June 21st, 2006

Krazy West Koast Travel Month III: With a Vengeance!

Maya and me on the Ferris wheel, a long way above Santa Monica Beach.

Some of my friends in Portland were surprised that I was going to L.A. (Roy: "You mean, on purpose?") Even the cab driver who took me to the PDX airport made a rude noise when he heard where I was headed. But the thing is, I...didn't hate it! My aunt Laura, the only one of my family who actually lives in L.A., did an admirable job entertaining my grandpa Joe and his wife Joy, my aunt Carol and younger cousin Mitch, my sister, and me -- a group whose ages range from 12 to 78 and whose interests are just as diverse. We ended up turning down Disneyland in favor of exploring parts of the city: downtown, Hollywood, Pasadena, and Santa Monica.

My favorite part was the beach. Before we went to Malibu on Sunday, it had been fourteen years since I'd been swimming in the ocean, and I'd forgotten what it was like: salty, roaring, and entirely unlike swimming in a pool. The receding waves pull you out while the advancing ones push you in. I was glad I hadn't gone bikini shopping, not because I didn't want to wear one, but because there was no way it would have stayed on. The only part I didn't like is that, instead of walking out of the surf trailing long green strands of kelp around my ankles, I walked out of the surf trailing a long white strand of curling ribbon attached to a popped balloon. That wasn't so cool.

Now I'm back home, getting ready to start my new job very soon. Woohoo! I'll be working together with a small, fantastic team of developers here in Portland to create online textbooks for a New York publishing company. My reading list just got a whole lot longer, and I couldn't be more excited.

Shut up and listen

I, um, sort of forgot to update the podcast on Sunday, being on vacation and all, and I feel really bad about it. Listenership has increased, slowly but steadily, and we're starting to have some actual fans. You'd think that would be the greatest thing ever, and it is the greatest thing ever. And yet. Suddenly, people have expectations of us. Suddenly, we have obligations to fulfill -- real or imagined, but stressful either way.

I've been thinking a lot about how, to any performer, having fans is a mixed blessing, and how I could be doing a much better job of being a fan of the bands I like myself. Sometimes, what's intended as a message of unconditional support comes out sounding like a demand ("You need to come to Portland, dammit!"). I resolve to be a better fan. I need to just shut up and listen more often. If I can't do that, then maybe I'm a fan for the wrong reasons.