Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Couple Songs - M0RG4N


I've been putting my life together
one piece at a time
seein' how they fit
in my reason and my rhyme
but they didn't quite make sense

It seems the picture's changing
from the one I've had til now
the more pieces I put in place
the more clear it is somehow
my life's been missing you
I've been missing you

This puzzle's a little closer
to being done
I've started on the corner
where you're the one
the picture's a little closer
to being complete
the road's been long and hard
but I'm glad I had you here with me

Watched you go again
watched you head off to the plane
but there's a quiet voice that tells me
you'll be coming back again
I'll be countin' the days

There's a few knots to unravel
quite a few loose ends
but no puzzle worth completing
was ever easy to begin
Mine won't be right without you
my heart's been missing you

The Man I Want to Be

If your world tilted on its axis
don’t think I wouldn’t fight for you
I’ve watched you go too many times
to make those mistakes again
The action may be subtle, but that’s my way
and I’ve got my gloves on now
I may lose a round, but I’ll lose it well
and I’ll stay the fight by being
the man you make me want to be

Even if the future holds
nothing but a K.O.
you’ll always have me in your corner
when it’s your turn in the ring
I’ll be there to support you
and you’ll never owe me anything
it’s worth it all to be inspired
to be the man you make me want to be

When you need I’ll be your Atlas
when you don’t, your Hercules
say you’ll be my Scheherazade
say you’ll be my Penelope.
I’ll take whatever hits that life can give
keep my guard up like Ali
if I get knocked down I’ll get back up
and go right back to being
the man you make me want to be

Maybe I’ll get stuck against the ropes,
maybe I’ll end up black and blue,
maybe no matter how hard I fight
I’ll never be the one to fight beside you
but I’ll go on, I’ll always have your memory
to remind me that I can be
the man you make me want to be

Friday, December 7, 2012

Without You

Without You

Who would I be without you?
Me, but not this me,
not the one who has trudged
through this snow and this mud.
I would not be the self
that slogged his way through
the evolution of boy to man
and torn myself from the bracken water
to stand ankle deep
in the stagnant swamps
of the American dream.
Without you, I might never
fly on the wings of a waltz
or float, buoyed in your eloquence.
You are my sustenance,
my meat and my sated sweet tooth.
Without you, in my ravening
I would gnaw the bones of my own darkness
till they lay cracked and marrow-dry
and cast carelessly about
the cave where this dragon lies
curled protectively about his treasure,
guards it as fiercely as any mastiff would
the land and people it loves.
Without you, I would still be me,
but not this me, not the one
who quilts words and wraps them tight around you
when you shiver.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stroking My Ego

You were warned. ;)

Today is one of those self-validation days. I frequently forget how awesome I actually am in between all the humdrumness of daily life and the video games I bury myself in. A conversation with a woman to whom I’m going to be giving dance lessons reminded me that I am, indeed, pretty awesome.

First off, hey, people are willing to pay me to teach them how to dance. I have been paid by a university to teach accredited dance classes, non-profits to teach general and private classes, members of the community at large wherever I have been, and volunteered countless hours of my time to teach for other non-profits. I can teach and dance a decent list of dances: East Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, Charleston, West Coast Swing, Waltz, American Tango, Cha-cha, Salsa, Rhumba, and Foxtrot. I can fake my way through a few others. More importantly, I can actually teach people how to dance, not just go through prescribed moves without learning to connect, without learning how to actually lead and follow. Not only are people willing to pay me, since money isn’t that important, they recognize that I am really good teacher. In the student evaluations I received while working for the University of Idaho I had such a high rate of responses and more importantly, positive responses, that my supervisor’s boss couldn’t believe it. A few bits of awesome there, but we’ll just put one up under Dances and another under Teaches and call it good.

The piece of conversation that inspired this slightly self-obsessed piece of writing regarded living in foreign countries and speaking foreign languages. As I said to Miss A, we’ll call her, I have lived in Belgium, Germany, and Japan besides the United States and been to most countries in Western Europe. At least one of which no longer exists as a unified entity. Though I guess Yugoslavia counts as the Eastern block?

In terms of languages, I studied French for four years, Japanese for two (the first year twice, slacker attitude plus katakana = bad), German for one year, taught myself the Cyrillic alphabet and dabbled in Russian and Portuguese. I am not fluent in any of the above, but fluency in at least one is on my bucket list. I have the best grasp on French, and though Russian is probably the hardest language I have ever studied, I kind of liked it. Probably for the challenge. We’ll chalk up another under Foreign Language & Living and call it good.

Have I mentioned I recently wrote a book? That’s been on my bucket list my whole life. Admittedly it’s not done, nor published, but that’s coming. A complete first draft is a great start. It feels pretty awesome. I’ma put a mark up under Wrote a Book too. While I’m at it, I might also mention that I’ve started another while I’m waiting for my alpha readers to get back to me. This one should be even easier to write, since it’s a fictionalized version of my greatest romance. I might change the ending. Wouldn’t want my characters to have to live through the hardest part of what I did. We’ll see.

I also Read a Lot. Excuse me while I cover the chalkboard in marks. Reading is awesome. Literacy is a beautiful, beautiful thing. So are words. They’re so tasty. I saw some ticker thing where someone had a goal of reading one book a month for 12 months. Great goal. . . but a little on the short side, I thought. Contrary to popular belief, however, I do read things that aren’t science fiction or fantasy as well. Particularly Positive Psychology texts. Which leads me into the next awesome.

Must desperately Love Learning. Who was Abraham Maslow, I wonder? Well, there’s only one way to find out. Hello wikipedia! And before you balk at using wikipedia as a source of information, the Encyclopedia Britannica is wrong barely less frequently. In fact, Wikipedia has an entire page dedicated to things wrong in the E.B. that are correct on its web site. What is this positive psychology thing? A link to flow? Who is Mihalyi Csziksentmihalyi? Must read and research! Must kill the cat! Awesome? Check.

