29 Jan

An Excerpt from The Big Head Diaries

Big Head Looks Horizon

My feet are too big for me. Humans might describe it as trying to run in oversized wet socks, but what do humans know? Humans buy special shoes for running, they have races where they run in circles, and they run in place on machines that cost thousands of dollars.            

Running is as simple as looking toward the horizon and going hard. Today I’m bolting with my mate Memphis. He’s a Jack Russell. For a little twerp he sure can move. I give chase and he tries some fancy moves cutting this way and that way but I stay the course and run right through him. Like an Open-Side-Flanker in Rugby or a Linebacker in football, I’m a punisher.  Continue reading

Man’s Best Friend (An Essay about Laughter)

23 Dec
Published in the Ink Filled Page. 
Still available for publication. 
Contact me for an original file. 
Big Head River
It’s ok boy. Being man’s SECOND best friend isn’t so bad

Despite what you may have heard, man’s best friend is not a dog. Man’s best friend is laughter. Laughter doesn’t need to go for walks, it doesn’t need expensive vaccinations and it won’t get you in trouble for choking a neighbor’s sheep (I speak from experience here). Think about it: how many times has a laugh-free first date gotten you a goodnight kiss?  Giggling, chuckling, bellowing, cackling–they all come from the same place. And they’re all really useful, too. I’ve used laughter all my life, in different situations all around the world.

Continue reading

Here Comes the Sun

16 May

Miss Abbie

The question of when always weighs on the minds of us pet lovers. My motto has always been when they can longer have fun then it’s time. Toughy, my first dog, was diagnosed with liver disease and I watched his condition deteriorate over the course of two months. He gave me good-morning licks and killed sticks up to his last day. There was no question about timing when he began to stagger and his eyes glassed over.

A kitten of mine in New Zealand born with a birth defect lived only two months before I decided it was time. She chased her tail, chased her brother’s tail, and swatted at her mom’s tail until it was time. I called her life, Short but Fun (Click to read adapted short story and view a video) and dedicated a chapter in my memoir to her. Those decisions were definitive, but what if a cat never really has a lot of fun to begin with? What if a cat is seventy percent grumpiness, twenty-nine percent sleep, and one percent purr? Our dear old Miss Abbie was this cat. Continue reading

Comet Tails

17 Jan

Mom Would’t Approve

Episode 1

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Tommy was a teacher in the village where my Dad lived. He made $100 a month, a good salary by Southern China standards. I employed him as my interpreter and right-hand man during my stay in China. For six weeks he lived a Rock-Star life, eating out every evening with me, drinking on me, smoking weed for his first time with me, and scoring a cutie with me. It was the least I could do, for without him, the language barrier with my own people would have made it impossible to carry out my mission as a Chin in China. 

 * * *

I stumble out of the bar and find Tommy with his arm around Massage Girl. With her passes at me going nowhere she had targeted Tommy instead. Tommy fidgets back and forth looking between Massage Girl and me, his eyes filled with hope. I take in Massage Girl’s petite body and heavy breasts for a second.

Why didn’t I make this trip as a single man? I’m getting married in two months.

I shake my head and laugh, time for me to leave.

“Tommy!” I say as I slap his shoulder and smile, “I go room. Hotel! Very tired.”

“Ok!” he yells running into the street to wave down a ride for me.

Within seconds a motorcycle pulls up and I climb onto the back. Tommy speaks in fast bursts and I nod having no idea what he’s telling the man on the motorcycle. I barely have time to grip the seat bar. My head jerks back and then I know exactly what they talked about.

No doubt, he told the guy, “This American is drunk. This is his last night here. Make him fall off and I’ll split his stuff with you. Here’s my number.”

The streetlights extend into long comet tails; the roar of the motorcycle seems distant—like a sonic boom trying to catch us. Tai San, China, the city at the center of my gene pool will be the place where I die. Splattered against a building or smeared over a quarter mile of pavement. The comet tails stop and there are just walls and shadows. We are in an alley; I won’t be found until morning if I’m found at all. I consider jumping off but he never slows down. There is nothing I can do but hold on so I adjust my grip on the rear seat bar and leaned into the driver’s sweaty back for counter pressure. Fear snaps me into a man ready to fight for his life. I wait for him to stop and a team of thugs to surround me. I visualize finding a weapon, anything—a pipe, a rock, or a street sign and giving them a dose of Drunken Master—Jacken Chan style.

