Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Perspective [....Mind the Gap between picture and words]

Isn't this picture hilarious? The daughter of an acquaintance drew this for her mother, so yes, it's not meant to be funny....But how can we not laugh? I kind of feel like being irreverant at the moment. I'm thinking about perspective, and what a little son-of-a-gun (re: bastard spawn) I used to be when I was a young child. You all think I'm fabulously nice now (wink, wink) but back in the day I was Pure Hellion. Exhibit #1 (which, even as it's funny, makes me feel oddly sad at times): My mother used to do art projects with me. She's quite talented, and even today she doodles these fancy little portraits along the edges of paper, envelopes, notepads. One time in my very early years she made me this kick-ass caterpillar staped together from paper plates; after adding colors and a happy face, she cut out this hat from construction paper and stapled it onto Mr. Caterpillar's head. When she presented it to me, what did I proceed to do? I screamed, "I don't like that hat!" and I tore up the caterpillar and threw it on the ground! Exhibit #2: In those same early years, I used to saunter up to my mom with a sweet smile on my face and my hands behind my back. She'd bend down to hug me--and then I'd smack her in the face with a toy truck or bite her on the arm. My mother (Love you, Mom!) had some....unique ways to combat me and my brothers when we pulled the Evil Brat Card on her. After I bit her on the arm one too many times? She bit me back. I never pulled my vampiric tendencies on her again! After my brothers and I argued to the point of Nervous Breakdown Material in the car? She threatened to drop us off in the woods where "an axe murderer would come along and chop our heads off." Exhibit #3: If we were misbehaving at home, my mom threatened to hit us with this leather horse whip she'd bought. My brothers and I thought she really meant it! So one time, after we'd driven her up the proverbial wall (and a rare instance of my brothers being the instigators instead of me) my mom called me into my room. She had the whip. Then she leaned close and whispered, "Okay, now I'm going to pretend to spank you with this thing. Scream really loud, like it hurts, and then your brothers will behave." So then she smacked the horse whip against my mattress and I yelled, "No! Stop! Ouch!" over and over, every time she hit the bed. Needless to say, Jordan and Aaron shut their mouths and behaved for the rest of the day. I could go on and on, but I want some of you to still like me! Funny how time changes our view on things. In this day and age, when parents often treat their children like Little Adults instead of the children they are I look back with such respect, fondness, and humor at my mom's offbeat but successful approach to parenting. She's always been a dignified, strong, beautiful woman who--even when she was dishing out these "punishments"--had a mischievous and playful twinkle in her eye. As her parents said to her, she said to us: "Just wait until you have children one day. Then you'll understand." And, while I don't have children and am not sure if I want to, I've learned my lessons well. I've watched my mother go through a painful divorce; she's become a sassy Fag Hag who loves gay men and loves going to the gay bars with me; she remodels and works on homes like men half her age--she does it with gusto and intelligence, taste and style. Finally, my mother has embraced being just that. A mother. She's allowed her three sons to transition from Life Phase to Life Phase, and she's there to offer lessons, and allow us our flaws, and to be the first to offer a tremendous hug. Want to know where I learned to hug? It's from Ms. Janice Adele Veronica Bonaguro Buck Sinclair. Perspective has made me see that she should also be called Ms. Classy, Elegant, & Wise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Falling in Love with Strangers

I passed an extremely attractive gentleman today on my way to work. He was dressed in black, in this slick, sexy trench coat. He had thick, luscious black hair and--even though I don't usually like them on guys--a totally hot goatee. We exchanged glances--the kind that says, "You're gorgeous, I like your style, let's...." and then we continued on our ways. I looked back over my shoulder; as far as I know, he did not. My point of this little scenario is that I fall for strangers all the time. Whole galaxies of love and lust pass between us in a few seconds. Maybe these galaxies don't disappoint because we haven't dug into some of our neurotic layers, and been stung. Love comes in so many different packages....There's the obsessive, all-consuming kind of love. Fire wrapping us up in tight blankets. There's the safe, comfortable, friendly love, where the passion may not always burn down houses but it feels right and just and freeing. Then there's the love with strangers. Sometimes I really think this does go beyond lust and pheromones. That for just a moment--call it Karmic connection--your eyes meet and everything collapses together and you have this brief, transitory Love Affair that captures years inside an instant. But then the light changes. Or your car turns a corner. Or the cashier hands you your change and you say thank you and then walk out the automatic doors. I fell in love with a stranger today, as I have in the past, as I will in the future. And while longer, more permanent relationships come and go I'll still be able to look back at these men and women--they are legion--and think: "Yeah, thanks for being my ten-second Soulmate."

