staci with and i

November 30, 2012

I remember the very first girl I almost kissed. I was 12 and she was 10. We lived in the same apartment complex, but her family had moved in a year after mine. Same kind of deal though, single mom, newly divorced, older siblings. Her name was Staci (with an “i”). She was short and wiry and had shoulder length straight blond hair, the color of corn silk. Her voice was low and raspy, like she smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. But none of us were smoking yet back then.

We rode the same bus to school, but we didn’t much talk at the bus stop or at school. The 2 year age difference seemed gigantic, until the summer came around and all the kids who lived in complex hung out together at the pool, racing each other, diving for rocks we threw to the bottom of the deep end and having epic splash contests, lots of times off the diving board. I swear to god I perfected a can opener that summer that splashed a ridiculous amount of water all over the cement surrounding the pool and if possible, the lifeguard. In large part, because I was trying to impress the lifeguard who I had a huge crush on. She wore a salmon colored one piece, mirrored aviator sunglasses, and had the most perfect deep Coppertone tan. She always smelled like coconut, which at 12, smelled sexy to me. And even now, in the summer months, that smell still gets to me. The lifeguard kept a radio turned on all day and would turn the volume up when Elton John came on or Wings or Eric Clapton’s cover of “I Shot The Sherriff.” It is impossible for me to hear those songs now and not think of summer.

At the pool, Staci was game for anything. Chicken fights, underwater swim contests, who could hold their handstand the longest, who had the best backstroke . . . and on and on.  At some point during the summer, Staci started coming over to our apartment sometimes for lunch. I kind of think she just invited herself and I would make us Spaghetti-Os or ham sandwiches. And we would drink Cokes and eat Pringles and wait out the hour we were supposed to before going back to the pool (so we wouldn’t get cramps swimming) by either watching a crappy soap opera or game show on TV or riding our bikes around the apartment complex. Sometimes I would trail her around on my handlebars up and down our little street, our shorts sticking to our legs, sun making us sweat.

I’m pretty sure that coming over to our place for lunch is how Staci saw my epic collection of Matchbox cars and Hotwheels. I must have left them out on the back patio, where I often built these intricate city-scapes made up of small boxes as stand-ins for buildings and houses and used tiny rocks to outline streets. I was deep into my imagination and my car cities weren’t something I shared with many other kids, but Staci must have been cool about it, because the night we almost kissed, she was sitting there with me while I was playing with my cars. Actually, I was building a small city on the dining room table. And Staci was asking me questions about the city and the cars and all the make believe lives I’d created to inhabit them. She leaned over the table sometimes. Sometimes she leaned close to me and I’d just answer her and keep working away. I remember the overhead light was on, but the rest of the apartment was dark and the dining room window was open and you could hear the crickets outside. When the city was all built and I didn’t have any more stories, Staci and I were just sat there together and looked at it. We were quiet. Her leg was near mine, my arm near hers. She smelled just like chlorine and cherry bubblegum and we kind of looked at each other for what seemed like forever right then, but was probably only a second or two.  Maybe we were kind of smiling, maybe she closed her eyes for a nano-second.  And then through the open window we heard her sister yelling for her. I remember Staci just kind of shrugged her shoulders at me and got up and said something like, “Cool city. See you tomorrow.”


not thinking and here’s a song i like

November 29, 2012

What is it exactly that makes me flash on Indiana? I will be doing something that has nothing obvious to do with home and then, suddenly, in my mind I am walking down Lincoln or 4th street or through the stand of trees behind the law school? I know I’ve posted about this before, but it still gets to me. Is it about my heart? Is about about feeling open or vulnerable or kinda scared because I can’t explain to my mind what’s going on in my heart?  And sometimes my mind gives me shit about that. I know this is not a thinking thing. But some moments, it’s so different to FEEL that this is not a thinking thing. Also, is it a good idea to be listening to Antony and Johnsons at work or to a mix I titled “Sad Hole?”

Typically, I don’t like to quote lyrics from songs or extract them from the music their supposed to go with, because a song is the whole thing, but I’m gonna break my own rule and quote a whole song today. I’m giving myself license to do this because you can listen to the song yourself on the Secretly Canadian site. Also, I can’t help myself from pointing out the Secretly Canadian is run out of Bloomington, my heart’s home, and that makes me happy.

I wish that I could float
Float up from the ground
I will never know
What that’s like

You have a way about you
I wish that I had
Thought it was impossible
To live and love like you

Funny how we all can change
If we just try to
Thought it was impossible
To live and love like you

One day you will be taller
Taller than the sky
Until that day you will be
Here with us below

Magic will do what magic does
Living in your eyes
Do you think someday soon
You will have the time?

