their backs, the neighborhoods where you could meander down the middle of the street. It would become one of the tech centers of the world. That wasn't us. When we were there, we fed sheep and horses.
I don't usually bother telling people under fifty about the portion of my childhood that took place in Redmond. Because when you say Redmond, they think Silicon Valley meets the Hamptons. And that's got nothing to do with you. They don't think of cheap and quiet land, where a plumber could support his whole family with money left over to feed the dog. It's important to remember that suburbs once existed separate from affluence and status. As I've written before, living in the 'burbs didn't used to mean anything. It was just a place to live. In the '60s, a waitress' salary could fully support you, a single mother raising your child, like Mildred Pierce does before things go up and over. Tall grass and trees and a library, the perfect counter to riot-ridden south LA. That was our Redmond.
With the thought of those contrasting origin spaces, you can understand where I'm coming from with my Seattle. It's a mix of the two.
My Seattle is generally black, American or African, with a healthy smattering of east Asian and Latino backgrounds. The respect carried in smiles and nods are the common language here, a predominantly working-class town, earthy. Vocal, sometimes too much, but who's counting; the white folks are artists, filmmakers, writers, servicemen and women, thinkers rich and poor, always generous in their outlook; everyone stimulating to be around, with overlap for days.
What a fine bunch.
Yes, mental health, drugs and desperation bubble in the periphery. Either those or the problem of influx, new money, the downturn of politics and education. There are conversations. But mostly, we shake hands with our words and eyes, accepting, vibrant, living in the place where we have things in common.
Part of this island of identity we build has to do with geography in the literal sense. I once did a photo project in art school focused on Rainier Beach, only to discover nearly all my colleagues had no idea where that was. On another occasion, a friend told me how white she found Seattle, and I asked her which neighborhoods she spent most of her time in. When she answered by saying "Queen Anne and West Seattle," it was hard not to chuckle. For a lot of young people, Seattle just means Capitol Hill, the U District, and Belltown. That's fine. That's their Seattle. But mine's bigger.
We know South Seattle is larger than its northern counterpart, but I think we forget by exactly how many orders of magnitude. Take another peek at the map. Look at the size of those southern tracts. Seattle also means Columbia City, Brighton, Hillman City, the Beach, the Valley at large, Beacon Hill, the International District, South Park, White Center, Skyway, Boulevard Park, Ambaum and beyond, the veins of the city pointing outward from its jagged southern limits. Let's not even get into the inarguable vastness that is South King County, or "South End," as they say on the street ("South Side" referring to within the city proper).
Aside from geography though, there's simply who you choose to associate with. Nevermind which neck of the woods you're in. To your neighbor, Seattle might be a collective of twenty-something bearded developers in plastic-frame glasses who love talking about microbrews. To you, it's lively discussions in your native tongue about grandchildren and cooking and politics back home.
I know my Seattle is small. I know it's a minority view, and probably sounds ridiculous. A warm, welcoming, earthy, vibrant, friendly Seattle? What?
But everyone's version of the city is authentic, because their experiences are valid. For myself, I continue to be surprised by just how sizable my lil' Seattle is. By how many of you wonderful blog readers there are. How hundreds (hundreds! Plural!) of you came out to my recent book launch. Who are excited about the attitude and perspective the book and blog embody.
How many thousands of smiling faces I see, night after night and years in and out, nameless or otherwise. Faces that respond to kindness, to me, the little boy still acting like he lives on the end of a small-town neighbourhood block.
If you’ve read this, you won’t be surprised at my reaction to Seattle Magazine choosing me as one of their 35 Most Influential People of 2018 (!). I feel outrageously, ridiculously humbled. Let’s put it this way: I’m no Bob Ferguson! (Read my in-depth praise of Bob's actions in 2017 here).
And, forgetting about the fact that it’s me they’re talking about, I feel excited and proud of a publication that recognizes the little people. It’s not just a list of old and new money. There are people on that list who are doing the difficult work because they care, and the element I was most thrilled by in talking with my fellow honorees is that they weren’t doing what they were doing to get noticed. I certainly am not. You don’t go into bus driving to get famous!
It’s just in the DNA of who we are, and probably who you are: you have things you care about and you act accordingly, whether or not anyone notices. To make a difference. Attorney General Bob (my personal hero among several on this list, as you can probably glean from my rapturous writeup linked above) does so in large-scale fashion; I do it in my own way, which some describe as small, others as large.
I continue my work on the streets instead of ascending the administrative ladder because the contribution is direct. Unadorned. Elemental. Without intermediary. It’s me, smashed up against the face of the world, on a tightrope with a gift: the opportunity to make someone feel human. Acknowledged. Respected. A face that might stick in their mind and be a kernel of motivation months from now. Or at least something to feel good about.
