First Day Of Summer

Today was a nice hot day, the first day that really felt like summer. I woke up and had a couple beers. I smoked a pipe on my grandparents’ porch. Rode my bike around Boardman Lake, sat in a couple chairs right on the shore and listened to a couple of podcasts. Instead of going to the coffeeshop before work to read, I rode down to the beach and sat with my feet in Lake Michigan. The water is still very cold. I did that thing that some people do on the shore where I shoveled sand into a mound with my hands and made a little pool for my feet. On my way to work I ran into my mother and little sister riding their bikes around. I gave her a hug and proceeded on my way. The water level on Lake Michigan is abnormally high. The water at the boat launch is starting to flood into the parking lot. Work was very busy, I was told this was the busiest night in the young restaurant’s history, by a thousand dollars!

Sunny Wednesday

Another sunny day in Michigan. Had the day off. Slept in ’til noon. Went to Goodwill today. Picked up another nice tee shirt with vertical textured stripes. I saw a copy of the original Sims for Mac but unfortunately it wasn’t compatible with my version of OS X.  On my way to this mindfulness class I’m obligated to take, I stopped at Qdoba. They have “Burrito Wednesdays” where a pulled pork burrito and a drink is only seven bucks. I like Qdoba, back when my family lived downstate, we used to go to Qdoba all the time.

I’m happy to have tomorrow off, too. I need to find a way to take advantage of it. I might be able to take a walk, so maybe I’ll take a little hike around the old State Hospital grounds.

Black and White | Roll 4, 5, and 6

The camera shop finally finished processing my film. It took almost three weeks. I’m done with this project. It’s been interesting.

Roll 4
Roll 5
Roll 6

Olympus Infinity Jr. 35mm Ilford Delta 100

edit: I deleted most of the photos from this Black and White project due to storage constraints on WordPress and the fact that I prematurely quit this project.

Trees, Clouds, and Snow

Back when my family lived on an old red brick street in the old Central Neighborhood here in Traverse City, Michigan, there was a sign that read “Tree City USA”. This title actually came from The Arbor Day Foundation when they named the town such for our exceptional urban forest management. TC is tangled with beautiful old trees. A majority of them are oaks and pines. There are a couple trees that have been designated with plaques remembering them as waypoints for natives who used techniques to put strange bends in their trunks. One massive tree in the woods behind the old mental asylum was struck by lightning, split into several large pieces and has since been covered in graffiti and dubbed “The Hippy Tree”. The old oak trees of Traverse City have character, living through hundreds of cycles of hot, moist, abundant summers; and cold, frozen, hard winters.

I want a photography project to showcase the beauty of the trees of Traverse City. I want to show their symbiotic relationships with it’s citizens, many of whom the trees out-live. The trees in town are different from their cousins of the forest. They’re pruned, decorated with Christmas lights, gardened around, and kept alive through their natural life, avoiding being turned into furniture.

The clouds that come off of Lake Michigan vary splendidly here in Traverse City. The wind usually blow them in from the west. In the summer they’re fluffy and low. In the winter they’re grey and high. I’m remaking my list of subjects to include the clouds that float over our town.

Snow. What natural occurrence defines northern Michigan more than the lakes? The first snowfall of every year inspires feelings of merriment. It makes us thankful for the warmth of our homes and the food in our stores and restaurants. The last snowfall of every year invokes gloom. I want to devote a few rolls of film next year to fallen snow and the beautiful forms it takes.

People come to Traverse City for a multitude of reasons. Some come for the cherry orchards, some for the wine, some for the bars, some for the dunes, some for the forests. The people who live here, stay here for a feeling of peace, sitting on their porch amongst the trees and birds and people biking around. Or they stay just for the book they’re reading with their feet up by the fire as five foot drifts of soft white snow blows up around their car. This is a beautiful place and I believe there’s an infinite world of art to be created within it’s boundaries.