Monday, March 20, 2006


We all have different versions of ourselves that come out at various times to play. It's fascinating how many of us try to push away the various "we's" because we're afraid of what they represent or what they say about us. I talked about this a lot with Margot, back in Corvallis. She and I both like a certain visualization theory, where you think about the five-year-old you or the twenty-year-old you or even a version older than the current you....You hold this you's hand, you comfort him or her, you try to understand why he/she is speaking up. I used to believe that I could divide myself into the child Nathan, the adolescent Nathan, the grown-up Nathan, etc. That sure would make Life a lot less blurry; I could say, "That was me and I'm no longer at that place," or "This is me, aren't I spiffy being all adultish?" But heck, I still feel like a clueless teenager half the time. And the rest of the time I'm this scared twelve-year-old whose father walked out the door; the young boy starting kindergarten; the eighty-year-old sage who knows how to comfort. Really, we can't even divide ourselves into seconds, let alone identities, personalities, or versions.....so we're all infinite. We are different than we were this morning when we rolled out of bed. We are certainly different than we were when we were born. Yet, I have these billions of Nathan's chillin' in my Soul-Ether--and sometimes when I'm shy, scared, elated, hopeful, nostalgic, apathetic, cruel, or friendly, I look at this Nathan, take his hand, and say: "Okay, you fucker, come on out. You're going to keep knocking on my heart until I just yank open my ribcage and let you do your business. So what the hell are you trying to say?" Usually I calm down after I realize that the current Knocking-Nathan just wants to make his--or hell, her--message known. This message is usually a desire for empathy and self-actualization, fitting those Glitter Puzzle Pieces together. We are all children and teenagers and middle-aged men and ancient crones. Time collapses and life goes by in a snap of the fingers. So, yeah, I'm not really sure who I am today. Today I think I'm Sexy Nathan. Blue-eyed-stare-at-me-I'm-hot Nathan. By tonight I might be cryin'-and-want-to-be-coddled Nathan. Tomorrow I might be a Psychic at some Divine Carnival, guiding souls in my candy-colored tent of Knowledge, where Tori plays on the radio 24/7. Speaking of, Tori says in her song "Tear in Your Hand": "Maybe she's just pieces of me you've never seen...." Hmm. I wonder, in my relationships with family and friends and lovers, what pieces--what Nathan's--they've fallen in love with, and why. Maybe they see versions of me I don't, and I find that amazingly comforting and beautiful and mysterious.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Parties & Circles (Or, Touch)

We all crave human touch. This isn't a sexual thing (although it certainly can be); it's a want-to-be-loved thing. I mean, I just love giving and getting hugs. Sometimes hugs are way better than kissing, sex, or anything in-between. Hugs make you feel safe, encompassed, healed. It takes talent, though, to hug someone the correct way. I think too many people--especially men, I've noted--do that pat-pat thing, like they're really afraid to just grab you and squeeze. Come on, guys! Squeeze away! Your masculinity isn't threatened; if anything it's strengthened because you're saying, "Hey, I'm comfortable with who I am, let me show ya." Kissing is great too; don't you just love a good kisser? Good kissers make you melt like ice cream on a hot summer day. I LOVE kissing....funny, because I was scared of it for so long. I didn't want to be a bad kisser. Some of you have heard that Esther and I practiced kissing in college. We just thought, Heck, let's give this a whirl! She neglected to tell me that our hour and a half kissing session at a party took place on her ex-boyfriend's bed. In front of him. Oh, the little details. Gotta love my Esther. Whether it's a massage, a hair comb, holding hands, or doing Eskimo and butterfly kisses with your noses and eyelashes respectively, we want to feel connected to someone. This physical connection translates emotionally in our hearts. This last weekend Carly and I had a party with lots of our loved ones. I think one of my favorite parts of hosting a party is greeting everyone when they walk in the door, hugging them and making them feel welcome. And, while saying goodbye/see you later is so difficult for me, those hugs at the end of the night help both people remember that they're a part of each other. Last night I went to D's Circle at Our House of Portland. It was a lovely evening filled with music, poetry, shared memories, and a literal Circle (well, maybe more a misshapen rectangle) where we all held hands and said a word that captured D's essence for us. The words seemed to travel amongst all of us like that game, Telephone, where you whisper the message into the next person's ear. But, in this case, we could all hear the message loud and clear: We love you, D! You're still with us! I want to end this post by noting that I also love the figurative definition of the word "touch." Hopefully, we all touch people all the time without actually making any physical contact. We bring love and hope and desire and friendship and understanding to our relationships. One of my favorites is when a stranger and I smile at one another--man, woman, child, adult--and we know we've both made the other person's day. Last night, at the end of the Circle, D's mom asked me to read one of his poems at his funeral service on Saturday. I was touched by this, and I even remember that word "touched" rolling through me, how this offer from D's mother just grabbed me and lit me up. Hugs. Kisses. Sex. Massages. Emotional connections. It sure feels kick-ass to be a human.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Love Triangles: I've always wanted to be in one, trapped between the desires of two vampires. Haven't you?