A subset of love of learning but still pretty bad ass in its own right and worthy of a categorical checkmark of its own: I taught myself how to Play Guitar. And I Sing. Frequently in public. I was also in choir for 8 years. And I write my own songs, both lyrics and music. Sometimes I even consider my lyrics poetry. Win.

Meanwhile, I am currently working on the Raised a Puppy life project. Mira, for those of you paying attention, is now a week and a half over 6 months old. She’s taller than my knee and weighs around 70 pounds. Last I weighed her she was 65 pounds. That was two weeks ago and she’s growing at an average of 2.7 pounds a week. My puppy is huge, but you should see her brother from the same litter. He weighed 70 pounds a month ago. Mira is pretty awesome, so I’m taking a little bit of hers vicariously.
To be quite honest, I highly recommend attempting a project like the one I am sharing with you right now. Even if you don’t have the confidence, (or conceit), to share it publicly, it is actually an extremely healthy exercise to do for yourself. We often focus far too intensely on what we’re not doing well. Any strong relationship has a much greater ratio of positive than negative statements. Your relationship with yourself is no different.

From here, the list continues. I was tempted to cut it short and just make a bland list of things I’d missed so far, but I changed my mind for the very reasons I stated in the last paragraph. If you didn’t want to read about how awesome I am, you’d have stopped reading a while ago. Or you can stop now. I will never know.

If you’re new to me, you may not know, but I know how to Sail a boat. It’s not something I do nearly as often as I would like to, but owning a sailboat is also on the bucket list. That’s one of the reasons I checked 4WD vehicle off the list this summer. No point in owning a boat if you can’t tow it. Historically I took sailing lessons for two summers when I was in middle school, spent a summer casually racing J24s almost every Thursday night a few years back. I didn’t manage to get out on the water sailing this summer, but the summer before a friend of mine and I took her 16’ Hobie catamaran out on the lake. I did do some kayaking this summer, however, which is also neat.

Ooo, I almost forgot that I am Cultured. At least to some degree. I’ve seen some of the more famous operas, such as La Boheme, Die Fleidermaus, and The Barber of Seville, as well as quite a few I’ve forgotten. I saw Starlight Express in London, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables in Seattle. I also have The Man of La Mancha, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Camelot, and Miss Saigon under my belt. (I really, really want to see Wicked and The Lion King.) I can recognize and appreciate famous pieces of art, sans art history courses at any level. I was astounded when I discovered that it is apparently not normal around here to recognize a picture of Michaelangelo’s David. Most of the people I know just see a statue of a naked man.

On top of being cultured and enjoying art, music, theatre, good wine, and such, I am also a Thespian. I was in three community plays last year, two well known and one by a local playwright. When I was younger I took part in quite a few more. I enjoy acting, and at least at a local level I appear to be good at it. That’s what people tell me, at least. I don’t really consider it acting. They keep casting me as an arrogant ass. I can’t figure out why. ;P

The next item isn’t quite awesome. Neat, and extremely educational in terms of life lessons, though. I owned a house built in 1918 for four years while I was in college. I learned all kinds of fascinating things about paying mortgages, how much I am not a do-it-yourselfer, and how freaking expensive it is if anything breaks, like your heater or plumbing. Definitely an experience. I’m going to put off having it again for a while.

I also Know How to Ride a Horse. Not the most useful skill in this day and age, but it’s still fun. I love horses, actually. I go horseback riding less often than I go sailing, but I love it. It’s right up there with Snowboarding. All three are activities in which you can leave the world and its burdens behind until you come down off the mountain, in off the water, back from the trail.

Philosophically I am extremely proud of being a Humanist and a bit of a Minimalist. I believe in doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. In other words, I believe morality is intrinsic. As a semi-minimalist, I don’t enjoy owning a lot of stuff, and I don’t like owning things that don’t provide me with a means of enjoyment. The things I own are either practical, entertaining, or both. I still have way too much junk from when I was younger I need to pass on or get rid of. I don’t need, nor want it.

While there’s more, I think three pages of my awesomeness is enough for one day. You couldn’t hear it, but I laughed every time I said that I am awesome. That’s something you should know about me. While being overly confident is a lot of fun, I think it’s funny. It’s a difficult thing to take seriously, so I don’t. It’s a game to me as well as a personality trait.

I am awesome. But let me assure that I don’t think I am perfect. I wouldn’t want to be. I am human, flawed, broken, healed, scarred, maimed. I ache, I hurt, I live, I love and I will die, just as we all will. But when my time comes, and my life is measured in the Aristotelian fashion, I want it said that I lived well and did much. “Here lies one who achieved life’s most worthy goal: a Renaissance Man,” would be a pretty decent epitaph.

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Feeding the Wolves

I wish you’d been the one
to dream the dream
I had of you.
How much more fascinating
if it were your subconscious
putting you in provocative positions
and trying to seduce me.
Not that it wasn’t already fascinating
and don’t worry, you were succeeding
it was simply a case of wrong place, wrong time
and nothing came of it.
I’d like to think that if it had been your dream
you’d have been as persistent as necessary.
If that isn’t the kind of dream
you want me having about you,
don’t worry.
I woke up.

The above is what we call, well, prose with line breaks. Nice prose, lovely line breaks perhaps, but it’s not poetry. It might make a song, but it will never be a poem. There’s not a single metaphor in the whole thing, for one. No symbolism, nothing representing something else. Ok, the line breaks make that statement slightly false, but only for the first line. I don’t mind at all that it isn’t a poem. It’s still fun.

Today’s been rough. We had a quarterly social last night for work, which means free food, wine, and beer. I had a couple of glasses of a red blend, then went home. When I got home I opened the Gnarly Head Malbec a friend gave me for my birthday and somehow managed to drink the whole thing over the course of the evening. Considering I had goldfish crackers, Haribo gummi bears, and half a piece of chicken for “dinner,” I felt the wine a little more than normal.

I’m still hungover.

