Shave and a Hair Cut

I took this picture thinking, how funny… truck with hair. Just another case of a person anthropomorphizing an object. But, what can I say… it was sort of funny to me. Plus, it looked cool, what with the sun setting behind it and all.

a time for e.e. cummings

Some days I’m drawn to the book of e.e. cummings poetry I always carry with me. Today is one of those days. This is the poem, which happens to be my favorite, I opened the book to and found again with new eyes…

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the pwer of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Kong

We went to see the King, Kong that is, the other night. The verdict… We loved the ape… and the film. If you want a good time at the movies, go see Kong. There are no deep messages, no social commentary… just a great action adventure movie filled with all the great action adventure “stuff” a person who’s into that sort of thing would love. If you hated Indiana Jones, or Jurassic Park, or Armaggedon, don’t go. But if those kinds of movies are your sort of film faire, by all means, get yourself a ticket, a large bucket of popcorn, and sit down for some great fun. At three hours, it’s long, but doesn’t feel it. We exited the movie theater as satified viewers with smiles on our faces, what more could a person want from a night out at the movies?

The next film… The Matador.

Lights, Camera… Action!

Let’s talk cinema. I just watched L.A. Confidential again last night. It has to be in my top ten, all time films. It’s not just the story itself, which is pretty good… no… it’s also the way it was shot, the locations, the feel of it.

Isn’t that just the way of things, as people… we assign feelings to everything. They become our own personal barometer for life. How we decide if something is good or bad, if we liked it or we didn’t. Such is the way with choice in film.

So, let’s get back to the topic of film. I am a movie nut. I’m one of those people who can’t remember what I did last week, if a bill has been paid, or where my keys are (if I don’t put them in the same spot every evening), but I can remember what actress played what part in a movie from 1972, if I’ve seen it and liked it. I have, it seems, an endless catalog of movie information in my head. Not so much for faces of actors, no… that’s reserved for Genine, who can magically see an actor as a child in a movie and say, oh… that’s so and so… and I then squint at them, trying to look from every possible angle, and still can’t tell who they are. No… the information I carry around is more about who was in what film, or titles of movies, or directors, or where something was shot, or why a certain person was chosen for a certain part, or what dialogue was spoken by which actor.

It’s fascinating really. I can’t remember so much of what happens in my every day life, let alone last week, or month, or two years ago. But movies, music, books… I have it all cataloged and permanently etched.

I took some film classes in college. I learned a lot, and it also sort of ruined me. Ok, maybe not ruined me. But now I “see” them differently. I look for little nuances I didn’t before, like the angle of the camera and the lighting… I wonder what the meaning was in placing a certain object in a scene, as background. I pay attention to dialogue, not just as it moves the story along, but as an entity unto itself… the use of words, how they are put together, and why. I can’t just watch a movie any more, sit there as a regular spectator. This annoys me at times, but then again, I also enjoy the detail. Yes, just another instance where I’m caught in the dichotomy of it all. The bottom line though, is that I love movies, and yes, I love the detail in them. I notice things.

Speaking of noticing things… I recently, as in the last year or so, got into Quentin Tarrantino movies. The man can write good dialogue. Honestly I have to say I sort of avoided his films before this last year, except for “Jackie Brown”, which I totally loved. I thought they would be too violent, that there would be too much blood. And yes, as I thought they’d be, they are a bit bloody at times. “Kill Bill” volumes 1 and 2 are very bloody. But that dialogue, man… it’s good. Read the following and you’ll get what I mean…

Bill: Now… When it comes to you, and us, I have a few unanswered questions. So, before this tale of bloody revenge reaches its climax, I’m going to ask you some questions, and I want you to tell me the truth. However, therein lies a dilemma. Because, when it comes to the subject of me, I believe you are truly and utterly incapable of telling the truth, especially to me, and least of all, to yourself. And, when it comes to the subject of me, I am truly and utterly incapable of believing anything you say.
The Bride: How do you suppose we solve this dilemma?
Bill: Well, it just so happens I have a solution.
[he shoots The Bride with a dart filled with Truth Serum]
Bill: Gotcha!
The Bride: Goddamn! What the fuck did you just shoot me with?
Bill: My greatest invention. Or at least, my favorite one.
[she reaches for the dart]
Bill: Don’t touch it, or I’ll stick another one right in your cheek.

Every one of his films have stellar passages… like this, from “Pulp Fiction”…

Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don’t eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain’t Jewish, I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got enough sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don’t eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty. But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we’d have to be talkin’ about one charmin’ motherfuckin’ pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?

I love Tarrantino’s writing. It’s witty and it flows. As a viewer, you find yourself watching terrible and bloody things, but they become almost peripheral to the dialogue. The verbal exchanges are so good they infuse the violent scenes with a layer of cool… so much so you begin to forget that someone’s arm just got chopped off.

But then… I am the first to admit… maybe I’m not a good person to talk with about movies. I get very enthusiastic and I can find something to like in almost anything I watch… dialogue, direction, camera work, sets, costumes, locations, cinematography, or even just the style of the thing. That enthusiasm means I am rarely critical. Yes, there are things I don’t like… certain genres of film, some actors or actresses I don’t think can act very well, bad editing, direction I don’t think works, but really, that’s if I get pretty nit picky. I tend toward the positive side of things, which makes my skills at criticism not as finely tuned as they could be. Hence the reason you won’t see my name on a review. I’m too nice, too appreciative of the fact that a group of people got together, had a great passion for a project, and made it happen. To me, that’s beautiful. Art at it’s finest. Meaning… even the bad movies are, if nothing else, personal expression manifest and made real, put out there for the world to see.

Fast forward… it’s now actually a couple of days after I started this little diatribe, and as I think back over what I’ve written here, one thought comes to mind… as I said in the beginning… I love movies. I love the promise manifest in their making, the visions and viewpoints they present to and about the world, and the personal expression of the medium. I love the fantasy they create… that period, for two hours or so, when the world as we know it fades, and this other sometimes strange, scary, futuristic, fantastical, or sweet world appears… and we jump in. And when we are there, we see the best and the worst in us. We see what’s possible and in turn, what haunts us. We are warned and simultaneously filled with hope. Movies hold humankind up to itself and say… here we are, with all of our faults and frailties, all of our glamour and filth, and all of our honor, loyalty, and love. They reflect who we are, have been, and can be. And if we pay attention, we can learn about ourselves, from ourselves. We can see what we’ve been and what we are capable of. We can shine, or fail miserably. They give us the feeling that we can choose… by either aspiring to greatness, or stepping into darkness. And afterward, we can walk back out into the world feeling good, reflective, and hopeful. It’s a wonderful kind of magic.

So… here I sit. It’s Sunday, the chores are done, and the world is mine… we are heading out to see what trouble or adventure we can find, which will, on this rainy day, probably be a movie. Sometimes there’s no better way to spend an afternoon like this than popcorn, lights, camera… and some cinematic action.

Bring On The Rain


Rain, rain, go away. At least, that’s what most people here in the Northwest are saying right now. And… I get that. It’s been raining a lot lately. In the last month, we’ve had a veritable deluge. The rivers are all rising and the hillsides are all sliding down to meet them. We’re soggy, and people don’t like it. They are tired of it. And then there’s me….

Ok, I know… it’s gray. All day. Every day. A constant sameness of soggy gray color. So much so we forget that there are actually green trees around, and grass. We can see it. The green is there, but somehow, mixed with the rain and the gray and the occasional fog, we go a bit numb to it. Numb to our environment. And then… well, then we get sad. Or, maybe I should capitalize that… as in… SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Actually, I don’t know if it’s Affective or Affected. Either way, it bugs us. We feel depressed, sluggish, unmotivated to get off the couch and out to do something, anything. We huddle in our respective homes, snuggled and trying to keep warm on the couch, watching TV… or reading.

It’s at this juncture I realize I’m not made of the usual stuff. Or at least, I’m not made of the stuff that says all this rain is bad. I realize… I’m an Oregon girl, through and through. I love the rain. I love the change in seasons. I don’t get SAD. What’s more, I actually enjoy it. My feet must, as they say, be webbed.

We are lucky, those of us who live here. We are. We get to see changes in the weather, changes in our flora and fauna. We get to enjoy all the variety of what Mother Nature can throw at us, and to top it off; we get to live in a beautiful, amazing, stupendous rain forest. I like these rainy winter months. I like having to don the rain jacket and big boots. I like change. I like the fact that spring in Oregon is different from summer, which in turn is different from the fall and yes, the winter… and the rain. And I love all the rain brings to us. The beauty here is a direct result of it. So… when it rains, day after day after dripping day, I think to myself… look around. See what’s beyond the rain. See what lies under the puddle. We live in a gorgeous place. So what if we have to endure buckets of liquid sunshine falling and falling. The end result of all of it is this place.