I love being out there in the trenches, and sharing dispatches with you on this blog. To hear the degree to which it’s inspired people– operators, passengers, others– quite simply brings me to my knees in gratitude. I’m not even going to get into it. I’m thankful that the powers that be at Metro and King County support me as they do, and create a work environment where I can do the work with this focus; they don’t box me up behind a driver’s shield, for instance (THANK YOU). I dearly hope they never do. They recognize it’s about more than shifting people around. I’m grateful for Seattle Magazine and so many other outlets for recognizing my work.
Last week a man came up to me at Third and Cherry. Fifty-something black American man, mid-length tall and tired from work, a face from long ago. He must have recognized me from years past. He grinned.
“You still drivin’?”
“They can’t get rid a me!” I joked in reply.
He chuckled. “Right on. Iss the other ones they gots to get rid of! You and Juan, man…”
“Thank you!” I exclaimed. I’m trying to get better at actually accepting compliments, instead of just turning them around all the time. But he meant it as more, and continued with force:
“Man, it ain’t no thank you. I’m telling you the truth!” Troof. “How you greet the people. And you don’t just tolerate the crazy assholes, even though that’s what you’re supposed tuh do in a public service job, they’s gonna be crazy assholes and you know it, and you just know to ever let that bullshit affect you personal, never let yoself take that home which you. But I’m gettin’ sidetracked. Bruh. You don’t just tolerate. You engage actively wit the community. You know people. And man, you got no idea how much good you’re accomplishing just by bein’ yoself on this bus right now, every night. Straight up.”
Would you believe me if I told you his words meant just as much to me as getting honored as one of the city’s 35 most influential people?
You better believe it!
I’m taking a two-week vacation from November 1st through 16th, and will also be taking a break from the blog during that time. I’ve been running ragged for a while now. A book, a show, the last darkroom, film editing… please understand my need for a short breath away from everything. Time to recharge!
For now, I've updated the link for new operators with a few more elements. It's not the easiest gig, but it doesn't have to be the hardest one either. Like so much in life, it's all about state of mind: For New Bus Drivers: Thoughts, Tips, and Stories.
Coming from Seattle Magazine and new to the site? Welcome! Here's a fun introductory link: Nathan Vass 101.
Love you all. I’ll be back on the street and back online come November 17th!
Third and Prefontaine Place, northbound. Nobody's first idea of a safe place to wait for a bus at night. You know the terrain, the way the little things all add up: uneven sidewalks, an out-of-commission reader board, the magnificently poor lighting, almost as if on some city planner's evilly gleeful purpose; the tents and cries from over there, tensions boiling across the street, and you, clutching whatever you clutch in your pocket, trying to be gracious in your thoughts as figures lurk about, shifting in the dark urban floor, letting you know they're alive.
I roll up slowly in my 7, now signed out as a 49 to the U District. I open the doors to a zone with two people, neither of whom wants my bus: a young white woman, early twenties, in a demure white puffy jacket and nondescript ponytail and jeans. She looks at me through the open bus doors.
The other person is called Chosen. Chosen is a black American man two generations too old to be sagging his pants, but he does it anyway; every tatter of clothing on his body sags, and the phrase "dressed in rags" is here, finally, not an exaggeration. If you depicted him in a painting as he is, exposed skin and frayed dead fabric, viewers would accuse you of caricature, saying no man over forty really stumbles about in this bad of shape... with a face like that.
Because his face is perfect.
The unkempt beard cannot conceal the beauty of his features. Look now at those high cheekbones, the perfect cheeks below them, hollow, like I wished mine were when I was little; his proportionate eyebrows and sockets and the big emotive eyes within them. Expressive eyes. Thin, skin and gaunt bones, with a perfectly proportioned and evocative face: he should be in the movies. You want this guy to play a black Jesus. I think he'd be perfect. He may have a drinking problem, sure, but so did Richard Burton...
I will always have a soft spot for Chosen because I once saw a group of girls pepper-spray him on my bus for no other reason that they thought it was funny.
"You know you want to, nigga," they laughed at each other, with the same voice you'd use for ordering fast food or trying on jeans. They violated him because he was helpless and homeless, and it amused them to destroy something beautiful, like a child stepping on a butterfly. It was the second ugliest thing I've ever seen. The stinging tears streamed down those beautiful cheeks of his, the Jesus cheeks, and I sat with him as he sat blinded, after everyone else had ran off, and tried to guide him toward the doors.
