finding the magic


It is another Finding the Magic morning, for me. When I played Dirty Paws for my mom, a few days ago, she asked where Of Monsters and Men were from. I did not know, but I looked it up then.

For anyone else who may not know, they are from Iceland

Like Sigur Ros

The first time I went up to Alaska to work on a salmon seiner, when I was 17

I pretty much listened to nothing but Sigur Ros –

At the time, Alaska felt too otherworldly to me for anything else…to fit.

In places like Alaska, and perhaps like Iceland (though I’ve never been there!)


Finding the magic in the world takes less work.

Open your door, most places

and there it is

everywhere you look

infusing everything


Towering peaks so jagged they look young, newly made

but they are ancient

Whole rocks peopled by too many bald eagles to count

Whole bays dotted with gently bobbing sea otters, babies or clams perched atop their floating bellies

We’d wake up at 3:30 am

I’d go out on the deck of the boat, groggy, with a cigarette and a cup of black coffee (to feel more like a Fisherman, of course!)

and I’d be greeted by killer whales, herding salmon

Or grey whales, in all their glorious bulk

And suddenly

I didn’t mind how early it was. Just…forgot to be annoyed by it.

One time, we had to stop fishing in this bay we were in

for a grey whale had been seen entering

and, though we hadn’t seen it leave

it had disappeared

How do you LOSE a fucking grey whale?!

It was surprising, and New- always, in Alaska

People had pet reindeer

There were, strangely;

entire hordes of terrifyingly tough and dangerous looking


bunny rabbits!


Dunno why. But I saw several whole streets, within several towns

positively overrun with the ornery, scarred, and one-eyed little bastards (I gave them a pretty wide berth!)


And then, there was the aurora borealis

For which, when seen in person

there are simply no words

and I shall not try.


There are old, hidden canneries and military installations

with decades of names and graffiti within them

just…decaying, but alive with magic


But I think there must be a way for humans 

to not just survive, but to thrive

anywhere, and everywhere

And we cannot all live in such places.

Cities like Los Angeles, and towns like Redding

well, they also have magic within them

It’s just a more subtle kind of magic

Takes a little more effort to sniff out

But once I began looking

it became easier to find

I always hated Redding, growing up

Left as soon as I could, and never even considered the possibility that I’d come back


But, once I was able to begin living and breathing the magic

in a place like Los Angeles


Well, now- now, I’ve started seeing it everywhere I go


Los Angeles is a tough cookie!

From one angle, it is dirty

Hugely populated, yet with people who, by default and on average- tend to isolate themselves

even when out in the city

It is a city of Cars

of Smog

And of visible lines between the Wealthy and the Not Wealthy


But in Los Angeles

there are mysterious looking brick power stations

there are secret stairways winding up the sides of hills, from which one can sit and look out over so much life, so much activity – the city breathes, even at night

there are little bubbles wherein we can travel to little bits of other countries, for a moment or two

and in Los Angeles

there are people.

I met so many interesting people, taking the buses around to different parts of the city

Fascinating people, even just walking around.

I have met sad celebrities

and wildly insightful homeless people

poetic gangsters, and philosophical murderers

I had an incredibly fascinating conversation once, with a government employee who had asked for a cigarette outside the court buildings downtown. We only talked for a few minutes, but we talked about human nature, and Dan Carlin, and politics, and it was wonderful.

Even police officers

are people, too

I learned, thought that one took a while and was a very grudging admission on my part, initially


Redding, now

I have left my car running going into stores, when my kitten Sisi was in the car

and it was fine

because Redding is a Small Town

and that is part of the magic, here

People say hello to each other!

I can smile, wave, or strike up a conversation with passersby

Without people worrying that I need something

or am otherwise trying to Bother them

And, because this is not LA

there are tunnels everywhere

under train tracks

and abandoned mining tunnels wending through the sides of hills

just…there to be explored! Not even fenced off, in most places

There are families of turkeys, geese, and deer


So many walking trails, mountains and lakes


There was always magic in this town.

I just did not know how to look for it when I was growing up.


I spent three years living on the street in Los Angeles. I came out of that, changed. This is my story.

Leave a Reply