It also provides us with something else, something hard to put a finger on, but there nonetheless. The winter, with all it’s gray, all it’s rain, brings on a tendency to hibernate. If seasons had sounds, winter, to me, would be quiet. It blankets our lives, stills us for a moment, it can calm and slow us down. If we use it, let it work it’s magic, we can fold into the center of ourselves and let it begin to infuse us with much needed recuperation and healing. It can wash our lives clean, so to speak. Leaving us fresh and new for the coming spring and the way, inevitably at that time, our lives seem to speed up.

So, though I too rush from the door to the car to the office during a downpour. Though I too look outside and at times feel an overwhelming sense of sleepiness and grogginess, I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love it here. And to love it here, a person has to also love the rain. It’s an integral part of who we are, as North westerners. It’s part of what defines us. And I, for one, don’t want the rain rain to go away… at least, not until the spring, when the weather really changes… and the rain, finally… turns warm.

Time to Break Free

It’s Friday. Better yet, it’s the Friday after the holidays. What does this mean? It means that tonight, after the last of the decorations are taken down and stored away, I am free. There is no meal to plan, no get together to attend, no shopping to do, no family (even though I love them) to visit, and no last minute detail I haven’t gotten to yet that’s still nagging at me. I am unfettered. Able to do and be as I wish, no obligation standing in my way.

What a luxury this is. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the holidays. I do. I’m just glad they happen only once a year, because I’m exhausted. As I’m sure everyone else who reads this is. Looking back on it all, it’s a blur… whirling past at the speed of light.

And tonight? Tonight starts the dawn of a new day. A new year. It’s a clean slate filled with promise, hope, a renewed sense of commitment, and a weekend that isn’t all pre-planned. What joy.

So… happy new year everyone. It’s time for this girl to head on home and start enjoying this new found freedom.

Links and Other Electronic Jazz

Here it is, December 16. There will be no well thought out entry this time, just a bit of rambling about the links I added to my blog and, who knows, possibly anything else I may decide to go on about.

If you haven’t glanced over to the right hand side of my blog page, you’ve missed out. I’ve included links to some of my favorite things in Portland, as well as some other “stuff” I find interesting and/or entertaining. I’m sure I’ll add more as I go along. After all, Stumptown is a great place, with many great things in it. I’m almost positive some more of it will find it’s way here.

As for other news. I have been trying to figure out how some of the features on my new laptop work. I’m doing all the things you’re supposed to do. You know, play around with it until you either figure it out or get frustrated enough to actually dive into the manual. My latest project has been trying to develop a slide show, adding pictures and music, and then burning it to a dvd disc. What fun. It’s gone well so far. I’m now to the point of burning the disc. We’ll see how that goes.

I was commenting to my friend Ted recently that computers are great, as long as they work. One day, everything will be working fine, and the next… disaster strikes. The weird thing is, nothing has changed. Not the settings I was using, or the procedure I used to get there. I do everything exactly the same as the day before, but now, today, it’s a mess. It’s at those moments, after the mess strikes, I have to say… doesn’t technology make our lives easier. And then… I laugh. Because really, what’s a girl to do? I’m a slave to it as much as the next person. I mean, come on, I’m typing this on a computer and I’m going to post it on the net. I have a computer at work, one at home, and now a laptop to carry around with me. I have a cell phone, a pager, and a palm. I’m connected, plugged in, a part of the larger technical world. Most of us are. It’s the way of things.

Looking outside right now though, I see the Columbia River, and a flock of birds landing. They are out there, in a mass on the river. It’s the time of day, that only happens in the winter, when the sun just starts to think about going down. The light is beautiful. And there they are, this big flock of birds. Looking at that, who needs all this technology. Just set me out by the river, or at the beach, or on a mountain, and let me look at all that’s beautiful in the world. There’s so much of it… and nothing on a computer screen, no matter how realistic it may seem, or on a tv, can compare.

Oh, there’s my phone… I had best pick it up. Ha! Looks like another moment of enlightenment has come, and gone. It’s back to the hustle and bustle, and all that electronic jazz, for me.

The Best Friends I’ve Never Met

I have a question… am I the only one who, while watching some television program or listening to a radio broadcast, sees or hears a person and thinks… you know, if I met that person, I just know we’d become fast friends. I’ll be watching and I start thinking, wow, that person is pretty great. I bet if I met them, they would really love me. This just happened to me tonight. Karen and I were watching a program on the home and garden channel, I think it was called small spaces, big design… or some such thing, and there was this couple from Houston. They were both artists and they lived in this funky little house. I sat, watching them interact with each other and their space, and totally dug them. They laughed often, were playful, and you could tell they totally loved each other. Simply, they were cool. Then I started thinking… they would be great to know. I turned to Karen after seeing them and thinking all of this and told her I really loved them and was sure, if they got to know us, they would love us too. She just nodded and responded like, uh, yeah, they would love us. I feel she might have been a tad skeptical, but then, this was my fantasy, not hers. I can see how anyone outside my head might not share my enthusiasm for this imagined connection.

Then I realized, with a laugh, what my problem is. I’ve just never met a whole lot of people I just know I would become friends with… if they only knew me. It’s the same way I felt as a kid about some musicians and actors, and later about some poets and writers. If they only knew me, if we somehow just ran into each other, they would instinctively know I understand them. There would be, at the moment of meeting, a little glimmer of deep recognition in their eyes. It would be as if they had finally been found. Finally really been seen…by me. And right from that deep and meaningful first meeting, we would skip happily into the rest of our lives, picking daisies, sharing inside jokes, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and being there for each other in a way the rest of the world would be totally jealous of, and never really able to understand.

What this all means is that I’ve been walking around missing all the life I could have and should be experiencing now. There are people out there missing me, and they don’t even know it. Which, if you think about it, must be sad for them. An ache they can’t explain, a sadness coming over them, occasionally, they don’t understand. A longing for something they can’t put their finger on. The thing I’ve just now figured out they need… me.

If people would allow themselves to run with this line of thinking, the possibilities for living a magical life are endless. For instance… not only are there friends I know out there waiting to be found by me, but there’s also money I’ve yet to spend. I just know I have some rich relative whom I don’t know (so I wouldn’t be emotionally saddened by their loss) who is going to leave me millions of dollars so I can, as I’ve always dreamed of, pay off my mom’s house, travel for months at a time, and buy the freedom a person can’t have when one has to work. In fact, a more likely scenario is that the people I’ve yet to meet, are themselves rich, and after meeting me decide to give me all the money I could ever need. Letting me live in a manner to which I know I could easily become accustom.

I’m sure this is how the sci-fi writers started the whole parallel universe idea. One or more of them was sitting around thinking these exact same things. Out there is the perfect life, the other existence, the better and more fashionable me. Because in that mysterious out there, somewhere, is the life the other me is living, right this moment. That magical other life… the one in which I am never grumpy, or angry, or sad. The life where I get to sleep in every day, meet fun and interesting people, eat whatever I want without gaining weight, get to travel when and where I want on a whim, and have endless supplies of all my favorite food in the refrigerator, my favorite cds on the shelf, and my favorite movies at my finger tips.

I’m sure, like the couple in Houston, that in my other life, all these fabulous and interesting people, who never have problems or attitudes or bad days, are my life long friends. We have met and hang together constantly, looking at the art they’ve created, eating their exotic cooking, complimenting each other, supporting each other, and always, without question, have fascinating conversations.

After the show was over, the TV turned off, the laugh had by Karen and myself about my little epiphany, I quietly snuggled in ready to sleep and really thought about it. And you know what? I had another epiphany. All those people I don’t know, all the places I haven’t gone, and all the inconveniences of every day life I experience now, are what add the spice to life. Those very things, like all the other stuff in life I haven’t yet done, are what bring the magic to the life I’m living now. It’s not so bad not being friends with Mr. and Mrs. Houston, because what they represent is the future, the possibility that some day, I may meet them, or someone like them. They represent my excitement and hope about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that. So, although I know, if we did happen to cross paths, that we would become instant pals, I also know I’m content waiting… for the meeting, the doing, and all the living that’s coming my way.

I Do

My friend Ted got married a week ago. It was planned, sort of. He and his lady have been together for something like three years and they’ve been talking about doing the wedding thing for a while now. So, what did they do? They contacted a former Judge, got a few close friends together, lit up the sailboat Ted lives on with some lanterns, and both said I do. I wasn’t there, but as it was told to me I imagined it to be a beautiful thing. I’m sure it was.

