Journalism, Photography

Postscript: August

The closest thing you're going to get to a selfie.

The closest thing you’re going to get to a selfie.

August unfolded quickly, and I hardly had time to adjust to it before September hit.

Downtown dorm no more, I’m living month-to-month in suburban Southwest Portland. Kids play tennis and ride bikes on sleepy side streets and library workers personally announce it’s closing time, rather than relying on a loudspeaker recording. The brewery up the hill is intimidatingly hip.

I work in a bureau in Portland’s most populous suburb, where I cover local government, schools, businesses and people. I learn something, usually many things, each day.

Public radio plays from my car speakers on my way into work, country music on my way back. I allot $46 each week for gas.

Traveling alone to Vancouver last month, I paused to appreciate the quiet of the mountains and cacophony of the city. Without cell phone coverage, I connected to the Internet only sparingly, stopping at coffee shops and restaurants to get my bearings. I spent more than my weekly allotment on gas.

The change of pace was replenishing, and I’m lucky to have had the chance to explore a new corner of the continent. Thus the reason for more photos than usual this month.

***

My August travels were mostly condensed into the single four-day trip to Vancouver, which is about a six-hour drive due north of Portland. My stops in the U.S. included five innings of a Tacoma Rainiers baseball game, a nighttime walk around the University of Washington and watching the sunrise somewhere in northwest Washington state.

I spent two nights in Vancouver, where I biked and walked around the city and surrounding area, also embarking on a couple hikes in the North Shore Mountains, which surround the city.

My exchange with the Canadian border guard upon entering the country was a bit of a trip. It went something like this:

Her: “What are you doing in Canada?”
Me: “A couple hikes and a short bike trip.”
Her: “Where are you staying?”
Me: “Downtown Vancouver.”
Her: “Are you meeting anyone?”
Me: “No.”
Her: Do you always travel alone?”
Me: “Sometimes, yeah.”
Her: “OK, have a good trip.”

It didn’t disappoint.

***

Truth is, I hate being indoors and I hate sitting down, but I love writing.
T Magazine, on six writers’ offices

“I got up the courage one day, and it broke my heart,” said Rita Nicely, her mother. “It tore me apart. I had to tell her, ‘You can’t stay here anymore.’ ”
— The Roanoke Times, on an ex-drug user, prostitute and prison inmate who’s found a purpose

“That’s it. We’re dry,” Miguel Gamboa said during the second week of July, and so he went off to look for water.
— The Washington Post, on the California drought

… if Dean is innocent, he was betrayed by the person he loved more than anyone.
— The Tampa Bay Times, on a man who claims he didn’t commit the murder that sent him to prison 27 years ago

Careful and controlled, because she wanted to make sure the world recognized her as the woman she had become, and this was the goal, morning after morning, every moment of Sara’s new life.
— The Washington Post, on what it’s like to be a transgender woman when you’re not Caitlyn Jenner

There are dark hardwood floors throughout and a large, granite countertop in the kitchen with seating for six. There’s a sophisticated feel with modern furniture and decorations, yet there’s hockey, golf and tennis equipment piled by the door next to barrels of protein powder.
— The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on Sidney Crosby in the summer

When I look over at Mac, he’s gazing at the boroughs that border the East River. I know that gaze — it’s that provisional period of peace that comes from looking out at one of Earth’s busiest cities. Moving to New York in your early twenties can be an overwhelming, exciting rite of passage, no matter who you are.
— Grantland, on rapper Mac Miller

Back at Musa’s store, his employees scanned photos of the detained. Neither Musa nor his brother was among them. Behind the counter, another of his brothers, Abdul Salam, laughed.
— The Washington Post, on human smuggling in Niger

He doesn’t believe in time, or at least he won’t submit to it; he recognizes that clocks exist, but he sees no reason to obey their demands. He eats when he wants, he sleeps when he wants, but mostly he moves when he wants. For McGregor, death would be stillness—if he believed in death.
— Esquire, on MMA fighter Conor McGregor

Once, after a hit-and-run near the football field, she chased down a drunk driver and made the arrest, still wearing pads, then returned to practice.
— The Washington Post, on a professional quarterback and homicide detective

***

I’ve been reading Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a fictionalized account of the Biafran War, as seen through the eyes of a houseboy and his master and lover, among others. I’m just more than halfway through, and the plot is starting to thicken.

