In this way, I hope the details of my experience and those of my riders, as I record them on this blog, have some relevance to others. To quote one of the better overlooked films of recent years: “I am all I can offer.”
With that in mind, here are a few posts summing up my 2018. What a year it’s been. I’ve never had one like it. A film shot, a book published, various TV and radio events, a workplace award that’s a first in several ways, printing my heart out in the last color darkroom, and being knighted– whoops, named– by Seattle Magazine as one of the city’s… I still don’t believe that one. I can’t say it. I’ll let other people say it, but I’m not gonna say it.
This isn’t just a recap of the year’s most popular posts. It includes things you might have missed (like grumpy Nathan on Comcast!), moments that are more personal, and some explanation on why there’s a certain type of post I write more than others.
- The year’s first post, about a street friend I wish I still saw, and who I hope is doing well.
- The year’s last post, on how I’m going to cherish these in-between moments more than I realize as I get older.
- Some words of gratitude (and okay, excitement) at having wrapped production on my latest short film, which is still in post: parts I and II. It’s big for a short– a story spanning decades, shot in different languages, with the involvement of about a hundred people. Stay tuned in the next few months for more.
- Here’s a 2017 lead-in on the humorous agonies of legwork you never think about when watching a finished movie.
- An explanation of how my book is a personal project, and why the attitudes it embodies might be refreshing in our current climate;
- On how the book is a home-cooked meal, the lil' book that could;
- A KING 5 interview with me, talking it up;
- And an NPR interview with me from May on bus driving, which was re-aired when the book launched.
More on the Telly
- The Seattle Channel segment.
- Fallout over being misquoted (long since corrected), which I include here because a driver told me of his being inspired by a reflection toward the end of this writeup. I'd wanted to make sure I wasn't perceived as someone who judges people, especially bus drivers, for being unhappy:
Six years later, I have a more clear understanding of how understandable it is to be frustrated, disappointed, jaded or otherwise dejected as a public service worker– whether regularly or from time to time. It's okay to be unhappy as a bus driver. It's okay to be unhappy walking down the street. I get it. I just try for the opposite.
- The Seattle Channel and its folks are fantastic. They went way out of their way to fix the above misquote, with grace and style. Which, what with my ebullient grateful enthusiasm, naturally led me to instantly writing up a piece comparing them to Edward R. Murrow...
- The most constructive thing I can say about winning this is to repeat the title of my essay on it: Pretty Sure I Don't Deserve This. Details within.
- Here the same sentiment obviously goes without saying. But forgetting that it's me for a second: isn't it great that Seattle Magazine chose a blue-collar public service worker as one of the city's most influential people?
All my posts are personal moments. But here are three in which I'm not a bus driver:
- We've all been swindled by Comcast. When I get swindled by them, I figure out how to make it funny and thoughtful and then write a big piece about it, including the magic words for how to actually cancel. Clip and save.
- I was sick. I got the fever. But I had to go out, on principle. Some words on what was important to me and still is, and learning how it feels to take a bus while half dead...
- How I live now. This is why I'm so often too busy for the people I love most. Everything you ever wanted to know about what lies behind the reductive phrase "never marry an artist," and some explanation on how all of the above is made possible.
Despair is the problem we all live with, especially now. The question of how to wrestle with it is also what my book climaxes on. When I say these posts deal with despair, what I really mean is that they are about hope:
- Kindness in the days of after. I share a moment with someone I knew once, intimately. I find myself incredibly moved when people are kind to me for no reason.
- An in-depth analysis of First Reformed, the 2018 Paul Schrader film which wrestles mightily, and mighty effectively, with the big questions. What is the antidote to despair? A hint: it's not reason.
- My Seattle: on carving out our own oasis of goodness in an indifferent world.
- Impressions and reflections on things I loved about the Women's March.
2018 marked one of the last dying gasps of color film photography, which is weird, because film is unquestionably the fastest growing trend in photography right now. Evergreen College apparently didn't get the memo.
- Here's the nice post. It explains about the last major color darkroom, and the value of film photography. Cute.
- Here's the no-holds-barred post that rips into Evergreen College's stunning incompetency and how they single-handedly destroyed one of the country's most unique arts practices and communities.
- I had a large-scale solo show marking the closure of the last major color darkroom in the US. Thank you for such a massive turnout.
- Here we explore the images and the process and ideas that informed the show. Basically, the show in online form!
On Leaving the 7, and Returning to It
The 7 is my baby. It's the big-chested, many-headed, top-of-the-food chain, eye-of-the-pyramid flagship bus route of Seattle. Rolling that thing up Third Avenue feels like nothing else.
- I had to step away from it this past summer due to filmmaking, school and scheduling concerns, but not before a few words on exactly what I love about it.
- But I made it back to the 7. I always make it back. Here's how it felt.
The Type of Post I Love to Write
I love all the posts I write. But I find myself writing a certain sort of story more often than others. I do it unconsciously, without a political or socially oriented motive. I just feel compelled to share these moments. Something about doing so feels at once essential and joyous.
- Further exploration here.
- A word on some of the things my friends have to tolerate. And how inspired I am by the attitude this guy takes in doing so.
I have many different categories of peeps. There are the Art Peeps. The Film Peeps, as detailed above. The Street Peeps. There are Friend Peeps.
Then there are Straight Up Peeps.
Straight Up Peeps are my fellow bus drivers. It’s an unfortunate fact of American life that whether you like it or not, the people you most see on a daily basis… are your coworkers. Hence the nomenclature of Straight Up Peep. Doesn’t it really improve things when they’re people you actually enjoy being around? I love my coworkers, even in the rare moments when I can’t stand them.
- I must be in the mood for thanking people this year, even more than usual; here I am extolling the praises of bus drivers at large, from a coworker's perspective.
- The newly improved, expanded, and revamped link of all links for new bus drivers: Thoughts, Tips and Stories.
- There's a lot of newbie operators out here right now. Most importantly: we love you. Let's work together. Some explanation on two types of skip-stopping that are essential– as essential as keeping alive the culture of a workforce that looks out for each other.
On the 5/21
Why am I driving the 5 and 21? Why indeed. I still don't know. It has to do with boring contract-related reasons that led to the reblocking of a lot of shifts, and a bunch of forced overtime on the nighttime 7 and 49. With the amount of artmaking I do, I don't have time for overtime. The start and end times of shifts take particular precedence for me, and thus I'm temporarily visiting, substitute-teacher-style, on the 5/21.
And finally. This is the one you read before going to bed. Just a quiet moment at the end of a quiet night, Abdi and I chatting under the amber sodium streetlights.
See you in 2019!
[Photo by Celia Berk]