My Karen and I went to Hawaii a couple of years ago, sat on a beach in Maui, shared a Hawaiian sand ceremony, said some words to each other, and considered ourselves married. In fact, I’ve felt very married ever since. Though, we aren’t legally married, sanctioned by the state or whomever, we are married, in our hearts. As Karen’s daughter, Mary, put it… life partners.

This got me thinking… as many things do.

There’s a lot of love going around. I know, personally, several duos that have
coupled up in the last two years. And I’m not talking a casual coupling up, I’m saying people who’ve coupled up permanently, or are at least thinking being together for the rest of their lives might be a real possibility.

With all the stuff we see on the news every day, it’s nice to hear about people in love. People who care for each other so much, they are willing to make the big commitment. To look at each other and say, I want to see your face, hear your voice, and hold your hand for the rest of my life.

It’s hard to remember how much love is going around when there’s so much grief, horror, and pain shown to us every day. The television news displays it, the radio reports it, newspapers peddle it, and the Internet flashes it in our faces. It’s always there. Fear. There are bad people everywhere doing bad things to each other and if we aren’t careful, these bad people will do something to us too. Eat the right things, or else. Exercise the right way, or else. Watch the right programs on TV, wear the right shoes, live in the right neighborhoods, drink the right soft drinks, drive the right car, choose the right sports equipment, and use the right prescription drugs. If we don’t, we’re really in trouble. Something terrible will happen.

We are hardly ever exposed to anything positive in the media. It happens, but usually when it does, it’s something simple-minded and cute. Don’t get me wrong, cute and simple-minded are good, sometimes, but they aren’t a great representation of all that’s good in the world. Slapstick humor, though light hearted, is also, at times, unintelligent. Which, I know, is the point, but we need more than that, we should expect more, and we all deserve more. So here we are, watching or listening or looking at screens with pain or ridiculousness. Where is the real humanity? Where’s the meaning? Where’s the love? Not celebrity love, or reality-show love, or cute love. No… I’m talking real love. The love Ted has for his lady, the love I have for mine. Imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning, turn on the news, and see representations of what is good in the world. People sacrificing for each other, putting others before themselves, people loving and living positively.

Ok, I know we’ve seen some of this, but think about it. We usually see it when it’s connected to something terrible. It is heart warming to see acts of bravery and kindness after a natural disaster. It’s a great thing to see how much people are willing to give of themselves and their resources when faced with something so overwhelming and terrible. And we, the persons distant and unaffected, sit quietly and can’t even begin to imagine how horrible it must be to be the people on the front lines working with the victims of the disaster. To us it looks heroic, as it should. We sit mesmerized and thankful for what we have. Scenes of do-gooders doing good make us reflect on our own lives, leading to relief and appreciation. So, in those circumstances, it’s there… people caring for people.

Don’t get me wrong, all of that is fine and well. Seeing scenes and hearing stories about caring and humans being human is necessary when hour after hour of television and radio coverage during a natural disaster, a terrible act of brutality, or a horrific accident bring us scenes of anguish and sorrow. But, what about the normal average everyday day, nothing major happening… just the usual… robberies, fires, accidents, and crimes of a violent nature. On those days we could use a little love… a little bit of nice. We could use some happiness and hope. But, since there’s no big disaster, we don’t get stories of bravery or of humans helping humans. We get bombarded with stories telling us, over and over to be afraid, be very afraid. And… we are.

So, where was I when I started this? I guess I’m coming full circle now, and will say this… hearing about Ted getting married, quietly with much sincerity and love; I am heartened and filled with hope. I am bolstered by his simple act of love, as I know every single one of us is when we hear about people loving people. I want to yell out to the world, see… here it is. Here is what life is all about. Not pain, though it’s part of it, not sorrow, because that certainly is as well, but love… happiness, passion, and devotion.

I guess the daily news, and media in general, doesn’t see the right kind of marketing angle in promoting love. I imagine they think it wouldn’t get people tuning in as much as they do for the tabloid style news. But honestly, I think we’d all make a commitment to I do, if they could just, for a moment or two, put some importance on love, like Ted did, like I did, and like so many of my friends and family have. When a person looks at life from that angle, there’s nothing better, nothing more fulfilling, nothing more important, and nothing more life affirming, than I do. It’s a choice we can all make. Everyday. We just have to be open and willing to brave the land where two words sit waiting… and say I do, to life.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving. Ok, I know everyone and their every last relative are, today, making comments about finding the meaning in and of Thanksgiving. It’s a common practice this time of year. Self help gurus, religious leaders, teachers, tv anchors, all saying solemnly to their respective audiences, “what do YOU think Thanksgiving means?” So, let’s talk about it. And let’s shoot for heartfelt, not solemn.

To me, it simply means giving thanks. Not just to whomever each of us decides is our higher power, but also to the people in our lives for being, well… themselves. For being in our lives. It’s a time to reflect on and be filled by the joy we get from intermingling with each other. Whether, at any given moment, we are with friends, or family, or sitting alone. And it’s not just saying these things to ourselves about the people we care for and love, it’s actually saying it out loud to them. And so, to live in the spirit of my description, I want to give out a few words of thanks during this Thanksgiving season.

First and foremost, to Karen. I love you. I am thankful for you and amazed by you every single day. You have saved my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe and filled in places inside of me I hadn’t, until you, even realized were missing. You are the light, the air, and the breath in me. Every note of music more sweet, every word read more profound, every hue more rich, every part of my life more deeply felt… since you… because of you. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m trying every day, and will keep trying for the rest of my life, to tell you how grateful I am… for you.

Next, to Mom. I am so thankful that, somehow, I was lucky enough to be born your daughter. You are, without exception, the best person I know. You have a powerful love for your family and your life. You are always true and honest. Even when life has brought things that are tough and sometimes hard to bear, you have handled it all with a grace I find astounding and admire very much. I love you so much Mom. Every day I think to myself, if I am half the person you are, I am doing a fantastic job in life. So, thank you. For being the person you are, a person I have been able to look up to my entire life. That’s a huge gift Mom. It’s a huge gift you’ve given me, to be able to say “there’s my Mom” and be so damn proud it’s true.

Kev… We don’t see each other as much as either of us would like. Both of our lives are busy, both of us have a lot of “stuff” going on all the time. Things to do, people to see, lives to live. But, all of that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I feel you, inside of my heart, every moment of every day. You make me laugh, you support me, you love me. A sister couldn’t have a better or more loving big little brother than you. You are not only my brother, but my friend. And not only do I love you, but I also like you very much. You are smart, kind, sincere, loving, and you have a great sense of humor. You are the only other person, in the world, who has been with me through everything. We have battled each other, when we were younger, and more often, battled alongside each other. I am always here for you, and I know you are always there for me. Thank you Kev. Knowing I have you in my corner is worth more to me than I can express. I love you very much.

To my family. How lucky and amazing it is that I’m a part of your lives. I’m so proud of the fact that I belong to you all, to this history we are celebrating and contributing to every day. I say it all the time, the word lucky, in relation to being a part of the family. You are all such great people. The best people. So, thank you for letting me share in it all. I’m so grateful for each and every one of you.

To my friends. I have the best group of friends in the world. We have all been, some of us longer than others, but all of us none the less, through some great, sad, glorious, horrendous, difficult, spectacular, fun filled, hard, stupendous days. Life has certainly been a journey, and continues to be. I not only am lucky to have my family, but lucky to have the friends I do. Friends choose each other, and I want each of you to know that you bring something unique, amazing and beautiful to my life. I chose each of you, and thankfully, you chose me right back. I don’t know what I would’ve done without any one of you. Thank you, all of you, for giving me the great honor of sharing your lives with me. I am humbled by it and grateful for it.

Finally… I am grateful for every moment of peace I find in a day, for the wonder of living in such a beautiful place, for this life that I am so blessed to be living. Thank you, one and all, for reading.

Art Walk 2005

It’s November, and it was beautiful today. Amazing how it’s still possible to see flowers as gorgeous as this. I love Oregon in the fall.

On A Roll

I had a “thing” happen the other day. I guess you could call it a moment. I went into the bathroom at my house and realized a new roll of toilet paper had been put out in place of the old one. I did what I went in there to do, and when I went to reach for the roll I realized it had been put there with the paper coming out from underneath. Instantly I felt the internal cringe. That well recognized feeling of… something isn’t right. I can’t take it. I must fix it. You see, I’m a paper on the top person. I like the paper to be placed so that it comes over the top of the roll and hangs down. And being a top person, I don’t understand those bottom people. The people who place the roll so the paper hangs down from behind. It makes no sense to me. And not only does it not make sense, I have justification for why the roll should hang the way I want it to. I know, for a fact, that a person uses less paper if it rolls over the top. Grabbing from underneath is more awkward and it’s harder to stop the roll from rolling completely and wildly out of control. I know it’s true. I believe it’s true. It must be true. However, even though I was faced with these irrefutable facts, I used a control I find at times impossible to muster, I resisted the very strong urge to take it off and flip it over. Sighing deeply, I let it go.