Tonight Chosen is in far better circumstances: same tattered garb as usual, but no apathetic gangster gaggle of girls to worry about. Between the two of us, hopefully I'm the only one who even remembers the incident. He is slinking about on the sidewalk, mildly disoriented as per character, closer to me than the girl in the white jacket. I recognize him and call out a nonchalant hello. Just another acquaintance at the office:
"Oh hey, Chosen!"
"How ya feelin'?"
"Aw pretty good."
"Right on, man. Have a good one!"
"Aight," he said genially, slinking onward, receding into the night shadows.
The high point of my entire night was the girl's smile.
She had watched the interaction, and her and I locked eyes now. I grinned in return, cheekily. Her smile was the smile of relief, where you don't realize you're letting down your tensed shoulders.
Everything's fine. Sometimes everything's just fine. She almost laughed: the inherent silliness of our banal pleasantries and good-natured tones juxtaposed with Chosen's terrible appearance, and the pleasure of her discovering what this bus stop can be. That guy wasn't a threat. He was just Some Guy, with a name, and a friendly bus driver who knew him and who was clearly enjoying being out here, at this hour, on this block.
We both smiled wide, teeth gleaming, and I think we both kept smiling our separate ways for a while after.
This is for you fine folks who might not have made it out, or who found it too crowded in that room. Yes, I'll admit it. I like it when the attendance numbers for an opening of mine are measured not in tens or dozens, but hundreds (can I thank you enough for coming?? I can't!)... but is there really a less conducive environment for taking in art than an art opening? I'm speaking honestly here. What could be worse for introspective, thought-provoking reflection than being jostled by dozens– oh wait, hundreds (thank you!) of friendly (thank you!) people? People don't really look at art when they go to art shows. They want to, sure. But usually you end up chatting with your friends, or the artist, or the nice guy behind the reception desk. There's human connection happening here. The art can wait. If the stuff really moves you, you'll stop in again later when everyone's gone, when there's actually space to hear yourself think.
At my most recent show, however, the art couldn't wait. That show only lasted four and a half hours of one evening. Two-hundred and fifty-odd people later, it was all over, never to resurface. The ephemeral beauty of a one-day show was one of the reasons I accepted the offer; thank you all for making it the raucous, joyous cacophonic din of a celebration it was. I'll never forget it.
By request, this post includes all the photo-related materials you might not have had a chance fully take in: the statements, the darkroom explanations and more (we're going to forget about the book for a second; it's photo time!). I'm also including representations of all the photos used in the show in a slideshow, below.
But please remember: none of the pictures in the slideshow are art. They're just representations of art. They're copies, and especially as the show was so much about the beauty of what analogue prints look like in person, you can understand how pointless the digital negative scans I include here are. They're for reference only. Those of you who were there will remember the richness of the colors, the deepness of those silver halide blacks, and the burned-in light bleed and negative sprockets surrounding the images, like so:
Sometimes you just have to see things in person. But I hope these thoughts and pictures of pictures offer a record, and something to chew over. Enjoy!
Here we are diggin' a lil deeper into what separates a film print from a digital print. Obviously I can't show you the subtleties of what we're going on about except in person, so we'll have to exercise our imagination/memory a little here. But all the same holds true of any optical print of a negative onto light-sensitive paper, which, if you've been alive long enough to know what Y2K means, is probably what most of your family photos are. Reach into that old Bartell's envelope.
Color darkroom: What's the big deal??
What are the narrow image strips with different bands of brightness? They're called "test strips," and you make them before doing a full print. They help you determine how much of which color of light to shine onto your paper, for the right color cast. Note the color shifts from one test strip to another. They also help figure the amount of light you want to burn those crystals with: the banded image is 2 seconds of light on the lightest end, then 4 seconds, then 6 seconds, and so on.
Again, the scans below are just to give you an idea. But you can still tell they're film– the dreaminess of the grain, the color scale and tonal range, the multiple exposure possibilities. On prints I like to file the negative carrier (pictured below the slideshow– with the "Yay" sticker) so light can burn through the edges and leave a surrogate border of burned light and exposed sprockets, as evidence of the process, as if to say: this was made by hand and light. On negative scans, where that isn't possible, I like to leave dust and hair on the scanner glass, to similarly reinforce the origins of the format: this is film. For some reason this is really important to me. Hover over the images for titles and film stock info.
Also available at the show were hard-copy handouts of this epic teardown of Evergreen's failure to keep its own world-renowned color darkroom going. Here's the Ilford color processor they ran for decades; Ilford only made one color processor. This one. If you talk to people about color processors, and you tell them you worked on an Ilford, they won't know what you're talking about. This was it. It was great. It made everything at my show. Now it's walled off in a dark basement.