It’s not bad. Just a mild headache, body aches and tiredness. I feel as awake now as I did when I woke up, but it doesn’t help that I’ve been sitting at a desk most of the day with little to do. I have always been one of those people who gets more energy from being active. It is somewhat ironic then, that I enjoy resting so much.

The miserable part is being a pillow away from falling asleep at my desk coupled with the massive boredom of daily life here. I don’t like nor care very much about doing my job. More than half of the stuff that has gone across my desk again today had unnecessary corrections my co-worker makes obsessively. They have to be checked every time our production department makes the corrections. The lack of necessity makes it really rough. I don’t care to do more than check that the changes she requested were made and why would I? The sentence means the same thing whether it says, “One offer per customer,” or “One offer per customer only.” There’s no need to remove the word only from that sentence. It’s just more work for everyone else. And that period she added at the end of the date on a lone sentence saying, “Promotion valid through 2/18/12”? A great way to waste the time of people who have better things to do.

I’m really quite done with being a proofreader. I’d love to continue writing books, but I don’t want to do it at work when I’m supposed to be doing, you know, work. If I’m going to be working on my own projects, reading tons of books, and surfing the internet more often than not, I would much rather be doing so from my favorite cafĂ© or at home.

Speaking of my book and moving away from the bitching, I finished reading the first draft for the first time today. It’s really not too bad. The second half of the book needs fleshing out and there’s plenty of rewording, trimming, and other editing to do, but for what it is, I’m not too disappointed in myself. It’s better as a first draft than some of the garbage I’ve encountered trying to find something worth reading on Kindle. If I’m going to spew crap for public scrutiny, at very least I’m going to make an effort to shape it into some kind of crap sculpture instead of just a pile of dung.

I suppose that if we take into consideration that the average reading level for Americans is eighth grade, and our newspapers are all written to a third grade level, then it’s probably unreasonable for me to expect more from aspiring writers. I just wish they would spend more time on the writing and crafting than the aspiring. I’m really happy that Kindle allows you to read samples, otherwise buying books would be a lot like looking for a needle in a manure stack.

Worry not, my fine friends. I will present my dung sculpture when it is finished. Perhaps I’ll model it after Rodin’s Fallen Caryatid; a woman crumpled beneath the weight of her burdens, but trying to carry them nonetheless. As I have mentioned before, I wrote something I didn’t care about in order to practice my writing. That’s not going to stop me from trying to share it with the world at large, however. If Twilight can make it, it may just be that my nose for crap is extra sensitive. It doesn’t help that I was reading The Vampire Lestat in the 6th or 7th grade, let alone the 8th. Once you read a good book, it’s hard to go back and read garbage in the same genre.

I have similar but slightly more respectful feelings about Harry Potter. It was good, but kind of overrated, especially for someone who’s been reading real fantasy novels since he learned to read, starting with C.S. Lewis. While Rowling’s is easier to read than Tolkien, Harry Potter is no Bilbo Baggins. I liked the first book, the fourth, and the last. The rest were sawdust. The sixth was hogwash.

I may be overly self-deprecating regarding The West Wind. Self-deprecation is excellent armor against the cruel, cold world. It protects me from my own perceptions. It also feeds the wrong wolf, which is a constant battle and not one I’m winning today. It is somewhat difficult to remember in contemporary society that romance is not just the province of women. I am a romantic. I like romance. I enjoy watching romantic comedies. I am Duke Orsino from Twelfth Night, in love with love and waiting for someone like Viola to come along. I really dislike feeling embarrassed by these facts.
It’s time to remind myself that some of our most famous romances, both historically and contemporary, were written by men. Shakespeare comes to mind first, not only with Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy, but of course Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, the sonnets, etc. Love is quite regularly a theme of some kind in his works.

On the contemporary side, there is Nicholas Sparks. While I don’t think much of him as a writer, since his movies seem to tell his stories in more depth, he is quite famous and has a significant number of popular romance novels and movies. One of my favorite romantic movies is A Walk to Remember, which I have always believed should be an inspiration for any couple. People talk of Hollywood romance and describe it as something that doesn’t happen. In my world, A Walk to Remember is the way love should be, minus the tragedy at the end. Bucket list? Let’s help each other make our dreams come true. It just takes a little imagination and the ambition to see it through. I should know, I have walked that road, I have danced on that rooftop.

The Notebook was pretty rough for me. Not because I am gigantic sap, which I am, but because the story reminded me too much of my own, specifically the story with the aforementioned rooftop. In all honesty, it is also the only Sparks novel I have attempted to read. The movie is richer in detail and tells more of the story, so I gave up. He does have quite a few successful stories he’s shared, from the two I’ve mentioned to The Vow, Dear John, and the new one coming out soon, Safe Haven. Admittedly, I usually choose to watch romantic comedies over pure romance stories. Definitely, Maybe, anyone?

I miss having romance in my life. It has been entirely too long. There is an entire passionate side of me that just sits there, twiddling its thumbs. It has become a horse, bridled, with the reins pulled too tight and the bit digging into the soft parts of its mouth. It longs to walk, trot, canter, gallop. I may have to admit I am a little afraid of giving it its head. It hurts when someone knocks your horse out from under you when you’re in motion.

Sometimes I wonder how much I really practice what I preach, or if I have become to shy about it. I talk about imagination often, and how what we can do is only limited by our imaginations. I shy from a lot of possibilities, however, because they’re too far, too hard, too strange, in a different place in life. It is possible I am simply limiting my imagination, probably to protect myself. There is no gain without risk, however. Am I using my judgements, complaints, and uncertainties to keep myself safe from harm? I like to think not, that I am simply waiting for the right situation.

I may be hiding from it.


And a thousand words, goodnight.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poem Yesterday, Poem Today


The sound of the needle
inches above the phonograph,
the record stopped.
The clash of snow falling
in a moonlit forest on a winter's night.
The song of a sultry voice
after the pianist has left the lounge,
and the janitor long since brushed away 
the last dust from the shoes of the evening's dancers.
The quiet only a blind man knows
when no one else is close enough to touch
and all else is stillness.