Later, this got me thinking. How interesting it is that I had, and have, such a reaction to what is a very minor issue. It wasn’t just that I was slightly annoyed the paper was, I felt, not placed correctly on the spool. It’s that I was incensed by it. Unable to even grasp why a person would do such a thing. I was appalled… every fiber of my being crying out against the dastardly act that had been perpetrated. And the question here is, why? Why did this small little thing bother me so very much?

The answer, I think, is that we are consumed by the details of every day life. We all have an internal order to things. We each have our own barometer of what is and isn’t right. What should and shouldn’t happen. How the world operates, what rules we live by, what is correct. The problem is, everyone has their own sense of order… their own sense of right and wrong. And, bottom line, who is supposed to determine whose sense, or order, or idea of what’s correct, is the right one. Who gets to decide?

Now, if you ask people who are extremely religious, they will tell you that there is only one barometer for what’s right… the good book. I mean, even using that term to describe the belief says it all. It’s the good book, not the bad one. Implying it’s the right book, and not the wrong one. But, I’m not going to argue whether or not Christian religion is good or bad. I’m not a Christian, and don’t know enough about it, really, to argue that point anyway. I’m simply asking, is there any one rule, any one way, for everyone? If Christians want to follow the Christian faith, more power to them. It’s just not for me. So, for me, the good book doesn’t define the rules.

So, how about our government? I happen to think that we have a great system here in the old U.S. of A., but is it the best? Is it the right one? If you ask some staunch political activists they will tell you yes. But does that give us the right to then go and tell everyone else how to run their countries, their lives, their children’s lives? Because it seems to work better than any other system we’ve found thus far, is it then the end all and be all of the way to govern all people? Should we determine the rules for all other peoples in all other nations? I say no, but that’s just me.

Then I began to realize, as I got further into this line of thinking that in my little toilet paper incident I found many more questions than answers. I’m interested in this, the idea that there’s only one way to do things, because, really, I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe I know best, or you do, or someone in political office or on the pulpit does. I don’t believe I have a right to dictate what any other person chooses to do. Thinking that we always know what’s best, not just for ourselves, but for those around us, is arrogant. It’s arrogant to think one way, our way, is the best. It’s arrogant to assume we know what’s right for others, in daily living, politics, and religion. It’s arrogant to think we have a right to tell anyone else what to do. Sure, there are rules of society, laws, structure. There have to be systems set up to deal with keeping the peace. But even that is, I feel, sometimes taken too far. We feel the need to legislate everything nowadays. And that, itself, is edging into that arrogant area of telling others how to live their lives. Telling others we know what’s best for them. And, do we? Thinking we have the answers, the solutions, the best and possibly only way of dealing with life in a proper way, is wrong. In doing that, thinking that, we take away another’s opinion, their say in life, their core right to choose for themselves. I might not agree with another’s way of doing something, but that’s ok. It’s ok to think differently, act differently. It’s ok to be different.

This, in the end, brings me back to the paper. I wanted, at the time, to confront the offender. I wanted to shout at the heavens and in the face of the person, whom I love, that I was right and they were wrong. But I didn’t. I didn’t. Because, finally, I realized it wasn’t important. What is important is that we are, none of us, perfect. I, certainly, am not. And because of that there is no perfect way to do anything. There’s just my way, and your way, and the way of that guy sitting over there sipping his coffee who I don’t even know. We are flawed, and we have no right to determine for anyone else what’s right or wrong, for them. We can’t, any of us, be a dictator of the rules for others. We can only, hopefully, agree to compromise, come up with an amicable solution, or even disagree. How silly of me, that day, to think otherwise. How silly of me to assume I was, with absolute certainty, right. How silly of me to be so silly. Hopefully, next time, I will be more tolerant, flexible, open, and less affected, by a simple act of paper hanging.

The Stack returns

Sunset on the Columbia 


Sunset on the Columbia Posted by Picasa

The Great Migration

The think tank has moved. I did, however, bring over my little missives from the previous site. Stay tuned….

    Saturday, November 12th, 2005
    8:46 am
    Back to Busy-ness
    I am amused and feeling a sense of happy contentment. It’s Friday night, and we have no plans. I think to myself… what a luxury. We seem to be busy all the time. And I want to know, when did that happen? When did busy become the way of life? I’m scratching my head here.

    Everyone is rushing. Have to get to the next meeting, the next phone call, the next dinner, the next movie, the next chore around the house. We have calendars on desks, in phones, on computers, in hand held devices. And most of those, well the electronic ones anyway, have alarms. Not only do we constantly have to write everything down, we have to audibly remind ourselves that we wrote it down.

    I know, sitting here right now, there are things I should, or could, or am supposed to be doing. I can walk around my house and see all of the things left undone. If I think on it hard enough I also conjure up all the stuff not done outside, but it’s raining, so I have an excuse. Sadly, not only do the tasks around here plague me, but the piles of paperwork and files on my desk start to creep into my consciousness. They do, if I let them. I must fight it!

    I want to be a kid again. Or, better yet, be me, now, but with the magic secret super power I had as a kid… that strange and mysterious ability to forget absolutely everything, except what I was doing at the moment. To ignore anything, including the sounds of mom calling from the house, even when she used all three of my names, and that meant business. But, I didn’t hear it, at least not right away. And when I did, finally, she’d probably used the dreaded three name technique to gain attention one, two, or even three times. I was in my own world, master of my own fate. In charge, completely, of my destiny. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I did nothing, except what I was doing, right then, at the moment.

    At the moment, that’s the key.

    Now as an adult, I am distracted. I’m watching a movie, or reading a book, or having a conversation… and suddenly, without intent or warning, the voice starts… my evil little inner twin, the task master. It begins to knock on my consciousness, slowly at first, little pictures or a word floating into “view” inside my head. It lets me know, I am not alone. It is always, except when I’m sleeping, with me. Even in sleep I think it’s there, it’s just probably sleeping too. But when I’m awake, it’s awake. It says things like… trash… or maybe… phone call. It doesn’t have to speak loudly, or even report its message fully. It just has to whisper, like wind slightly rustling the leaves. It pushes me, gently. Starting the swirl of thoughts in my brain…. Can you believe what that kid said today? Oops, I forgot to make that call. Where was that file? The look on that parents face was so sad. I need to remember that number when I go up to court. The car is so dirty. What’s for lunch? The lawn should’ve been mowed before it started raining. That shop door needs a new gasket… And so it goes… the list. Before I know it, three scenes of a movie have gone by and I’m thinking, what the hell just happened? Damn, I have to rewind.

    Our lives, as adults, are busy. There are appointments and weddings, shopping to do, calls to make, bills to pay, papers to finish, and lawns to mow. There are friends and family to spend time with, work to be done. It is a never ending constant parade of to dos, should dos, must dos. From the moment we wake until the moment we sleep, which sometimes does not come easily thanks to all the thinking, we are bombarded with it. And I, for one, think it’s time we left all the busy-ness behind and got back to the business of being kidlike again. The business of living now, seizing, as they say, the day. Letting everything else melt away… until finally, surprised because it snuck up on us, we get that elusive feeling of peace. Finally, if not briefly, satisfied with our lives, our homes, and ultimately, ourselves… inner voices quieted, a pervasive feeling of giddy awe ensuing, we do face the day, freer than we were. Amused, contented, and still. Think of it, a world of happy contented people. Looking at and living in the moment. Our world would quiet, and we… well… we might, finally, get to see an entire movie… without thinking about a thousand other things, and then having to rewind.

    Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
    6:48 pm
    How to Accessorize
    Lately, I feel like an accessory. Or, more to the point, I feel like in being gay, I’m a sort of accessory. Ten years ago, we weren’t, the gay I mean, even talked about, except, of course, in a negative light. Now we are everywhere. Flip the channel on the television and you’ll find us… on talk shows, sitcoms, the food network, and many of those home-decorating shows. We are the best friend, the funny neighbor, and the hip buddy with the excellent fashion sense. We are politically savvy, and not just where gay marriage is concerned. We know and are passionate about environmental causes, finding the cure for various kinds of cancer, keeping arts programs in schools, and education.

    The marketing people, whoever they are, have figured this out. Because not only are we everywhere, we are also spending money. We are, generally, successful. Marketing firms know this. They have found a new and vital segment of the population. Sneaking into visual and print media are more and more ads with gay couples, or inferring gayness, in some way. They are trying to tap our market. And us… we’re easy. All a marketing firm has to do is acknowledge us and we’re theirs. Say to the heavens that we exist and are just as normal as every other person or couple, and we are with you, ready to do almost anything, support almost anything, buy almost anything.