Black and White | Roll 3

I’ve had the same nightmare over the past few days, or I guess they’re better described as night terrors, where I’ll see some pattern on a wall or screen, I don’t know what it is, and I’ll wake up panting, “that was weird, that was weird”

One of the worst things about living with a multitude of different people is snoring. I’ve been here the longest and the first half of my stay was fine. But a few weeks ago we got this man who, while he is awake, is generally obnoxious to everybody. Though, when he’s asleep is when he’s most disruptive. He snores so loud that one other mental patient here claimed he was rattling the change on his night stand. One night I couldn’t stand it any longer. I got up and started pounding his wall. He’d stop snoring for about twenty seconds then be right back into it. The third time I rapped on his wall his neighbor came out, our newest guest who’s only a year younger than me, he comes out and starts yelling at me saying I’d better stop. I told him I’ll do whatever the fuck I want and he isn’t going to do anything about it. Now, I’m not a fighter, this is against my character, but I’m not going to let someone younger than me tell me what to do like that, try to intimidate me physically. If he hit me he’d go to jail, and I know he knows this. The next day, after all had calmed, I extended an olive branch and told him about how he had better be careful what he does on the wi-fi as one of the employees used to work in forensic data recovery and how I’ve noticed some strange behavior on my devices. He gave me a cigarette. So we’re all good I think. Except, of course, the snoring persists.

I actually picked up this roll last week with the previous roll. I’m not too proud of this roll. The first half of the roll was taken around the Hagerty Insurance (a company that insures vintage cars) campus and was taken a little hastily. I still haven’t really found the spirit of this project, and the roll that I just turned in today is still a little random. But I have made a list for the following forty-eight rolls so at least they will be a little more organized. I like to think the list I’ve compiled is well-thought out and includes different neighborhoods, nearby villages, clouds, and Lake Michigan. I don’t want to push anything too hard, I want these photographs to make themselves. I don’t know exactly how a photo will look when I take it, especially because it’s black and white. I feel like I could take a photo of just about anything and as long as it’s composed ok it will present itself to me as being something interesting, reveal aspects that I didn’t notice or anticipate when I took it, like how the light coming off the water reacts (or doesn’t react) with the film.

My favorite on this roll is 31A. I like how the street curves. This was taken on one of the first decent spring days of the year and some people in the bottom-right corner of the image had taken up seats in their driveway to absorb some rays.

Olympus Infinity Jr. 35mm Ilford Delta 100

edit: I deleted most of the photos from this Black and White project due to storage constraints on WordPress and the fact that I prematurely quit this project.

First Month

This is my thirty-first blog post. I’m glad I’ve committed to doing something like this everyday. It’s added an interesting layer to my life. In the last month I’ve started a photography project, talked about trains coming back to Traverse City, talked about the trials of being on probation, talked about getting a new job, etcetera. A few days ago, I don’t exactly remember where, somebody was talking about telling people about your life and goals, whether they be your partner, friends, parents, or your journal, to have somebody keeping you accountable. That resonated with me in respect to this blog. Even if nobody read this thing, I’d still feel like I’d have to live in a way that I’d be proud to share. I heard a story of somebody who was lost in Japan and an officer helped him to a place that houses wayward tourists— a free guesthouse to people in trouble. My first thought was, ‘if I could fake being lost convincingly enough maybe I could get some kind of free room and board while traveling.’ I felt guilty about this thought and considered it taking advantage of people’s hospitality. It would be wrong. It’s definitely not something I would write about on the internet. And so I think I should live up to a standard set forth in the person I write about in this blog (though I don’t consider myself noble, not even close).

I tried some Twinkie ice cream today from the gas station. It was good, reminded me a lot of this cake mix ice cream they sold at Timber Ridge Campground when I was younger. 

My grandparents said they had an Easter gift for me so I swung by their house on Washington Street, but nobody was home. I keep my tobacco pipe in a pot on their side porch so I decided to pull it out for a smoke.

After a tiring shift, I walked around the block and downtown was especially lively tonight. The scene was punctuated by two guys, one with a bucket and drum sticks and another with a hang, who’ve taken up residence on the corner of Front and Union. I was walking behind a couple when the woman couldn’t help but start dancing. It was adorable.

Black and White | Roll 2

This morning I went to The Camera Shop and was told my film was still drying. Not more then a half an hour later I thought how I was told they’d be developing my film last night. So I called back and fifteen minutes later my film was scanned and ready to be picked up. I printed an 11” x 14” copy of #11 for the house. If you look at that photo, the building on the far left is where I’m living temporarily. The small building in the center is the prosecutor’s office. The building behind it is the courthouse. The concrete building on the right is the Governmental Building. I wanted to print a full-frame (2:3) photo for the house but I got this 11” x 14” frame from Goodwill and it would’ve looked odd. My framed photo was hung in the office.

All of the photos on this roll were taken around the Boardman River here in Traverse City, MI, between Boardman Lake and the old dam. My favorite on this roll is #27

Olympus Infinity Jr. 35mm Ilford Delta 100

edit: I deleted most of the photos from this Black and White project due to storage constraints on WordPress and the fact that I prematurely quit this project.

