Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summer Slug

I am not a fan of summer. Primarily it has to do with heat. (And yes, I'm from Texas, and yes I should love heat, but no I don't, and that's why I've been here for eleven years, so stop telling me I'm a Texan as if this is some new piece of information.) But in addition to the irritating sun that threatens my vampiric tendencies, it is another summer signifier whose disappearance will make me celebrate the soon coming autumn.


I hate flip-flops. No, not the political sort. Well, I hate those too. Sometimes. But I mean the shoes. (Sandals?) I hate them. With a passion.

I have a few friends who are aware of my loathing. Some even share that loathing. But those haters hate for another reason. They are foot phobic. And they often assume I am too. On the contrary. I have no issue with little piggies. In fact, I have always found hands and feet to be the most intriguing parts of the body. They are second only to the face in uniqueness and tend to possess much character. Some hands and feet possess more character than their owners. And as I'm a big believer in acupressure and reflexology - rubbing the hands and feet can promote great healing and serenity. You know what does not promote peace and rejuvenation?


"Flip-flops". The ridiculous name of these equally ridiculous shoes (sandals?) is onomatopoeic. And that's why they make my blood boil. Ladies and gentlemen, flip-flops produce THE SOUND OF LAZINESS. And really, they should not be called flip-flops; they should be called "shuh-fuh-lip-shuh-fuh-lops". But that's too long and too hard to write on sale signs at the top of large metal bins at department stores where lazy people purchase shoes (sandals?) that reflect their sloth-like existences. When I hear this hideous sound approaching - I can only think of something that looks like a slug - yes, a glistening, wet, slug sliming its way through my life for the sole purpose of reminding me that in this country we have adopted a state of "apathy" as the ultimate state of "cool". And yes, I know "apathy" and "laziness" are not the same thing, but one often leads to the other or is a symptom of the other, so shut up. The point is, flip-flops should be banned for subliminally supporting the notion that shuffling along and being too lazy to lace a shoe or buckle a real sandal is "cool." Has it ever occurred to anyone that it is possible to influence mood and action through purely external means? In this pyscho-psychotic Oprah-Phil Tele-world, we are obsessed with things that frankly, we should GET THE FUCK OVER. Your absent Daddy and overbearing Mommy did not make you put on that hideous shoe (sandal?) and make me hate the world. I'm not sure what causes people to wear these things and submit to their disease of apathy, but rather than find the root cause, let's do what Americans do best: cover the symptom and call it good! I'm usually against this sort of remedy, but in this case I welcome it, and my ears welcome it. Maybe if people stop shuh-fuh-lipping-shuh-fuh-lopping, the more pleasant sounds of real footwear will infiltrate the psyche and reduce apathy to pre 21st century levels. Maybe then we'd have a chance to turn corners! To climb mountains! To cross thresholds! To break the ties than bind--

Okay, maybe I just think flip-flops are annoying.

And they should DIE.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Late night surfing on "On Demand" last night really paid off. I was searching Showtime offerings and came upon an unassuming documentary called Naked on the Inside. Frankly, the title made me groan a bit - it sounded not unlike a Lifetime Movie of the Week. But the description was intriguing: "Six extra-ordinary people from around the world reveal their bodies and share their secrets in a unique experiment in search of their inner selves."

Okay. I guess that sounds exactly like a Lifetime Movie...or a New Age Convention here in Portland, OR. But...that it was a documentary - and one made by an obscure Australian filmmaker - I remained interested. Turns out this was one the more unique film experiences I've had in a very long time. The candor with which these six individuals expressed themselves provided such great drama, I almost believed it was all scripted.

-An ex-model with an eating disorder.
-A legless British man in a dance troupe.
-A pre-op transexual (FTM) passing as a male Christian minister in Taiwan.
-An Latino ex-gang member and felon whose actions resulted in the murder of his wife and child.
-An extremely overweight self described "fat activist" who now models for art students.
-An Aussie woman with breast cancer who refuses medical treatment in an attempt to get right with herself spiritually.

The film exposes these people simply and beautifully. Raw. Poignant. Celebratory. Heartbreaking. About half way through, they each have the opportunity to create a video "self portrait" where they talk (or not) and get in various forms of undress for the camera - sometimes embracing their naked beauty, sometimes still struggling with reconciling their fears. And by the time we see this - their nudity both physically and psychologically echoes back and forth in a most provocative and moving fashion.

I have spent my life dealing with severe body issues myself. Food addiction and eating disorders run rampant through my close and extended families. And I typically gain and lose an average of 60 pounds a year in an attempt to reach what feels like beauty. The disconnect between ourselves and our bodies seems like a plague. This film managed to bring the issue to light, and I thank director Kim Farrant for applying a delicate and silent artistry to the material.

If you have Showtime, see it. Rare and wonderful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stinging Sleep

Many people know that I have a fear of wasps. If you ever want to see me get really nelly - watch me in a car where a wasp has flown in through the window. It isn't pretty - but probably hilarious - unless I'm driving and you're in the passenger seat. I feel for you, and hope you're right with the Lord.

