I Laika It a Lot

On Thursday, December 7, I took advantage of Portland’s amazing First Thursday program, in which admission to several museums and galleries is free. I was ecstatic to find that this included the Portland Art Museum’s exhibit from Laika studios.

The animation company had an incredible display of figures, props, and concept artwork from its films: Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014), and, in my opinion, their masterpiece, Kubo and the Two Strings (2016).

Below are a few photographs from the exhibit:


Coraline (figure), 2009


Coraline (figure), 2009


Coraline (set), 2009


ParaNorman (figure), 2012


ParaNorman (set), 2012


The Boxtrolls (set), 2014


Kubo and the Two Strings (concept art), 2016


Kubo and the Two Strings (figure), 2016


Kubo and the Two Strings, 2016


Greetings from Oregon

We drove through the mountains in the early hours of the morning. The moon was as absent from the sky as the sun, and the moving truck was on an almost constant descent into a thin valley between the monstrous silhouettes of rock that reached into the equally dark emptiness of sky. The only light came from orange-tinted interstate streetlamps spread out every few hundred feet or so. The peaks on either side of the road were so tall it felt like driving through a cave that grew ever deeper. This wasn’t the world I knew. This couldn’t be Earth, couldn’t be my home planet. Surely I’ve seen the things there are to see here. Surely this was some extraterrestrial landscape swallowing me into its surreal bowels.

None of it felt real until that moment, until that stretch of empty, haunting road rolled under the truck tires. The world seemed subterranean and beautiful. New. Fresh. Exciting. We were over twenty-four hours into the drive. The first day had been marked by nothing. There was only the flat farmland of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. The latter, at least, had tumbleweeds. Real ones. I didn’t know they were real.


Nebraska. (Photo Credit: Kaelyn Richie)

There was a stunning sunset in Wyoming, all heavy pinks and blues over low, flat-topped mountains. There was that crawl through the industrialized crevice between the slopes of northern Utah. But there was nothing like Oregon.


Wyoming. (Photo Credit: Kaelyn Richie)


Southeast Oregon. (Photo Credit: Kaelyn Richie)

The Columbia River Gorge. What pristine beauty. No landscape has stirred me in that way since I saw the night sky over the shore of the Aran Islands, a black canvas speckled with the white paint of stars. This was so different but every bit as powerful. Evergreen trees rose into hills on either side of the wide river, the semis across the Washington border as tiny as bricks as they moved up the winding roads. The trees leaned over the road and grew right up to the edges of the stone faces. Low fog hung between their needles, the only breaks in the growth occurring around waterfalls that plummeted from dizzying heights.


Columbia River, Oregon. (Photo Credit: Kaelyn Richie)

When we turned a wide corner and the massive, snow-capped wonder of Mt. Hood rose above it all, more than a single tear fell. This was the first time I saw beauty in a place I could call home. After years of worry and false starts, this did feel like home. Like a welcome sign that stretched across the windshield of a rattling UHAUL. The vehicle, like me, was grumbling and tired after its two-thousand mile trek. But even if I couldn’t have stayed, it would have been worth it for that view.


Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. (Photo Credit: Kaelyn Richie)

And there’s still so much to see. The city. The ocean. The mountains. There are whales to watch and streams to swim. Prix fixe meals with wine pairings. Bookstores three stories tall. Doughnut shops and death metal nightclubs. More microbreweries than there are people in my hometown. Star Wars on an IMAX screen.

As I prepared to move away from Indiana, someone told me that Oregon “felt right” for me. I thought it was a kind of back-handed compliment. Like, “you aren’t really the type of guy we need around here.” But now I get it. I can’t quantify or explain it, but there’s something I really like about being able to call Oregon my home.

And seriously, you guys, the doughnuts…

Much love,


A Good-Bye Note

In December of 2010, I graduated from New York University, my dream school. Since then, I’ve spent seven years moving from one small town in northern Indiana to another. When I think about why I’ve spent the better part of a decade in places that leave me feeling isolated and uninspired, I can think of only one reason: I’ve been afraid.

Moving to New York City was supposed to be the start of something amazing. Within two weeks of living there, I hated it. Despite sticking it out (two amazing semesters in Dublin propelled me through), I felt like I was running home with my tail between my legs.


Have to recapture some of those sweet Ireland vibes. But not the hair. Never the hair.