Black and White | Roll 2 (delayed)

I went to The Camera Shop to pick up this week’s roll of film and was told they hadn’t developed it yet. They told me they usually wait until they get a couple before processing black and white film. The good news is when I handed them my next roll they said they should have them both developed and scanned by tomorrow.

The forecast says there’s a high of sixty-nine today, along with scattered showers, which I secretly hope it will rain because I have to work and I don’t want to have to be in a greasy kitchen crammed between a sink and an old concrete bank vault while people are out frolicking through the parks and taking their boats out on Lake Michigan. 

Train whistles reverberated throughout town today as Great Lakes Central worked more on the tracks. Before this year, since my family moved up north, I honestly don’t remember seeing more than one or two trains here. There was what has been locally called “The Dinner Train” before we moved here, but I don’t even really know what that was exactly. Well, they were rolling back and forth all afternoon today and I think they’re going to be a common sight this summer and a hot topic of conversation and point of interest in the newspapers. I really hope it’s true that we’re getting a rail service to Ann Arbor. It’d be great to see younger, sexier college students come up from U of M. 

I had to call in late for work. I missed another class I’m supposed to take yesterday so I had to take another one today. I don’t remember what this one was called. In my “check-in” I vented my frustration with my schedule this week— almost going to jail because work conflicted with mandatory classes, including this one. We talked about triggers and I mentioned how I usually don’t submit to using the “recovery” buzzwords but lamented that I indeed was “triggered” at church on Easter Sunday. The wine, I said, gave me a warm feeling and how if that was a full glass I might have lost some personal agency. I talked about how indeed alcohol is one of the toughest vices to transcend because of how deeply engrained it is in our culture and even our biology. Humans have been drinking practically forever. Mindfulness was also brought into conversation and I provided a relevant Western perspective. Stoicism teaches us not to behave from fear or desire, instead we should act virtuously, by being generous and providential, to enrich our character. We should always be aware that we are but parts in the machine that is the world.

Waiting for the bus I ran into an old dude who I met in jail a while ago and has graciously given me booze and acid in the past year. Unfortunately, my man is also once more caught up in this shit after being accused of domestic violence, living on the street. I’m not a judge and am not even concerned with whether he might’ve gotten a little handsy while drinking. I really don’t care that much. He says he’s going to fight it in court.

Work went smoothly. My boss was understanding of me being late and I believe it actually sparked a good conversation about the nature of my involvement with the court that helped solidify my place within his business. 

So, all is well that ends well. I look forward to picking up my rolls of film tomorrow.

Scheduling Conflict II

In my last post I mentioned how I’m court-ordered to take a class and was scheduled to work at the same time. I talked to my p.o. this morning and he said to talk to the guy who runs the class, Ernie. Well, Ernie didn’t text me back. Not surprising, nobody seems to respond to me these days. I’m going to have to just move on and pretend that all is fine. 

I’m making a habit of stopping into Espresso Bay to get a coffee and read a few chapters of my book an hour before work every day. There are some things that irk me about Espresso Bay— their coffee is over-priced, they’re taking advantage of people’s ignorance with the whole CBD gimmick, and their walls are covered in mediocre art— but they do have their merits. A warm fire, comfortable leather couches, and kind, humble staff. I’d rather go to The Brew but if you go back and read my post, Not Where I’m Supposed To Be II, you’ll find why I can’t go back there until I’m out of this stupid transition house. Essentially, the problem is that The Brew serves alcohol and the director of the house frequents there and I run the risk of getting kicked out and thrown in jail. In any case, Espresso Bay is a perfectly good place to read for an hour and I don’t think they’d mind if I didn’t buy something every single day.

I got my pair of black Urban Ears Plattan 2 headphones from Amazon today. They came with a cool poster that I’m going to give to my mother to file away in the basement on top of a pile of shit left over from when I lived with them. I bought a pair of these headphones in Telluride when I left Traverse City back in 2015 to escape the wrath of the courts. I drunkenly broke into my aunt’s house and left a trail of blood through her dining room while she was in Mexico. Her husband decided to press charges. So I left town. I’d worked as a photographer at the ski resort in Telluride about a year earlier so naturally that’s the first town I thought to go to. I had several thousand dollars at the time that I planned to live off of until I found a job. Well, I didn’t find a job, spent most of my days at the exquisite Wilkinson Public Library watching independent films previously featured in the Telluride Film Festival on my MacBook, smoking weed, going to the bar, and eventually I ended up sleeping in the woods, in a church, and at some pot heads’ house in a nearby village. I don’t remember where I lost the headphones. I remember I did end up selling the MacBook in a subway station in Hollywood, California. I don’t remember if that was before or after I slept on the roof of The Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd.