You should listen to this (old) Longform Podcast with reporter Eli Saslow and these (new) This American Life stories: “The Problem We All Live With” by Nikole Hannah-Jones.

I recently reported about the trend of adult coloring and high school students who helped build a 6-foot-5, partially robotic dinosaur.

***

As always, thanks for reading.

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Discussion

15 thoughts on “Postscript: August

  1. Good stuff Jim! Love the pic of the sunrise in Washington it’s breath taking. Keep up the good work man!

    Posted by Brady Billman | September 2, 2015, 8:08 pm
  2. Well written, Jim Ryan, as always. The west coast is lucky to have you!

    Posted by Cindy FitzGerald, Gaylord, Michigan | September 2, 2015, 8:20 pm
  3. Wooo! LOVE public radio podcasts! If you haven’t become obsessed with Radiolab yet, you should get on that. Also, I’m super jealous you’re living/adventuring in Portland! Glad to read you’re doing well! Keep rocking the journalism world! Also, awesome pictures! 🙂

    Posted by Jessica Nath | September 2, 2015, 8:37 pm
    • Jessica! It’s so great to hear from you. Thanks so much. I like Radiolab, but I admittedly haven’t listened to many episodes. Do you have a favorite one I should check out! I hope you’re doing well! Thanks for reading.

      Posted by James Ryan | September 2, 2015, 11:36 pm
      • Jim! Out of the recent Radiolab episodes I’d have to say “Mau Mau” is one of my favorites. It talks about what we did with German POWs in the U.S. – I was surprised! Things are going good, just on the job hunt, which is grueling. Keep writing, I’ll keep reading!

        Posted by Jessica Nath | September 3, 2015, 11:26 am
      • Good luck with the job hunt, Jessica! I’ll check out that episode. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

        Posted by James Ryan | September 4, 2015, 11:17 am
  4. Portland looks and sounds awesome! We miss you back here in Ohio,but glad you are doing what you love. It’s been a busy summer with Logan with baseball and he has taken up golf. High school seems to be going well. I just thought I would touch base and let you know I read your blogs. Take care!

    Posted by Lisa Baker | September 2, 2015, 8:53 pm
    • Thanks for getting in touch — I’m glad everything is going well for you and the family. I saw Logan’s back-to-school photos. I can’t believe he’s in high school! You need to get Morgan out to golf with him… that would be the day! Thanks for reading!

      Posted by James Ryan | September 2, 2015, 11:38 pm
  5. Wow, Jim,
    I am so impressed and so proud of all you have accomplished! We are fellow writers together, though after reading this blog, you are way ahead of the game!

    I have often thought about visiting Vancouver and Portland. I’ll have to put those on my bucket list. And I must say that picture of bridge in the woods with the fog is breathtaking! It gives me some cool and creepy story ideas.

    Keep writing!

    Posted by Janice Broyles | September 2, 2015, 10:28 pm
    • Thank you so much, Mrs. Broyles. Your kind words really mean a lot. I’m hardly ahead of the game, believe me, but I have had some great teachers!

      Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like any Northwest travel tips. I haven’t been here long, but it’s a beautiful part of the country, and I’d be glad to help however I can.

      Thanks again for reading.

      Posted by James Ryan | September 2, 2015, 11:40 pm
  6. Chris Jones’ McGregor piece is great and this is neat. Good stuff dude – hope all is well.

    Posted by Chris Manning (@cwmwrites) | September 3, 2015, 1:35 pm

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My name is Jim Ryan, and I'm a breaking news reporter for The Oregonian and OregonLive in Portland. I'm an Ohio University graduate from Gaylord, Michigan.

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