    Not to say we’re cheap, no… just hungry for simple recognition. A simple acknowledgement that we, just like all those straight people and couples out there, are the same. We love our families, our friends, and our partners. We want homes, jobs that provide a decent salary and some good benefits, peace in our lives. We want to raise families and contribute to society. We are passionate, creative, driven, smart, loving, playful, generous, deep souls… just like all of you. We breathe the same, feel the same, and love the same. We are no threat. We have no plans to take over the world. There is not a covert gay conspiracy, as some would suggest, lingering just under the surface of our wish to be “just like everyone else”. We are not recruiting. There is no secret phone line we must call every week to report the numbers we have scored for our team to determine if we’ve met our quota. No… we are, as much as anyone else, boringly normal.

    And the media, as I’ve already toyed with earlier, is aware of this. They know we are here, and yes, we are queer. All of this new acknowledgement and media attention has lent itself to a mysterious phenomenon. Not just as portrayed on television and in movies, but maybe partially because of how we are portrayed on television and in movies, we are actually, in some circles, cool. We are hip, or at least, to know us is hip. Want to be thought of as “in”… mention you have a gay friend, roommate, old college buddy you always knew was gay. Want to be happenin‘… say casually, while relaying what you did last night, that you went to dinner with your gay friend and their partner. It’s social clout you can spend, it is. Think it isn’t so? Think being “in” with the gay doesn’t get you anywhere? Think again. Having a gay friend, relative, and/or a close acquaintance, can get you a long way up the hip and happening ladder. Say you watch Ellen or Will and Grace regularly, that you listen to Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, or Elton John… let on that you have heard of, or better yet have been to, a gay club or two and you, my friend, are in “the club”. That group of trendy, with it people, who are cultured, savvy, urban, and living on the cutting edge. Know how to accessorize, and the world is not only your oyster… it’s harvested, cooked, and prepared just the way you like it.

    Let me explain. Need decorating tips, help with your wardrobe, a new recipe to try on your arriving company from out of town? Ask your male gay friends. They can help. They know which tie to wear with what shirt. And for that matter, they know which shoes to wear with what skirt. They can whip up a soufflé while simultaneously deciding what couch position provides the best feng shui. Need to know how to build a shop out back, tune your Harley, or what football team is ahead in their division, ask your female gay friends. They will be able to knock out a room remodel while quoting the prices of the best and most effective hiking boots sold at REI.

    They key here is, according to our ever-present media, you have to know what you need and then know which gay person can be most helpful to your cause. Shoes? Harley? Plants for the sunroom? The starting line up for the San Diego Chargers? Choose wisely, and the gay can help. In fact, it’s best to have a bevy of gay people in your life. You never know when one will come in handy. If nothing else, you’ll be hip in non-gay circles and in with the newly trendy gay crowd. You’ll have an in. You will no longer be the back woods, unintelligent, uninformed, sad excuse for the regular person you once were. You will be, tah dah, friend of the gay. With the right gay friend, you’ll be a well rounded person. Lead a life that’s more vivid, more interesting, more colorful. No longer afraid to shop, to ride a Harley, to better arrange your furniture. No longer in the dark about what goes into a crème brule, or how many players are actually on a baseball team. You will be better equipped to deal with anything life throws at you. You will have constant comic relief. You will be politically correct, and yet somewhat controversial. All because you, my friend, know how to accessorize.

    Tuesday, October 18th, 2005
    12:07 pm
    Chin Up
    I have this problem. Some wouldn’t think about it in that light, but to me, it’s a problem. I am a bit overweight. And on the surface, that would seem, to most people, to be the problem. But, it’s not. The real issue for me is, with my inner eye, I see myself as thin. It’s true. On the inside, I’m thin and in shape, just as I was 20 years ago at the height of my most in shape period. I can’t seem to realize that I’m not the same smallish, athletic, physically fit person I was then. Because inside, I feel like I am that person. Consequently, I don’t seem to be able to get motivated to work out. Which, at the center of it, is the thing.

    It’s a conundrum of sorts. I “know”, some place within myself, that I am overweight. I “know” that the best thing to do is to eat better, work out, drink lots of water. Yadda yadda yadda. I know all of this. And yet, my thin inner me protests. It tells me I am already in shape, I’m already healthy. Why do I need to spend all of that time on the stationary bike, lifting weights, doing strength building exercises? Why do I need to choose the salad sans dressing over the burger with fries? A thin person doesn’t need to worry about all of that. And me… I’m thin. I know it. Thin.

    Then it happens. The wake up call. I see a picture of myself and BAM! I can’t avoid it. There they are, staring me in the face. The chins. And, there’s not just one of them, as there should be and is on a thin person, there are two of them. Worse yet, as I hold back the gasp, sometimes there are three… if the angle is not quite right or my head is down. I know it’s me, I see the picture… yes, it’s me. I’m appalled. I’m shocked. I’m horrified. The visual image doesn’t match my inner picture of myself. Where’s the thin me? And who, someone tell me, is this girl with the chins? I can’t get my mind around it. But there it is, in the picture I’m holding in my hand.

    If only I could hang on to that image of myself. Keep in touch with the shock of seeing the chins. Spoken of so often now that I almost feel the need to capitalize them as a signal of their “enormous” importance. If only I knew how to translate all of the visual horror into a change of self image. But no, I can’t. I’m horrified one minute, holding the picture, and feeling like the ol’ thin me the next after I put it down. Strange, but true.

    I know what needs to happen. I know what I need to correct this terrible disparity. What I need is a brain exchange. A thought swap of sorts. I need to find a thin person who thinks they are too fat and switch mind sets with them. That, it seems, is the answer to my problem. Because just as I know my problem of perceived thinness is getting in my way of weight loss success, I know there are thin people out there whose thoughts of fatness are hindering their struggle to maintain and gain weight. If, somehow, we could switch patterns of thinking, we might, and probably could, both find success. Me as an overweight girl on the path to a thinner me, and them as a person who is too thin on the road to a fuller bodied them. We would both be much healthier. I think it could work.

    I know, in the grand scheme of things, there are more important issues to worry about in the world. I know that the state of my reduced me self image should not be compared to world peace, hunger, war, incongruities in the fight for equal rights. And yet one small victory here is big for me. It would mean a reduction in my number of chins. I would see myself as I am now, and act. Which, if one looks at it, is a cause for celebration. Because finally, I might find myself with an inner thin self image that matches the truth of what is. And isn’t that what we are all looking for? An inner truth matching our projection of ourselves into the outer world. Just think… if we had a world where people could truly be themselves, whatever that would mean, what a beautiful world it would be. Self images, far and wide, improved… inner and outer. The thin inner me would rejoice at that. No more inner conflict. No more thinking I’m thin only to find, alas, I am not. No more shock in seeing pictures of myself. I can start… I can… it would just take a strong conversation with myself, again… and a chin up… or two.

    Tuesday, October 11th, 2005
    12:14 pm
    Pie and Coffee
    Here it is, Tuesday, I’m back at work. How to describe the weekend? I find myself at a loss in this area because I’m emotionally pulled in so many directions. But here I sit, alone in my office during lunch, about to give it a try anyway, as torn as I am.

    I guess the first thing that comes to mind is beautiful. And it was. The celebration of my grandmother’s life, held on Saturday, October 8, at noon, was simply beautiful. Not just the setting, though it was, and not just the people, though they were as well. No, it was the spirit of it. The mood. There we were, a large room full of people, all thinking and feeling so deeply about her. All honoring her. And honestly, there was joy in it. Sadness, to be sure, but also a feeling of joy and connection. She would’ve loved her day. Children and grandchildren getting up to talk about her, their voices all filled with so much love and respect. Music… sung and played, food… including, of course, chocolate, a slide show… with music, and people laughing about this thing or that thing they remembered her doing or saying. So much love, and so present in the room, the sense of a life so well lived. And I guess, thinking about it sitting here, that’s the thing. She lived her life well. And we, those lucky enough to be related to her, to be present because of her, learned that from her. We have learned how to live our lives well. The whole event so well organized by her children, the slide show so well done by her son. Her husband, our father and grandfather, so well looked after by his children, his grandchildren. So much compassion, so much respect. And there it is… the truth of the matter, and the truth of a life like hers. Even that day, with her physically gone from us, we were more connected because of her. The family bond strengthening… feeling her arms wrapped around the collection of us, hugging us tightly together. As if she was saying to us, I’m still here, holding you all. We all felt it. As we held each other, as we cried, and even as we laughed. I feel it still. I don’t think it will ever go away. Her power so strong, her influence so rich, her love so great.