I could use another hand
To help pull me through
Someday these hospital stays
Get the best of me

Trying to fix my mind
Still trying to fix my mind
Trying to work it out
I’m still trying to fix my mind

Still trying to fix my mind
I’m still trying to fix my mind

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seminal years

November 28, 2012

Lately,  I’ve been looking back a little and thinking of those times in my life when everything changed, like in my mid 30s when I quit my job at the Shelter. I was 34 then. HDG and I went on a big road trip out west right away. Our 2nd one in 6 months. I can still remember driving Kings Canyon and missing a turn off and the nerve wracking climb back up the road that edged the mountain. We both tried so hard not be distracted (aka terrified) by the sheer drop off. I think we smoked a butt load of cigarettes to manage. I went back to school and started dating HL when I was 35, and then graduated from college (finally) and moved to Portland when I was 36.  Somewhere in there I also became friends with Bec and David, Jim and Ned and the whole Carmel crew. I started playing electric guitar and recording with whoever would play with me and reading Foucault and Chomsky and Zinn and listening to Pavement and the Pixies and Liz Phair, Stereolab, the Beach Boys and Johnny Cash. I started riding my bike again. And playing racquetball. I started running. I started having a relationship with my Dad.  I became a vegetarian for  a while. I became friends with a born again Christian dude. I started becoming a programmer, even though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. Much of it was unplanned. Much of the rest of it was not planned very far in advance. Maybe the only real plans were: quit the Shelter, go back to school and move to Portland. All big stuff which I let open me up in a way that I had not been open for a long time. Which is why I think that so much from that time, friends, music, riding, reading, has stuck with me, become part of who I am now.

This year has a seminal feeling about it. For totally different reasons than 16 years ago and definitely with less exterior shit going on, at least for now (the future is tough to predict, though). But I am open again in my heart and head and there’s some big and grand stuff going on the inside.

Last night I was walking back to the house after walking MTB out to her car; it was kinda late the sky was bright but you couldn’t see the moon. There was a thin layer of clouds covering the sky, but you knew the moon was right there. You could feel it every where around you.


how i spent part of sunday

November 27, 2012

I rode my bike on Sunday after 3 days out of the saddle. Legs were a little heavy and tired, but in a pleasing way. And there was no need to go balls out, anyway. Just  pedal, I told myself. Just do the thing. Ended up at Lardo for lunch. My go to place for a fried egg sandwich.  It was kinda crowded, which is kinda my thing — being by myself in a group of strangers. I was waiting for my sandwich and texting with MTB and running through a snap shot reel of the weekend. At some point I had to turn away from the people standing in line by my table and lean my head up against the window because I was tearing up because everything had been so amazing the last several days. Plus, I felt like, potentially, I could  fall off the stool. I thought about the Tom Spanbauer book I am reading and this line that he keeps repeating: “You’re going this way and then shit happens and then you’re going that way.” I am so going that way.

Riding around a little before riding home, the sun came out. And 1000s of golden leaves were everywhere, making everything on the outside so bright. I rode under them and through them and made them fly up around my wheels a little.  I pedaled up my regular hill to feel my lungs tingle and make myself sweat, even though my feet were colder than I expected. But that was beside the point, because it seemed so fucking lucky out.

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poems and a quick aside about eileen myles

November 20, 2012

I like Eileen Myles, even when I don’t think her writing is all that great and even though she is not particularly friendly to butches. Or she hasn’t been to me. I’ve gotten the old school butch rivalry vibe from her when I’ve tried to talk to her or get her autograph at readings. It sucks. When I saw her read at Tin House a couple years ago and approached her to say how phenomenal the reading was, she gave me a look, like “dude, step off my dick.” She didn’t want me to intrude on how she was charming the hell out of a handful of young and femme looking women. Still, Eileen is New York cool and bad ass. She’s a great reader. And it’s fun to watch her flirt.

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i am going to tell some secrets, in a good way

November 18, 2012

Last night I had drinks with MTB and some of her friends. They talked a lot about running and their magical and intense experience of running Hood to Coast together. It made  me grateful for every intense and magical experience I’ve had with other people that I cannot fully articulate to everyone else who did not experience it. Its a lucky thing to have those experiences. Deeply alive lucky. Also, listening to them talk about running  made me secretly miss running. A lot, weirdly. Especially the parts where you just endure hard shit you didn’t think you could endure.

There are secret Hoosier portals in Portland. Most of them are temporary, like what can happen when I make meat loaf and mashed potatoes or watch an IU basketball game with someone who is as into it as I am. And then there is this diner on Foster and 52nd. The name I’m keeping a secret to myself for now, although A.M. has been clued in, but she is a midwesterner and a good friend so she got it right away. Going there is like going to this diner on the way to the Viaduct in Greene County. Except no one in Portland has an accent.