Wah Bah!

Suddenly, we merge into traffic at an impossible angle and the comet tails return. The stores look familiar and my hotel shines. When traveling Mom always tells me to use legit taxis. She definitely would not approve of a drunk high-speed motorcycle ride with a stranger but at least I wasn’t driving.

 China Sit on Mom's House PortraitChilling on the roof of the house where my Mom was born.

Southern China 2006

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Ryan Chin is the creator ofWithout Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir with two dozen short videos accenting the written word. Mr. Chin likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon, ibooks, and locally at Powell’s Books. His next multimedia memoir, Who Put the Chin in China, is a work in progress. 



It’s Not My Imagination

17 Dec

Rayden Sandy River Crossing 1 Five years ago I imagined taking my future son on adventures. We’d duck under mossy branches, ford streams, and embrace the rain beating on our hoods. Rain, after all, gives us rivers and rainbows. We’d meander along, steady but unhurried like the river at our side (I admit stealing this line from my award winning essay about finding a $1000). I’d point out salmon in the shallows, explain the idea of spawning, and how the circle of gravel is their nest. We’d watch the salmon jockey for position striving to create the next generation.

Smiling at his eyes full of eyes full of wonder, I’d know that like the salmon–I too am creating the next generation. I’d show him how to build a lean-to in minutes so we can enjoy our fire-heated soup out of the rain. He may ask why I’m using bungie cords instead of rope for the attachment points.  

“Sometimes having things be stiff and rigid is good and sometimes you want things flexible,” I’d say.  

“Flexible like a rubber band?” he’d ask knowing the answer but just wanting approval.  

“Yup…you got it buddy.” I’d say as he dives into our shelter.  

Tucked in tight out of the rain, we’d slurp our soup and pump our fists in approval.

I no longer have to imagine.

A note on the stream crossing: I waded my pack across first and navigated the wading-line twice before taking Rayden across. Even with thousands of hours wading rivers and streams, I never underestimate the dangers of moving water. A foot entrapment with my kid floating away would have put a damper on the day. Be safe! 

 Oakiwear Kids Gear! 

Oakiwear Leaf Roll

The yellow rain suit that Rayden is wearing in the video is made by Oakiwear, a local company out of Vancouver, WA. These suits are essential for the Northwest! Whether it be protection against the rain or wind or both, the suits keep the kiddos comfortable. The neoprene wrist and ankle cuffs are a nice touch making the boys look like little boat captains. We hit the coast a few days after the Sandy River and it was 38 degrees with a below freezing windchill. The boys spent three hours rolling around on wet sand and never complained about being cold. I watched my little man take a full face plant into a shallow stream and he stayed dry. Without the suit that would have been an Everest caliber trek back to the car with a shivering 3 year old. Oakiwear has a full line of kids waders that I will eventually look into. 

Ryan Chin is the creator of, Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. Mr. Chin likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon and locally at Powell’s Books.


The Hope He Had (Excerpt)

30 Sep

Winner of the 2014 Oregon Writer’s Colony writing contest. 

$1000 Sometimes a walk with your dog is not always just a walk with your dog…

That’s what the detective told me when the case was closed.

It started when I took my dog to a river. Gnarled tree stumps carried from headwater streams shared the shoreline with plastic bottles, candy wrappers, and the occasional hypodermic needle. Cranes dotted the Williamette River’s banks, perched over the water like herons waiting for prey. The metal reverb of shipping containers echoed across the water. Ospreys and gulls traded calls. Vessels of all sizes sliced the surface of the river.Cormorants bobbed in their wakes, diving for long minutes in search of food. Cars raced east and west on the bridges, salmon charged upstream, and century-old sturgeon sifted through silt in the depths.