    We spent the rest of that day together, those that could, and the better part of the next. And then Sunday night we went to watch my uncle play music. She would’ve loved that as well. People enjoying his music, some food, some wine or beer or whatever, and again, being together.

    Karen and I left for home after Tom was done making music, and half way there, tired from driving so late, we stopped… for pie and coffee. I thought it was fitting, and I know grandma was smiling. She herself a fan of stopping during early morning hours for pie and coffee, getting a break from driving during long road trips, children asleep in the car. I thought to myself, as afterward we got back in the car and continued the drive home, grandma was there with us. And I know that she’s here with me now. As she will always be… during stops for pie and coffee, during those transcendent moments listening to a great piece of music, during a hug, a call, a laugh, the reading of an email from family. She is there. And that, as it always will, gives me a great sense of comfort… and joy.

    Tuesday, October 4th, 2005
    12:10 pm
    A life… Beautiful
    My grandmother passed away early this morning. I got the call from my mom some time around 6:30, though now it’s hard to remember just when. I drove to work, not really remembering the drive, and have found myself sitting here, not able to concentrate on whatever task it is I’ve had at hand. And that much, I’m sure, is to be expected. I’m working today because, I think, if I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home, restless… thinking. Instead, I sit here… restless, interrupted at times by a phone call or email I have to answer, and thinking.

    I saw my grandmother three weeks ago. Frail…yes. Tired… absolutely. Full of life… always. She was an amazing woman. Had an amazing life. I walked around my grandparents house three weeks ago in wonder. Slowly passing by photographs of a positively amazing history… awe struck. Phenomenal. 64 years with my grandfather. 64 years of love, of life. A life so rich, so beautiful, that wandering around looking at the record of it, I could feel it’s texture. There were books and drawings, copies of marriage licenses, and picture after picture of a life so full it spilled from those photographs out into the living room, where the miracle of that life sat manifest… in children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The legacy that’s been left is not just that these people all exist because of her, but that they are all, every last one of them, stellar. Magnificent. They are the best people I know. Intelligent, kind, loving, curious, full of laughter, accepting, driven, artistic, educated, musical, good to the core people. There is never judgment, never an unkind word, ever. They rejoice with each other, celebrate each other, comfort each other… all of them. All the time. There is never a criticism, even a hint of should or shouldn’t… always, in the truest sense of the word, there for each other. My grandparents had seven children, who themselves had 19 children, who themselves have starting bringing many more into the fold. And in the bunch of us, there is not one who is not, in his or her own way, an outstanding human being. All of this, for me, started with my grandparents… the people that they were… are… have been to us. Those two people created the beautiful tapestry that is our family. Those two people created something rare. And we, who are lucky enough to be part of it, know it. It is not, and has never been, taken for granted.

    There was a lot of laughter that weekend, three weeks ago, as there always is with this family. My grandmother, central to the scene, as she has always been, involved in it all. I thought to myself, sitting with them that day, what an honor it was, and is, to be a part of it. The luck of my draw. I often wonder how it happened, that I ended up a part of this history, a link in this beautiful chain. I am thankful, every day, for my fortune. I am grateful every day, for the honor of it. And from now, until the end of my days, I will be celebrating my grandmother’s life, as she would’ve wanted me to… by living my life in the best way I can. With joy, love, peace, and happiness, amidst the family… that she made.

    Monday, October 3rd, 2005
    1:37 pm
    Three days in San Jose
    Just got home from hanging with the in laws. It was a good trip. Karen’s parents seem to have accepted me, and better yet, they really like me. I think it’s nice for her. All the years of not really being able to be herself, and now she can just be. They are obviously happy she is happy, which is really the important thing anyway. We didn’t do much while we were there, other than hang around chatting, but that was nice. Every time I’m with them I like them more.

    We did go to a movie one night with her sister, Cathy, and her nephew, Charles. I really like that kid. He’s 16 and sort of quirky, and it’s that great kind of quirky. He’s smart, has a great off beat sense of humor, and he doesn’t feel the need to conform to what’s hip. He’s a kid who absolutely loves movies. Old and new, it doesn’t matter. Plus, he knows about them… technique, directors, cast, etc. He’s passionate about it, and that, in anyone, is very attractive. We saw the movie Serenity. Good movie even if you’ve never seen the tv show. There were a lot of people there who obviously had not just watched the tv show, but have gotten into it so much they dress the part. There are clubs for browncoats. Who knew. Not I, but it was pretty entertaining watching them. It was premiere weekend for this particular film and since there’s such a huge cult following, which I also was unaware of, there was a line, the people in costume as I mentioned before, and pre-show trivia complete with prizes for those who knew obscure tidbits about the characters, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t win anything. I did, however, come home with a key chain, thanks to Cathy’s quick grab of a flying key chain after the trivia was over.

    Karen’s parents made a full on turkey dinner Saturday night. I guess they figure that they don’t get their kids together very often and since all three were there, it was a time to celebrate. I got the honor of being the forker. When Karen’s dad carves the turkey a person stands there and forks the carved turkey onto the platter. I was told that not everyone gets to be a forker so I was touched he asked me. Standing there, forks at the ready, I felt the pressure to perform and live up to my new post and title. He said I did well, so I might, if I’m lucky, be asked to fork again.

    Today I’m lucky enough to be able to hang at home. Relax after traveling. Karen, busy as she is, had to go in to work today. A perk of my job is getting to take off quite a bit of time. I’m fortunate enough to earn comp time on top of my accrued vacation time, so that helps. I slept in today. What a luxury. Sitting here sipping on green tea, still wearing pajamas that I know I won’t change out of, looking outside at the forest and the rain, I think it’s time to head in and see what movie I can find to watch. It’s Monday, and I’m home. How lucky am I?

    What ya’all had to say to this point….

    (Anonymous) 2 weeks ago

    Jeeze Girl…I gotta take issue with your latest epistle. Your’e one of my best friends and there is absolutely nothing “with it” or “cool” about me…I’m the old frumpy grumpy guy; the token old fart. Therefore your whole primise is ruined. Sorry about that, but then it’s not the first thing I have ravaged or despoiled. ted
    (Anonymous) 2 weeks ago

    I’m so proud to have a gay friend. Makes me kinda cool. You go girl. But hey the white socks/w black pants have got to go!!!!!
    (Anonymous) 2 weeks ago

    chins

    If ones knows TOKENHIPPYGIRL they also know that chins don’t matter. sm
    (Anonymous) 3 weeks ago

    Tam, you have a way with words that keeps me cracking up…You are very talented, and this note would be fabulous in some magazine somewhere…When are we going to get you published???
    (Anonymous) 5 weeks ago

    Pie & Coffee

    Tam
    Thanks for this. I came here to read, once again, the previous piece you wrote (and to send it on to Aunt Elizabeth) and find you have been spinning your magic again. I love these things you write and I know everyone else does too. Thanks again. Love, Syd


Back to Busy-ness

b7ef3-14701060_683140565197440_9021200053557002240_n
Photo by TJ Parker

I am amused and feeling a sense of happy contentment. It’s Friday night, and we have no plans. I think to myself… what a luxury. We seem to be busy all the time. And I want to know, when did that happen? When did busy become the way of life? I’m scratching my head here.

Everyone is rushing. Have to get to the next meeting, the next phone call, the next dinner, the next movie, the next chore around the house. We have calendars on desks, in phones, on computers, in hand held devices. And most of those, well the electronic ones anyway, have alarms. Not only do we constantly have to write everything down, we have to audibly remind ourselves that we wrote it down.

I know, sitting here right now, there are things I should, or could, or am supposed to be doing. I can walk around my house and see all of the things left undone. If I think on it hard enough I also conjure up all the stuff not done outside, but it’s raining, so I have an excuse. Sadly, not only do the tasks around here plague me, but the piles of paperwork and files on my desk start to creep into my consciousness. They do, if I let them. I must fight it!

I want to be a kid again. Or, better yet, be me, now, but with the magic secret super power I had as a kid… that strange and mysterious ability to forget absolutely everything, except what I was doing at the moment. To ignore anything, including the sounds of mom calling from the house, even when she used all three of my names, and that meant business. But, I didn’t hear it, at least not right away. And when I did, finally, she’d probably used the dreaded three name technique to gain attention one, two, or even three times. I was in my own world, master of my own fate. In charge, completely, of my destiny. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I did nothing, except what I was doing, right then, at the moment.

At the moment, that’s the key.