The only real medical abnormality I have is my baby teeth’s stubbornness to come out. Until this afternoon when my last one came out in two pieces!

Scheduling Conflict

I’m scheduled to work all day tomorrow and I’m court ordered to take a class at like five. I asked if my man at the BBQ could cover my shift and he could not. Tomorrow I’m going to have to ask my p.o. if it’d be okay to skip the class this week. If he says no then I’ll have no choice but to miss a shift tomorrow. If this goddam probation shit ends up costing my job, directly or indirectly, I’ll be depressed as hell.

I was looking for an email from WNMC when I found an email from when I was in Portland back in September of 2016. For some context, I was doing something that day where I didn’t want to carry around my backpack so I hid it beneath some steps behind a business. I went back that night to retrieve it and it was gone. So I decided to contact the business to see if maybe they had it. It seems like I must’ve called or stopped in and left my email address. The exchange went like this:

business guy:

HI Kenney,

I just spoke to you?  Or at least someone using your e-mail address at 4am outside my business in Portland Oregon.  When I look up your email address, I get Jake, the DJ in Traverse City WNMC 90.7 FM.

Are you the same person I just spoke to?  Or was someone using your email address? 

me:

Yeah, that was me.

business guy:

Did you find your bag?  Because I did not find it.

Did you move here from Traverse City?

me:

I didn’t find it. Thanks for looking. Yeahh, temporarily. I’m trying to find a couple of jobs to save for a trip somewhere overseas.

business guy:

OK. I wish you the best!

I just think this is an interesting glimpse into my life back then. I guess I was more firm on traveling abroad than I now remember.

So, I looked for more emails from winter/fall/summer of 2016. It’s all kind of boring but it does give some small insight into my business back then. 

In December there are some Spartan Foods gift cards from my mother and some emails regarding enrollment and student loans from Portland Community College. I never took any classes at PCC. I used about $300 in loans to buy a laptop from a campus store which was mugged like a week later. There are also some emails from EA customer support. I’m guessing that has to do with a PC game. There’s an email from Reddit, back when I used to lurk and rarely comment on some select degenerative subreddits. There’s a new sign-in on an iPhone 5c which I remember picking up at the post office downtown. 

In November it looks like I made an account on Adult Friend Finder. I wonder how that would’ve worked out had I pursued it a little more? It looks like I inquired about a job at a Hallmark Store in Steamboat Springs but never followed through with that. I guess I had a Netflix account that I don’t remember. I also really don’t remember using Virgin Mobile, but actually, I do remember buying a shitty phone at the Lloyd Center mall, so I might’ve had some money on that thing. There’s an email from Atom Tickets, I remember they were doing a promotion where you could get a free ticket if you downloaded the app, I downloaded the app on my shitty phone and saw “Don’t Breathe”.

In October I created a throwaway Gmail account called starbucks9191994. Starbucks gives you a free drink on your birthday and I was trying to get as many as I could by creating new accounts with different birthdays. I’m not sure but I believe I gave up after just one or two because it really wasn’t worth the time. There’s a YouTube comment reply on the video for the song “The Water Wheel” by Polvo. Also a lot of student loan stuff. 

In September there are some emails about Virgin Mobile. I guess my mother payed my phone bill. I don’t remember using Virgin. I guess I had a ZTE Paragon, what a piece of shit, I love it. 

In August I signed up to be part of some new drug research for money. I didn’t follow through with it though. I got a mass email from aunt Kathy about her retirement and move to North Carolina. I got a friend request on Pornhub! A late email from KOTO Mountain Radio in Telluride regarding deejay training.

In July I printed something at FedEx. Don’t remember what that was but it was important at the time. I posted an ad on Craigslist offering to help with just about anything I could.

I’ve had the same Gmail account, kenney.jake@gmail.com, since April, 2007. That’s 12 years and 13,032 emails! Gmail was only three years old when I made this address. I sent quite a few emails to Strongbad. I’m lucky my thirteen year old self chose to go with my name, Jake Kenney, anything close to it has long ago been taken.