Yes, I was handing out packets of reading material at a show on a Saturday night. I realize this puts me somewhere between overexcited schoolteacher and communist leaflet dispenser... but it's my passion! A friend told me it's "the only post where I actually sound angry for once!" I can't help it, my dears. It's the art form we're talking about here. I link to it above one paragraph ago. Here it is again. Share it around!
The biggest reason film still exists is because, well, there's nothing else like it. Put simply and objectively, it yields a better image. But there's also something undeniably attractive about that which is tactile, tangible, real: Books. Vinyl. Talking to people. Film. Lived experience. Working with your hands. The process of light hitting crystals, and chemical baths and organic nature of the development.
If you're still reading this, it's because you're curious about life. Interested, not just in your own field, but in the world around you. The little things. Like differences in how photos are made. Why I take pictures of people. This blog is itself a celebration of that type of seeing; it is nothing if not a compendium of thousands of little moments, things that happened between real people, things that tell us a little something about life works on this earth.
Thank you for taking an interest.
Prints of mine are always for sale. Inquire!
I came home finally, sitting now in the empty living room, a black futon next to a banker's lamp, finally with a chance to leaf through a copy of the book,* marvelling that any of this had ever happened at all, and so recently.
Only hours previous was the show. You were there. Can I let myself believe it actually happened, that friendly whirlwind? A couple hundred souls at least, in the room of the building on the block to be, fusillading their good cheer from before the show's official start until long after it was over. People telling me this is where all the noise is, the place everyone's talking about. I could hardly believe it. I flashed to my younger self, watching Antonioni's 1961 La Notte, the early scene where Marcello Mastroianni has a book signing and everybody's there, it's crowded. Thinking that looks interesting, I wonder what it would feel like, would it feel nice, or empty, or stressful or what. Thinking, well, I'll never know.
Tonight's event was the expression of joy it was because of you, who support the blog and the book and its ideas in life. It was real because you made it so, by caring, and the joyous, heady, lovingly enveloping tornado I felt myself in the thrall of is the greatest gift I can hope to receive from a crowd.
There were a lot of Stephens there; I was telling one how pleasantly surprised I am that the gritty optimism of the blog has resonance for such a wide group of people. I started the blog (first story ever here) with absolutely no thought toward it gaining any popularity. The attitude is too unusual, the incident too humble. This'll just be for myself and my friends... Only to discover that you friends are everywhere, and even though Seattle had a disproportionate amount of goings-on that particular night, this crowd mobilized and made the time, took the effort toward this room in Georgetown, which is nowhere near anything. I rode the bus down (you kind of have to ride the bus to your own bus driver blog book event), and to meet others onboard who were heading to dinner and then...
I couldn't be more humbled.
There were people there whom I hold in such high estimation I could hardly believe they would come, but they did. My 선생님, the Color Crew, the operators, the filmmakers, other authors, and friends from long ago; people with whom I shared the confusion of childhood, or the intrepid ventures of art school. I stood overwhelmed, and were it not for the speed of the room I would have been at a loss for words with gratitude.
I didn't get to talk to everyone, but I saw everything, believe me, and there were so many glancing faces in the periphery I registered and desperately wanted to greet... But the melee. You understand. What can I say but say now:
Hello, you. Thank you for coming. If you picked up a book, thank you so much for your support and interest. Send me an email if you like. Didn't make it out? No worries! The book will be available for purchase online shortly. Stand by for details. If you would like a copy immediately, email me directly.
In the compressed hotbed of cacophonic joy that my events often are, where my time spent with each person is unfortunately measured in seconds rather than hours, each brief interaction is massive to me. I know how busy these things are. The crowd, the lines for autographs.
Can I thank you enough? Is it possible? It isn't possible. For not only being there, but taking the extra effort to wait, to find me and chat, even if only for a moment. To me, it means the world, your generosity. Sharing your inspiration and enthusiasm, making the room the wellspring of kindness it was- that's as much you as me. To be told afterward it felt like a safe space, a welcoming and friendly space, despite the numbers and noise... Words are insufficient. (And thank you for the technical photographer questions- a favorite part of mine at things like this, finding another language in common, diving into nitty gritty film stock tech talk!)
I close my eyes now to sleep, just another Seattle soul in an apartment like anyone else's, but it is all still there, the whirlwind, the sounds and sensation of hands shook and moving from one person to another. The intensity of the room, its blazing energy. It is all so surreal to me. Maybe all that was the dream, and as I fall asleep I'll return to waking life.
See you there.
*I compare the event to a wedding in an earlier post, and in one way it really was like one: due to scheduling I didn't get to see the published book until that night, and didn't get a moment alone with it until after the show had ended!