read this

July 16, 2008

Wendell Berry interview in the Sun magazine: Real reading, of course, is a kind of work. But it’s lovely work. To read well, you have to respond actively to what the writer’s saying. You can’t just lie there on the couch and let it pour over you. You may have to read with a pencil in hand and underline passages and write notes in the margins. The poet John Milton understood that the best readers are rare. He prayed to his muse that he might a “fit audience find, though few.”

It’s a pretty wide ranging interview, but I liked this quote a lot.

I’m lost in my head today, in things that aren’t happening and trying to figure how to get from a general sense of here (where I feel so much on hold) to there (where i think I might be in community or in connection more with myself and the world.)

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July 15, 2008

1973. Summer. All the kids at the apartment complex spend their days at the the swimming pool.  Everyone’s back from lunch and we’re lined up at the diving board in an endless loop to see who can make the biggest splash. Bennie and the Jets is on the radio when my turn comes up.  I run down the length of the board and jump on end.  Popping up into the air it feels like I have all the time in the world to lay my body out into a baddest ass can opener any kid in the complex has ever executed. It’s gonna be a big fucking splash.  I just know it.  It’ll even get the lifeguard wet and I’ve been trying to get her attention all day.

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calling it good

July 15, 2008

Reasons to call it a good day:

  • Made fresh fava beans, Roman style.
  • Tackled some web work that had been giving me a headache.
  • Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations was playing when I was standing in line at the grocery store.
  • This girl I like said the sweetest things to me about wanting to be close.
  • The sun was shining.
  • My friends, had a nice wedding and I was thinking how glad I was to get to be a witness to it.  That and to get down a little later on the dance floor.  These Hoosier guys can get their boogey on.
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sunday is ok

July 13, 2008

Is it really the midwest in me that makes me polite, that makes me ask people questions and listen to their stories and do them a favor and remember that their parents were just in town?  Or is it that I’m just curious or wanna deflect attention from myself.  Hmmm . . . I will leave off on this here, at least for now.

My goodness it’s hot. And to that I say right the fuck on; ’bout time you got your sexy ass over here, summer. I’m at a favorite coffee shop in the epicenter of Portland hipsterism, watching girls in tank tops and flip flops and guys in shorts and t-shirts walk by.  I’ve spotted some cool dykes, even an honest-to-god butch, as well as another butch looking one wearing a straw cowboy hat.  There’s all manner of cool dudes.  Ones wearing straw fedoras and black sunglasses, ones in cut off cowboy shirts from Goodwill, and ones sporting full arm sleeve tats framed by their wife-beaters.  There is alot of bare and it can so many girls so distracting.  The cool kids are rolling through the 4-way stop on their fixies.  No helmets, of course. I almost feel like a milk shake, but Portland’s too cool to have anything like a DQ a Tastee Freeze nearby.

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happiness is a hoosier from home

July 11, 2008

This year I came out to myself as an expat, meaning I don’t think I’ll ever be an Oregonian, but always a Hoosier expatriate living some where else; in this case it’s the great north west. And as an expat I feel very heartened and at home to have spent yesterday evening in the company of a number of Hoosier friends.  One thing I noticed last night is that there was an unspoken cultural touchstone and one that I haven’t always felt or projected myself with the Hoosiers I know who live out here.  So here’s to my homeland and to the folks who are bringing it a little closer to me for a few days.  I’m happy to have you here.

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solid and hollow

July 10, 2008

Sometimes I feel like my whole life right now is the calm before the storm. It’s weird too because I was telling my girl in western mass that as I get to feeling more solid in myself, the ground beneath me gets to feeling more hollow. I flail around a lot, try to interrupt old patterns, reach out to connect to someone and feel like I’m a little too lost in the metaphorical part of life.

More than one person has told me I seem angry, but they are also people with whom I’ve been so accomodating in the past that I’m not sure what to do with their feedback. I notice that I am much less patient with some folks when their approach is not working for me. And I think that happens more when there’s no wiggle room in the approach for anything but their own point of view. We’re not collaborating; we’re not negotiating; we’re even not trying to reach an understanding.  Half the time I feel like all that’s happening is at best they are patiently waiting their turn to ‘hold forth’ in hopes of trying to win me over or bend me to their will. Either way it feels like there’s not much room for me or my experience.

It gets tricky because I’m trying to figure out how to be responsible for myself on a deep level and how to be open and solid all at the same time. And sometimes I just fuck up – treat someone or myself poorly, spin out on fear or fantasy, indulge in self righteousness or self pity.

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grab bag

July 9, 2008

Lots of subjects have been on my mind recently and I’m going to list them out here in hopes that something might ring a bell for further exploration.

First, I’ve been thinking about the phrase “they did the best they could”, often said in a conversation where one is talking about how to deal with effects of the short comings of another person or persons, like one’s parents. I’ve come to find that phrase doesn’t work for me. Fro example, when it comes to my parents, they did what they did. And it’s true I can’t change that, but did they do the best they could do? I dunno. And thinking of their actions in those terms does not help me deal with what got broken in me. And thinking of my own actions in those terms, that somehow I’ve been doing the best I can, doesn’t help me deal with how I’ve fucked up in my own life. I think maybe it’s the whole idea of “best” that doesn’t work for me. For one thing, on the flip side of “best” there’s a “worst”, which is not helpful either. And best implies judgment and I’m trying to cultivate curiosity.