Now as an adult, I am distracted. I’m watching a movie, or reading a book, or having a conversation… and suddenly, without intent or warning, the voice starts… my evil little inner twin, the task master. It begins to knock on my consciousness, slowly at first, little pictures or a word floating into “view” inside my head. It lets me know, I am not alone. It is always, except when I’m sleeping, with me. Even in sleep I think it’s there, it’s just probably sleeping too. But when I’m awake, it’s awake. It says things like… trash… or maybe… phone call. It doesn’t have to speak loudly, or even report its message fully. It just has to whisper, like wind slightly rustling the leaves. It pushes me, gently. Starting the swirl of thoughts in my brain…. Can you believe what that kid said today? Oops, I forgot to make that call. Where was that file? The look on that parents face was so sad. I need to remember that number when I go up to court. The car is so dirty. What’s for lunch? The lawn should’ve been mowed before it started raining. That shop door needs a new gasket… And so it goes… the list. Before I know it, three scenes of a movie have gone by and I’m thinking, what the hell just happened? Damn, I have to rewind.

Our lives, as adults, are busy. There are appointments and weddings, shopping to do, calls to make, bills to pay, papers to finish, and lawns to mow. There are friends and family to spend time with, work to be done. It is a never ending constant parade of to dos, should dos, must dos. From the moment we wake until the moment we sleep, which sometimes does not come easily thanks to all the thinking, we are bombarded with it. And I, for one, think it’s time we left all the busy-ness behind and got back to the business of being kidlike again. The business of living now, seizing, as they say, the day. Letting everything else melt away… until finally, surprised because it snuck up on us, we get that elusive feeling of peace. Finally, if not briefly, satisfied with our lives, our homes, and ultimately, ourselves… inner voices quieted, a pervasive feeling of giddy awe ensuing, we do face the day, freer than we were. Amused, contented, and still. Think of it, a world of happy contented people. Looking at and living in the moment. Our world would quiet, and we… well… we might, finally, get to see an entire movie… without thinking about a thousand other things, and then having to rewind.

How To Accessorize

Gay Pride Flag
Gay Pride Flag (Photo credit: sigmaration)

 

Lately, I feel like an accessory. Or, more to the point, I feel like in being gay, I’m a sort of accessory. Ten years ago, we weren’t, the gay I mean, even talked about, except, of course, in a negative light. Now we are everywhere. Flip the channel on the television and you’ll find us… on talk shows, sitcoms, the food network, and many of those home-decorating shows. We are the best friend, the funny neighbor, and the hip buddy with the excellent fashion sense. We are politically savvy, and not just where gay marriage is concerned. We know and are passionate about environmental causes, finding the cure for various kinds of cancer, keeping arts programs in schools, and education.

 

The marketing people, whoever they are, have figured this out. Because not only are we everywhere, we are also spending money. We are, generally, successful. Marketing firms know this. They have found a new and vital segment of the population. Sneaking into visual and print media are more and more ads with gay couples, or inferring gayness, in some way. They are trying to tap our market. And us… we’re easy. All a marketing firm has to do is acknowledge us and we’re theirs. Say to the heavens that we exist and are just as normal as every other person or couple, and we are with you, ready to do almost anything, support almost anything, buy almost anything.

 

Not to say we’re cheap, no… just hungry for simple recognition. A simple acknowledgement that we, just like all those straight people and couples out there, are the same. We love our families, our friends, and our partners. We want homes, jobs that provide a decent salary and some good benefits, peace in our lives. We want to raise families and contribute to society. We are passionate, creative, driven, smart, loving, playful, generous, deep souls… just like all of you. We breathe the same, feel the same, and love the same. We are no threat. We have no plans to take over the world. There is not a covert gay conspiracy, as some would suggest, lingering just under the surface of our wish to be “just like everyone else”. We are not recruiting. There is no secret phone line we must call every week to report the numbers we have scored for our team to determine if we’ve met our quota. No… we are, as much as anyone else, boringly normal.

 

And the media, as I’ve already toyed with earlier, is aware of this. They know we are here, and yes, we are queer. All of this new acknowledgement and media attention has lent itself to a mysterious phenomenon. Not just as portrayed on television and in movies, but maybe partially because of how we are portrayed on television and in movies, we are actually, in some circles, cool. We are hip, or at least, to know us is hip. Want to be thought of as “in”… mention you have a gay friend, roommate, old college buddy you always knew was gay. Want to be happenin‘… say casually, while relaying what you did last night, that you went to dinner with your gay friend and their partner. It’s social clout you can spend, it is. Think it isn’t so? Think being “in” with the gay doesn’t get you anywhere? Think again. Having a gay friend, relative, and/or a close acquaintance, can get you a long way up the hip and happening ladder. Say you watch Ellen or Will and Grace regularly, that you listen to Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, or Elton John… let on that you have heard of, or better yet have been to, a gay club or two and you, my friend, are in “the club”. That group of trendy, with it people, who are cultured, savvy, urban, and living on the cutting edge. Know how to accessorize, and the world is not only your oyster… it’s harvested, cooked, and prepared just the way you like it.

 

Let me explain. Need decorating tips, help with your wardrobe, a new recipe to try on your arriving company from out of town? Ask your male gay friends. They can help. They know which tie to wear with what shirt. And for that matter, they know which shoes to wear with what skirt. They can whip up a soufflé while simultaneously deciding what couch position provides the best feng shui. Need to know how to build a shop out back, tune your Harley, or what football team is ahead in their division, ask your female gay friends. They will be able to knock out a room remodel while quoting the prices of the best and most effective hiking boots sold at REI.

 

They key here is, according to our ever-present media, you have to know what you need and then know which gay person can be most helpful to your cause. Shoes? Harley? Plants for the sunroom? The starting line up for the San Diego Chargers? Choose wisely, and the gay can help. In fact, it’s best to have a bevy of gay people in your life. You never know when one will come in handy. If nothing else, you’ll be hip in non-gay circles and in with the newly trendy gay crowd. You’ll have an in. You will no longer be the back woods, unintelligent, uninformed, sad excuse for the regular person you once were. You will be, tah dah, friend of the gay. With the right gay friend, you’ll be a well rounded person. Lead a life that’s more vivid, more interesting, more colorful. No longer afraid to shop, to ride a Harley, to better arrange your furniture. No longer in the dark about what goes into a crème brule, or how many players are actually on a baseball team. You will be better equipped to deal with anything life throws at you. You will have constant comic relief. You will be politically correct, and yet somewhat controversial. All because you, my friend, know how to accessorize.

 

Chin Up

jowl study 2of3
jowl study 2of3 (Photo credit: IntangibleArts)

 

I have this problem. Some wouldn’t think about it in that light, but to me, it’s a problem. I am a bit overweight. And on the surface, that would seem, to most people, to be the problem. But, it’s not. The real issue for me is, with my inner eye, I see myself as thin. It’s true. On the inside, I’m thin and in shape, just as I was 20 years ago at the height of my most in shape period. I can’t seem to realize that I’m not the same smallish, athletic, physically fit person I was then. Because inside, I feel like I am that person. Consequently, I don’t seem to be able to get motivated to work out. Which, at the center of it, is the thing.

 

It’s a conundrum of sorts. I “know”, some place within myself, that I am overweight. I “know” that the best thing to do is to eat better, work out, drink lots of water. Yadda yadda yadda. I know all of this. And yet, my thin inner me protests. It tells me I am already in shape, I’m already healthy. Why do I need to spend all of that time on the stationary bike, lifting weights, doing strength building exercises? Why do I need to choose the salad sans dressing over the burger with fries? A thin person doesn’t need to worry about all of that. And me… I’m thin. I know it. Thin.

 

Then it happens. The wake up call. I see a picture of myself and BAM! I can’t avoid it. There they are, staring me in the face. The chins. And, there’s not just one of them, as there should be and is on a thin person, there are two of them. Worse yet, as I hold back the gasp, sometimes there are three… if the angle is not quite right or my head is down. I know it’s me, I see the picture… yes, it’s me. I’m appalled. I’m shocked. I’m horrified. The visual image doesn’t match my inner picture of myself. Where’s the thin me? And who, someone tell me, is this girl with the chins? I can’t get my mind around it. But there it is, in the picture I’m holding in my hand.

 

If only I could hang on to that image of myself. Keep in touch with the shock of seeing the chins. Spoken of so often now that I almost feel the need to capitalize them as a signal of their “enormous” importance. If only I knew how to translate all of the visual horror into a change of self image. But no, I can’t. I’m horrified one minute, holding the picture, and feeling like the ol’ thin me the next after I put it down. Strange, but true.