I constantly feel like I'm being born over and over again--sometimes by choice, sometimes murdered, sometimes bursting from a cocoon or a sheet of plastic. Just think, our bodies regenerate themselves completely every seven years. That means that physically, I'm in my fifth incarnation as Nathan Buck. Lord knows how many incarnations I've gone through emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. An infinite amount, I'm betting. It's interesting to note that even though every cell in our bodies is replaced over and over, we still maintain Identity, even if that shifts, even if our memories get molded and changed over time....

Friday, March 10, 2006


I had been trying to "publish" one of my posts on Wednesday and my computer locked up. I'd been writing about the "Ends of Eras," how forces in our lives all come together at the same time. We weave meaning from these gelled Life ingredients; the meaning may be created by our own hearts or helped in part by the Universe. I'd just finished reading A.M. Homes' The Safety of Objects (the film had been one of the grains of inspirations for the short story I wrote that eventually became my novel) and finished watching Angel (one of the most spiritual sagas ever created). I ended up losing the entire post--it was a whopper--and in the process of attempting to retrieve it I got a phone call from Our House that D was in Providence Hospital's ICU and that if I wanted to see him before he passed on, now was the time. I hurried from work in tears, everything becoming so surreal. I got home and washed my face and brushed my teeth and tried to make myself look presentable, cute, for D so that my outside didn't match my messy emotional insides. On my way out the door to get in my car, the mailman walked up and handed me that day's stuff--I ripped the one with my handwriting open. A rejection letter from one of the fellowships I'd applied to. I could only shake my head and laugh; it felt so inconsequential and so ridiculous and so strange, too, that I'd be there to receive the mail in person. I rushed to the hospital and everything became a blur. It's the details that stick out. I remember thinking Providence Hospital wasn't nearly as ugly as most other hospitals; the colors of the clothing of D's family stood out starkly to me; I felt calm and numb and depressed and fucked-up all at the same time. I've lost people in my past, but this connection tapped into something so deep inside myself, something primal, something I could relate to. When I was permitted in to see D, I couldn't help but think of him as a fragile bird. He was only in a semi-conscious state; his eyes were open; he was spitting up fluids; he had tubes coming in and out of him from everywhere. I talked to him about Twin Peaks (I wore my Twin Peaks tee-shirt for him), and how I hoped he liked the Charlotte Martin CD, and I told him that it meant the world to me that we'd gotten to hang out the week before. I felt inadequate. I can be so good with people sometimes; I know how to comfort and hug. I'm a good empathizer. But I felt like a tiny neutron in that ICU room. I admired C, the way she stroked D's arm and talked soothingly to him. She seemed comfortable, in her element. She was strikingly beautiful, and elegant. When I told her she was so good with him, she looked at me with a surprised, almost innocent, expression, like: "How could I not be? This is what we DO when someone is passing into the next realm." Once they took some tubes out of him, he started breathing rapidly--he was getting agitated--and C looked up and said, "Someone get his family, I think he's going." She'd meant one of the nurses, but I was by the door and I said I'd go, and I hurried to the waiting room, random thoughts flooding through me. Should I talk calmly and rapidly? Should I say, "Get in there now! Quick!" or should I say, "Hey everybody, now might be a good time to head in and see D. Want to come?" I took Approach #2 the first time. Only a few of his relatives followed; I don't think they understood he was going....I ended up having to go back and saying (a little more firmly, but still semi-calm) "Everybody should come in now." I tried to stress the "now." We all gathered, and held hands, and people were crying, and D was gasping, and since D loved music they had some playing for him. Someone had put in the Charlotte Martin CD, and damnit, it started skipping. I had these sad, horrible thoughts: Why couldn't God just let the music play without that retched skipping that seemed to be filling the whole room? I changed the CD to Kate Bush, one of D's favorites. (His favorite CD is Sarah Brightman's Eden, but he didn't have that one in his carry-case.) So we prayed with the Chaplain, and then....D passed away with just his parents in the room. I didn't even know until fifteen minutes later. Then I went in and said my See you Laters and stroked his hair. We all gathered for a final prayer in the ICU waiting room, and the air was still, and after the Chaplain had finished