The Death of the Author

The death of the author was regrettable,
but inevitable. It happened quickly,
his life punctuated quite literally.
His fingers left the keyboard thoughtlessly
as carefree as they ever had.
The final keystroke sealed his fate,
a single fingertip, a half-filthy key
that has never seen a lock.
And yet, as sure as any that turned 
to keep the monsters in, or out
it trapped him, closed the way forever
to whatever intentions he had meant
to put into the words he typed.
It is certain they were good and
it is likely the road lead where such things 
usually do.

The funeral was beautiful
millions came, bought and sold,
each reader brought his or her own voice
colored by his or her own experienced.
Some read within the lines.
Some read so far out 
the work was hardly recognizable.
The epitaph read,
"New York Times best seller."

And the author, while hardly Lazarus,
waited a few days until the aftermath
had settled into the dust of time,
then stood, shoved his hands into his pockets
and strode on down the road less traveled by
toward the next little death,
the next gravestone, the next laurel, the next trophy
to set on his bookshelf, tucked between
a pair of angelic bookends
that at second glance,
may have been gargoyles.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Well, I suppose an honest entry is due. Now that I’ve finished the first draft of my book, binge gamed, and read, it’s time to actually write something with content. Not to say it will be worth reading, but it will say. . . well, something.

It’s Monday morning and I am back at work after four days off. The company was closed for Thanksgiving, I took Friday off and then had the weekend. For the most part it was great. My family was out of town, so I had dinner with a friend and his wife. No turkey. The less traditional the better on Thanksgiving, I think. It’s my least favorite holiday. Gluttony is one of my least favorite vices. If I could give up eating without suffering the consequences, I probably would.

It’s not that eating isn’t an interesting experience. Taste is an interesting sense and I wouldn’t want to give that up. Being required to eat for sustenance is what I would pass on. Save my taste buds for wine, dark chocolate, Haribo, and the occasional delicious meal. Left to my own devices, I make a minimal effort to feed myself. It’s not an intentional thing. I just eat because I get hungry. If I’m wrapped up in whatever I’m doing, I’d much rather just keep doing that than eat.

Along with gluttony, rampant materialism is another vice I am not fond of. (Man, that sentence looks terrible with a preposition at the end. The “correct” version just sounds so stuffy and archaic: “of which I am not fond.”)  Parenthetical aside (beat), I turn into a hermit while the rest of America is busy deluding itself into thinking that they’re “saving” money. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate a decent sale. I picked up a couple of mentally stimulating video games off of Steam. I then proceeded to challenge myself over and over for the rest of the weekend. I’m just not going to lie to myself about what my actions meant: I spent money. Were I saving any, it would still be in my bank account. I may have spent less, but spend money I did. It’s a pretty picture those savings-tinted glasses paint, but the Emerald City still ain’t green.

The fact remains, beyond the necessities, give me a guitar, a computer, and a Kindle and I’m set. For you lovers of tomes, it isn’t that I don’t love the physical book; I have a library. It’s just a lot easier to pack a Kindle. I have yet to acquire one, actually. I currently use the Kindle app on my computer, however, and get mildly irritated that I can’t take my book and sit on the couch in front of the wood stove with a glass of wine. One the other hand, I still want physical copies of my favorite books. It’s important to leave them in plain sight ready to trap the unwary reader into literary enjoyment.

It’s not that I really have anything against vices. Everyone needs a vice. Some are simply healthier than others. Or more fun. I’m a particular fan of wine, coffee, vanity, and people watching. (That’s is a nice way of saying I’m mildly voyeuristic.)Vanity in others is something I actually enjoy. I admire a certain degree of self-love. Vices take those overbearing righteous parts of our selves and make us unfailingly and unflatteringly human. It’s beautiful.

Which is your favorite of the cardinal, or “Seven Deadly” sins? In case you’ve forgotten, they’re Lust, Pride, Gluttony, Wrath, Sloth, Envy, and Greed.
In further news, my new-to-me Ford Escape continues its descent into a rustic exhaust belching environmental hazard on wheels. I expect clouds of black smoke to belch from the tailpipe any day now. I’m exaggerating, but my catalytic converters keep tossing their filtration system down the lines and clog up the next one down. This causes the exhaust in the system to build pressure until it releases from the weakest point. The weakest point happens to be an item called an EGR valve. Does it pry the hose from the valve? No, it blows a hole in the pewter-like wall of the contraption. While the vehicle will still run in this state, it means that the exhaust blows out into the car anytime you’re going less than 35 miles per hour. Cough. Cough. Hack. Gag. Die of asphyxiation.

This is the second time this has happened since I bought the car in August. Awesome, right? Even better, it happened on the same stretch of road while I was heading out of town on a Sunday afternoon, both times. Why, SUV, do you hate going to Coeur D’Alene?

Other than that particular event, I truly enjoyed my binge gaming over the holiday. I spent some time replaying Dishonored and XCom, then bought Orcs Must Die 2 and well, goodbye fair world. I’ll be in Tower Defense land for a while. I’d rather be there now, to be quite honest. This whole work thing isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. ;)

A lot of people are excited for the holidays, by which I mean Christmas. Me, I’m more excited for the End of the World. Capitalized. Don’t worry, I haven’t suddenly unveiled myself as some kind of doomsayer. My friends and I have been planning a party the evening of the 20th since high school, when we first watched a National Geographic movie about the Mayans, long before it became a fad. That day is coming quickly and people are coming from all over to attend. One of my best friends and the woman who isn’t his wife yet but will be before the party is coming from Florida, another friend and his fiancĂ© are coming from Ohio, a couple of friends are coming from Boise, some from Oregon, and so on and so forth.

If you aren’t aware, what makes the Mayan prediction interesting is that it isn’t just some random prophecy by whatever whackjob happened to be the big name in soothsaying at the time. The event, whatever it is meant to be, is part of a calendar full of astrological events. This calendar has been predicting eclipses and so on for hundreds of years. The startling part of this is that about 1100 years later their predictions are only off by 13 seconds. Certainly made me think twice.