I need a cigarette. I got my new phone case in the mail; a black Tech 21 evo. I like it a lot more than the gross rubber one from Apple.

Black and White | Roll 1

Random. That’s how I would describe my first roll of film in this project. This week was more about experimentation and I learned a lot about this camera and film. The most obvious thing I learned is that the viewfinder has quite a wider view than what is exposed on the film. There’s a box inside the viewfinder that I thought was just to help center the shot. Now I realize that is more or less what will actually be exposed. I didn’t keep to any one theme on this roll. Some things that do tie them together are my interest in pine trees and upward perspectives, but one of my favorites defies these subjects: 19. Something I think this camera and film capture well is a sort of casual delicacy. In other words the photos can be simultaneously careful and spontaneous.

Olympus Infinity Jr. 35mm Ilford Delta 100

edit: I deleted most of the photos from this Black and White project due to storage constraints on WordPress and the fact that I prematurely quit this project.

From The Dish Pit

I think this blog would be ninety percent more interesting if I were drinking. Just because I’ve been going to AA doesn’t mean I’ve quit. I actually anticipate, fantasize, about drinking. But I can’t go to prison. So I’m planning on staying sober until I’m done with probation. I have profound nostalgia from drinking alone, riding the bus to Interlochen or Sutton’s Bay or Portland or Los Angeles. It probably looks sad from the outside, and indeed it is, but I love creating my own Hell. It probably comes from self-loathing, loneliness, fear, and defeat. I hope someday I can settle down somewhere and really be content with a somewhat normal life and accept it for what it is.

The sun is out and it’s about fifty degrees.

I stopped in WNMC, the college radio station at Northwestern Michigan College. I deejayed there before. I talked to Eric Hyme, the supervisor there. I was surprised that he remembered me. He said someone would have to update me on the process as they’ve gotten new equipment. He said they’d contact me next week.

In an earlier post I mentioned getting a new pair of headphones– how I liked a model that I bought at a store in Telluride. Well, I thought I’d look around downtown today before I go ahead and get something off Amazon. I asked my sister if they sold anything at the outdoor store she works at. There doesn’t seem to be any local stores that sell them, which is actually incredible to me. Maybe they do at the guitar store. They have to at the record store over by Family Fare.

I stopped by The Camera Shop to see if my film had been developed. It has. I said I’d be picking it up on Thursday.

I’m writing this from the dish pit at Sparks BBQ. I usually type out my daily post on my laptop, at night, but I think today I’m going to type out a post from work.

The first bird I found, I ripped a piece of a free tourist map and picked it up by the foot and dropped it in the river. The next one I found as I was walking back away from the river. I found three Cedar Waxwings on the sidewalk under some berry trees. These dead birds remind me of a dying bird I found on a sidewalk near the library in Durango, Colorado. It was too weak to fly. I didn’t want the poor thing to die on a slab of concrete so I got a foam cup, scooped him up, and walked him down to the river where he could die in the soft grass.

One of the managers is outside washing the windows with a long wand. There’s a little boy delighted by the site, cheering on the sudsy spectacle.

I listened to the short story Head Down on the audiobook Nightmares & Dreamscapes by Stephen King.

Michigan Passenger Trains

Another day, another trip to the AA meeting on Sybrandt Road. Another set of blue train engines from Great Lakes Central. According to a page on GLC’s website, they’re working on a passenger train from Ann Arbor to Traverse City. This is both awesome and a little quirky. I mean why Ann Arbor? I mean I understand it probably has to do with where the tracks go but what if you want to go to Detroit, the largest city in the state? Will you have to change trains? Or Grand Rapids, the closest city? Or Lansing, the capital? I’ve read before that these tracks go through Owosso, where I was born, so that’s cool I guess. Sometimes my mind will wander into fantasies about public transportation. This probably has a lot to do with playing SimCity as a kid. As soon as I heard about a hyper-loop possibly going from St. Louis to Kansas City, I started imagining a bullet train from Grand Rapids to Lansing to Detroit, and another, more leisurely train from Grand Rapids to Traverse City. This and a sweet metro system throughout Detroit – something on par with Portland’s MAX trains. This and maybe a few little streetcars in Grand Rapids and Lansing/East Lansing, with maybe one in Traverse City that runs along the bay between the state park and State Hospital.

Damn, my head was all over the place today. I seemed to get along just barely. I’m still kicking myself in my mind after how many times I fumbled my words today. Whatever, time to reset and forget.