 

I know what needs to happen. I know what I need to correct this terrible disparity. What I need is a brain exchange. A thought swap of sorts. I need to find a thin person who thinks they are too fat and switch mind sets with them. That, it seems, is the answer to my problem. Because just as I know my problem of perceived thinness is getting in my way of weight loss success, I know there are thin people out there whose thoughts of fatness are hindering their struggle to maintain and gain weight. If, somehow, we could switch patterns of thinking, we might, and probably could, both find success. Me as an overweight girl on the path to a thinner me, and them as a person who is too thin on the road to a fuller bodied them. We would both be much healthier. I think it could work.

 

I know, in the grand scheme of things, there are more important issues to worry about in the world. I know that the state of my reduced me self image should not be compared to world peace, hunger, war, incongruities in the fight for equal rights. And yet one small victory here is big for me. It would mean a reduction in my number of chins. I would see myself as I am now, and act. Which, if one looks at it, is a cause for celebration. Because finally, I might find myself with an inner thin self image that matches the truth of what is. And isn’t that what we are all looking for? An inner truth matching our projection of ourselves into the outer world. Just think… if we had a world where people could truly be themselves, whatever that would mean, what a beautiful world it would be. Self images, far and wide, improved… inner and outer. The thin inner me would rejoice at that. No more inner conflict. No more thinking I’m thin only to find, alas, I am not. No more shock in seeing pictures of myself. I can start… I can… it would just take a strong conversation with myself, again… and a chin up… or two.

 

Pie And Coffee

Coffee + Pie
Coffee + Pie (Photo credit: borkazoid)

Here it is, Tuesday, I’m back at work. How to describe the weekend? I find myself at a loss in this area because I’m emotionally pulled in so many directions. But here I sit, alone in my office during lunch, about to give it a try anyway, as torn as I am.

I guess the first thing that comes to mind is beautiful. And it was. The celebration of my grandmother’s life, held on Saturday, October 8, at noon, was simply beautiful. Not just the setting, though it was, and not just the people, though they were as well. No, it was the spirit of it. The mood. There we were, a large room full of people, all thinking and feeling so deeply about her. All honoring her. And honestly, there was joy in it. Sadness, to be sure, but also a feeling of joy and connection. She would’ve loved her day. Children and grandchildren getting up to talk about her, their voices all filled with so much love and respect. Music… sung and played, food… including, of course, chocolate, a slide show… with music, and people laughing about this thing or that thing they remembered her doing or saying. So much love, and so present in the room, the sense of a life so well lived. And I guess, thinking about it sitting here, that’s the thing. She lived her life well. And we, those lucky enough to be related to her, to be present because of her, learned that from her. We have learned how to live our lives well. The whole event so well organized by her children, the slide show so well done by her son. Her husband, our father and grandfather, so well looked after by his children, his grandchildren. So much compassion, so much respect. And there it is… the truth of the matter, and the truth of a life like hers. Even that day, with her physically gone from us, we were more connected because of her. The family bond strengthening… feeling her arms wrapped around the collection of us, hugging us tightly together. As if she was saying to us, I’m still here, holding you all. We all felt it. As we held each other, as we cried, and even as we laughed. I feel it still. I don’t think it will ever go away. Her power so strong, her influence so rich, her love so great.

We spent the rest of that day together, those that could, and the better part of the next. And then Sunday night we went to watch my uncle play music. She would’ve loved that as well. People enjoying his music, some food, some wine or beer or whatever, and again, being together.

Karen and I left for home after Tom was done making music, and half way there, tired from driving so late, we stopped… for pie and coffee. I thought it was fitting, and I know grandma was smiling. She herself a fan of stopping during early morning hours for pie and coffee, getting a break from driving during long road trips, children asleep in the car. I thought to myself, as afterward we got back in the car and continued the drive home, grandma was there with us. And I know that she’s here with me now. As she will always be… during stops for pie and coffee, during those transcendent moments listening to a great piece of music, during a hug, a call, a laugh, the reading of an email from family. She is there. And that, as it always will, gives me a great sense of comfort… and joy.

A Life… Beautiful

413758_10151043518492389_936384095_oMy grandmother passed away early this morning. I got the call from my mom some time around 6:30, though now it’s hard to remember just when. I drove to work, not really remembering the drive, and have found myself sitting here, not able to concentrate on whatever task it is I’ve had at hand. And that much, I’m sure, is to be expected. I’m working today because, I think, if I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home, restless… thinking. Instead, I sit here… restless, interrupted at times by a phone call or email I have to answer, and thinking.

I saw my grandmother three weeks ago. Frail…yes. Tired… absolutely. Full of life… always. She was an amazing woman. Had an amazing life. I walked around my grandparents house three weeks ago in wonder. Slowly passing by photographs of a positively amazing history… awe struck. Phenomenal. 64 years with my grandfather. 64 years of love, of life. A life so rich, so beautiful, that wandering around looking at the record of it, I could feel it’s texture. There were books and drawings, copies of marriage licenses, and picture after picture of a life so full it spilled from those photographs out into the living room, where the miracle of that life sat manifest… in children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The legacy that’s been left is not just that these people all exist because of her, but that they are all, every last one of them, stellar. Magnificent. They are the best people I know. Intelligent, kind, loving, curious, full of laughter, accepting, driven, artistic, educated, musical, good to the core people. There is never judgment, never an unkind word, ever. They rejoice with each other, celebrate each other, comfort each other… all of them. All the time. There is never a criticism, even a hint of should or shouldn’t… always, in the truest sense of the word, there for each other. My grandparents had seven children, who themselves had 19 children, who themselves have starting bringing many more into the fold. And in the bunch of us, there is not one who is not, in his or her own way, an outstanding human being. All of this, for me, started with my grandparents… the people that they were… are… have been to us. Those two people created the beautiful tapestry that is our family. Those two people created something rare. And we, who are lucky enough to be part of it, know it. It is not, and has never been, taken for granted.

There was a lot of laughter that weekend, three weeks ago, as there always is with this family. My grandmother, central to the scene, as she has always been, involved in it all. I thought to myself, sitting with them that day, what an honor it was, and is, to be a part of it. The luck of my draw. I often wonder how it happened, that I ended up a part of this history, a link in this beautiful chain. I am thankful, every day, for my fortune. I am grateful every day, for the honor of it. And from now, until the end of my days, I will be celebrating my grandmother’s life, as she would’ve wanted me to… by living my life in the best way I can. With joy, love, peace, and happiness, amidst the family… that she made.

Three Days in San Jose

Just got home from hanging with the in-laws. It was a good trip. Karen’s parents seem to have accepted me, and better yet, they really like me. I think it’s nice for her. All the years of not really being able to be herself, and now she can just be. They are obviously happy she is happy, which is really the important thing anyway. We didn’t do much while we were there, other than hang around chatting, but that was nice. Every time I’m with them I like them more.

San Jose, California.
San Jose, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We did go to a movie one night with her sister, Cathy, and her nephew, Charles. I really like that kid. He’s 16 and sort of quirky, and it’s that great kind of quirky. He’s smart, has a great off beat sense of humor, and he doesn’t feel the need to conform to what’s hip. He’s a kid who absolutely loves movies. Old and new, it doesn’t matter. Plus, he knows about them… technique, directors, cast, etc. He’s passionate about it, and that, in anyone, is very attractive. We saw the movie Serenity. Good movie even if you’ve never seen the tv show. There were a lot of people there who obviously had not just watched the tv show, but have gotten into it so much they dress the part. There are clubs for browncoats. Who knew. Not I, but it was pretty entertaining watching them. It was premiere weekend for this particular film and since there’s such a huge cult following, which I also was unaware of, there was a line, the people in costume as I mentioned before, and pre-show trivia complete with prizes for those who knew obscure tidbits about the characters, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t win anything. I did, however, come home with a key chain, thanks to Cathy’s quick grab of a flying key chain after the trivia was over.

Karen’s parents made a full on turkey dinner Saturday night. I guess they figure that they don’t get their kids together very often and since all three were there, it was a time to celebrate. I got the honor of being the forker. When Karen’s dad carves the turkey a person stands there and forks the carved turkey onto the platter. I was told that not everyone gets to be a forker so I was touched he asked me. Standing there, forks at the ready, I felt the pressure to perform and live up to my new post and title. He said I did well, so I might, if I’m lucky, be asked to fork again.

Today I’m lucky enough to be able to hang at home. Relax after traveling. Karen, busy as she is, had to go in to work today. A perk of my job is getting to take off quite a bit of time. I’m fortunate enough to earn comp time on top of my accrued vacation time, so that helps. I slept in today. What a luxury. Sitting here sipping on green tea, still wearing pajamas that I know I won’t change out of, looking outside at the forest and the rain, I think it’s time to head in and see what movie I can find to watch. It’s Monday, and I’m home. How lucky am I?

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