It has taken me seven years to build up the courage for what I’m about to do.

On November 29, 2017, I’m packing up my things (and my dog) and moving to Portland, Oregon.

That’s 2,200 miles from my current location. Two-thousand two-hundred miles from the rock I’ve been hiding under.


Don’t worry, he’s coming with me.

Get the F**k Outta Dodge

My decision was made almost a year ago. If you were hoping I wouldn’t get political, I’m sorry. But I must. When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, with former Indiana governor and gay-conversion therapy advocate Mike Pence on his ticket, it became so completely clear that the conservative Midwest was not where I belonged. I currently live in a small, white, farming community that, judging by its Don’t Tread On Me flags and its comfort with the word “f**got,” is about seventy years behind the rest of the world culturally.

But I want to be positive, too: I want to be able to see screenings of old black-and-white French films on the big screen, take the dog for a hike through mountains, and drive to the ocean on weekends.

I want to feel inspired again.

Portland Mt. Hood

This might do it.


Since moving back home, I’ve self-published a young adult novel and a collection of short stories. This isn’t enough. The constant swirl of creative energy has started to die, and it can do nothing but suffocate without the companionship of fellow artists and a life more connected to nature. These are my goals: to join a community of creatives and to find my place with the natural world.

So, basically, all the hippie-dippie reasons people move to Portland.

Last night, I hit 60,000 words on my newest story. I have two other full manuscripts just sitting around (one of them for kids, if you can believe that). Without an audience, without connection, they feel impotent. I owe it to the characters in my head to find a shot of creative adrenaline. I’m not finding it here.

And then there’s spirituality, the real hippie nonsense. My religious beliefs have been relatively non-existent, but faith is important. I want to experience nature, not just as an observer, but as a being spiritually tied to its consciousness. In fact, I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more about my beliefs. If you don’t like that (and if you’ve rolled your eyes repeatedly at this post), maybe now is a good time to stop following Achieving P’nosha.

That sounded harsh. It isn’t meant to be.

Coming Soon…

There are more practical ramifications of this move, of course. There will be a restructuring of my creative endeavors, including my writing, podcasting, and filmmaking. A post regarding that will arrive soon.

But here’s the point of all this: I want to take you all on this journey with me. I may only live in Portland for a few years, but I plan to document the hell out of it. I’m not looking for Likes or pats on the back, but I know that I’m not alone in my recent malaise. I speak to people all the time who want to move away, who want to find that spark that has been extinguished. I may fail spectacularly (and all the more entertaining for you if I do!), but I’ll be honest every step of the way.

Portland Sign

If I can do it, you can, too. I’m basically a thirteen-year-old who happens to be almost thirty.

To follow me on this journey, you can check out the following:

Twitter: @p_nosha (warning: I get political here.)

Instagram: p_nosha

Facebook: LavaLamp Studios

And, of course, Achieving P’nosha will continue for as long as you want to hear me babble on about things.

Hopefully, it is all about to get a lot more interesting!

Much love,


The Faces

IMG_2090 (2)

There are faces in the dark where there should be none
The creases of blankets, the empty space outside the window
I see them too often to believe that I’m sane
Make them up for company that scares me away
They’re pale with black eyes
Low-hanging mouths
The kind of faces that would unnerve
in the fire-lit darkness of a bar
Send a chill up your neck
Make you finish your drink
or send it back
A luxury I don’t have
Turning away, closing my eyes
It does nothing to dissuade them

And at some point I know I can only give up
Can only refuse the touching of eyes that would scare me to death
Stop my heart, kill my breath,
take my soul into a gaping mouth of nothingness,
of endlessness
And inside
I would only find more

Faces in the dark where there should be none
The folds of jackets, the empty space at the bottom of the stairs
I see them too often,
I believe I’m insane
If I give them company,
they take me away

They’re black with pale eyes
Red-dripping mouths
The kinds of faces that threaten to scream
from the back seats of cars
Send a chill down your spine
Reach for the locked doors,
try not to peek
A luxury I do not have
Turning away, closing my eyes
It does nothing to dissuade them

And at some point I know I can only give up
Can only refuse the touching of eyes that would scare me to death
Stop my heart, kill my breath,
take my soul into a gaping mouth of nothingness,
of endlessness
And inside
I would only find more faces