I roamed the river’s edge, pocketed pebbles, and wrestled large pieces of driftwood back to my van for my garden. My footprints were crisscrossed with the drag marks of my latest finds. Big Head, my yellow lab, pawed and chewed at the logs as we moved along, steady but unhurried, like the currents at our side.

I noticed the black briefcase first. Zippers open, sand sticking to the cloth areas. With warning thoughts about heroin needles, I searched the main compartment and pockets, never plunging my hand in blindly. No identification. Empty. Then I noticed the shoes, the shirts, and the pants nearby. I wondered if the contents had spilled out naturally, or if someone had dumped them looking for bounty. I knelt, reached for the nearest pants pocket and felt the unmistakable shape of a wad of money, rolled and bending slightly with each squeeze of my hand...


The Scene

The Life I Live is the Hope He Had.

The money shot for the short film inspired by this experience. This shot was a year in the making. I wore a wet suit and a weight belt under the suit. We had one chance at this and we nailed it! It was fitting that I wore one of my late-grandpa’s old suits and his hat. He took a step towards a new beginning in 1943.  Music and camera work by my mate, Brett Neiman! 

* * *

 Ryan Chin is the creator of, Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir (two dozen short videos enhance the written word) about his teaching experience in New Zealand. Mr. Chin likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at AmazoniTunesand locally at Powell’s Books. He hopes to complete his next multimedia memoir, Who Put the Chin in China, in the next decade.

Talking Shit

16 May

Poo Poo

I’m talking shit. If you are uncomfortable with that, stop reading. The reason I’m talking shit is because there’s a lot of shit in my life right now. The amount of shit is less than a year ago, but I still smell shit, wipe shit, scoop shit, and think about shit on a daily basis.

Rayden, my oldest boy is four years old. He shits in the toilet but I still have to wipe shit off his ass.

“Daddy! I poohed!” he yells.

I lift him off the seat and we peer into the porcelain together as father and son, a bonding moment. The snake-shaped shit has smooth and define edges.

“I think it was a clean getaway,” I say.

“Yes Daddy,” he replies as I wipe to confirm.

“You have to deal with your pooh. Get rid of it…holding pooh in gives you owies,” I add.

“Yes, Daddy.”

Jaxen, my youngest is two years old. Thankfully, he wants to be like his Big Bro’. He’s out of diapers but he’s an antsy little guy. If I’m not standing there the moment he’s done, he slides his dirty ass across the seat and is off to give his older brother shit.

“Stop!” I yell, but it’s too late.

Even though it’s fun to say shit-shmmmear, it’s not so fun to clean up.

At least the days of the  Up the Back  are gone. All mothers and fathers have experienced it. Babies defy the laws of physic. They release more volume from a vessel than the actual size of the vessel. Even more amazing is how a diaper, their ass crack and the groove of their spine can act as a volcanic tube. Depending on the viscosity and eruption velocity, shit can sometimes reach the base of their neck. That’s crazy shit.

Big Head, my yellow lab from New Zealand has shat on both sides of the equator. How many dogs have done that? Not many I’d guess. That’s good shit. When we lived in New Zealand I never picked up his shit because in the countryside where we lived there was cow shit, lamb shit, horse shit, and pig shit. No one cared about another pile of shit.

Now we live in a city. Leaving dog shit on someone’s lawn is bullshit so I carry bags to pick it up. I check the bag for holes and double it up if it looks particularly shitty. Fresh shit transfers its warmth through the bags and onto my hands. Old shit transfers a cold feeling. I prefer the warmth.

All this shit and I haven’t even mentioned my own personal shit. There’s ancestral shit, childhood shit, and shitty memories like losing my brother to leukemia. All the aforementioned shit can lead to shitty behavior patterns—that’s deep shit. I try to deal with all this shit other wise it can make my marriage go to shit and make me a shitty Dad.


Fuck. That’s a lot of shit.

Oh well…

Shit happens.

Note: Opening image is the cover of Jaxen’s favorite book. Everybody Poos! 

* * *

Chin Beach 2012 - (1)Ryan Chin is the creator of, Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. Mr. Chin likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon and locally at Powell’s Books. When he’s not dealing with shit he can be found wrestling with his boys, riding waves, or standing in a river waving a stick.