Today has been a rough day thus far. I am out of sorts and anxious, feeling a bit faint and cold sweating, which this humidity is not helping. I don't think I'm ill. In fact, this is all due to a very poor night of sleep...insomnia mixed with many a dream of wasps - yellow jackets to be precise. As the day goes on, the dreams are becoming more and more faded. (Kind of like these jeans I keep wearing over and over, because I'm in between fat pants and less-fat pants, but that's another issue.) But one passage in last night's dream overtures has whittled its way into my conscious mind and left quite the imprint.

A wasp nest appeared in the kitchen, attached to the refrigerator. My mother looked at it calmly, coldly. She grabbed the circular hood of a cake tray and covered the nest. As if directed, the yellow jackets swarmed out of their little papery pocket-homes and filled the glass cover. She then looked over at the stove, and I noticed one of the electric burners was on high, showing its menacing orange-hot coil. And with a swift move, my mother dashed across the kitchen, and with the insect filled glass, covered the burner as though it was, itself, a cake. I realized then her intent was to burn the wasps to death. And they did. Burn. As their crystalline jail heated up, they began to scream. I heard them both outside and inside my head. They screamed and screamed like children being burned alive. Not adults. Children. Sad, scared children. Angry children. Children that might at some point reincarnate to seek revenge.

My mother simply watched. Still cold. Still calm. And all at once, the wasps exploded, their boiling entrails spraying on the side of the glass. And no more screaming. Silence. Complete, silence. As the sound of my own heartbeat threatened to overcome me, my mother turned and said, "Well, that worked." And she walked out of the room.

I looked back to the refrigerator. And out of a lonely compartment, a single surviving wasp crawled carefully out of the vespiary and flew up and away - too fast for me to follow its path. And I wondered, what might the wasp have planned for us?

I am haunted today. I hope it passes soon...

Monday, August 18, 2008


I went to a cafe today for a meeting. In front of me was a woman who got into an argument with the cashier over prices and procedures for making her favorite drink. Favorite drug? Anyway, the cashier was very nice - and this woman was not having it. "At your other location it costs less. And they don't make it that way. And..." This went on as the line grew longer and longer until this woman had an entire audience.

We've all seen this consumer. The one where it's ALL ABOUT THEM.

Not long ago, I got into a quibble over pedestrians crossing the street. I was crossing on foot with a friend at a crosswalk. He has a tendency to go slower than I do. There was very busy traffic, and I said, "Hurry it up." He said, "I have the right of way and they can just wait." This angered me a bit, because I knew if I were in my car, I'd want the pedestrian - and yay for them for being green and walking and not polluting...RAH RAH RAH - I'd want them to hurry the fuck up, because it's hot and I've been stuck in downtown traffic for God knows how long.

What it comes down to is awareness...the awareness that we are all participants in this giant machine. And for the machine to run smoothly, we must all do our part. If the woman in the cafe was alone with no one behind her - fine, indulge in your righteousness over your need for perfect, overpriced, coffee drinks. But there's a line behind you, lady. I don't give a crap about the price variation of your silly drink - and by the way, it's a DIME. (We all knew it was a dime in difference, because she repeated it like mantra - "It's a DIME cheaper at the other location. Why is it a DIME cheaper over there? Why are you charging a DIME more for the same drink?" She was wearing designer clothing, of course...I guess she's been saving her dimes.) And why not speed your lazy ass up when crossing the street so the person in his/her car can get off the road faster and promote the same green values you promote by walking in the first place? And don't get me started on arrogant cyclists. Oh, and that person who has no idea what they might order in the drive through lane and sits for ten minutes looking at the menu as if they're eating at a fine dining establishment. Again - with a LONG LINE BEHIND THEM!!! (A taco supreme is not that complicated to grasp!) And why don't people have their cards ready and in hand when going to the gym, so that check-in is easier and faster and more efficient?

A machine people! Get with it! We need to all participate in the fine-tuning of the communal machine. I think about this a lot. And I bitch about it too. A lot. And I think I'm right about this - at least to some degree. Right?

Then again, my partner has said to me on many occasions when I'm riled up, "I think we just need to drink more."


Sunday, August 17, 2008


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Time to stop hiding.

I have spent 35 years doing what many people do - creating a public identity while simultaneously experiencing a separate narrative inside my head. I doubt there's a way to make the inside and outside match completely. There will always be secrets, desires, and contemplations that simmer for a while before going public. But the divide between these two realms has become a canyon. And it's one that has threatened to swallow me for many, many years.

So I write to build a bridge. I know it will wobble, suspended above my fear. But I commit to building it nonetheless. And I commit to crossing over it naked. And my hope is that one day the bridge will disappear, for the canyon will become a mere crack in the earth. And if I'm really lucky, even this crack - dried and thirsty - will drink of my honesty, and give way to nothing but soft, workable, fertile ground.