Race. I woke up the other morning thinking about how if Obama got elected he would have to think so carefully about the racial make up of his cabinet. Think about it in a way his predecessors have not, simply because he’s African American. Yes, the last several Presidents have probably made sure to have some diversity on their cabinet, at least one woman and one African American. But believe me, if Obama is elected and appoints as many African Americans to his cabinet as any previous President has appointed whites to theirs in the last 20 years or so, there will be cries of alarm about a black cartel taking over this country.

Prolonged adolescence. I think I could get into trouble here with too many generalizations. Plus I’ve not really reflected on this topic in any detail, but I’ll stumble on in anyway. I’ve been noticing a lot of things that make me think we have this state of prolonged adolescence here in the U.S. and it does not serve us well as far learning to take on responsibility for oneself. I’m not trying to be a kill joy about a maintaining a sense of play or wonder cause it’s not a lack of seriousness I’m talking about.


dreams and thunderstorms and maybe baring too much

July 3, 2008

I think I slept maybe two hours last night. It’s been a hard year for me for getting to and staying asleep, which is weird because all my life I’ve been a sound sleeper. I think turning down the volume on so much external stimulation and really experiencing my mind and heart is taking some adjusting to. Last night my mind was like a broken record replaying this bit of information that I discovered accidentally about this girl I like. It was a battle of trying to chant down the spinning out in my head by counting backwards and just spinning out. Spinning out won; it almost always does. I likely should have gotten up and put on my headphones and just drawn some, but I kept thinking I would tire myself out. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I was just not wanting to take care of myself around spinning out.

When I finally fell asleep for about an hour at 2am I had these sad dreams. In one dream I was getting it on with a girl that I know for sure I don’t want to get it on with and it was so detailed and so uncomfortable and so not what I wanna do that I remember thinking what the fuck am I doing, man and then feeling relieved when it ended and that dream faded into an art gallery scene, all quiet and stark. The gallery was having a photography show. For some reason I remember that the walls appeared almost yellow in color, yellow like an old newspaper fading. I was looking at some photos taken by this girl I do like. The same girl I talk about here every now and then. I came up on a photo that I somehow knew was recent. It was of the girl and this butch laying on a bed facing each other; the butch’es back was to camera, but and this girl, the one I like, she was resting her head over her butch’es shoulder and looking into the camera. The photo had a caption I can’t remember, but it was something like “me and the bare arm of my butch.” As I stood looking at the the photo it started to enlarge itself; I woke up before it got big enough that I could make out the details of this girl’s face.

I dunno if what woke me up was not wanting to see how this girl looks, feeling so safe and open with someone else, or all the ruckus from the thunder and lightening at play outside my windows. Maybe some of both. But I got up and sat on my couch and bared witness to nature’s show – a real midwestern thunderstorm complete with rolling booms, lighting flashes and a big loud downpour. It was comforting but at the same time it nearly broke me, as thunderstorms remind me how far away I am from things I love, like home, and things I long for.


back to some darkness

July 2, 2008

I’ve been thinking about a comment Ned left on my dark words post.

The example you give, Liz, illuminates what you were struggling to talk about quite well – how useful is the label “killer” when thinking about your dad? not “how useful is it to call someone a killer” in the abstract (though that’s interesting too), but did the label “killer” mess with your dad’s mind, did it provide any useful guidance for him when he needed it, did it facilitate better understanding on his part or on the part of anyone else?

I imagine my dad did not think of himself as a killer, although I don’t know for sure and maybe I will ask him. But it was not until I was able to get to know something about his combat experience that I was able to get to know him. Given that, the “killer” label has helped me understand my dad in a profound way, because it has allowed me to be close to the events that most shaped his life and to understand what is dark about him. And through that I’ve learned that darkness is often much more complex than it looks from the outset and to really understand it one often has to suspend judgment. It makes me think about Daniel Mendelsohn talking about the Jewish Secret police in these little towns in Poland and the Ukraine who identified Jews to the Nazi’s and how he said could not judge them from his place in history because it’s unfair to say what he would have done if he had the chance to save his own family by turning in someone else. I know we’d all like to believe we’d have been heroes, but I’m not sure I would have been very heroic when I think of the Nazi tactics to punish sympathizers who hid Jews, which often consisted not only of killing everyone in the household of the sympathizer, but killing everyone in the the town and the towns nearby that shared the sympathizer’s last name.

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the world was moving, she was right there with it

July 2, 2008

Summer here sure is sexy.  She lulls you into forgetting about the other 8 or 9 months of the year. I’d say she’s got a bit of a siren’s call.  I finished up Pedalpalooza by going to the Multnomah County Bike Fair on Saturday and the big bike party later that night hosted by Portland’s own Sprokettes.  The attendance at both events was skewed toward the hipsters and bike freaks, a bike cap appears to be di regueur for this crowd.  But it was fun all the same.  The party included a lot of live entertainment by these bike related dance groups and some non-bike related acrobats, who were very good.  It was kind of like a high school talent show for adults.  Or maybe a county fair talent show. And it was fun.  It reminded me that there must have been a time when folks relied much more on other folks in their community for entertainment and the connection there feels different than say paying to see a band.

I’m gearing up for another butch blog or darkness blog or maybe I’ll try and string the two together. Ha!

This girl I like, the one I’ve mentioned here before, the one who lives really far away, well yesterday she told me, “you’re so fucking sweet”, and I think that might have made my day today.  That comment in isolation is likely not the best representation of why she moves me, but she does and one of these days I think I’ll talk about her a little more here.

I know the title of this post makes no sense, but the lyric popped into my head and I liked how it sounded.

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