Thinking twice, however, means looking things up and finding out what smart people who know what they are talking about are actually saying about things. Really, it’s the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is simply the end of a cycle. A really long one. According to the Mayans, the end of a cycle was something to be celebrated. Well, great minds think alike. I’ll raise a glass to you, long gone advanced civilization. If I had to guess why you suddenly and inexplicably abandoned your culture, it was probably because someone voted for your era’s version of Romney. Nothing could survive that.

I’m joking.

I’ll stop babbling for a while. I’m certain there’s only so much one can take of coherent rambling. No, that’s not a typo. I’m just that vain. ;)

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Friday, November 2, 2012



If a woman could write herself,
form herself of crafted words,
make of herself a golem
of grammar and syntax,
metaphor and metonymy;

if she could shape herself
into silent, still, soliloquy;
her cunning sharp and carved of consonance;
her curves soft, sculpted so from sibilance;
her emotions openly evoked in assonance,
if a woman could make herself
into such a thing,
oh, what a book you’d be.

And what a man could do with such a book,
her pages laid out before him.
He might take in her scent
or run a finger down her spine
treasuring the tingle of the title
beneath a cartographer’s wandering fingertips.

For certain he would read her,
once, twice, and then again
til she was as worn from care as he, yet free
from careless dog eared marks
or any annotations desperate to define her.
He’s the kind of man
who remembers where all his favorite parts are
but would read every page again
just to laugh once more at a piece of witty banter,
the same place he’s laughed at
a thousand times before.

If a woman could write herself,
form herself of crafted words,
if a woman could make herself
into such a thing,
oh, what a book you’d be.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Meaning of Life

Time for another break from The West Wind. 25,768 words since 10/22/2012.

Albert Camus once said, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” I can only imagine that Sisyphus took things a step beyond happiness. Forced to roll his boulder up and watch it roll down, I find myself imagining him dubbing the boulder Wilson, (How many centuries he waited for the perfect name!), and making it not his burden, but his fast friend. Like a snowboarder who spends two hours hiking a snow covered peak for the thrill and freedom of a 15 minute ride back down, I picture this supposedly tragic character rolling his stone to its peak then turning and racing it down. Trying to climb on top and ride it to the bottom. What would the gods care, having judged him and left him to his doom? Indeed, would he be any less lost without Wilson than Tom Hanks was in Cast Away? Without his burden, no matter how absurd his struggle, without it he is not Sisyphus. Without Sisyphus, the boulder is inert, nothing worthy of a story. Without the boulder, Sisyphus would be just another cruel king forgotten on the tides of time.

Camus called life, “absurd.” I would argue that perhaps intrinsic is better diction. Life is it’s own meaning. We are defined by whatever Wilson our own has shaped for us, and our Wilson defines us. The logic is circular because most things in our lives are. Western minds have difficulty accepting this; they want stories to have a beginning and an end.

Science has shown us that the intrinsic values of our experiences are the only ones that lead to a sense of well-being and fulfillment. We must first come to terms and gain the means to deal with our burden. We first climb through Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs until we are satisfied that yes, we can roll the boulder up the hill. We claim food and shelter, then reach for the next level. Once there, it has been proven that human beings function and perform below par when their motivations are not intrinsic. In particular this refers to any form of creativity, which encompasses anything from coding an original iPad app to writing a symphony.

It is not so far-fetched then, that existence could be it’s own purpose. Life is not absurd because it lacks meaning. It’s intrinsic, because it is it’s own meaning. Where Western thought has difficulty with this is because it’s been educated to expect a great purpose for all things rather than taught to accept that all things have their purpose. Yet we reach more and more as a population for Eastern philosophies and practices. The popularity of yoga, the advent of Positive Psychology that so closely mirrors Eastern wisdom in its teachings, a generation of adults who are realizing that money never bought them happiness and a generation of young adults who don’t want to go into the corporate work force because they want their lives to have a greater purpose. As a civilization, many of us are seeking meaning, without realizing we already have it.

I propose that Camus was right. Sisyphus must be happy. Not because existence has no meaning, but because he found meaning in the simplest place he could: his own existence.

This is not the answer to the meaning of life. That’s 42. This is just a few thoughts on the subject. Don’t bother to ask what the question is. The Earth will be destroyed before we figure that out. Pack a towel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Brief Respite

I am writing to take a short break from writing. On Monday I decided to write a book that I don’t really care about in order to practice. Ironically, compared to the stories I have wanted to tell for years, this one is spilling out like water from a broken dam. If you have read much of my journaling, you might guess the story was a science fiction or fantasy novel. It is, in fact, more akin to a Nicholas Sparks novel than anything else. While my experience with Nicholas Sparks is limited to the very small amount of The Notebook that I managed to make it through before deciding the movie did a better job of telling the story and giving up, I did enjoy the movie, and one of his older films, A Walk to Remember, is one of my favorite romantic movies, hands down.

With the current popularity of trashy literature like Twilight and erotica such as 50 Shades of Grey, I feel like this venture could actually pay off when I manage, for the first time in my life, to finish a novel I start. I feel like there’s a good chance of this happening; I have written 13,399 words in the last three days and I will most likely continue working on it this evening.

As a teaser, let me share a tidbit or two with you. The working title, which will probably stick, is The West Wind. Early in the novel, the male protagonist’s father quotes Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind,” a Romantic poem about new beginnings. While the story is loosely based on another famous poem from a different era, The West Wind seemed appropriate. Xander and his father move to the fictional city of Vista Bay, California from Seattle, Washington after the death of Xander’s mother to a terminal illness. They buy a house on the National Register of Historic Places so they might restore it to its former glory.

