“A small, desperate act of hope.”

Today we followed Jay Lake to Flying Pie Pizzeria.  The local eatery has hosted Jay’s annual public birthday party (also known as JayCon) for the last eight years.

A small, deperate act of hope

Today he reserved the party room for another JayCon this June.

When asked to share his thoughts about planning a party that is five months away, he said he considered it ” a small, desperate act of hope.”

His surgery next week will not only take out at least three tumors, it will also confirm if he has grown a fourth tumor while on chemotherapy.

What happens next will depend on the results of the surgery.  Only one thing is certain.  His doctors will be preserving samples of his tumor for the cutting edge “whole genome sequencing” that a recent fundraiser has paid for.  That sequencing could provide the best answer about exactly how to treat his aggressive cancer.

Donnie in hotel

Upgrades

Filming LAKESIDE has been an oddly nostalgic experience for me.

Last summer I had a surreal stopover in my old stomping grounds that made me almost wistful.

The side trip almost drowned me in memories of a past life.  One of the repercussions of filming a man as he faces death is that one reflects upon one’s own life.  The good, the bad, the whole lot.

This wintery morning in Portland drew me back into that nostalgic current.

Donnie in hotel

For filming this week I have set up camp in Jay Lake’s basement.  It is a nice basement and parts of it can be seen in some of the interviews we’ve shot.

I woke up this morning, in a warm bed in the basement, fresh from an old army dream.  Nothing dramatic or note-worthy.  It was just a dream populated with a cast I haven’t seen in over twenty years.

After a few moments, I got out of bed to perform my morning ablutions.  And the routine seemed oddly reminiscent of the the months I had spent in the field while stationed with the 101st Air Assault Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

I heaved my fully packed bag (an olive green soft cover suitcase) onto the bed and removed the items I needed (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, electric razor) and headed to the mostly finished WC downstairs.

facilities

Jay has a nice bathroom upstairs but because of his condition (a frequent violent need to be in there), I feel guilty for using it when he’s home.  So I do a “field wash” with the facilities downstairs.

Though the process largely mirrors what I would do in the backwoods of Kentucky, the accomodations are significantly improved.

– I don’t have to carry water  (it is conveniently piped in)

– I don’t have to heat the water

– I have access to clean towels

Those three things make such a difference that other upgrades would almost be superfluous.

So, with towel and bar of soap in hand, I get the job done.

Shaving with an electric razor is similar to my technique in the field though, instead of a hand mirror, I use my iPhone.

Teeth brushing has the slight benefit that it is easier to rinse my toothbrush than it was in the field.

All that done, I repack the items into my luggage — prepared to deploy on short notice (as was required during my last trip when I developed a cold while Jay was on chemo).

I then set about to find some breakfast.  Jay has a perfectly good kitchen just up a flight of stairs from me, but he starts works early (for the west coast time zone) and I like to get out of the house for a bit to plan the day’s shoot anyway.

Instead of crawling into a 1st generation Army Hummer (complete with sharp metal edges throughout the interior), I step into my more modern conveyance.  It even has seat warmers.

I then have my choice of Portland’s wonderful breakfast establishments versus a random pick of an MRE (meal “ready” to eat, or as we used to call them “meals rejected by Ethiopia”).

When I return, nostalgia has been replaced with a shooting schedule.  The only constant between the past and the present is an ever-present cup of hot, black coffee.

The things you catch when the cameras are rolling

During the course of making a documentary about author Jay Lake, it is inevitable that you will catch some things on film that he probably wishes we hadn’t.

Part of our filmmaking philosophy concerns full disclosure of information we feel the public has a right to know.

Below is an example.

Jay Lake on the Whole Genome Sequencing project.

Jay Lake spent half the day at medical appointments.  During a quick break for lunch between two of them, he explained the hopes and prospects for the “whole genome sequencing” that may be the key to saving his life.  Hopefully this testing will become part of the protocol for treating cancer patients.