I have been sleeping better. Not every night. But I have noticed a number of nights over the last couple weeks where I’m waking up only once in the middle of the night and usually that’s to take a piss. I’ve not told anyone about the sleeping, until right now. It feels sweet and precious and I think potentially it means something about trust and comfort and having a team or being on a team . . . for lack of a better phrase, I’ve recently been referring to it, at least when I talk to Remy, as heart shit; on occasion I might say serious heart shit.

I have been feeling very Indiana lately. Thinking about home. Having lots of random flash backs. Wearing an unironic baseball hat. Trying to hear if I really do have an accent. For most most folks that means nothing, by “that” I mean, “Indiana.”  Lots of  people I know have never even thought of Indiana and could not pick it out on a map. When I say Indiana to them, its  like inserting a big “blank”  or yawn in the conversation. There is nothing to say. Indiana is no where. I used to have a chip on my shoulder about this phenomenon, which was a super unpleasant experience for everyone. But then I went on this big re-remembering  journey, both an interior journey, but also I traveled home and everything I thought and felt was true. Which was amazing. So now, its just my secret. Yep. The secret heartland in my heart.


its not like i can keep this to myself

November 16, 2012

Has anyone else noticed? That’s what I wonder. Have I mentioned chakras to other people? Its possible. At the very least, I would guess that one of my work colleagues must have seen me doing a quick Google search on just where exactly the heart chakra is located. I wonder if any of them have noticed me texting more? Or how loudly I sometimes seem to sigh.

I certainly been giving out a lot  more big hugs and arm squeezes to people I have affection for. I would think some friend must have noted that, in addition to how much more attentive I am when and if they talk astrology stuff. Also, that I am using more exclamation points in texts and chats and emails. How could that not jump out at anyone who texts, chats or emails with me? The things that really first got my attention were this new chuckle I’ve picked up and how the easily the phrase “shit storm” comes to mind to say out loud and that when something goes right, I seem inclined to pump my fists in the air.

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biking and committment and willingness and legs

November 15, 2012

Late night bike ride last night home from J’s. Amazingly dry, which was awesome, but the kind of cold that makes me shiver. Luckily, I had my glove liners and shoe covers with me. Learning curve lesson learned years ago: the right gear makes a big difference. Not that I want to talk about gear. For me, gear is the means to an end, which is why I like talking with gear heads, because I can glean valuable information on the best “means,” even if ultimately we are not really talking about the same thing. Anyway, I am especially psyched about riding last night because I really didn’t want to do it. So much so, that when I was riding home from work, I was conjuring up a list of all the reasons why I should drive my car to J’s: it was dark; I had some stomach cramps from gas; I had already ridden for the day via my commute to work; I had to go by the liquor store; it would take me at least 40 minutes to get to J’s and 40 to get home and I had a bunch of shit to do, like fill up the compost/yard waste bin and switch the outlet over for my new dryer and lift weights. It was a tempting list and yet, somehow when 6:30 rolled around I was in my saddle and pedaling down my street. I don’t know if that’s because I got all my shit done or it wasn’t raining or I thought of the list I made myself and posted about last month. I’d like to think it was about how I’m willing to experiment with committing to something. And how I want to concretely express my gratitude for things like the weather and my awesome bike and my body on my bike. I don’t think of myself as a bike rider, as much as someone who is willing to ride. So also, maybe I’m experimenting with willingness. Sometimes, I silently chant a mantra to myself when I ride, especially uphill. It goes: lungs, heart, legs, yes. And I try to picture each thing and how grateful I am for it’s ability to endure my on and off poor treatment and neglect. I used to do chant that all the time. Less now, but I pulled it out the other night for a long hill climb and really just loved my legs for a second.

I can see that for me, biking is biking, and also that biking is means to an bigger ends, which is probably not something that should be called an “ends.”


veterans day 2012

November 13, 2012

Reposting my 2010 Veterans day entry. Also, thinking of my dad’s friends, are now my friends, and are who are vets too. Vietnam vets. I bet anything, Joe goes out to visit Dad’s grave today. That’s the kind of stand up thing he would do.

An excerpt from Chris Hedges’ War is the Force that Gives Us Meaning:

I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers -historians, war correspondents, filmmakers novelists and the state-all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks just below the surface within all of us.

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things like feet and and low action

November 12, 2012

Rainy walk in the dark tonight. I had to get some kind of exercise and that was all I could manage. No complaints, though; my day slipped away from me in the nicest way: hanging out with AG, then listening to music and reading. I had planned to ride my bike this morning to meet AG for breakfast, but my plans got derailed last night by the drawing of 12 point buck, talking about guitars, the story of Selena and two pair of feet that look remarkably similar. The feet were a surprise, a sweet one, and unexpected, except that everything that’s happened since September 6th has been just like that. Wonderful and unexpected. And sometimes it seems that the big lesson of these last several months has just been to go on instinct and say “yes.”  Tuck my tie in boots and leave my car parked down the street. This is definitely not a thinking thing.