The female protagonist is Hero, the only daughter of a rich family who lives on an island at the center of the bay. Hero and Xander meet at a local club that hosts swing dances once a week. Swing is -the- activity in Vista Bay, and Xander’s favorite hobby, thanks to his mother who practically raised him in the not at all fictional Century Ballroom in Seattle. They meet and dance. At the end of the dance, he dips her almost to the ground. They are about to kiss and, attempting to be a gentleman, Xander says, “No, I’m sorry, it’s too easy.” Hero understandably misconstrues this as an insult and slaps him. He’s so surprised that he drops her.

The story continues from there.

I find I’m looking forward to telling the whole story, (and discovering where it goes while the main plot develops). I tend to write in an extremely organic process. One might compare it to a coloring book, in which the main idea forms the borders of the picture and I freely fill in whatever colors I’m inspired to use as I go.

I probably should have started writing such romance novels years ago, since I’m rather obsessed with the subject. Ah well, there’s no time like the present.

I am Orsino, in love with the idea of love.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Immortal, Ephemeral

I have wanted to be immortal most of my life. Stop for a moment and savor the irony in that statement. I don’t know where this fantasy began, whether it was Heinlein’s three thousand year old Lazarus Long, or Anne Rice’s vampire, Lestat. Maybe it was Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Saga. Perhaps it began earlier than that, with the gods and demigods of a plethora of cultures whose tales I read as often as I could find a new book at the library. There are people who wish they could fly, people who wish they could turn invisible, there are those who wish they could read minds. I have always wished for immortality.

How curious then, that I am endlessly fascinated by the mortal, the ephemeral. I am eternally conscious of no matter what mark we make in the minds of men and on the land, in time it will fade. It will cease to exist. All evidence of that we ever crawled upon the face of the world will eventually be obliterated. Gaia herself is mortal.

The older I get, the less I care about the material; the less I appreciate gifts unless they facilitate my access to the things I do appreciate. A Kindle, for example, simply because I want the books I have purchased on it available everywhere. A library I can carry in my pocket. As much as I love books, I am not married to their physical form.

When people ask what I would like for a gift, I usually tell them to buy me wine. Unless I miraculously quit drinking, I will always need more. It is a great way to explore more vineyards as people purchase a wider variety than one might on one’s own. My sister’s gift to me last Christmas was one bottle of wine a month for a year. It continues to be the perfect gift.

The things I treasure: a full glass of wine in hand while I sit on the couch in front of a wood stove, fire raging against the iron of its cage, licking the transparency of the door; a Monday night rain storm pouring off the roof while I stand on the second story deck, the light from the house turning the streams of water into dancing beams of light; a good dance, a laugh and smile from my partner; that moment when she catches her breath, bites her lip as a thought crosses her mind and she is too caught up in the now of us to realize that she is as open a book as she will ever be. I love these things that do not last. I love the stories that have endings, and no matter how they are retold, are a little different every time.

I prefer the beauty of a rose to a diamond and the beauty of a woman to a rose. In the dark, a diamond is just another rock. In the dark, a rose is still soft, fragrant. In the dark, a woman is soft and hard, fragrant, alive with the in and out of her breath, palpable, yet beautiful to the senses. The joys of a woman are limitless, and still, each as ephemeral as the life of that rose, the ebb and flow of an ocean’s tide.

The world is full of things that come and go. Change is the only constant. The story begins, rises, climaxes, falls. We have our denouement and our epilogue. A new story begins. I am entranced by these tales, fascinated by my part in them, passionate about how each new narrative reshapes a piece of my own. Fact or fiction, rain storm or lover, new road or familiar path, I am constantly rewritten. I end and begin, day after day.
Today is a new beginning. Today is a reason for living.

Immortality seems to me an opportunity to live the ephemeral to its ultimate. To experience the constant change, the endless stories and combinations, forever. I would say yes, given the chance, knowing the world and its terrible, tragic nature, and its joy. Knowing how hard life sometimes, being diagnosed with chronic depression and having lived with it, knowing sometimes how much my mind tells me it would accept death readily (it took me years to not imagine my parents at my funeral), I would accept immortality. I would welcome the chance to learn everything about the world, to become the ultimate Renaissance Man. To learn every instrument, every language, read book after book after book. To watch, fascinated, as the world was born, lived, and died around me. To watch the rain fall, listen to it on the tin of the roof, share the fire and wine with a lover, to sail again and again into the sunset, forever.

It will, however, be rather inconvenient when the sun grows old, gets fat and consumes the planet if we don’t find a way to spread ourselves out among the stars.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Humanist? Feminist? Rambler.

A friend asked me recently if I considered myself a male feminist. That’s not a question I have really put any thought into. It seems to be a popular topic this last week. Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind, talked about being a feminist in his blog recently. I told my friend that I’d get back to her after I spent some time ruminating.

I tend to be blissfully ignorant as to how others define most labels. I have a very general idea of what constitutes a liberal, a better idea of what constitutes a conservative, barely understand the differences between Democrat and Republican beyond what I see of their actions and decide for myself. This is my general modus operandi. Think for myself. A part of that "ignorance" is a conscious decision. Labels are fluid things, words that shift meaning with time. A decade ago, Republican didn’t mean conservative Christian intolerant assholes deluded by their representatives into thinking it’s still a party for the people by labeling progressive movements scary things like, “socialist” which does not equal “communist” and so on. At least, my understanding of it was different. It’s only since Bush that I’ve concluded that they’ve come down with some sociological form of rabies.

I digress. Am I a feminist? I was raised by one, but that feminist is also Catholic and I am clearly not one of those. I am not certain of my feministry. I admire, appreciate, and prefer strong, independent intelligent women. I dislike patriarchal societies that treat women as baby factories. It was, in fact, my strongest source of distaste for Japanese culture. My manager quit her job as soon as she got married to become a housewife. My friend with dreams of cutting hair in Hawaii wouldn’t chase her dream because her family was putting so much pressure on her to marry. It is a cultural phenomenon, not simply two cases.

I don’t know if my dislike for that kind of treatment makes me a feminist. I am a humanist and no one should be pressured like that: man, woman, child, adult. As a society, we should all be encouraging each other to follow our dreams and make the most of our lives.

