Friday, February 12, 2010

Guest Blogger--Ryan Chin

Yup! It's Guest Blogger Friday! And today, I am very happy to post a blog by Ryan Chin from the chin project. Enjoy! (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to turn off the music)

Shack Attack

The stories behind the video

A pile of mulch has sat in front of my house for four months now. A long sinuous line of the stuff stretches down the street starting with the largest pieces and tapering down to the finest particles. If my son was older, I’d use it as an example of erosion and how fluvial deposits form, but he’s not. He’s only a couple pounds and still inside Lori’s womb. I feel a little bad neglecting that pile of mulch but I’ve other work to do.

As I load my twenty dollar bike into the van and hang my grandpa’s old suit off a bungee cord, the ‘I shoulds’ shoot at me from all directions. I should shovel that pile of mulch. I should work on the baby’s room. I should work on that kitchen remodel bid. I should work on a business newsletter. My remodeling business after all is “real work” that pays. I chuckle and check my gear: Video camera-check, tripod-check, notes and storyboard-check, guitar-check, beer, food and firewood-check.

“Where are you going again?” asks Lori.
“Brett and I are going to the shack. I saw this old shack when I was out fly fishing and thought it’d be a cool place to shoot video, “ I reply.
“Oh…a shack,” she says with her eyes rolling towards the mulch pile.
I kiss her goodbye and rub her belly, “The shack!”

She gives me the look. The look can go both ways: I married this guy? Or I love this guy! Today, it’s a little of both. I take pride in soliciting the look; it’s a sign of a healthy marriage. Actually if it weren’t for Brett, an old buddy whom she loves, I’m positive this mission would be vetoed. Brett is visiting from Chicago and she knows how little we get to hang out. We zoom off before more mulch piles can erode our resolve. Two hours later we pull the van off the road. Forty mile an hour wind gusts rock the van and speeding trucks and cars add to the maelstrom. We start gathering our gear for the steep walk in.

“You see it!” I scream.
Brett zips up his coat and pulls on his hat, “The shack man!”
“Definitely private range land!“ I shout, “All good though. It’s too shitty out. No one will know we’re down there!”

Having been exposed to Chin-antics for almost twenty years now, Brett simply shrugs and grabs the camera and tripod; everyone needs a friend like Brett. He’s been putting the ‘I shoulds’ aside for much longer than I, transforming silly-little ideas into reality for decades. He’s a black belt creative warrior who taught me to think decrepit shacks in the middle of nowhere are the best things in the world. I change into my grandpa’s old suit and we’re ready.

We stumble into a high desert valley in Eastern Oregon with dust biting our faces. Sage bushes bend and sway almost as if they are yawning: High winds, dust and cold. What’s new? We stop occasionally to marvel at the power and landscape. I stare at the leaning structure in the distance and joke about the rifle shots we’d feel but never hear.

Brett thrusts the tripod towards the gray sky and marches on.

* * *

Like my writing, Keep Going is a reminder to myself. Often, when I’m reading my own writing, I stop and say, “No way! How’d I forget that?” In today’s fast paced-out of touch world it’s easy to forget all those things we already know. Sure, I want Keep Goingto show my story sharing prowess, highlight the uniqueness of my multimedia memoir, and impress an agent who will land me a book deal. But in the end, if the video inspires people to get going and keep going then I’m happy. Cheers and thanks for reading and watching.

Note: The pile of mulch is gone and the baby room is well on its way!

* * *

Brett and I shot video in the coastal mountains West of Portland, in the high desert of Eastern Oregon, along the Deschutes River and the Columbia River, and in areas around Mt. Hood (Oregon rules!). Originally the biking footage was for a different project. I believe in starting a lot of things to give me a better chance at actually finishing something. It’s a good attitude for creative projects, but not so good for house projects and marriage. :) One project often feeds another as was the case here. While I was cutting shots of myself typing in cool places, I realized I needed some type of other action—a metaphor for chugging away and keeping the faith. The biking footage fit perfectly.

Brett jamming in the shack and paying tribute to Mr. Moon

* * *

The suit and hat was my Yeh Yeh’s (Chinese for grandpa on Dad’s side) who immigrated to the U.S in 1949 and passed in 2008. He was a great man with a great smile, the coolest Chin of them all. His hard work along with all my ancestors’ sweat forged the way for me to follow my dreams. I can pursue what I want to do because those who came before me did what they had to do. I’ve saved a special suit of his that I will wear when I bring my son home in a few months. When I was sitting in the shack with his suit on, I couldn’t help but think Yeh Yeh was up there laughing his ass off.

Before Yeh Yeh passed away he told me about a makeup table that belonged to my grandma so I went back to China to get it. The China Mission included finding and retrieving the table and a treasure hunt for lost jewels. The China Mission was well documented with video and will be my next multimedia memoir.

* * *

Grant is a neighborhood man whom I chat with often. He enjoys keeping tabs on the new sticks and stones I place in my yard. I left a note at his place telling him I needed an ‘urban sage’ to say a few lines. He called and asked, “You need what?” Later that day, he rode over and we shot his scene. I don’t think it would have been possible to cast someone better for the part.

An outtake from the Grant scene

* * *

A list of people who inspire me with their wonderful work

Julie Fast: Without Julie I would never have completed my memoir. Her unwavering belief in me from day one has carried me through this project. She is a world leading mental health expert. Her book titled, Get it Done When Your Depressed sits on my writing desk next to Strunk’s Elements of Style.

Brett Neiman: One of my best mates, a multimedia handyman, musician, and overall creative Jedi master.

S. Fisher Williams: An old skateboarding friend who has been described as, “The bastard by-product of Tim Burton, Edward Gorey and David Lynch.”

Jesse Hayward: This man has painted more dots and lines than anyone on the planet. His prolific freeness influences me a great deal.

Scott: I have only ‘met’ this man in cyberspace but I know he enjoys taking ’silly ideas’ and turning them into reality. He’s a novelist, screenwriter, producer, and musician.

Samantha Waltz: Samantha is a writer and a teacher. She hosts writing classes and is well known in the Portland area. She helped me polish some of my essays that were accepted for publication.

The Woodlands: A wife and husband indie folk-pop duo from here in Portland. I must have played their song, In The Dark On Monday, hundreds of times while editing the video and I never grew tired of it. Their music has gained international recognition and can be found at cdbaby.com

Brian Mundee~Birdwire: Brian is a full time social worker and family man living in NYC. Somehow he still finds time for his music which can also be found at

Wesley Picotte: A photographer friend who plans his pre-dawn sorties with Nasa precision.

Harry Hitzeman: My uncle is pursuing photography in his retirement. It’s a perfect example of keeping the joy of learning alive and well throughout one’s life.

Other writers I have met or know through cyberspace. Dedicated to the craft, we unite to battle the demons associated with writing a book. We find a way to keep going.

Don't forget to show your support to Ryan by visiting his blog!!!


  1. I just love this post. It's so inspiring! Let me know how the agent hunt goes, because when it comes out, I'd love to read your book.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Ryan!

  2. Thanks, Jai! And Ryan, I do the EXACT same thing! How funny is that?


Yay! Comments! Oh, how I do love them! :D