there was this uncomfortable silence. I mean, what do you say in times like this? There's no right or wrong thing. It's just too fucking sad and strange and awkward. Someone said, "Well, I guess we should head home," and someone else said, "I forgot my purse in D's room. I have to go get it." And I remember, during my time there, so many (guilty) thoughts flooding through me: When could I go home and shower? When could I go and be safe in my pajamas and be safe on the comfort of my own couch? I ended up calling into work yesterday and I spent Wednesday night and all day Thursday honoring D. I played Sarah Brightman and Kate Bush and Charlotte Martin. I wrote and funneled my sadness into my chapter (it started snowing outside right as I was finishing up my section about a snowstorm). I watched Grey's Anatomy--Rosie Thomas's "Let Myself Fall" played during one of the episodes, such a pleasant and lovely surprise. And, wow, when I listened to Kate Bush's song "Cloudbusting" I was shocked and happy to hear the line, "Every Time It Rains" repeated over and over. "Every Time It Rains" is the name of one of my favorite Charlotte Martin songs. And one of Charlotte's greatest inspirations is Kate Bush. Other lovely things: talking to Mom; Tara calling and saying she'd be coming to the party on Saturday; Jeff Bailey calling out of the blue, and we haven't spoken in a couple years! He must have sensed my need to hear his voice. I danced to Charlotte's "Step Back" from her DVD, which is my Song of the Moment. I dreamed about Kate Bush last night, about buying her music. I even honored D in my dreams. Thank you all for listening, and for offering support, and for giving good hugs. I'm blessed to have known D, and I'm blessed to know you all. Please give a big shout-out to the Universe and D will hear you, whether he's just a particle of dust or reborn as a sparrow or hanging out in the ether, drinking some Nirvana-Wine and chatting about Bliss with some Diva Deity. Love you all. Thank U for being U.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Dwight and I saw Charlotte Martin in concert last night at Mississippi Studios, where Kevin and I saw her in December. Wow. What a cool venue. Beautiful red walls, dragonfly curtains, vinyls all over the bathroom walls (with candles and potpourri burning), and a kick-ass back porch/patio for smokers with strung white lights, comfy chairs, and a black-and-white silent western being projected onto the brick wall of the studio. Charlotte, as always, was amazing. Dwight and I got to chat with her after the show, and she remembered me from last time. I reminded her that I listened to "On Your Shore" and "Limits of Our Love" while writing a pivotal scene in my novel, and she said she just knows it's "going to do great" out there with all those literary agents....In return for her music, I gave Charlotte one of my rings. I've never done this with an artist before. I've given artists--like Tori--copies of my poetry or whatnot, but I've never given something "solid" like a ring before. I told her that she let me have a piece of her energy while I wrote; now she could have a piece of my energy while she made music....Wow....Music. It's so hard to put a finger on music. I mean, if you really think about it, singing is so strange. Communicating through some tribal-like means where you just open your mouth and twist words around at different octaves. So haunting and primal, yes? Then mix in non-vocal instruments--pianos, guitars, cellos, drums--and you feel like you should be sitting around some giant fire or pyre. Music speaks to all of us in such different ways. Funny how our tastes reflect who we are. People always joke with me (rightfully so) that, hey, if it's an alternative female singer/songwriter, then Nathan will love her! And they're right! But these women--sirens, muses--just connect with my soul and tap me into the Eternal Feminine. Let's face it, it's no surprise, I'm kinda more a girl than a guy lots of the time. Right? The music brings me to some ether-realm where I'm pounding away at my keyboard, "singing" in vowels and consonants and sculpting the English language into some story that makes me laugh and cry and feel scared and feel safe and everything in-between. We all know that if I open my mouth to "sing" traditionally, you'd all run screaming (though some of you appreciate my death metal karaoke rendition of "Don't Fear the Reaper," this I know). So I've found an individual channel to express myself inside of, as we all should. Back to Charlotte: I highly recommend going to www.charlottemartin.com and checking her out. Her debut album, On Your Shore, should be On Your Shelf--or else you suffer the wrath of Nathan! Musicians always say, "Thanks for listening," and I can do the same when someone takes in one of my stories or one of my blog postings. So thank you. And I know Charlotte will wear my ring with grace--as a ring, or maybe even as a necklace--and I hope it brings her a piece of some lovely purple glitter.