Feminism works toward equal treatment for men and women in the workplace, pay grades, socially, etc. I don’t particularly see any reason why a man should earn more than a woman, unless he performs better. That performance should be based on the numbers, however, not pre-conceived notions of what that performance might be.

Is equality enough? One of my favorite quotes is from Robert A. Heinlein’s Notebooks of Lazarus Long: “Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, ‘equality’ is a disaster.” I tend to see the world through Long-colored glasses. Women and children first. Even biologically, it makes sense to protect the young and child-bearer’s of a civilization; it only takes one man to recreate the race. I wouldn’t envy the poor fellow the effort, though.

I have my chauvinistic moments, when I roll my eyes and say to myself, “Women.” When this occurs, it is generally in the presence of other men. Which is somewhat subversive, because I tend to appreciate my gender on an individual level. “Men,” irritate me and I usually avoid their company. One might extend that to people in general, however. I enjoy individuals on an individual basis. There are a lot of reasons for stereotypes out there, however, and I have difficulty connecting with them.

Since in a good argument we must weigh both sides, I’m going to explore my male chauvinist side a little deeper. It has been my experience that women are more likely to listen to what they think I am saying without listening to what I am actually saying than men are. That isn’t a particularly good measurement, however, since I don’t make an effort to spend as much time around men. But I think my male friends are just more likely to not listen at all.

In the spirit of the exploration, a moment of vulnerability: I often find men intimidating, particularly when I don’t know them. I rarely find women intimidating. I do not fear women. I am uncertain how that applies to the discussion at hand.

I suppose I must ask myself if I think that men are better than women. I do not. I think we could argue that my problem is generally that I think I am better than many other people, of either gender. You may call it arrogance, if you so desire.

In my own self-diagnosis, I am not a male chauvinist. I separate myself from those I don’t respect equally. This allows us to revisit the topic at hand.

Am I a male feminist? I support the rights of women to have sex with whomever they choose, whenever they choose. I think she should be able to access birth control without difficulty, and have an abortion. If it is my child, I hope she will consider discussing the decision with me first, however. I would volunteer to be a single father. That has less to do with the abortion argument and more with personal life goals, however. Sorry, got distracted.

A woman should have all the rights and privileges as men. There are undeniable differences however and I don’t agree that they should be ignored. The major feminist example in my life still believes in gender roles. My mother cooked and cleaned most of my childhood (with help), but refuses to do anything with machines. Checking the oil and getting it changed is my dad’s job. I am uncertain, however, that if she were mechanically inclined and my dad a gourmand that things wouldn’t have been organized the other way. Impossible to tell.

I know that in my own experience, I would like to try being a “househusband,” if the opportunity is provided. Depending on the circumstances, I want to home school my future children, though were the future mother of my children a teacher and wished to do so herself, I certainly think the topic open for discussion. I would welcome the opportunity of house husbandry to provide time for writing, raising puppies and children and educating them to be the kind of people I wish their were more of in the world. Would I be satisfied in that role? I don’t know. But I would give it a shot. I am not a career-oriented person. As long as my future significant other knows how to balance work and play, I have no problem with her being the professional, bread earning one.

I don’t know that I have come any closer to an answer. I don’t really think I am a feminist, per se. I am just a humanist. Man, woman, everyone deserves equal opportunity and humane treatment. (Not all men were created equal, except in terms of human rights. It’s an unrealistic statement.) I keep coming back to the quote from the movie, 100 Girls, when at the end of his feminism course, the protagonist says, “There are just too many ‘-ists’ in the world. Feminists, chauvinists, capitalists, communists, racists, sexists… These are all groups that fight one another instead of trying to understand one another. I think the only “-ists” there should be are humanists.”

So, my dear Robin Goodfellow, you tell me. In your words, am I a male feminist?

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jekyll and Hyde

That I am I.
That my soul is a dark forest.
That my known self will never be
more than a little clearing in this forest.
That gods, strange gods, will come forth
into the clearing of my known self, and then go back.
That I must have the courage to let them come and go.
- D.H. Lawrence

I have this quote practically memorized. My memory isn’t quite verbatim, but close. I discovered it when reading an excerpt from Lawrence’s essay criticizing Ben Franklin’s list of virtues that was taped to the walls of the narrow halls in the College of English at my university.

It comes to my mind, often, because it reeks of truth to me. It is true in the way of a Zen koan, an anecdote used to stir the mind into enlightenment. When you understand the meaning, things just click inside you.

After my yoga class yesterday I told my teacher that I don’t understand why my muscles and the rest of my body are so tight when I am almost always relaxing. Masseuses across the years have regularly told me I am too young to be so tense. They said it five years ago and they would say it now. Little has changed.

Saying it aloud made the issue more real and sparked further introspection. I don’t have an answer. I am still searching for one, but I have started to collect an idea here and there. I think part of the answer lies with those strange from the dark forest; I don’t know if I have the courage to let them come and go.

I wrote recently about the poet I keep chained up inside. I don’t think he is alone. There is a monster in the depths with him, a monster I have fought and killed a buried and given new life only to fight again. There is an anger within me that I haven’t voiced, a violence I don’t respect and haven’t accepted. The poet always knew the beast better than I, for the poet often wandered through the dappled shadows cast by the canopy of my soul.

I don’t know this beast and I think I fear him. He is not simply trained, or leashed, but a feral creature caged. He has been slapped, punished, beaten. He has been hidden because I became overly sensitive about what people might think of me as I aged. I locked him away with the poet so that no one would have to taste my darkness.

Without the dark god’s voice lending its rough crystal honey to my own, am I a whole man? Without his animal desires, am I body and mind? Have I striven so hard to be the opposite of the creature that my yin yang is nigh white washed? Am I so far from symbol I value so highly? I am no saint. Am I guilty of trying to be one? I only wish to be a man who stands for what he believes in.

What is this burden I carry in my flesh? Is it the arrogant child who learned early that apathy was safer than caring? The middle school student in velvet pants, long hair, and a beret with milk dripping from his hair, standing straight against the words gay, homo, freak with the entire 8th grade class as an audience? Is it the lazy, unchallenged teen who drew lines of blood so deep in his shoulder that the scars remain almost 15 years later? I once spent hours in my youth pretending I was myself, sans limits. Who did I become when I was actually trying to be myself under the restraints of life? Not that creature I once imagined I was. Not that potential.

I feel like Promotheus, had he been chained to the stone before he could give fire to the world. I writhe against the face of the rock at the injustice. I feel the weight of it beneath my skin and I cannot name it. My shoulders tense at the thought and the ache and tautness lives like a thing in my brain. Some kind of knot that loops and tangles and constricts slowly around the gravity of what I bear until its load is hidden from sight.

I am ready to name it, to let go, to be as relaxed as I imagine myself being. I think perhaps, to do so, I must be prepared for the gods to come and go from the forest. I must greet them by name, ply them with wine and song, and send them home again content in their doing and being.

I must have the courage to let them come and go.

But I am tentative. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Holiday Lost (Sorry, Milton)

Now that I have finally caught up on my Open Diary reading, (would you say I ODed? -mischievous grin-), it is time to catch up a little on entry writing. I have been a terrible person. I haven’t written at all in the last ten days, with the exception of three and a half hand written pages of a letter to a friend in the UK, which my puppy promptly decided to eat. -sigh- I am not overly eager to re-write my friend, but I suppose I must, since it is my turn in our epistolary venture.

As my friend would say, I just got back from a work holiday. Or, in my fair country’s vernacular, a vacation. I spent 10 days away from the stagnant pool of proofreading and I enjoyed every minute of it, even the moments in which I found myself in the dentist’s chair twice in two days and on a two-hour trip to spend maybe twenty minutes signing paperwork for the financing of my new Ford Escape. The same vehicle that decided to blow a hole in its EGR valve on Sunday, a quarter of the way to the dance I had intended to attend on Sunday night. I did not make it, obviously. Fortunately it is a relatively minor problem. The vehicle is still drivable; it simply runs poorly, like a martial artist with a crushed larynx and a tracheotomy.

On the last two Saturdays I took Mira down to the local Farmer’s Market for socialization and training. Mostly socialization, of which she received a ton, since she is a puppy. People of both genders and all ages are drawn to puppies like moths to flame, albeit with more pleasant results. We enjoyed the sun, the attention, and the company. I have to admit, I secretly enjoy kneeing people in their assumptions. I realize she is very similar in appearance to a black Labrador, but better to ask if your guess is the right one than to barge on down that road without looking. I think that is just a general rule of thumb, whether we are discussing my dog or anything else. If you do want to go that ass out of u and me route, please do though, I repeat, because it is just fun to say, I secretly enjoy kneeing people in their assumptions.

My vacation was exactly what I needed. On my second day back at work, I can tell you I need more of it. I spent a lot of time relaxing and just as much being active. I finally had the chance to do some things I have been wanting to do all summer, which was great. On Wednesday my friends Ben, Dan, and I hiked up Grouse Creek Falls for about an hour and a half before turning back around. Don’t let the word “hike” give you any illusions, we literally climbed up the waterfalls, up rocks and across pools, finding purchase in a deep pocket in the stone in the middle of the flow and pulling ourselves over to the other side. The bed of the creek is all loose river rocks and mountainside and we went up the creek itself, letting the waterway be our path. Ben and I did this barefoot. It was rather rough, but a lot of fun. This is my third time climbing up the falls, though I had never hiked up so far after getting above the falls. It was, as Dan called it a few times, a bona fide adventure, but hardly as epic as it might sound. The waterfall is a series of short falls, cold, deep pools and easily climbed rock faces.

Ben stayed over and had dinner with my dad and I. The next day we loaded my parent’s sea kayak on top of my Escape and drove it downtown, to a boat launch at a place called Sand Creek. The creek is more of an estuary for the lake and we paddled up it until we came to the actual creek, which is too shallow for a boat of any kind. Round trip, it was also 3 1/2 hours. I drive by the creek regularly as I go in and out of town. It is different now. I know it, I have trailed my fingers across her surface, dipped into her and explored her curves. A river looks different, when you have traveled it. There is an intimacy you never expected. She is no longer some stranger you pass along the way, but someone you meet eyes with, a sparkle hidden in them as if you share a secret, a knowing that no one else will ever understand. No other lover will know her the way you did, whether she has one or a thousand. That time, that intimacy is yours, your conversation, your discourse.

(On a side note, I feel similarly about dancing. In three minutes with our clothes on, I have known strangers better than many of their lovers ever will. When you move someone, move with someone, you transcend the adolescent pawing so many call sex these days and rise toward that oneness we all imagine comes along with physical joining. At the end of that three minutes, in my arrogance I have often returned my partner to her so-called lover and thought to him, “You’re welcome.”)

On Friday, Ben and I went fourwheeling. We took the ATVs, quads, fourwheelers, or whatever you would like to call them up and down a series of trails and logging roads up behind the land my parent’s and I live on. After an hour or so we left one of the vehicles in some brush overlooking what my dad calls “The Cataclysmic Event,” where a cliff of pure clay fell into the river years ago, leaving behind a steep slope down to a flat semi-moonscape. Riding together, we took the other ATV back to my house, where we parked it and hiked up the river that runs past our property until we finally came to the Event again, picked up the other ATV and rode home one last time.

Those were the major activities of my time off. I filled the other hours with Civilization V, a few movies, rereading a couple of the Percy Jackson novels, running a D&D campaign based on a book that I may someday get back to writing, taking walks with the dogs, and all the other bits and pieces that make up a life. I went no where, which was a joy after the last serious vacation I took.

Have I ever told you about the world I live in now? I think not. Tomorrow, then.

And a thousand words, goodnight.